Advertisement Now Blinding Users From Seeing Taxes and Fees on Award Searches

by on December 1, 2012 · 9 comments

in Air Canada, star alliance

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I absolutely hate getting on the phone- especially when it comes to airlines. I’m one of those annoying people who will ignore your call and then text you back to see what you want. Perhaps its my Gen Y techie background, but I just feel like I’m wasting my life away when picking up the phone- even the ringing in the beginning makes me feel uncomfortably impatient!

So I was sad to hear that recently made some “enhancements” that restrict the amount of information you can see when searching awards.

Firstly, you now have to login to your Aeroplan in order to use the award search engine. Annoying, but I can deal with it.
 Secondly, if you don’t have enough miles in your account for the award, the amount of taxes and fees will not show! You have to call their service center at 1-800-361-5373 from 7am-midnight ET (or you could always call one of their international offices).

No pricing information.. a shame since Aeroplan levies nasty fuel surcharges on some partner awards

Fuel Surcharges

This wouldn’t be such an issue if Aeroplan didn’t levy steep fees and fuel surcharges on the awards with the following carriers: Adria Airways, ANA, Asiana, Austrian, LOT Polish, Lufthansa, TAP Portugal and Thai.

My Experience
Just yesterday I was helping a friend find availability to go to Ireland over Christmas since coach flights were $1,200+ for his peak dates. I used to search out of several airports and was actually able to get him a business class saver option on Lufthansa and return on United and Aeroplan. My friend had both Chase and American Express points, but preferred to use Amex points if possible. Great, Aeroplan is an instant 1:1 transfer partner and they only charge 90,000 miles roundtrip for business saver roundtrips to Western Europe vs 100,000 United miles, which are instantly transferable from Chase Ultimate Rewards.

However, the United taxes were only $104 vs. $380+ per an Aeroplan phone agent (which we had to wait ~10 minutes on hold to reach), so he ended up booking via United. The retail value of the ticket was $3,800 and he got those 100,000 Chase points from getting both the Ink Bold and Ink Plus cards at 50,000 points a piece and no annual fee for the first year on either, so he was impressed with the value of his Chase points and now gets why I always nag him to build up his Ultimate Rewards balance!

He could have saved even more miles booking via ANA (only 68,000 Amex!) or Singapore, who are also Amex transfer partners and Star Alliance airlines, but those transfers usually take about 48 hours and since there was only 1 seat left on the flights, he wanted to book it with United as two one-ways so he could change either sector for better routing (ANA won’t let you change an award at all after you start traveling).

Tweet for Change
I find this move to be consumer un-friendly and a huge waste of time- for both Aeroplan members and phone agents who now have to field calls from people who could easily get that information on the internet. I suppose Aeroplan wants to limit the information so people feel compelled to transfer in points in advance (since Amex pays Aeroplan for every point people transfer to the program), but it seems like the amount of phone rep time wasted and goodwill lost wouldn’t be worth it.

However, as savvy consumers we can (nicely) ask Aeroplan to bring back award pricing transparency to They are pretty active on Twitter, so feel free to Tweet them @Aeroplan something like:
“.@Aeroplan Please bring back the ability to see award taxes and fees on”

Or you can play dumb and call their Website support line at 1-866-689-8080 and submit a ticket claiming a web outage that their award pricing no longer shows, which must just be a bug (wink, wink). If enough people complain about this “outage” maybe they will change their mind- or maybe it is actually an error that they don’t realize. Either way, we should let them know it isn’t appreciated.

Hat tip to TPG reader Delvind for emailing me about this sad downgrade.

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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  • Diamond Vargas

    Funny timing, I just started using the Aeroplan search tool for the first time about a week ago for a trip that I’ve been periodically re-checking availability for, and noticed a couple of days ago that the fees were no longer showing. Figured I was doing something wrong / differently than I had the first couple of times I searched and the fees showed up — guess it’s not just me though. Even worse than your experience, though, when I called to check on the fees, the agent said he couldn’t even tell me the fees over the phone since I didn’t have sufficient miles in my account.

  • Brian L.

    They may be going on the assumption that the people who use Aeroplan will be using miles they’ve built up directly with Aeroplan rather than people transferring AmEx or SPG points, and therefore will already have the miles in their account.

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  • JMSL

    Am I missing something or has this been the case for a long time? I have been having this issue for at least a year or so.

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  • Aeroplan Canada

    Hi Brian,
    This is Valerie from Aeroplan. Thank you so much for your feedback and comments. Log-in was implemented Nov 27, 2012 to improve and personalize the program for our members. As you know, we’ve made some great enhancements to to better serve our members and create greater transparency particularly around the display of taxes, fees and surcharges. For those members with less than 50% of the miles required to redeem, the ability to again look at the taxes, fees and surcharges will be re-instated in early 2013. We understand that this change has frustrated our members, and we are sorry for the inconvenience.

  • DavidB

    I have found that this is not the only problem with the Aeroplan search engine. I have found UA flights, transfered ny Amex MR points and then when I try to book the flight, it says the trip is unavailable. When I call, the agents confirm that the flight was never available and that they have many phantom flights in the database.
    They say it’s a known bug and you should always call first. But by the way, too bad if you’ve already transfered your Amex points. So, Brian, I agree with your premise that Aeroplan is way more interested in getting paid by Amex than providing good customer service.

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  • Car0line L

    So that’s what it is maybe? I used 90 000 points to book a ticket to asia last year and was absolutely irate that after all that time saving points the ticket cost me half what it would have cost me to buy it outright. It was on Asiana. I never even knew there was anywhere to look up taxes and fees (or is there?). It seems to be a pill and a half just trying to find the list of Asia 1 and Asia 2 countries. It never occured to me that they could possibly be so ludicrously high. It left a VERY bad taste in my mouth for Aeroplan. I could have easily bought at least 5 return tickets on a straight simple cash back visa card on what I spent over that time. Infuriating. If such a site exists now Valerie, as I do have 33 000 left over points from flying etc that I feelrather bitter about, please let me know. I also hate having to call about this sort of thing and want to know what, if anything, would be worth my while in bothering to continue with this programme at all, or if I should switch to flying through the us on one of their carriers alternate programmes. Regardless of how many points one has (never mind what they could potentially transfer), one should be able to know what one is in for down the road. I hate nasty surprises like that and it’s hard to come back from. If I had realised I could have saved money by simply choosing a different star alliance airline, I would have done so, and not been spitting poison about aeroplan ever since. I’m sure at the time I was just trying to avoid Air Canada and their gruff, unhappy, and unwelcoming customer ‘service’, which if I recall I was unsuccesful at. As it was it was not the most savvy use of points, I’d have been much better off using them for domestic flights, but I didn’t really care at the time. that tab was a slap in the face and at that point it was too late to change the game plan which I felt was intentional; bait, hook, and charge a bundle on the back end to go. It only works once. This year I’m researching other programmes. As it stands I cannot possibly see the value in this one

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