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Converting Air Canada Tickets to Aeroplan: Are Travel Agency Bookings Enabled? Ricky November 20, 2020

Converting Air Canada Tickets to Aeroplan: Are Travel Agency Bookings Enabled?

I wanted to provide a quick update on something I’ve been tracking over the past few months.

Recap: Air Canada’s Flexible Rebooking Policy

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

Customers who wished 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, it seems that at least one travel agency – American Express Travel – has gotten the memo by now, with potentially very interesting implications arising as a result.

American Express Travel Can Now Request Aeroplan Points On Your Behalf

I had made a test booking through American Express Travel back in the summer 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.

A few days ago, however, I received a response that 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, even though recent data points indicate that the conversion of tickets booked directly with Air Canada into Aeroplan points are taking only a couple of days.

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 would guess that that’s the amount being used for the conversion.

Indeed, I followed up and asked if they could confirm what the value would be if I had chosen the Air Canada Travel Voucher instead – and they confirmed it was the credit card statement charge of $407.66.

I’ll definitely update this section when the Aeroplan points hit my account to confirm.

What Does This Mean?

First of all, if you’ve booked any travel with Air Canada via a third-party travel agency (including third-party rewards programs like Amex, RBC, CIBC, BMO, TD, or even Air Miles) and had to accept a future travel voucher in lieu of a refund when your flight got cancelled, now’s the time to check back with your travel agency.

They may be able to offer you an Air Canada Travel Voucher (which is more flexible than a 24-month travel credit held with the travel agency) or a conversion to Aeroplan points as an alternative.

Note that just because American Express Travel has gotten access to these alternative options doesn’t mean that every travel agency has. It’d be great to get some data points regarding the other banks’ in-house travel agencies, especially as it relates to what we’re about to discuss below.

What’s the more interesting 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.

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

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.

I don’t want to draw any conclusions prematurely until the Aeroplan points actually post, but I’d invite you to carefully consider the conclusions that would be drawn if things play out as I expect – both in American Express’s ecosystem, as well as those of other third-party rewards programs that we commonly use.

Conclusion

Air Canada’s Ready for Takeoff flexible rebooking policy seems to have 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, and I’ll update this article when the transaction completes.

In the meantime, let’s gather some data points as a community to see if there are opportunities here to be maximized. 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.

20 Comments
  1. 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.

  2. 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.

  3. 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?

  4. 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.

  5. 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.

  6. 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!

  7. 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.

  8. 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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