How Aeroplan’s Family Sharing prevents ‘gaming’ while letting you rack up rewards faster

Aug 11, 2020

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This morning, Aeroplan unveiled its brand-new loyalty program. While the new program goes by the same name, the program as a whole has been completely stripped down and built back up from the ground. While frequent Aeroplan users will note right off the bat that redemption rates have gone up in some cases, there are some genuine positives in the new program, as well as some innovative new perks.

One of those positives comes in the form of family travel. And more specifically, how Aeroplan plans to offer members with a family a way to pool points to make earning and redeeming a more seamless experience. The final product, which is known as Aeroplan Family Sharing, allows members to more seamlessly earn and redeem points as a cohort.

(Image courtesy of Aeroplan)

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The basics of Aeroplan Family Sharing

First, the basics of Aeroplan Family Sharing. Up to seven people in your family — eight, including you — can join in a single Family Sharing account. Each member who joins the Family Sharing account will have their points balance added to the pool of points, including points that were earned before the Family Sharing account was created.

Once the members of the family have accumulated enough points for a redemption, they can use the sum of the shared pool to redeem for each member of the family. Perhaps best of all, if there is one member of the family that travels more than others and has elite status or holds a cobranded credit card, all members of the Family Sharing account will be able to take advantage of the preferred pricing granted to the status holder.

Related: Why Air Canada’s promise to note remove award charts is such a big deal

How Family Sharing works

Say, for example, there is a family of five. One parent travels a lot and holds status with Air Canada, meaning on their own, they have access to Aeroplan’s preferred pricing model. In this example, let’s say that parent holds the title as “The Family Lead”, essentially making them the owner of the Family Sharing account.

That parent is also bringing in 123,000 points. The other parent doesn’t hold status and also doesn’t travel as frequently, though they still have 19,000 points saved up from previous travel. The family’s three children each have minimal balances of 7,000, 3,500 and 500 points apiece.

Once this example family sets up a Family Sharing account, they’d be able to pool their accumulated points for a grand total of 153,000 points. Additionally, because of one parent’s elite status, each member of the account is able to lock in preferred — and often lower — amounts for awards.

As each member of the Family Sharing account earns points — whether that’s through spending on a cobranded credit card, flying or using a shopping portal — they will be added to the pooled family account. When someone from the Family Sharing account makes a redemption, Aeroplan will deduct points from all members’ accounts in proportion as to create a fair experience. A member’s inactivity is still based on the individual level, rather than on the group level.

Related: 19 things you need to know about redeeming with the new Aeroplan

How this prevents gaming

There’s no cost for a family to create a Family Sharing account. And, for families with younger children, there’s a parental control-type feature, which allows The Family Lead to manage the redemption privileges for each member of the account.

Photo by LWA/Getty Images
(Photo by LWA/Getty Images)

Sounds good, right? Well, there, of course, lies the obvious gap for an opportunist. But Aeroplan emphasizes that with its new program, it’s trusting members to not abuse the new Family Sharing account feature.

But along with trusting members to not abuse the new feature, the program is also adding some requirements that will make it harder to game the service. For instance, all members who are added to a Family Sharing account must stay in the shared account for at least three months. Should a member decide to leave the account, they have to wait six months before being able to join another, different Family Sharing account.

Aeroplan says it will ask you to identify the relationship between each member of the Family Sharing account. However, there will be some flexibility in who is considered to be a family member.

Aeroplan said that with the launch of Family Sharing, while it’s also putting trust in members not to abuse the functionality, it will be monitoring how members redeem points for others.

Related: Pros and cons of the new Air Canada Aeroplan loyalty program

Bottom line

While a pooled family mileage account is nothing new in the world of airline loyalty programs — British Airways its similar Household Account — it’s a big improvement for Aeroplan. Air Canada executives behind the Aeroplan rethink said that in interviews with Aeroplan members, many emphasized that they wanted a better option for families.

Keep in mind that with all changes to Aeroplan, they don’t kick in today. They don’t even kick in this month, for that matter. The program will relaunch in phases. The first phase, on Nov. 8, will be the launch of many of the new program’s elements, as well as the launch of its new Canadian cobranded cards. Then, in the first quarter of 2021, the full program will be live. Presumably, Family Sharing will become an option in the first phase in November.

Featured photo by Granger Wootz/Getty Images.

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