The new Aeroplan launch has been delayed – but the program has announced a new airline partner to further drum up the anticipation in the meantime!
New Aeroplan Launch Delayed Until Monday
While the launch was originally planned for the afternoon of Sunday, November 8, Air Canada has determined that they need additional time to complete adequate testing with Aeroplan’s partners (both current and new) – and so the launch has been pushed back to the morning of Monday, November 9.
Despite this delay, the new Air Canada benefits for holders of Aeroplan co-branded credit cards by TD, CIBC, and American Express will still be kicking in for members starting on November 8. Depending on the type of card, these benefits include:
- Free first checked bag
- Priority check-in, baggage handling, and boarding
- Maple Leaf Lounge access
- Priority airport standby and upgrades
On the topic of the Aeroplan credit cards, the welcome bonuses on all 11 newly launched or relaunched products will be revealed very shortly (if you haven’t signed up for the American Express waitlist bonus yet, you have a few hours left to do so!)
Stay tuned for all the analysis of what the new welcome offers will bring – and whether the promise of “something amazing” lives up to its hype.
Aeroplan Adds Partnership with Air Serbia
Aeroplan has been relentlessly adding new airline partners in the lead-up to the new program’s launch. We saw the addition of Etihad Airways in June, Azul Brazilian Airlines in July, and Vistara in August.
As of the new program’s launch, another brand-new airline partner will be bookable using Aeroplan points: Air Serbia.
Based out of Belgrade, Air Serbia is Serbia’s national airline founded all the way back in 1927, having previously served as the flag carrier of Yugoslavia and Serbia & Montenegro. They serve 63 destinations in 32 countries and have codeshare agreements with various airlines, including many already in Aeroplan’s arsenal: Etihad Airways, LOT Polish Airlines, and Air China among others.
Note that the Air Serbia partnership only allows Aeroplan members to redeem points for Air Serbia flights – the ability to earn points on paid Air Serbia flights is not supported at this time.
Redeem Aeroplan Points on Air Serbia
Air Serbia will follow the same redemption rules as all other partners, meaning:
- Air Serbia flights will be subject to Aeroplan’s Flight Award Chart, available here.
- Members will be able to book Air Serbia flights online at Aeroplan.com as well as via the contact centre.
- Air Serbia flights can be combined with flights operated by Air Canada and all other international partners.
- There are no fuel surcharges when redeeming for Air Serbia or any other airline; however, the $39 partner booking fee applies.
Now that the new program’s search engine is live, we’re seeing Air Serbia award space already bookable:
For now, let’s take a look at their route map:
As you can see, Air Serbia runs mostly intra-European and Levant routes with one notable exception: their flagship route from Belgrade to New York JFK.
The graphic below depicts their fleet, and it’s without a doubt their single Airbus A330 operates the transatlantic flight.
I’ve flown this seat type a couple times in the past, and I must say that I generally prefer reverse herringbone seats which face away from the aisle, as the regular herringbone seats are somewhat lacking in privacy, storage room, and width.
Nevertheless, Air Serbia’s flight from New York JFK to Belgrade will be another useful option for travelling to Europe (especially Eastern Europe) if the other usual suspects don’t have availability or don’t fit within your schedule.
Moreover, exyuaviation.com notes that Toronto Pearson International Airport and Air Serbia were in talks to launch Toronto–Belgrade flights back in 2018, which would add even more utility to the Air Serbia partnership if this new route were to come to fruition.
New York to Belgrade is exactly 4,511 miles, thus costing 70,000 points in business class or 40,000 points in economy class one-way under the new Aeroplan program.
Even better, since Aeroplan charges the same amount for flying up to 6,000 miles in distance, tacking on any of their other destinations would maintain the same cost. You can even add a stopover in Belgrade for an extended period for an extra 5,000 points.
Some itineraries involving Air Serbia, such as Toronto–New York–Belgrade–Cairo, would bring the total mileage flown above 6,000 miles and would therefore cost 55,000 points in economy class or 85,000 points in business class.
This is one of those situations where you might want to depart directly from New York JFK , and then book a separate Toronto–New York positioning flight in economy for 6,000 points, thereby saving yourself 9,000 points.
As for Air Serbia’s intra-European routes, most are within 1,000 miles of Belgrade and will cost 7,500 Aeroplan points in economy class or 15,000 Aeroplan points in business class, one-way.
The exceptions are depicted below, pushing the mileage into a higher band of 12,500 Aeroplan points in economy class or 25,000 Aeroplan points in business class, one-way.
Overall, Star Alliance’s coverage in Europe is already excellent with Lufthansa, Swiss, Austrian, TAP Air Portugal, etc., so while the Air Serbia partnership won’t open up a whole host of previously inaccessible destinations, there are now a few interesting destinations that are more accessible, such as Malta and Krasnodar.
Perhaps we shouldn’t be surprised that the launch of the new program has been delayed, since it’s clearly a monumental project on the back-end. Instead of the afternoon of Sunday, November 8, the new Aeroplan program will now launch on the morning of Monday, November 9, so we’ll have to wait a bit longer before hopping on the platform and playing around with the new website.
When the new program does launch, Air Serbia will be a new redemption partner available to Aeroplan members, giving us another option for crossing the Atlantic and exploring more of Eastern Europe out of the airline’s hub in Belgrade.
There’s your quick update for now – come back in a few hours’ time for all of the new welcome offers on the Aeroplan co-branded credit cards!