Aeroplan Increasing Award Change & Redeposit Fees for Most Members
Update 10/17/16 4:54pm ET: Aeroplan has reached out to clarify that members can still cancel flights for free. You'll only pay a fee when changing or redepositing an award. So, while awards are free to cancel, you'll need to pay a fee to use those miles for a future reservation.
Air Canada's Aeroplan is less utilized than some other mileage programs, but it's still quite valuable. While it was certainly much better before the December 2015 devaluation, there's still plenty to love about this program.
You can book a round-trip business-class flight to Europe for just 110,000 miles (Western Europe) or 115,000 miles (Eastern Europe), book two stopovers on round-trip flights and get one of the best values around when flying with an infant in lap. Plus, Aeroplan will periodically run transfer bonuses — making its sweet-spot award flights even easier to obtain. Just don't fall for the trap to cover taxes and fuel surcharges with miles, as it's at a terrible rate.
Currently, Aeroplan also has one of the most generous fee structures for award changes and redeposits. It now costs just C$90 (Canadian dollars, about US$68) for any traveler to change or cancel and redeposit an award flight. Unfortunately, that's about to change. Effective December 6, Aeroplan will adopt a new fee chart — and it's bad news for most of us.
Rather than paying just C$90 (US$68) for changing or canceling and redepositing an award practically any time before the flight, you're going to pay C$100 (US$76) for each direction you change — up to C$200 (US$152) for round-trip, multi-city and Around the World tickets. Also, after December 6, you still have until two hours before the flight to cancel and redeposit the award ticket. You'll have to cancel at least 22 days before the flight if you want to have your miles refunded.
Does that mean you can't cancel and have your miles redeposited within 21 days of departure? Technically, yes. However, if you're outside of the cancellation period, you aren't stuck with a worthless ticket. You can get around this requirement by paying C$100 (US$76) per direction to change your flight(s) to a new date outside of the 22-day window. Once those new award flights are re-ticketed, you'll then have to pay another C$150 (US$114) to redeposit the ticket. So, not only are you having to pay C$160 to C$260 (US$122-198) more, it's also much more of a hassle.
For Aeroplan Diamond members, there might be some savings on the new chart. Rather than paying C$90, you have to pay just C$30 to cancel and redeposit an award via Aeroplan's website. However, you now have to make the cancellation at least 22 days before departure, unless you use the change and redeposit option outlined above. While one-way changes will be a bit cheaper to make (C$75 vs C$90), this fee is assessed per direction. So, you'll end up paying C$60 more than the current structure to change both the outbound and the return.
The only silver lining to this change is that you can lock tickets into the old change/redeposit fee structure just by booking by December 5. You'll only have to pay the new chart's fees if the new chart is better for you. As Aeroplan explains:
For any flight reward bookings made prior to December 6, 2016, the previous non-refundable fee of C$90 plus taxes applies. For members with Aeroplan diamond status, in the event that the new fee structure is more favourable, the lowest fee will be applied if the change or refund is made after December 6, 2016.
It's always disappointing when yet another mileage program increases its fees. This new Aeroplan fee structure is much more harsh than the current fee structure. However, we're glad to get at least seven weeks of notice and a way to lock in the current structure for flights as far out as the end of November 2017.
What awards are you going to book before December 6 to lock in the old fee structure?