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A couple weeks ago I wrote about Air Canada Aeroplan’s plans to institute huge fuel surcharges on many of their Star Alliance partner awards. After a lot of negative customer feedback, they began to backpedal on those changes and I thought they may have scrapped those plans.
However, that was just a temporary stay of execution, because they recently announced new charges coming as soon as November 30, 2011:
“With the increasing cost of fuel, many airlines have started charging fuel surcharges on redemption tickets. All fuel surcharge amounts are applied by Aeroplan on behalf of the ticketing carrier and are passed through directly to the ticketing carrier. Fuel surcharge amounts are determined by each airline and may change from time to time. Aeroplan has applied fuel surcharges for flight rewards on Air Canada since 2004. The fuel surcharge amounts to be applied by Aeroplan for flights on Star Alliance airlines will be the same as those applied by the individual airlines within their own frequent flyer programs.
Fuel surcharges to flight rewards on the following Star Alliance airlines will be effective as of the dates noted below:
November 30th, 2011: Asiana Airlines, THAI, ANA, Austrian Airlines, LOT Polish Airlines, bmi
December 14th, 2011: Aegean Airlines, Adria Airways, TAM, South African Airways, TAP Portugal
These are in addition to fuel surcharges to flight rewards on Lufthansa that became effective on November 9th 2011 at 7pm.
Members making voluntary changes after the applicable effective date to existing bookings with these airlines will also be subject to the fuel surcharges.
Fuel surcharges to flight rewards on other Star Alliance member airlines not referenced in this notice will come into effect only if those airlines elect to apply them within their own frequent flyer programs.”
Ugh. This makes Aeroplan awards more expensive, thus decreasing the value of American Express Membership Rewards points, because all three of their Star Alliance transfer partners now have crazy restrictions and/or huge fuel surcharges. For Star Alliance travel, United/US Airways are the best and Chase Ultimate Rewards is a 1:1 transfer partner with United and Starwood with US Airways. If you have any Aeroplan miles or Star Alliance travel to book with your Amex points, I’d highly recommend booking now before these huge fees kick in. As it notes in the notice, any award changes after the fees kick in will get assessed the fee. Thumbs down to Aeroplan for this.
On a brighter (?) note, Aeroplan is encouraging people to transfer their partner points (like Amex and Starwood) for a bonus of up to 25,000 miles.
So you could transfer 65,000 Starwood points and get a business class award from North America to western Europe since under normal rules it would equate to 80,000 Aeroplan miles (Starwood gives a 5,000 mile bonus for every 20,000 Starwood points transferred to Aeroplan). Then this promotion would add 10,000 miles, though per the T&C it may take 8 weeks from the time of transfer for the bonus to post.
Things to note:
Aeroplan devalued their award chart in July. However, the current award chart has some decent awards, like 90,000 miles for business class to Europe 1 and 25,000 miles for coach within North America.
Also note that Aeroplan has very flexible routing rules. You can route via the Atlantic and Pacific on Asia awards and you can build in two stopovers, so for 130,000 miles you can have a business class “mini Round the World” trip that I highlighted in this post (note the difference in miles needed for the award since this post was written before they raised the award levels).