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Flyers have been waiting to hear the details of Air Canada’s new Aeroplan program for months, but the waiting is now finally over as the airline outlined the headline features of the program earlier today. The new Aeroplan will launch on 8 November 2020 and the key headlines you need to know are in the post below.
New Aeroplan – Key Headlines
- “Miles” are out, “Points” are in.
- From 2021, the new Aeroplan will award points based on the amount a ticket costs rather than on the distance being traveled. Just as we’ve seen with a lot of other airlines, Aeroplan will award points based on the base fare + carrier surcharges so local taxes will not feature in the equation.
- Elite status and premium fares will offer Aeroplan members multipliers to boost their earnings.
- Basic Economy fares will earn redeemable points but will not earn points towards elite status qualification.
- The new Aeroplan is not charging fuel surcharges on award bookings. This goes for award bookings on Air Canada bookings and on partner bookings (although partner bookings will incur an additional fee of $39 per ticket)
- Award charts are remaining a part of the new Aeroplan program but they’re now a hybrid of what we see other airlines offering – the charts split the world into four zones and award costs are distance-based. There’s one set of award charts for travel solely within one of the world’s zones and another set of charts for travel between the world’s zones.
- The cost of award bookings is increasing, some more dramatically than others (see award charts later in this post).
- The new Aeroplan program permits one stopover on one-way awards for an added cost of 5,000 points. The free stopover that the current Aeroplan program allows on roundtrip bookings has been eliminated.
- A points + cash option has been added to the new Aeroplan program so members will be able to reduce the number of points needed for an award by subsidizing that award with a cash co-pay. At the time of writing, Aeroplan doesn’t appear to have announced the cost per point for points + cash award bookings although ViewFromTheWing has reported a cost of 1.12 US cents per point.
- With the introduction of the new Aeroplan program, Air Canada is also introducing the concept of “every seat, every Air Canada flight, no restrictions”. Essentially what this means is that Aeroplan members will be able to book a seat with points if a seat is available to buy with cash.
- Families are now able to pool their points courtesy of the new Aeroplan program. Up to 8 Aeroplan members can group into a family, all points earned by these members are added into a shared account balance, including their existing points balances, points can be redeemed for awards out of this shared pool and if there is an Elite Status Member or a primary Aeroplan Credit Cardholder in the group, everyone gets to benefit from their preferred pricing.
- There are more ways to earn points towards elite status in the new Aeroplan program. As usual, flying with Air Canada and partner airlines will earn a member points towards elite status but, going forward, spending on Air Canada credit cards and spending with other Air Canada partners will also earn points towards elite status.
- Altitude elite status (and the associated website) is on the way out so the Aeroplan website will be the one-stop-shop for all members.
- The Altitude elite status thresholds that are in place today will be the ones used for the new Aeroplan program so the thresholds for elite statuses are not changing. What is changing are the names for each level…but not by much. The new program’s status levels are called Aeroplan 25K, Aeroplan 35K, Aeroplan 50K, Aeroplan 75K, and Aeroplan Super Elite.
- Elite statuses will now expire on 31 December every year, but Aeroplan members will have a 10 day grace period to allow credits to post to their account for travel taken close to the year-end.
- The full list of benefits open to elite members of the new Aeroplan program hasn’t been published yet but we do know about two new elite benefits that are being introduced:
- Priority Rewards: From 8 November, members with Aeroplan 35K Status or higher can use a Priority Reward voucher to get a 50% discount on the base fare in points of a flight reward – any time they want. Members can earn up to 11 Priority Reward vouchers each year based on their spending with Air Canada with vouchers being issued at 4,000 EQD, 7,000 EQD, 10,000 EQD, 15,000 EQD, and then at 5,000 EQD intervals up to a maximum of 50,000 EQD.
- Status Pass: Coming in March 2021, Status Pass will be a perk that 50K status elites (and higher) will be able to choose as one of their “Select Benefits”, and these passes can be given to any other traveler to allow them to enjoy the following benefits on their next trip:
- Priority check-in
- Maple Leaf Lounge access
- 3 complimentary checked bags with priority baggage handling
- Priority airport standby
- Priority secure clearance
- Priority boarding
As far as “key headlines” go that’s the full list from what Air Canada announced earlier today. Anyone wanting more information on the award charts should continue reading below and anyone wanting more details on the specifics of what I have outlined above should head to this Air Canada webpage.
Aeroplan Award Charts
The new Aeroplan divides the world into four zones…
- North America
- South America
…and, when mapped out, they look like this:
The full set of award charts can be found via this link (.pdf) but, to give you a taster of what things will look like, here are a few examples:
Chart for flights within the North America Zone:
Chart for flights between the North America Zone and the Atlantic Zone:
Chart for flights between the North America Zone and the Pacific Zone:
The full current award chart can be found via this link.
The new Aeroplan program will launch on 8 November 2020 and will introduce a number of key changes that will make significant differences in how members earn points (formerly miles), how status can be earned, how points can be used and how many points are needed to book award flights all over the world.
I have deliberately shied away from commenting on these changes as I wanted this post to be more about facts than my opinions but, if you’re an Aeroplan member and have any thoughts on what has been announced today, feel free to share them in the comments section below.