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 Aeroplan.com 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).
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.
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 United.com 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 Aeroplan.com. 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 Aeroplan.com”
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.