Air Canada Aeroplan Institutes Huge Fuel Surcharges

by on November 10, 2011 · 20 comments

in Aeroplan, American Express, Chase

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Aeroplan used to be known as one of the top frequent flyer programs. They have generous routing rules and as a 1:1 transfer partner of American Express Membership Rewards and Starwood Preferred Guest, they have been a solid option for Star Alliance awards (especially for mini-round the world trips).The key was to always avoid flying on Air Canada because they imposed fuel surcharges on Air Canada operated flights. However, if you kept it all Star Alliance partners, you’d escape such surcharges.

This July they became a lot less desirable because they increased most of their award levels. However, there were still some gems, like 90,000 miles roundtrip from North America to Western Europe.

Yesterday I received a disappointing email from TPG reader Dov bearing the bad news that Aeroplan tacked on a whopping $420 fuel surcharge to his Lufthansa JFK-Munich award. Ugh. I ignored it at first because I was busy doing my best to research British Airways’ impending devaluation. Two major program devaluations in a day is too much to handle!

Dov's disappointing fuel surchage

Lo and behold, several other bloggers also picked up on the story and as Lucky reports it’s not only Lufthansa, but also ANA, Asiana and Thai as well. This is very bad news, especially if you have American Express Membership Rewards points. 

A couple weeks ago I wrote that Continental leaving Membership Rewards wasn’t the end of the world because Aeroplan was a great transfer partner for Star Alliance awards. However, with this new devaluation that option just got a lot less lucrative. Singapore and ANA are also transfer partners, but both also levy large surcharges and take 2+ days for the points to get transferred.

Personally, I think this just increases the value of Chase Ultimate Rewards points (the program of the Sapphire Preferred and Ink Bold cards). The same exact itineraries that will cost you $400+ with Amex points will only cost you a fraction by booking via Continental/United.

The only way I see Amex points increasing in value is if they run more lucrative transfer bonuses, but it’s been pretty quiet there since October 1 and they haven’t recently had any lucrative transfer promotions for Star Alliance partners.

That being said, I’m not recommending getting away from Amex points all together – there’s still a lot of value in the program, but instead it’s best to hedge your bets and also focus on building up your Ultimate Rewards account so you have maximum flexibility when it comes time to redeem your hard earned points.

So instead of just getting upset with the changes, I’d recommend emailing Aeroplan and American Express Membership Rewards (Tweeting works too: Aeroplan and American Express). If we don’t express our frustration with these stealth devaluations, you can be sure more and more programs will follow in Aeroplan’s lead.

Disclaimer: The responses below are not provided or commissioned by the bank advertiser. Responses have not been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by the bank advertiser. It is not the bank advertiser's responsibility to ensure all posts and/or questions are answered.

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  • Dave Op

    Old Amex = Membership Rewards
    New Amex = Misery Rewards

    Old BA = British Pounds at CX
    New* BA = British Pesos at CX

    *est Nov 16…hoping for better things.

  • IPBrian

    Tweeted, and tweeted, hopefully they will pay attention to our concerns…not holding my breath.

  • JA

    Tweeted but is it really going to make a difference? Does the fact that Aeroplan is a separate public company and not part of AC make a difference?

  • toomanybooks

    “Personally, I think this just increases the value of Chase Ultimate Rewards points (the program of the Sapphire Preferred and Ink Bold cards). ”

    Until THOSE get devalued someday.

    Count on it.

  • Dan


    You might want to say a few words on where the value in AmEx MR lies. $175 is a stiff annual fee to pay for a second or third place card in my wallet.

  • Greg

    Being from Canada, this is a real shame as Aeroplan is our main FF program. Tweeted both and looks like I will be using AAdvantage and AMEX SPG more now.

  • Anonymous

    This is incredibly bad news. I will be calling them to make my feelings clear, and plan to do some tweeting. I’m a Canadian living in the US, so I actually have some choice as to airline and credit card partners. I’m going to re-evaluate my Air Canada status too. They’ve already demolished the awards chart, this is just salt in the wound. It’s especially painful as LH has awesome award availability for the most part…

  • PJ

    a bit good left with aeroplan is when you know trael plans SURELY well : It is not that difficult to book a coast to coast NONSTOP LAX( SFO) NYC on Continental tho with a confusing tax ~$10 tax versus $2.5 by CO miles. If you need to change the schedule , a regular citizen ( non elitewould have to pay $75 verus nada ( no charge) when I book CO awards all though my daughter’s Platinum ONEPASS which is getting ALL Sapphire and UR points ( before sep 30) . My “grim” projection is UR is losing out big to Sapphire points. My friends were trying to sell me their Sapphire points a penny each points I suggest them trying to upgrade to sapphire preferred my bid for at 10% premium 1.1 cents is always there no hurry to dump sspphire points

  • PJ

    sorry, MR ( not UR) for Membership Reward ; again I can not overemphasize how valuable the Sapphire Preferred Program is : It lets you rescue ” orphan” miles hanging around to expire worthless if not attended; it lets you channel all points of your family members into a Platinum ONEPASS which in turn is the MASTER account on which to book travel plans with maximum flexibility. Sad to say my family still have >+300K over with Amex I pray to have some transfer bonus to exit AMEX or use aeroplan to book EWR SNA ( orange county CA) closely to CO miles..
    I trust TPG will give us a very loud shout when a promotion such as delta’s transfer 50K get back 20K” surfaces again . my last outing was: it net me 30K MR points plus 20K delta points to get on delta IAD-HKG with a very short plan change in Detroit

  • Aaa

    I don’t get why there is so much hate to MR all of the sudden?

  • Anonymous

    Loss of Continental, Aeroplan increased award chart, Aeroplan institutes massive fuel surcharges and lack of transfer bonuses makes it a weaker program than 6 months ago, in my opinion. I hope it changes

  • calbear77

    Brian, perhaps it would be a valuable exercise every 6 months or so to re-rate your top deals on mileage awards and maybe even keep updating the data in your “Maximizing ____ Program” multi-piece sets as well. The stuff from February is nearly obsolete now, sadly.

    I think this just goes to show that having millions of points saved for a rainy idea is a complete waste. Spend your points on good deals while you can, get out, see the world!

  • calbear77

    idea => day. oops.

  • Rob

    Just saw this on Twitter:

    @Aeroplan As many of you are aware, Aeroplan began applying fuel surcharges on Lufthansa flight rewards, on Air Canada’s behalf. More info will follow

    Just like other folks here, I’ve tweeted my concern, hopefully somebody is actually reading their tweets!

  • RVD21

    8=====D~~~ Air Canada

  • TEL

    Aéreoplan/AC have been cheating flyers for a few years now with their surcharges. Price an AC ticket rom YYZ to anywhere outside North America and check out the “taxes”. Then compare it with UA, which requiring at least one additional landing and take-off in the US, and you’ll discover that AC’s taxes are higher than UA’s. How can that be — unless AC is cheating.
    I’ve been AC Élite for well over a decade but I no longer look at their promotional flights because the prices they quote might even be less than the “taxes” they charge. No ethics there.

  • Anonymous

    It’s worth noting that AP changed their minds and decided that fuel surcharges on anything other than AC/LH were an “accident.” So it could have been worse, I guess, but it’s still really crappy. Brian, you may want to update your story.

  • Pingback: Aeroplan Backpedals on Fuel Surcharges … Sort Of | The Points Guy()


    I am not surprised by AC move making it more ludicrous. I live in Toronto and for that reason, I have been avoiding AC as much as I can even though if I have to connect via the US to fly to Europe , Asia or S.America on AA/BA. Unfortunately living in Canada and domestic travel leaves you with not too many option. I am flying YTZ-YUL next weekend on a 2-1 Amex Plat 15k aeroplane redemption, the tax per person is a whopping $160!! That is insane.

  • lskjr

    My recomendation is to get away from Aeroplan altogether. They renmoved 296,000 miles from my account clainming that I had been notified by email it would happen due to inactivity. I never found any such email in my deleted or trash or spam folders. If you google Aeroplan complaints you’ll find hundreds in not thousands of loyal Air Canada customers who stuck with the airline during tough times have had their Aeroplan miles taken from them. That’s why there is a class action lawsuit that is being launched in Canada. Delta Airlines did something similar to their loyal customers but realized the mistake and them back the miles. The arraogent people at Aeroplan snicker when you ask them to explain why they took miles without notification. If there is a silver lining in this beyond the class action suit, its that I now choose airlines based on price rather than loyalty when flying. I actually have saved a few hundred dollars by flying American Airlines over Air Canada and I must say their service is ten fold better than what Air Canada provides. We consumers have a choice, don’t waste your money on Air Canada. Other airlines value your patronage, Air Canada or Aeoplan, they honestly don’t give a s__t! And they won’t until they get into trouble again, then they’ll suck up to consumers again. By that time I hope it will be too late. I only wish that Ottawa would have thrown its support behind Canadian Airlines rather than Air Canada back when there was competition. Canadian had class, Air Canada didn’t

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