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Aeroplan’s Generous Change & Cancellation Policy (Now Through February 2021) Ricky December 11, 2020

Aeroplan’s Generous Change & Cancellation Policy (Now Through February 2021)

This article has been updated to reflect the fact that the deadline for Aeroplan’s generous change and cancellation policy has now been extended from December 31, 2020 to February 28, 2021.

Shortly after the new program’s launch in early November, Aeroplan had quietly improved its change and cancellation policy for bookings made through 2020, and that date has now been updated to February 28, 2021.

Book By February 2021 and Cancel Anytime

Throughout most of 2020, Aeroplan has offered a flexible cancellation policy with a rolling deadline, by which members could cancel their itineraries free of charge: first it was by April, then by June, then August, then October, and then finally December 2020.

As long as a member initiated the cancellation by this rolling deadline, they would not pay a cancellation fee. However, they might still pay a cancellation fee if they initiated the cancellation after this deadline (unless the deadline got extended, of course, which is what ended up happening several times).

After the new program’s launch, the policy was simplified to eliminate this point of uncertainty. The current policy can be found on the Air Canada website, and reads as follows:

Aeroplan flight rewards booked through Feburary 28, 2021 can be changed or cancelled free of charge, at any time. 

For changes, you’ll pay only the difference in points, or receive a partial refund if your new itinerary requires fewer points.

For cancellations, you’ll receive all of your Aeroplan points back in your account, plus a full refund of any associated taxes, fees and surcharges 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 February 2021 deadline, you will be able to change or cancel the itinerary free of charge at any time. For the avoidance of doubt, “at any time” means that you’ll be able to change or cancel the itinerary for free even in March 2021 or thereafter, as long as the ticket was originally booked by February 28, 2021.

Let’s first talk about the cancellation policy. 

The fact that any bookings made through February 2021 will be cancellable free of charge means that every Aeroplan booking you make today 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.

Moreover, the exceptions also include “government taxes and fees that are non-refundable by law”; I personally haven’t come across too many examples of this, but there may be certain countries around the world whose government-imposed fees fit that bill.

As a result of this generous cancellation policy, the door is very much open to making speculative bookings with your balance of Aeroplan points. 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.

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.

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 February 2021 and Get the “One Free Change” Policy

The other component of the policy relates to making changes to a flight reward. On this point, it’s important to clarify that only the first change to a ticket booked through February 2021 will be free. Subsequent voluntary changes may still incur a change fee.

Essentially, Aeroplan’s unpublished “one free change” policy has been extended in the exact same way as the free cancellation policy: it’ll now apply on any tickets booked through February 2021, even if you initiate the first change sometime after that.

If you need to make another voluntary change after that, then a better idea would be to simply cancel the ticket free of charge (since you had originally booked it by February 2021) and make a new booking, instead of paying a change fee for your subsequent change.

There’s another small improvement to the nature of making changes to your Aeroplan bookings. In the past, if your change results in having to pay more Aeroplan points, then those points would be taken out of your account, but if it results in the ticket needing fewer Aeroplan points, then you wouldn’t get that difference in points refunded at all.

Now, however, you will receive a partial refund in points if your new itinerary costs fewer points compared to before. That’s very much a fair gesture, especially considering the sheer variability in Air Canada’s dynamic pricing model these days.

As a reminder, Aeroplan’s change and cancellation fees under normal circumstances look as follows.

(The increase in these fees is one of the negative changes of the new program compared to before, so it’s nice that we at least have some temporary reprieve from these fees for now.)

Given the fluidity of the COVID-19 situation these days, it’s reasonable to think that the deadline of February 28, 2021 for both the flexible change and cancellation policies may even get extended further as well, but we’ll have to wait and see what type of approach Aeroplan takes in the new year.

Partial Refunds on Aeroplan Awards

In clarifying these change and cancellation policies with Aeroplan, I also inquired about the matter of cancelling a partially flown Aeroplan ticket and redepositing a partial amount of the points.

The topic of partial refunds came to the forefront of the community during the first weeks and months of the COVID-19 pandemic, when several Aeroplan members needed to cancel itineraries in the middle of their trip and book their own return flight to Canada.

On this matter, Aeroplan has confirmed that partial refunds will continue to be offered on partially-flown itineraries, with the number of points being refunded corresponding to the unflown portion of the fare.

However, Aeroplan stopped short of confirming the exact methodology for calculating the amount of the partial refund, so this is something we’ll only eventually come to understand through real-life data points from travellers who find themselves in a situation where they need a partial refund.

Certainly, the new Flight Reward Chart and search engine already offer up some interesting scenarios to ponder (such as, to name just one, the Atlantic/Pacific arbitrage sweet spot and how it might play out in the scenario of a partial refund), but these are ultimately data points that would require a fairly high level of dedication to gather.

Conclusion

Aeroplan’s change and cancellation policies for flight rewards booked through the end of 2020 are quite generous, in light of the ongoing uncertainty around travel.

Any booking made by February 28, 2021 will be subject to free cancellation and a free first voluntary change at any time (even in March 2021 or thereafter), which opens the door to greater flexibility – and perhaps even an element of speculation – when booking travel for later in 2021. 

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14 Comments
  1. Avatar
    Donald

    Booked an Aeroplan award back in June 2020, Etihad flights have been cancelled and rebooked to unsatisfactory schedules including a forced 23 hour delay at LHR. Will I receive the full payment back including the $31.50 phone in booking fee?

  2. Avatar
    Alex

    Thanks Ricky! Any update on travel agencies (Expedia etc.) and the conversion of Air Canada cancelled tickets to a travel voucher (no expiration) or Aeroplan points + 65% bonus? I saw your post on American Express permitting this some weeks ago and was curious about the others. Any suggestions how to push the other TA’s to do this. It only seems equitable. Thanks for the great insights. Love your blog.

  3. Avatar
    Fred

    For what it is worth I asked the exact same question last week regarding the change cancel policy and the agent confirmed reward flights booked before Feb 28th, 2021 can be changed or cancelled anytime up to 2hrs before the flight.

  4. Avatar
    Jim Do

    Reading the comments here… is it possible that the CSRs are correct in that the policy states “book through” and not “book by” Dec 31, 2020?

    Aeroplan flight rewards booked through December 31, 2020 can be changed or cancelled free of charge, at any time.

    1. Ricky
      Ricky

      “Book through” means the same as “book by”. “Through” means “on any date on or before”.

      By the way, the deadline has now been extended to be “booked through February 28, 2021” – and the article updated.

  5. Avatar
    bingo

    Called in, and got the same message–free cancellations and changes only until Dec 31, 2020. Unless things are extended, that is the last date to be able to make a single change or cancel at no cost.

    I’m beginning to think either that page may be incorrect, or it is going to be a significant fight to cancel without any penalty

    1. Avatar
      Ray

      I also spoke with 3 different Aeroplan agents and they all said the same thing – the free cancellations and change is only applicable for changes made before Dec 31, 2020. I brought up the terms on the website and they said perhaps the wording is confusing but they were adamant that the free cancellation/change must occur before Dec 31, 2020. Given the ambiguity of it all, I decided not to book anything yet as I want to avoid wasting my time fighting over the terms.

      1. Ricky
        Ricky

        For what it’s worth, I’ve relayed to Aeroplan to remind the call centre agents and social media agents of the current policy, so hopefully they’ll be briefed on it properly and start equipping members with the correct information as soon as possible.

        1. Avatar
          Paul

          Awesome, thanks Ricky!

    2. Avatar
      Paul

      Did you bring up what their own web page said bingo?

  6. Avatar
    Paul

    Hey Mark, Maybe send them the link to their own webpage and ask them if it is incorrect or needs to be updated.

    https://www.aircanada.com/ca/en/aco/home/aeroplan/news/covid-19.html

    We have Aeroplan flights booked back to Canada in March and so we are directly affected by this topic. Currently we are operating on the assumption that the page Ricky mentioned is correct. If it is incorrect it could definitely change what we do with our tickets on Dec. 31st. Was it a private correspondence on Twitter or something we can add to?
    Thanks!
    Paul

  7. Avatar
    mark diamond

    Hey Ricky, so I sent that exact cancellation policy re: aware flights to Aeroplan on twitter and my response contradicts your article. The Aeroplan employee stated “…members are currently able to cancel and refund their flight rewards without charge until dec 31 2020. Unless this policy of goodwill is extended, applicable fees will then apply to cancel reservations”…thoughts ?

    1. Ricky
      Ricky

      Sounds like the social media team doesn’t quite understand the meaning of “any time”, which only adds to the confusion around this topic.

      If you book before December 31, you’ll be able to cancel for free even in 2021.

      1. Avatar
        Mark Diamond

        I reached out to them again via Twitter and received the following response:

        Hi Mark, members are currently able to cancel and refund their flight rewards (points and taxes) without charge until December 31, 2020 for tickets with original travel between March 1, 2020 and December 31, 2021. Unless this goodwill policy is further extended, the usual fees will then apply to change or refund reservations issued on/after January 1, 2021. These fees are established during the booking of your flight reward based on the fare option selected. To the best of our knowledge, all Aeroplan flight rewards can be changed or refunded up to 2 hours before departure. Should you want to review your booking or confirm the applicable fees, we invite you to call our Contact Centre at 1-800-361-5373 or 1-514-395-0300 (daily from 7 am to midnight ET). An agent will gladly look into this with you. We hope this helps! Arya

Ricky

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