Air Canada Announces Complete Overhaul Of Reacquired Aeroplan

Anna Kroupina, Open Jaw

Air Canada is relaunching a transformed Aeroplan loyalty program on 08NOV, 2020, with features that include point sharing for families, the elimination of cash surcharges and every seat on every Air Canada flight eligible for flight rewards with Aeroplan points.

However, redemption rates are higher and linked to the actual price of a ticket, rather than a fixed reward grid.

Aeroplan initially launched in 1984 as an incentive program for Air Canada's frequent flyer customers. 

The airline spun off Aeroplan in 2002, selling it to data analytics firm Aimia. In MAY 2017, Air Canada announced a decision to launch its own loyalty program upon the 29JUN, 2020 expiry of its commercial agreement with Aimia. 

Just over a year following this announcement, Air Canada turned the tables yet again on Aimia with a hostile bid to acquire Aeroplan along with TD Bank, CIBC, Visa, and American Express. The deal officially closed in early 2019 for a total value of $450 million. The agreement sees TD Bank, CIBC, Visa, and American Express stay on with the new loyalty program until at least 2030.

Beginning 08NOV, 2020, current Aeroplan accounts will automatically transition to the transformed program, which means members maintain their existing Aeroplan numbers. Aeroplan miles will be known as “Aeroplan points,” and existing balances of miles will be honoured on a one-to-one basis. All Aeroplan credit cards will continue to earn Aeroplan points. 

“Air Canada promised an outstanding new Aeroplan that would be among the best travel loyalty programs in the world, and we are fulfilling that promise,” said Calin Rovinescu, President and Chief Executive of Air Canada. “The new Aeroplan program, which has been extremely well thought through, has been eagerly anticipated as a key driver of our ongoing transformation, this is more important than ever as airlines compete to earn and retain customer loyalty in a rapidly changing environment.” 

Air Canada says the new program offers customers more personalized, flexible and easier-to-use features, and it provides better value for Aeroplan credit card holders redeeming flights on AC than the value provided by major Canadian bank travel programs.

“Since we announced our commitment to improve Aeroplan, we’ve been listening to feedback from more than 36,000 consumers; we’ve benchmarked against loyalty and frequent flyer programs from around the globe, and we’ve completely rebuilt our digital infrastructure,” said Mark Nasr, Vice President, Loyalty and eCommerce at Air Canada.  

In response to a question from Open Jaw regarding what the benefits of the new program are for retailers, Air Canada said:  "By aligning Aeroplan more closely with Air Canada, it will be easier than ever for travel advisors to manage their client’s preferences when flying."

Here are some highlights of the revamped program:

  • Every seat on every Air Canada flight, no restrictions – Members can redeem Aeroplan points to purchase any Air Canada seat that is available for sale.

  • Surcharged eliminated - Additional airline surcharges (such as fuel surcharges) will be eliminated. Members will pay only for taxes and third-party fees.

  • Predictable pricing -- Points for AC flights will be linked to the actual price of tickets in cash (as opposed to a fixed reward grid), and points needed for Aeroplan flight rewards will be based on actual prices in the market.

    However, by providing a Points Predictor Tool, members can see a range of the likely number of points they’ll need for their desired itinerary. The number of points needed may fluctuate based on demand.

    This predictable pricing model builds trust with AC frequent flyers by adding a level of transparency, according to The Points Guy. The award chart lists a range of prices that accounts for 80% to 90% of redemptions.

  • Aeroplan offers the ability to earn or redeem points on over 35 airlines, which includes flights to over 1,300 destinations. Recent partner additions include Etihad Airways and Azul.

  • Members will have the flexibility to save Aeroplan points, and pay for a portion of their flight reward in cash. 
  • Members will be able to search for and redeem flight rewards at aircanada.com or on the Air Canada app. 

 

More Options For Redeeming Points

 

  • Aeroplan Family Sharing – Members will be able to combine Aeroplan points with others in their household, for free.

  • Earn Aeroplan points with every Air Canada flight booked in cash, now including Economy Basic fares.

  • Upgrade your flight – Members can redeem their Aeroplan points to upgrade to Air Canada Premium Economy or Business Class. Members can also name their own price to bid for upgrades.

  • Members will be able to use their Aeroplan points for extras, such as in-flight Wi-Fi or access to an Air Canada Maple Leaf Lounge. Members also continue to redeem points for car rentals, hotel stays and vacations packages.

  • Expanded merchandise– Members will have a wider range of reward options including electronics, housewares, and more. Additionally, gift cards will be delivered digitally, and available faster. 

 

Upgraded Aeroplan Elite Status 

The transformed Aeroplan will continue to offer six membership levels – entry-level Aeroplan Debut, along with five Elite Status levels: Aeroplan 25K, 35K, 50K, 75K, and Super Elite. Elite Status benefits remain, along with some changes beginning in 2021, including:

 

  • Elite Status Members can earn Priority Rewards vouchers entitling them to 50% off the price in points (excluding taxes, third-party fees, and where applicable, a partner booking fee) on eligible flight rewards with Air Canada and its airline partners. Members with Aeroplan 35K Status or higher will be able to receive Priority Rewards automatically.

  • Elite Status Members can share their benefits, such as priority boarding and lounge access, with friends and family members, even if they are not travelling together. 

 

All-New Aeroplan Credit Cards 

Air Canada is rolling out "totally redesigned Aeroplan co-branded credit cards" that are the only ones in Canada offering extensive Air Canada travel perks. Members who hold eligible credit cards issued from card partners TD, CIBC and American Express will earn rewards more quickly and access new benefits: 

 

  • Entry-level credit cards offer preferred pricing on flight rewards, meaning primary cardholders can often redeem flights for fewer points. Also, when these members shop at popular categories, they’ll earn bonus points. Members earn even more when they spend directly with Air Canada (through the app, at aircanada.com or vacations.aircanada.com) and pay with their Aeroplan credit card. 

  • Main-level credit cards offer benefits for entry-level cards, as well as a free first checked bag when travelling with AC. Up to eight companions travelling on the same reservation can also receive a free first checked bag. 

  • Premium-level credit cards offer benefits for entry-level and main-level cards, as well as Maple Leaf Lounge and Café access, priority boarding, and priority check-in. 

  • Eligible secondary cardholders will enjoy a free first checked bag, lounge access, and priority airport benefits when travelling on their own. 

  • Top-level cardholders can tap into new benefits like rollover eUpgrade Credits and priority upgrade clearance at the airport. 

 

For a list of Air Canada travel benefits for Aeroplan credit card holders, please visit:   www.aircanada.com/cards.

For more information on the new features, or to enroll in the program, visit: www.aircanada.com/aeroplan.

Anna Kroupina

Anna Kroupina Journalist

Anna is OJ's newest member and she joins the team as a writer/reporter. She co-writes the daily news and covers events. Although she's new to the industry, pursuing a career path in travel/tourism has been a goal since her first family road trip to the Florida Keys sparked a desire to discover the world and this exhilarating, fast-paced industry.

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