Aeroplan Unveils Plan for Program After Air Canada Breakup

Apr 28, 2018

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Almost a year ago, Air Canada announced it was cutting ties in 2020 with its spun-off mileage program Aeroplan and starting its own new in-house frequent flyer system. The stock for the independent company that runs Aeroplan plummeted 83% in the month after the news and has only recovered a small fraction of its losses since.

Now, almost a year later, Aeroplan is ousting its CEO and presenting a plan on how to stay relevant after the Air Canada divorce is final on June 30, 2020. This week, Aeroplan unveiled six “brand commitments” for its awards starting in 2020:

  1. The freedom to choose any seat on more of your favorite airlines
  2. The power to reach your travel plans faster
  3. A complete travel offering in one place
  4. Unmatched convenience and flexibility
  5. A more personalized journey
  6. An altogether transformed user experience

The company provided a few details for each of these broad concepts, including these noteworthy statements:

Based on input from members looking for more choice, flexibility and convenience, a new Aeroplan will be delivered in a simplified and reinvented user experience.

Starting in July 2020, you won’t be limited to seat inventory from one airline or one network when you want to redeem valued miles. Instead, you’ll be able to choose any available seat from more airlines to more destinations than today.

And there’s some truly over-the-top promises in the FAQ about the changes:

The underlying takeaway for me: Aeroplan is moving toward revenue-based redemptions. Without its partnership with Air Canada and Star Alliance partners, the company will have to become more of a standard fixed-value currency program where you’ll simply use your Aeroplan “miles” to redeem against flights and possibly other travel like you would with some credit card systems, such as the Capital One Venture Rewards Credit Card or the Bank of America® Premium Rewards® credit card.

Aeroplan would love to spin this as a positive, even though mileage experts know it almost certainly means the end of incredible awards.

The obvious question not yet answered is what will the value of Aeroplan miles be when used for these redemptions? It’s not a good sign that the details of the brand commitments focus on allowing members to “earn fast and often,” which seems to mean that miles will be more available and therefore less valuable than they are today.

Using “simplicity” to mean a change to a revenue-based system isn’t new — British Airways CEO Alex Cruz has been talking for years about moving to a revenue-based system. And, like that potential change, Aeroplan going revenue-based wouldn’t be bad for everyone. For those that don’t have time to invest in finding great value awards, they might appreciate redeeming Aeroplan miles for merchandise or Avios for cappuccinos instead of free flights.

The bottom line here for those of us who maximize our miles is that this is another reminder to use your Aeroplan miles for amazing awards before June 2020. Some of the top options include Lufthansa first class (70,000 miles each way between the US and Europe), Turkish business class or maximizing stopovers and open-jaws. Remember that Aeroplan is currently an especially good redemption option for families.

If you need to top off your account for one of these redemptions, you can transfer American Express Membership Rewards or Starwood Preferred Guest Starpoints to Aeroplan. Since there’s still two years before any changes kick in, there’s also still time to apply for a new credit card, earn the welcome bonus, transfer the points to Aeroplan and redeem for an excellent award. Top cards to consider are The Platinum Card® from American Express, the Business Platinum Card® from American Express.

Featured image courtesy of Air Canada.

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