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Converting Air Canada Tickets to Aeroplan: Are Travel Agency Bookings Enabled? (Points Posted!)

A little experiment that I ran several months ago has finally borne fruit, and the results are pretty exciting! 

Air Canada’s Flexible Rebooking Policy

Back in the summer of 2020, Air Canada introduced a new “Ready for Takeoff” flexible rebooking policy to provide passengers with assurance during these uncertain times.

(With the pandemic ongoing, this policy has now been extended several times on a rolling basis. The current policy ends on April 30, 2021, but I would be surprised if it wasn’t extended further beyond that date.)

Customers who wish to cancel their travel plans were understandably unhappy that they were not being offered a full refund, but rather only a 24-month credit for future travel on Air Canada, so the airline decided to offer two additional options instead:

  • Air Canada Travel Voucher: Instead of a 24-month credit, customers could instead opt for a flexible Travel Voucher which had no expiry date and could be shared with other passengers, similar to a gift card.
  • Aeroplan miles/points: Customers could choose to convert the value of their ticket into Aeroplan miles (back then) or Aeroplan points (now) with a 65% bonus on top of the usual rate of 3 cents per point (cpp), thus at an effective value of 1.8cpp before factoring in sales tax.

The second option definitely sounds more interesting, since it’s essentially a way to buy Aeroplan points at 1.8cpp for as long as the flexible policy is in place.

I had conducted a test run of this process to demonstrate that sales tax is not levied – and therefore the “true” 1.8cpp purchase price is achieved – if you include a non-Canadian address on your Aeroplan profile. Back then, it took about six weeks for my Aeroplan miles to deposit to my account, although that process seems to have gotten much quicker in recent months.

If you go back to that article, you’ll see that one of the lingering questions was: “What about tickets issued by travel agencies?”

Indeed, when the policy was first launched, it was only valid for bookings made directly with Air Canada. If you had booked through a travel agency (including redeeming third-party points currencies for Air Canada flights), then you were still limited to a 24-month travel voucher for the time being, and Air Canada had stated that they were “working on making these additional options available” to their travel agency partners.

Well, at least one travel agency – American Express Travel – has gotten the memo by now, with very interesting implications arising as a result.

American Express Travel Bookings Are Eligible

I had made a test booking through American Express Travel back when the Ready for Takeoff policy was first announced: Vancouver–Calgary on Air Canada economy class.

I was especially interested to see if I could convert the value of this ticket into Aeroplan points with the 65% bonus in place.

Over several months of back and forth, it was clear that Air Canada was taking their sweet time in allowing third-party travel agencies to access these flexible rebooking policies.

screen shot of email from American Express Travel

In November 2020, however, I finally received a response: Yes, American Express Travel was indeed able to request the conversion to Aeroplan points with a 65% bonus on my behalf!

I was informed that the conversion to Aeroplan points would indeed follow Air Canada’s policy of offering a 65% bonus on top of the usual rate – which is to say, the value of the ticket would be exchanged at an effective rate of 1.8cpp, after backing out any applicable sales tax.

However, American Express Travel advised that they could not confirm the exact amount of Aeroplan points to expect after the 65% bonus. They also mentioned it may take up to two months to receive the points.

American Express Travel Aeroplan miles confirmation page.

Even though American Express Travel could not confirm the exact amount, I went back to my statement and saw that the booking had originally incurred a charge of $407.66 on my credit card statement, so I assumed that that’s the amount being used for the conversion.

Air Canada airline ticket costs

Note that, at the time of running the experiment, my Aeroplan account had an Ontario address listed as the primary address.

(Even though putting down a foreign address would result in earning more Aeroplan points thanks to the absence of sales tax, I was more interested in the proof of concept here than necessarily maximizing value.)

Therefore, with a ticket amount of $407.66, I was expecting to receive 20,042 Aeroplan points at the other end. The exact math here, backing out the 13% Ontario HST, looks as follows:

40,766 cents / 1.13 / 1.8 cents per point = 20,042 Aeroplan points

After going ahead and instructing American Express Travel to proceed with the request, the waiting game began…

Aeroplan Points Have Finally Posted

Even though American Express Travel had warned that it may take up to two months to receive the points, in reality, it took almost exactly four months – from late November to late March – to see the points arriving in my Aeroplan account. 

The number of Aeroplan points was exactly what I was expecting: 20,042 Aeroplan points.

Air Canada refund credit for aeroplan points used

What’s the implication here? Well, think back to the Vancouver–Calgary test flight I had booked via American Express Travel. Did I pay $407.66 in cash for this flight?

No – I booked it with 15,000 Amex MR Select points + $107.66, with the MR Select points covering $300 worth of the base fare as part of the Amex Fixed Points Travel reward chart.

Travel destinations listed with prices and points to travel at cost

Indeed, after the $407.66 charge showed up on my statement, it was subsequently offset by a $300 credit from American Express Travel.

American Express Travel refund image

That’s the underlying logic behind the Amex Fixed Points Travel program, after all: you’re essentially paying for cash fares and then using MR points or MR Select points to offset up to a certain maximum base fare, at a value of up to 2cpp.

It’s worth considering how many Aeroplan points I would’ve earned if I had a foreign address listed on my account. In that case, there would be no sales tax being backed out, and the math would look as follows:

40,766 cents / 1.8 cents per point = 22,648 Aeroplan points

Essentially, it’s possible to convert 15,000 MR Select points + $107.66 into 22,648 Aeroplan points!

It’s a backdoor method to convert MR Select points into Aeroplan points at a rate of about 1:1.5, with a “fee” of about $100 for every 15,000 points converted and a four-month waiting period. 

If you don’t want to pay a “fee”, recall that I could’ve covered the extra $107.66 using 10,766 MR Select points, too.

In that case, I could’ve converted 25,766 MR Select points into 22,648 Aeroplan points, thus achieving a “true” transfer ratio of 1:0.88. 

(However, in my view, it’s optimal to go ahead and pay the cash “fee” anyway, and save those extra 10,766 MR Select points towards another chunk of 15,000 MR Select points that you could convert!) 

Consider the elevated signup bonus of 45,000 MR Select points on the American Express Cobalt Card and its 5x earning rate on everything you can buy at the grocery store. Those are now looking a lot more interesting, aren’t they?!

Similar experiments are now underway via the RBC Avion and CIBC Aventura programs, both on my own end and within the wider community, I’m sure. I’d invite you to carefully consider the implications if those experiments turn out with similar results. 

Conclusion

Air Canada’s flexible booking and refunds policy has been extended to bookings made by some travel agencies, including American Express Travel.

I was able to convert a ticket originally booked with MR Select points into Aeroplan points at a favourable ratio. This is an exciting, albeit temporary, opportunity to parlay your MR Select points earnings into Aeroplan points at a better ratio than the traditional method of going through Marriott Bonvoy as an intermediary. 

Have you booked any flights with Air Canada through third-party travel agencies for which you might wish to ask for a conversion into Aeroplan points? Is your travel agency able to request an Aeroplan conversion on your behalf yet? Let us know in the comments below.

57 Comments
  1. Avatar
    Kyrie English

    Ricky, have you been able to convert RBC Avion and CIBC Aventura booking to AP points?

    1. Ricky
      Ricky

      Nope. By all accounts RBC and CIBC seem to be limited to a travel voucher held with their travel agencies.

  2. Avatar
    Luke

    Interesting, but I wonder If I book a $400 ticket with 15k MR select + $100. Can I cancel the flight and get it refunded to $400 AC Travel Voucher?

    1. Ricky
      Ricky

      Yes, you can.

      1. Avatar
        Luke

        Thanks for the reply! That’s amazing! I’ll go ahead convert my aventura pts to ac voucher then. Do I have to go through Amex/CIBCAventura to use the AC Travel Voucher or Amex/CIBCAventura will give me a code so I can use directly with air Canada?

        1. Avatar
          Kyrie English

          I have not seen any evidence that Aventura allows cancellation to be converted to AP.

  3. Avatar
    Sean

    Can I convert Air Miles to Aeroplan in the same way?

    1. Avatar
      John Andos

      I called Air Miles at one point recently and they suggested that the cancelled flight would just reconvert back to Air Miles and a refund on credit card.

    2. Ricky
      Ricky

      Possibly, though I haven’t heard of any data points either way. It’d be difficult to know how many Aeroplan points you’d get in exchange for how many Air Miles, since the Air Miles program isn’t exactly transparent in terms of how awards are priced.

  4. Avatar
    CT

    Last year I booked with Amex travel a one-way flight with Air Canada from LAX – YUL- YOW. I paid and utilized my $200.00 Platinum credit. The trip was canceled because of Covid-19 in late March. Originally, I was offered a credit voucher for 1 year. The ticket cost $418 + 37.85 for tx, a total of  $455.85. Then in November 2020 I called and asked Amex to request the AC ticket convert to Aeroplane points. Yesterday, after nearly four months, 22,410 points posted in my Aeroplan account. Finally !!!

  5. Avatar
    Jerry

    Thanks for the update Ricky. Just a quick question, if I use the Amex 200 travel credit (instead of using fixed points) to book an air Canada ticket, can I initiate the convert to Aeroplan points on air Canada website by myself? Or I have to go through Amex travel booking agent for the Aeroplan points conversion? Thanks in advance.

    1. Ricky
      Ricky

      You still need to go through the Amex Travel agent to process the conversion, but it should still work! A good way to transform the $200 travel credit into Aeroplan points instead.

  6. Avatar
    Nick Kozik

    Ricky,

    To confirm – When transferring 120K MR-S, is it okay to have an AC flight with a partner (Lufthansa or Swiss), or does it need to be AC for every leg?

    If the flight was booked for 2 people can we convert this into 1 Aeroplan account, or does it need to be 2 separate accounts?

    Lastly – I’d imagine we want to maximize the base fare cost with the MR-S points were using in order to get more Aeroplan points. Do you have any regions or flight recommendations which tend to reach the 2c/p?

    Thanks in advance!

  7. Avatar
    nabeelj

    Any updates on the RBC Avion experiment?

    1. Avatar
      nabeelj

      Without looking too hard, I was able to find a few flights for 15K + $201.72, with the 15K representing $336. I could look harder to find a fare closer to $350 and taxes/surcharges lower than $201.72.

      By my math, since my Aeroplan account is US-based, I should end up with 29575 Aeroplan points.

      So, 15K Avion + $201.72 -> 29575 Aeroplan.

      Since Aeroplan can currently be purchased for 1.5c, let’s use that as a valuation for the the $201.72, i.e. 13,448 Aeroplan.

      So, effectively, I would get 15K Avion -> 16,127 Aeroplan.

      1. Avatar
        Jay*

        Great to see you catching the potential Easter egg Ricky alluded to.

      2. Avatar
        nabeelj

        With a bit more searching, I found an option for 15K + $101.81, with the 15K representing $330. Doing the same math, effectively 15K Avion -> 16,963 Aeroplan.

        1. Avatar
          Alex

          Hi NabeelJ,

          Have you had a success actually “transforming” those Avion points into AP with 65% bonus? Or you’re just doing some math here?

          1. Avatar
            Spoirier

            I had an existing RBC booking from March 2019. I have an RBC/AC 24 month voucher. They said they were unable to convert to AP points as they are unable to convert the RBC ticket to an AC voucher. I spoke with the supervisor and she said they have not yet received this directive from AC. I escalated to someone above her and she said to expect a response in 3-4 weeks.

            1. Avatar
              Alex

              Interesting @Spoirier – thanks for this DP.
              Please keep us posted with your experience.

          2. Avatar
            nabeelj

            Math

  8. Avatar
    VD

    Hi Ricky, I have a ticket worth $4600 ($3900 + Tax). Consulted with Amex travel and Air Canada which they confirmed I will receive only around 147000 points after with 65% bonus. However I get way more when using your method above, I get 460000c/1.8/1.3 = 2550000 points. Can you please help what’s going on here.. Thanks

    1. Ricky
      Ricky

      It sounds like they’re telling you how many Aeroplan points you’d get if you bought points at the regular price of 3 cents per point, not with the 65% bonus factored in.

  9. Avatar
    Fernand

    Could it not also be a roundabout way of making the ScotiaBank AMEX gold an “Aeroplan points producer” ? You could book an Air Canada flight and have 12mo to “repay” the flight amount using their currency ?

    1. Ricky
      Ricky

      Yes, but because Scotia Rewards doesn’t have a Fixed Points Travel chart that offers up to 2cpp in value, it’d be the exact same thing as using your Scotia Gold Amex to buy an Air Canada flight outright, offsetting it with points, and then converting those points to Aeroplan at 1.8cpp. That’s something you’ve already been able to do since the summer of 2020.

  10. Avatar
    Louis

    So if I understand correctly, if everything works out, it would be a way to convert MR select points to Aeroplan where the 15 000 MR select points worth 300$ would be worth 16 666 aeroplan points? Then added the out of pocket expense of 107$ That would convert in an additional 5944 points? So much much better than going through Bonvoy!…

    1. Ricky
      Ricky

      If everything works out, yes. Let’s see when the points post – it’s been six weeks already, so I’ll be trying to follow up soon.

      1. Avatar
        Gustav

        I cancelled a paid booking for my son with Amex travel in mid December and the refund Aeroplan points have not posted yet, after 8 weeks. Amex could not confirm if the points would go to my son (whose aeroplan number was on the booking) or to me (the buyer), but either works with family account now. Any Dp’s on the expected waiting time and should I reach out to Amex Travel or Aeroplan for status?

        1. Ricky
          Ricky

          I’m at almost 12 weeks now, and still waiting. Reaching out to Amex Travel hasn’t borne fruit, as they’ve just said that Air Canada has a big backlog of these requests and are working their way through with no estimated completion date. All we can do is wait in this situation.

          1. Avatar
            Gustav

            Happy to report that my Aeroplan points credit for an Amex travel booking cancelled in December just came through. Took over 3 months but its all good now

            1. Ricky
              Ricky

              Awesome to hear that!

  11. Avatar
    Dan

    This is great news if it pans out as expected, it’s a shame most of us cleared out our MR-S balances back in September.

  12. Avatar
    Mahendra

    I booked through a travel agency.They issued a 24 months voucher.But when I tried to book using that voucher, they are asking me to book same route as original ticket.Can you please advise on this.
    Thanks

    1. Ricky
      Ricky

      Sounds incorrect to me: the 24-month travel voucher should be usable on any future Air Canada travel within the period. If they continue to stick to that line, I’d say wait a while to see if the travel agency gains access to the above-mentioned set of more flexible options and take advantage of those.

  13. Avatar
    Sarah

    I just saw my aeroplan points post from a flight I cancelled three weeks ago. That flight had been booked with an AC voucher from flight canceled in March.

    1. Ricky
      Ricky

      Thanks for the DP Sarah — looks like the recent ones have all been taking around three weeks.

      1. Avatar
        Pam

        I paid cash for some flights that I will likely need to cancel. If I want to take the points option, how are the # of points calculates in the cost of a cash flight?

  14. Avatar
    Peter Chan

    I cancelled my flight to the US back in March & Air Canada gave me 24 months to rebook I was not aware of the 2 options you mentioned here do you think they will change mine to a voucher to travel anytime now please advise I booked on line directly with AC.
    Many thanks,
    Peter

    1. Ricky
      Ricky

      If you had gotten the 24 month voucher originally, then yes, you should be able to choose one of these two alternatives now simply by getting in touch with AC and making the request.

  15. Avatar
    Ethan

    (Accidentally posted as reply instead of top level)

    Are Air Canada booked Aeroplan point refunds only taking a couple days now? Do you have any more information on this?

    1. Ricky
      Ricky

      Based on DPs here, seems like the direct ones are taking a couple of weeks now.

  16. Avatar
    Valentin

    Just had a conversation with an Amex travel agent about the same. She confirmed that the voucher would be 100% of the total ticket price. However, if I decide to convert into Aeroplan points then ONLY FARE will be converted into the points (plus 65% bonus), but all taxes and surcharges will be forfeit. It was hard to believe, but the agent reconfirmed the rule with her colleague (or the supervisor). That being said it will be extremely interesting to see the amount of points to hit Rick’s account…

    1. Ricky
      Ricky

      I think this can easily be chalked down to confusion around the “excluding any taxes” wording of the Aeroplan conversion. At first we all wondered if that means the taxes and fees on the ticket, but we’ve established that it actually means that sales tax gets backed out before the conversion. It’s also good that the Amex rep confirmed that the actual value of the ticket will be used (even if she might be incorrect about the base fare/taxes). Let’s wait and see!

      1. Avatar
        Hillary

        Thanks for all the information – this is super helpful to know!

        Following up on this thread and post, have you received the Aeroplan points for this conversion from Amex yet? I am trying to decide if I should convert a flight I booked with MR Fixed Rewards to Aeroplan or not

        1. Ricky
          Ricky

          Not yet – and it’s been about 4 weeks at this point.

          1. Avatar
            Roman

            Guess you still haven’t received the points? That’s kinda disappointing to know that given it’s been 2 months now?

            1. Ricky
              Ricky

              Update: I’ve been told they’re still working through a backlog of cancellations to points – but there’s no firm timeline for mine to be processed.

            2. Ricky
              Ricky

              Yes, still waiting. I’ve sent a follow-up to inquire.

              1. Avatar
                Jay*

                My credit voucher took approximately 12 weeks to receive. Granted that was during peak summer travel so I imagine it should be a quicker turn around nowadays.

  17. Avatar
    Timbo2

    Hopefully all third party agencies soon. I am assuming that one could then book a flight, to use up available CIBC, TD. etc. points, and then cancel to convert to AP. A very nice Christmas gift for all.

  18. Avatar
    Omar

    I’ll give it a whirl and see what’s happens. I’m still waiting for my points from a cancellation I did with air canada 3 weeks ago. Any idea how long they usually takes to post? The first time I did it, they arrived within a week.. Much longer this second time it seems…

    1. Ricky
      Ricky

      Yeah it seems like at first (back in the summer) it was taking six weeks… then it got faster and started taking a few days… then it’s back down to three weeks now.

    2. Avatar
      Omar

      Disregard… Just got them today. So expect up to 3 weeks before getting your points.

      1. Avatar
        Ethan

        Did you get an email when you got your points, or were they just in your account?

        1. Ricky
          Ricky

          By all accounts they just show up.

          1. Avatar
            Omar

            No email. Just showed up last night in my account

Ricky

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