A long awaited and newly reimagined Aeroplan program will officially launch on November 8th, 2020. The revamped loyalty program will feature exciting new improvements for earning and redeeming miles. I’ll summarize the changes, both positive and negative, to the new Air Canada Aeroplan program below:
New Aeroplan Changes Coming November 8, 2020
I’ll admit I’m always sceptical of any changes to loyalty and rewards programs because that typically means some window dressing and a general devaluation of points. But I’m pleasantly surprised with what I’ve seen today about some of the changes coming to Aeroplan in the near future.
Here’s a look at the core changes to the Aeroplan program:
- Aeroplan.com and the Aeroplan mobile app will be retired on November 8, 2020
- All bookings will then be made on AirCanada.com and the Air Canada mobile app. Aeroplan members can still log in to Air Canada with their same Aeroplan credentials
- Every seat on will be available to book on Air Canada flights (including business class and premium economy)
- A new and improved search engine for flight rewards and availability (up to 150 search results)
- The flight reward chart now includes four zones: North America, South America, Atlantic, and Pacific
- Dynamic pricing will apply to Air Canada award seats (oh no!), requiring more Aeroplan points for popular routes and high season demand
- Conversely, off peak travel times and less popular routes will cost fewer points
- Aeroplan partner airlines will still offer limited award seats at a fixed mileage rate regardless of time of year or route popularity
- Air Canada eliminated fuel / carrier surcharges (YQ) for all carriers on flight reward seats
- A new $39 partner booking fee will apply to any flight segment operated by a partner airline (other than Air Canada)
- Family sharing allows you and your family (or a group of people) to share points for free
- Aeroplan points will expire after 18 months instead of 12 months
It makes sense to move the flight rewards to one website (AirCanada.com) so there’s no need to have multiple windows open to compare flight reward costs versus cash fare. That’s a positive.
Having every seat available on Air Canada flights, combined with the elimination of fuel / carrier surcharges is a HUGE positive!
No more taking multiple connections on partner airlines just to save on Air Canada’s hefty fuel surcharges. This was a big pain point when our family flew to Scotland last year – we flew Calgary to Chicago to Edinburgh on United Airlines to save a few thousand dollars. Now we can presumably fly direct from Calgary, albeit paying more Aeroplan points but saving time and cash.
Dynamic pricing can really drive up the cost (in points) on your flight rewards – especially if you’re booking for a family of four like me. But travelling in low season can offer pockets of good value for your points.
New Aeroplan Credit Cards
Aeroplan currently has co-branded credit cards with American Express, TD, and CIBC – and here are the latest Aeroplan bonuses and offers to tide you over before November 8, 2020.
The goal with the Aeroplan relaunch is to have all three credit card partners roll out their newly refreshed line-up of Aeroplan credit cards. More importantly, all three partners will offer the same earn rate, perks & benefits, and annual fees within each card category (entry level, core, premium, and business).
Some of those enhanced benefits (depending on the card category) include:
- Annual Worldwide Companion Pass when you spend $25,000 / year (premium cardholders)
- Maple Leaf Lounge access (unlimited for premium cardholders)
- Status Qualification Boost (1,000 status qualifying miles and 1 status qualifying segment for every $5,000 or $10,000 spent)
- Free first checked bag for you and up to eight companions on Air Canada reservations
- No Aeroplan points expiry for cardholders
American Express Aeroplan credit cards
American Express will launch / rebrand with the following line-up on November 8th:
- American Express Aeroplan Card ($139 fee)
- American Express Aeroplan Reserve Card ($599 fee)
- American Express Aeroplan Business Reserve Card (brand new – no details)
TD Aeroplan credit cards
TD’s suite of Aeroplan credit cards will look like this on November 8th:
- TD Aeroplan Visa Platinum ($89 fee)
- TD Aeroplan Visa Infinite ($139 fee)
- TD Aeroplan Visa Infinite Privilege ($599 fee)
- TD Aeroplan Visa Business ($149 fee)
CIBC Aeroplan credit cards
Finally, CIBC will finally ditch the Aerogold name and rebrand its Aeroplan credit card line-up as follows:
- CIBC Aeroplan Visa Card ($39 fee)
- CIBC Aeroplan Visa Infinite ($139 fee)
- CIBC Aeroplan Visa Infinite Privilege ($599 fee)
- CIBC Aeroplan Visa Business ($180 fee)
What Are The Travel Experts Saying?
Aeroplan is my favourite loyalty program for booking flight rewards, but I am fairly new to the game. Here’s what some of Canada’s top travel experts have to say about the new Aeroplan program from Air Canada:
Barry Choi from MoneyWeHave.com called the changes a huge win for travellers and that we should be excited to fly again. Barry also covered the launch in the Globe and Mail with this mostly positive review of the program changes.
Ricky from Prince of Travel took a deep dive into the changes, particularly the new flight reward chart and travel zones. He said the information that was introduced today makes up only 60% of what’s to come with the new Aeroplan.
“The new Aeroplan has left me very impressed and encouraged from the outset.”
Ricky (aka the Prince) also looked at four exciting new Aeroplan features, including family sharing, points + cash, and more.
Longtime travel blogger Patrick Sojka at Rewards Canada was sceptical like me but came away impressed with the redesigned program:
“In my virtual meeting with their executives last week you could hear the excitement from all of them as they feel this isn’t a devaluation to the program being glossed over by several enhancements like we typically see.”
That’s what I like to hear!
Brief Air Canada / Aeroplan History
Aeroplan was first created by Air Canada to reward frequent flyers back in 1984. It was spun off and sold to Aimia in 2002 to raise money for capital and expansion.
Air Canada announced plans to launch a new loyalty program of its own in 2017, which would replace Aeroplan as its preferred loyalty partner. A year later, Air Canada teamed up with TD, CIBC, and Visa to buy back Aeroplan for $450 million. That acquisition was completed in early 2019.
Since then, we’ve waited for Air Canada and Aeroplan to launch their new program. And here we are.
I’ve seen enough from the newly reimagined Aeroplan program to throw away my sceptic hat and join in on the excitement. I still have a few hundred thousand Aeroplan miles and so I’m anxious to get to November 8th and put some real travel inquiries into the system to see what’s what.
My friend Barry Choi says there’s a nice sweet spot for travel to Japan and Hawaii for people based in Alberta – which is great for me! Hopefully we’ll all find our own sweet spots for flight rewards in the new travel zones.
I’m waiting for the new credit cards to be relaunched and hoping for some juicy sign-up bonuses. I can’t imagine Air Canada and Aeroplan (not to mention Amex, TD, and CIBC) would invest so much in this program only to fall flat with a tepid welcome bonus for their new card offers. Time will tell.