Throughout most of 2020 and 2021, Aeroplan has offered a flexible change and cancellation policy with a rolling deadline. As long as members booked their trips by this deadline, they could change or cancel their itineraries (even after this deadline) free of charge.
September 30, 2021 will mark the first time in a long time that this generous change and cancellation policy gets a little bit less generous.
The “one free change” policy is getting extended to October 31, while the “cancel anytime” policy will officially end as of the end of September.
“Cancel Anytime” Policy Will End on September 30
The current Aeroplan flexible cancellation policy reads as follows:
Need to cancel your trip? Aeroplan flight rewards booked through September 30, 2021 can be cancelled free of charge, anytime. Flight rewards booked as of October 1, 2021 apply the cancellation fee structure of the fare option purchased.
For cancellations, you’ll receive points back in your account, plus a full refund of any associated taxes, fees and charges on the unused value of your travel. (Note that refunds will not apply for previously-charged fees, including contact centre booking fees and change fees, or for government taxes and fees which are non-refundable by law.)
As you can see, if you make any bookings through the September 2021 deadline, you will be able to cancel the itinerary free of charge at any time. For the avoidance of doubt, this means that you’ll be able to cancel the itinerary for free even in October 2021 or thereafter, as long as the ticket was originally booked by September 30, 2021.
This means that every Aeroplan booking completed by September 30 is essentially “risk-free”: even if your travel plans don’t work out, you can simply cancel free of charge and get all your points redeposited into your account, as well as the associated taxes and fees (including the $39 partner booking fee, if applicable) refunded to your credit card.
You’ll notice that there are a few exceptions; if you make a booking over the phone (as is necessary if you wish to book a stopover for 5,000 points), then the phone booking fee of $30 plus taxes is not refundable later on.
However, this policy will not be getting extended past September 30. After that date, the cancellation fee for new Aeroplan bookings will depend on the fare option purchased.
The “Standard” fare category for economy class and the “Lowest” fare category for premium economy, business class, and First Class awards will command a cancellation fee, while the higher fare categories in each class of service may command lower or no cancellation fees (see below for the full fee schedule).
This development also means that the door to making speculative bookings with your Aeroplan balance will soon be closing.
Therefore, in the coming days before October arrives, as long as you have the points, don’t be afraid to make a few different bookings for different travel options (flight times, routings, airlines, etc.) for any trip you might be considering later in 2021 or in 2022.
You can always cancel all but one when your plans have firmed up, as long as you initiate the cancellation within two hours of the first departing flight.
In addition, another consequence of this policy is that you should continually monitor the prices of any Aeroplan bookings made on Air Canada flights for bookings made through September 2021.
The new dynamic pricing model can be highly variable over time, so if you see that your flight has in fact gone down in price, then it might make sense to cancel for free and rebook, saving yourself a nice chunk of points.
Book By October 2021 and Get the “One Free Change” Policy
The other component of the policy relates to making changes to a flight reward. Unlike the cancellation policy, this change has been extended through to October 31, 2021:
Enjoy flexibility if your plans change. We’ll waive all change fees on Aeroplan flight rewards through October 31, 2021. Starting November 1, 2021, flight rewards will be eligible for a one-time change fee waiver if booked prior to this date.
For changes, you’ll pay the difference in points or receive a partial refund if your new itinerary requires fewer points. In addition, a difference in taxes, fees and charges may apply when changing your itinerary.
Prior to this date, all change fees to Aeroplan flight rewards are waived. After this date, only the first change to a ticket booked through October 2021 will be free, and subsequent voluntary changes may still incur a change fee.
The fact that the flexible change policy has been extended to October 31 is very good news. It means that even though we’ll no longer have free cancellations for bookings made by this date, we can always change our bookings at least once without paying a change fee.
This keeps the door somewhat open for continued speculative bookings: if one booking doesn’t work out, change it to a trip you do intend to take.
Given the fluidity of the COVID-19 situation these days, it’s reasonable to think that the deadline of October 31, 2021 for the flexible change policy may get extended even further into the future, but we’ll have to wait and see what type of approach Aeroplan takes at that point in time.
Keep in mind that involuntary schedule changes on your itinerary (e.g., if the airline cancels a flight or changes the departure or arrival times) also entitle you to a waiver of the standard change fees if you were to make a reasonable modification to your itinerary as a result.
Aeroplan’s Change & Cancellation Fees
As a reminder, Aeroplan’s change and cancellation fees under normal circumstances can be found in the Flight Reward Policy, and they look as follows.
Since cancellation fees may apply for bookings made in October 2021 or thereafter, you may wish to consider purchasing the higher fare options with no change or cancellation fees, if you think there’s a high chance that you’ll want to cancel the ticket.
Otherwise, if you continue to pick the default “Standard” or “Lowest” fare categories, then your bookings will be subject to a cancellation fee of at least $150 per ticket if you change your mind and need to cancel.
Aeroplan’s current change and cancellation policies for flight rewards are quite generous, in light of the ongoing uncertainty around travel. However, they will be getting a little less generous as of September 30.
Any booking made by September 30, 2021 will be subject to free cancellation, whereas a cancellation fee may apply depending on the fare category for bookings made after this date.
Meanwhile, any booking made by October 31, 2021 will enjoy a free first voluntary change at any time (even in November 2021 or thereafter), which opens the door to greater flexibility – and perhaps even an element of speculation – when booking travel for later in 2021 or in early 2022.