If you recall, I had predicted that the Aeroplan 50% Miles Back promotion was a landmark moment that could set the tone for future offers and promotions from Canada’s largest frequent flyer program. What I didn’t expect, however, was for another promotion to arrive so soon.
Aeroplan has today rolled out their Big Summer Miles Offers, giving members the choice between up to a 150% bonus on miles earned on new flight bookings with Air Canada, or up to a 40% mileage rebate when redeeming Aeroplan miles for flights across the Air Canada route network, on all new bookings made before August 4, 2020 for travel by September 30, 2020.
Unlike the previous 50% Miles Back promotion, Aeroplan members must register for the Big Summer Miles Offer. You can do so on the promotion’s page on the Aeroplan website.
Up to 40% Miles Back on Air Canada Flights (Domestic & International)
For most Aeroplan members, the more interesting part of this promotion will be on the redemption side. Upon registration for the offer, you’ll receive 30%, 35%, or 40% of the Aeroplan miles back into your account depending on the class of service you book.
Compared to the 50% Miles Back promotion last time, this round caps out at a lower 40% offer; however, it is now valid on all Air Canada flights across the global route network, rather than simply flights within Canada or the US.
Looking at the Aeroplan Reward Chart, we can consider a few examples of the effective mileage requirement for popular fixed-mileage redemptions under the Big Summer Miles Offers:
A round-trip short-haul flight within Canada in economy class, which would normally cost 15,000 miles, would now cost 10,500 miles after getting 30% miles back
A round-trip long-haul flight within Canada in economy class, which would normally cost 25,000 miles, would now cost 17,500 miles after getting 30% miles back
A round-trip long-haul flight within Canada in business class, which would normally cost 50,000 miles, would now cost 30,000 miles after getting 40% miles back
A round-trip flight from North America to Europe in business class, which would normally cost 110,000 miles, would now cost 66,000 miles after getting 40% miles back
A round-trip flight from North America to Asia in business class, which would normally cost 150,000 miles, would now cost 90,000 miles after getting 40% miles back
One-way and round-trip bookings are all eligible, as are multi-city bookings (which are really just round-trip bookings with a stopover). Like the 50% Miles Back event, the mileage rebate will be deposited into your account within three to four weeks after travel has taken place.
Note that the rebates are also valid on Market Fare redemptions, which can vary based on the date of travel and can sometimes be lower than the corresponding fixed-mileage redemption (in which case it’s advertised as a “Great Deal”). If you see a Market Fare redemption you like, then you’d benefit from 30–40% of the miles rebated to your account as well.
For this promotion, all flights on the itinerary must be operated by Air Canada or its subsidiaries. Who knows, though – at the rate things are going, maybe we’ll see a mileage rebate promotion on partner flights sometime in the future? 😉
The requirement to fly on Air Canada also slightly dampens the excitement around the fact that this promotion has been expanded to international flights, because you’ll still have to pay Air Canada’s hefty fuel surcharges unless you’re an Altitude Super Elite 100K member.
In the case of an Air Canada business class redemption, these surcharges can still be worthwhile when compared to the cash fare (and taking into account the 40% mileage rebate), but there’s no denying that they erode the value of your redemption significantly.
Of course, looking at the bigger picture, another limitation will be the highly uncertain climate around international travel in general. The Big Summer Miles Offers’ “travel by” date of September 30, 2020 doesn’t leave a very wide timeframe for Canadians looking to travel internationally when you consider that the Government of Canada’s requirement for 14-day mandatory quarantine upon return is in effect until at least August 31 (and may be extended further).
If you’re someone who’d be comfortable travelling as soon as the 14-day mandatory quarantine is lifted, then it may be worth taking a punt on a September flight under this promotion, taking comfort in the fact that you can always cancel and get a refund of your Aeroplan miles and taxes, free of charge, until August 31 (a date which may also be extended further).
(The September 30 end-date doesn’t surprise me at all, though, because one day after that marks the beginning of – you guessed it – Quarter 4 of 2020.)
Otherwise, I think the greatest beneficiaries of this promotion are those who’d like to travel domestically, but who had missed out on the earlier 50% Miles Back promotion for whatever reason (or who’ve earned extra miles since then). Now you have the chance to get in on a deal for 30% miles back, which is still pretty neat even if it’s not as outstanding as before.
Up to 150% Bonus Miles on New Air Canada Bookings
The earning side of Aeroplan’s Big Summer Miles Offers is less interesting from a value perspective, but still worth noting if you might be flying on any paid Air Canada tickets before September 30.
Upon registration for the offer, Aeroplan members can earn a 100% bonus on miles earned from paid economy class fares (other than basic economy), as well as a 150% bonus on miles earned from paid premium economy or business class fares, on all flights across the Air Canada route network. The base number of Aeroplan miles you earn from Air Canada flights is determined by the mileage accrual chart, and your 100% or 150% bonus would be calculated on top of those earnings.
This isn’t really a game-changer of a promotion by any means, but it’ll definitely be helpful for those who might choose to book paid fares for their domestic trips this summer, especially as it’ll allow them to rack up Aeroplan miles more quickly to take advantage of juicy promotions on the redemption side in the future.
On the business side, it’s pretty clear that this promotion is designed to get people booking paid travel with Air Canada again.
It’s important to point out that the cancellation policy on paid Air Canada tickets is significantly more restrictive than Aeroplan award tickets: the airline is reluctant to provide refunds on cancelled flights at the moment, although they will allow you to convert the value of your ticket into Aeroplan miles with a 65% bonus (i.e., at an effective rate of 1.8 cents per mile) if you change your mind about the trip.
As we’ve covered throughout the summer, Aeroplan has been adding lots of hype to its program in recent months, and the Big Summer Miles Offers is only the latest step in that process. From now until September 30, members will enjoy up to 150% bonus miles on the earning side and up to 40% in mileage rebates on the redemption side when travelling with Air Canada, whether it’s domestically or internationally.
Compared to the previous 50% Miles Back promotion, this round of offers is more subdued, but still provides plenty of value if you have upcoming trips to book.
I expect the Aeroplan hype train to be making an imminent arrival into New Loyalty Program Station sometime very soon, and I’m very much looking forward to hearing the news that it brings.