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New Aeroplan: A Closer Look at Dynamic and Preferred Pricing Ricky November 10, 2020

New Aeroplan: A Closer Look at Dynamic and Preferred Pricing

One of the heavily advertised core features of Air Canada’s new Aeroplan is the Preferred Pricing benefit on Air Canada flights.

Under the new dynamic pricing model for Air Canada flights, Aeroplan award redemptions will be integrated much more closely with Air Canada revenue flights. Members who show engagement with the program via Aeroplan Elite Status or holding a co-branded credit card are meant to be rewarded with discounted redemptions compared to regular members with no status and no credit card.

It’s a creative idea in theory, but the question we’re all wondering is: just how much of an effect does Preferred Pricing have? How exactly does the Aeroplan points pricing vary based on which status level and credit card you hold? 

In this post, we’ll set out to answer this question by putting together a volume of search results that we’ve collected here at Prince of Travel and seeing if we can find any patterns.

In This Post

A Comparison by Route, Date, and Elite Status & Credit Card

Members of the Prince of Travel Club Lounge chipped in to work on this project together.

Across all the contributors so far, we’ve used Aeroplan accounts with the following combinations of status level and credit card ownership:

  • No status + No credit card
  • No status + Core credit card
  • Aeroplan 25K + No credit card
  • Aeroplan 25K + Core credit card (e.g., TD Aeroplan Visa Infinite)
  • Aeroplan 25K + Premium credit card (e.g., American Express Aeroplan Reserve Card)
  • Aeroplan 50K + No credit card
  • Aeroplan 50K + Core credit card
  • Aeroplan Super Elite + Premium credit card (i.e., in theory the most powerful combination)

Using each one of our accounts, we searched for a range of different Air Canada routes to various parts of the world, each on four separate dates throughout the calendar: the 21st of December, March, June, and September. 

The idea was to glean insights into both the nature of both the Preferred Pricing benefit across different accounts, as well as the nature of Air Canada’s dynamic pricing throughout the calendar.

The data is presented below, one route at a time, with some analysis of the pricing to follow each route, and more discussion of the overall patterns at the end of the article.

Note the following criteria that were used when searching:

  • Only direct Air Canada flights on the route were examined; if a direct flight wasn’t available on the specified date, then the cell is left blank.
  • If there were multiple direct Air Canada flights on a given date (such as Toronto–Vancouver), then the cheapest available option was chosen.

1. Toronto (YYZ) – Montreal (YUL)

December 21,
2020

March 21,
2021

June 21,
2021

September 21,
2021

No status
+
No card

5.1K
9K
12.5K

5.1K
10K
12.5K

6.1K
10K
13.3K

6.1K
29.9K
13.3K

No status
+
Core card

4.6K
8.1K
11.4K

4.6K
8.9K
11.4K

5.3K
8.9K
12.1K

5.3K
28.9K
12.1K

Aeroplan 25K
+

No card

4.6K
8.1K
11.4K

4.6K
8.9K
11.4K

5.3K
8.9K
12.1K

5.3K
28.9K
12.1K

Aeroplan 25K
+

Core card

4.4K
7.8K
11.1K

4.4K
8.7K
11.1K

5.1K
8.7K
11.8K

5.1K
28.6K
11.8K

Aeroplan 25K
+

Premium card

4.4K
7.8K
11.1K

4.4K
8.7K
11.1K

5.1K
8.7K
11.8K

5.1K
28.6K
11.8K

Aeroplan 50K
+

No card

4.1K
7.6K
10.9K

4.1K
8.4K
10.9K

4.8K
8.4K
11.6K

4.8K
28.4K
11.6K

Aeroplan 50K
+

Core card

4.1K
7.6K
10.9K

4.1K
8.4K
10.9K

4.8K
8.4K
11.6K

4.8K
28.4K
11.6K

Aeroplan SE
+

Premium card

4.1K
7.6K
10.9K

4.1K
8.4K
10.9K

4.8K
8.4K
11.6K

4.8K
28.4K
11.6K

According to the published ranges on the Flight Reward Chart, Toronto–Montreal should cost the following most of the time:

  • 6,000–10,000 Aeroplan points in economy class
  • 10,000–20,000 Aeroplan points in premium economy
  • 15,000–25,000 Aeroplan points in business class

However, we can see from the searches that the vast majority of results (even for a user with no status and no credit card) falls below the published range at the moment.

Indeed, that’s reflective of a larger trend we’ve observed in the search engine, wherein a far higher than expected percentage of dynamic search results are pricing below the published range. The consensus seems to be that this may be reflective of low demand across the board due to the current pandemic, and that these prices are expected to rise over time.

2. Toronto (YYZ) – Vancouver (YVR)

December 21,
2020

March 21,
2021

June 21,
2021

September 21,
2021

No status
+
No card

15.7K
23.9K
28.8K

17.6K
25.8K
31.8K

17.6K
24.9K
31.1K

17.6K
24.9K
31.1K

No status
+
Core card

12.6K
19.2K
25.1K

13.9K
20K
25.1K

13.3K
20K
25.1K

13.3K
20K
25.1K

Aeroplan 25K
+

No card

12.6K
19.2K
25.1K

13.9K
20K
25.1K

13.3K
20K
25.1K

13.3K
20K
25.1K

Aeroplan 25K
+

Core card

12.3K
19K
24.8K

13.7K
19.8K
24.8K

13K
19.8K
24.8K

13K
19.8K
24.8K

Aeroplan 25K
+

Premium card

12.3K
19K
24.8K

13.7K
19.8K
24.8K

13K
19.8K
24.8K

13K
19.8K
24.8K

Aeroplan 50K
+

No card

12.1K
18.7K
24.6K

13.4K
19.5K
24.6K

12.8K
19.5K
24.6K

12.8K
19.5K
24.6K

Aeroplan 50K
+

Core card

12.1K
18.7K
24.6K

13.4K
19.5K
24.6K

12.8K
19.5K
24.6K

12.8K
19.5K
24.6K

Aeroplan SE
+

Premium card

12.1K
18.7K
24.6K

13.4K
19.5K
24.6K

12.8K
19.5K
24.6K

12.8K
19.5K
24.6K

According to the published ranges on the Flight Reward Chart, Toronto–Vancouver should cost the following most of the time:

  • 12,500–17,500 Aeroplan points in economy class
  • 20,000–35,000 Aeroplan points in premium economy
  • 25,000–60,000 Aeroplan points in business class

On this transcontinental journey, the actual search results tend to fall pretty accurately within the published ranges. This perhaps reflects the fact that Toronto–Vancouver is probably one of the most popular routes within the Air Canada network at this time, when the vast majority of Canadians who are travelling are doing so domestically.

It’s worth noting that the December 21 prices shown mostly reflect only one or two of about 10 daily flights – the remaining flights are all priced much higher, due to the peak demand on this date. 

Note that there were some notable anomalies when searching Toronto–Vancouver: often times, only a subset of the 10 daily flights would show up in the search results.

It would often require refreshing the page for all 10 direct flights (including the one or two lowest-priced ones) to actually show up.

It’s perhaps a case of the dynamic pricing model being too dynamic. As the new system first launches, there will surely still be kinks that need to be ironed out, so perhaps try running your searches a few different times if you don’t see the results you want at first.

3. Toronto (YYZ) – Punta Cana (PUJ)

December 21,
2020

March 21,
2021

June 21,
2021

September 21,
2021

No status
+
No card

13.4K
20K
29.2K

13.9K
20K
24.1K

12.6K
-
-

12.6K
-
-

No status
+
Core card

11.6K
17.7K
23.9K

11.8K
17.8K
24K

11.3K
-
-

11.3K
-
-

Aeroplan 25K
+

No card

11.6K
17.7K
23.9K

11.8K
17.8K
24K

11.3K
-
-

11.3K
-
-

Aeroplan 25K
+

Core card

11.4K
17.5K
23.6K

11.5K
17.6K
23.7K

11.1K
-
-

11.1K
-
-

Aeroplan 25K
+

Premium card

11.4K
17.5K
23.6K

11.5K
17.6K
23.7K

11.1K
-
-

11.1K
-
-

Aeroplan 50K
+

No card

11.1K
17.2K
23.4K

11.3K
17.3K
21.4K

10.8K
-
-

10.8K
-
-

Aeroplan 50K
+

Core card

11.1K
17.2K
23.4K

11.3K
17.3K
21.4K

10.8K
-
-

10.8K
-
-

Aeroplan SE
+

Premium card

11.1K
17.2K
23.4K

11.3K
17.3K
21.4K

10.8K
-
-

10.8K
-
-

According to the published ranges on the Flight Reward Chart, Toronto–Punta Cana should cost the following most of the time:

  • 12,500–17,500 Aeroplan points in economy class
  • 20,000–35,000 Aeroplan points in premium economy
  • 25,000–60,000 Aeroplan points in business class

Here, we’re seeing prices fall relatively squarely at the lower bound of the published range. Note that the Punta Cana route is served by a mainline aircraft in December and March, but an economy-only Air Canada Rouge A321 in June and September.

4. Vancouver (YVR) – Tokyo (TYO)

December 21,
2020

March 21,
2021

June 21,
2021

September 21,
2021

No status
+
No card

38.5K
37.9K
157.4K

50.6K
40.5K
52.3K

30.8K
37.9K
50.4K

30.4K
37.3K
136.5K

No status
+
Core card

32.9K
34.3K
107.8K

38K
36.4K
47.4K

28.3K
34.3K
45.9K

27.9K
33.9K
85.3K

Aeroplan 25K
+

No card

32.9K
34.3K
107.8K

38K
36.4K
47.4K

28.3K
34.3K
45.9K

27.9K
33.9K
85.3K

Aeroplan 25K
+

Core card

32.7K
34.1K
107.5K

37.8K
36.2K
47.2K

28K
34.1K
45.6K

27.7K
33.7K
85.1K

Aeroplan 25K
+

Premium card

32.7K
34.1K
107.5K

37.8K
36.2K
47.2K

28K
34.1K
45.6K

27.7K
33.7K
85.1K

Aeroplan 50K
+

No card

32.4K
33.8K
107.3K

37.5K
35.9K
46.9K

27.8K
33.8K
45.4K

27.4K
33.4K
84.8K

Aeroplan 50K
+

Core card

32.4K
33.8K
107.3K

37.5K
35.9K
46.9K

27.8K
33.8K
45.4K

27.4K
33.4K
84.8K

Aeroplan SE

Premium card

32.4K
33.8K
107.3K

37.5K
35.9K
46.9K

27.8K
33.8K
45.4K

27.4K
33.4K
84.8K

According to the published ranges on the Flight Reward Chart, Vancouver–Tokyo should cost the following most of the time:

  • 35,000–65,000 Aeroplan points in economy class
  • 45,000–120,000 Aeroplan points in premium economy
  • 55,000–150,000 Aeroplan points in business class

On this route, the broad pattern continues to fall either at the lower bound of the published range or even lower than that, but with a few major spikes throughout the schedule.

The spike in December isn’t surprising due to the peak travel season, but the spike in September is pretty surprising to me. Moreover, the discounts given to a status member during these spikes – even if it’s a “lowly” Aeroplan 25K member – are very significant.

5. Montreal (YUL) – Paris (CDG)

December 21,
2020

March 21,
2021

June 21,
2021

September 21,
2021

No status
+
No card

31K
42.3K
50.9K

29.6K
41.9K
49.7K

29.8K
41.4K
49.8K

29.7K
41.2K
49.8K

No status
+
Core card

28.3K
38.2K
44.5K

27.1K
37.9K
43.7K

27.2K
37.5K
43.8K

27.2K
37.3K
43.7K

Aeroplan 25K
+

No card

28.3K
38.2K
44.5K

27.1K
37.9K
43.7K

27.2K
37.5K
43.8K

27.2K
37.3K
43.7K

Aeroplan 25K
+

Core card

28K
38K
44.3K

26.8K
37.7K
43.4K

26.9K
37.3K
43.5K

26.9K
37.1K
43.5K

Aeroplan 25K
+

Premium card

28K
38K
44.3K

26.8K
37.7K
43.4K

26.9K
37.3K
43.5K

26.9K
37.1K
43.5K

Aeroplan 50K
+

No card

27.8K
37.7K
44K

26.6K
37.4K
43.2K

26.7K
37K
43.3K

26.7K
36.8K
43.2K

Aeroplan 50K
+

Core card

27.8K
37.7K
44K

26.6K
37.4K
43.2K

26.7K
37K
43.3K

26.7K
36.8K
43.2K

Aeroplan SE
+

Premium card

27.8K
37.7K
44K

26.6K
37.4K
43.2K

26.7K
37K
43.3K

26.7K
36.8K
43.2K

According to the published ranges on the Flight Reward Chart, Montreal–Paris should cost the following most of the time:

  • 35,000–65,000 Aeroplan points in economy class
  • 45,000–120,000 Aeroplan points in premium economy
  • 55,000–150,000 Aeroplan points in business class

A broad pattern that we’ve observed since the launch is that North America–Europe flights are largely pricing below their published ranges, and that’s the case here as well, even for a no-status, no-card member. 

6. Calgary (YYC) – London (LHR)

December 21,
2020

March 21,
2021

June 21,
2021

September 21,
2021

No status
+
No card

-
-
-

32.2K
94.3K
55.5K

36K
94.3K
58.7K

33K
94.3K
56.2K

No status
+
Core card

-
-
-

29.3K
67.1K
49.1K

32.3K
67.1K
51.5K

30K
67.1K
49.6K

Aeroplan 25K
+

No card

-
-
-

29.3K
67.1K
49.1K

32.3K
67.1K
51.5K

30K
67.1K
49.6K

Aeroplan 25K
+

Core card

-
-
-

29K
66.8K
48.9K

32.1K
66.8K
51.2K

29.7K
66.8K
49.4K

Aeroplan 25K
+

Premium card

-
-
-

29K
66.8K
48.9K

32.1K
66.8K
51.2K

29.7K
66.8K
49.4K

Aeroplan 50K
+

No card

-
-
-

28.8K
66.6K
48.6K

31.8K
66.6K
51K

29.5K
66.6K
49.1K

Aeroplan 50K
+

Core card

-
-
-

28.8K
66.6K
48.6K

31.8K
66.6K
51K

29.5K
66.6K
49.1K

Aeroplan SE
+

Premium card

-
-
-

28.8K
66.6K
48.6K

31.8K
66.6K
51K

29.5K
66.6K
49.1K

According to the published ranges on the Flight Reward Chart, Calgary–London should cost the following most of the time:

  • 40,000–70,000 Aeroplan points in economy class
  • 60,000–90,000 Aeroplan points in premium economy
  • 70,000–180,000 Aeroplan points in business class

As above, the default prices are coming in below the published ranges for now – with the exception of the premium economy cabin on this route, which seems to be suffering from the well-documented anomaly of consistently pricing higher than business class.

Having status or a credit card helps lower this amount, but it’ll still be more expensive than business class, so a lie-flat pod seems to be the way to go on this route. 

7. Toronto (YYZ) – Hong Kong (HKG)

December 21,
2020

March 21,
2021

June 21,
2021

September 21,
2021

No status
+
No card

-
-
-

40K
55.3K
77.1K

41.3K
56.2K
76.9K

39.5K
54.9K
76.1K

No status
+
Core card

-
-
-

37K
50.6K
70.3K

38.2K
51.3K
70.2K

36.6K
50.3K
69.5K

Aeroplan 25K
+

No card

-
-
-

37K
50.6K
70.3K

38.2K
51.3K
70.2K

36.6K
50.3K
69.5K

Aeroplan 25K
+

Core card

-
-
-

36.7K
50.3K
70.1K

38K
51.1K
70K

36.3K
50K
69.3K

Aeroplan 25K
+

Premium card

-
-
-

36.7K
50.3K
70.1K

38K
51.1K
70K

36.3K
50K
69.3K

Aeroplan 50K
+

No card

-
-
-

36.5K
50.1K
69.8K

37.7K
50.8K
69.7K

36.1K
49.8K
69K

Aeroplan 50K
+

Core card

-
-
-

36.5K
50.1K
69.8K

37.7K
50.8K
69.7K

36.1K
49.8K
69K

Aeroplan SE
+

Premium card

-
-
-

36.5K
50.1K
69.8K

37.7K
50.8K
69.7K

36.1K
49.8K
69K

According to the published ranges on the Flight Reward Chart, Toronto–Hong Kong should cost the following most of the time:

  • 50,000–90,000 Aeroplan points in economy class
  • 70,000–160,000 Aeroplan points in premium economy
  • 85,000–200,000 Aeroplan points in business class

Just like before, perhaps due to the depressed demand across the board at the moment, prices are showing up lower than what the published ranges would suggest. The prices on this route also show a pretty clear pattern in terms of the benefit of Preferred Pricing, which we’ll summarize in full below.

8. Toronto (YYZ) – São Paulo (GRU)

December 21,
2020

March 21,
2021

June 21,
2021

September 21,
2021

No status
+
No card

-
-
-

34.7K
102.2K
118.7K

36.4K
47.2K
116.8K

38.7K
45.6K
53.4K

No status
+
Core card

-
-
-

31.9K
67.7K
69.8K

33.5K
42.5K
68.7K

35.4K
41.2K
48.6K

Aeroplan 25K
+

No card

-
-
-

31.9K
67.7K
69.8K

33.5K
42.5K
68.7K

35.4K
41.2K
48.6K

Aeroplan 25K
+

Core card

-
-
-

31.7K
67.4K
69.6K

33.2K
42.3K
68.5K

35.2K
41K
48.3K

Aeroplan 25K
+

Premium card

-
-
-

31.7K
67.4K
69.6K

33.2K
42.3K
68.5K

35.2K
41K
48.3K

Aeroplan 50K
+

No card

-
-
-

31.4K
67.2K
69.3K

33K
42K
68.2K

34.9K
40.7K
48.1K

Aeroplan 50K
+

Core card

-
-
-

31.4K
67.2K
69.3K

33K
42K
68.2K

34.9K
40.7K
48.1K

Aeroplan SE
+

Premium card

-
-
-

31.4K
67.2K
69.3K

33K
42K
68.2K

34.9K
40.7K
48.1K

According to the published ranges on the Flight Reward Chart, Toronto–São Paulo should cost the following most of the time:

  • 40,000–70,000 Aeroplan points in economy class
  • 55,000–150,000 Aeroplan points in premium economy
  • 60,000–200,000 Aeroplan points in business class

In this case, the baseline pricing appears to be lower than the published ranges, but there are a few spikes in the premium economy pricing on March 21, as well as the business class pricing in both March and June.

As you can see, whenever the dynamic model throws up significant spikes, then having Elite Status and/or a credit card helps to soften the blow by a significant amount.

9. Vancouver (YVR) – Sydney (SYD)

December 21,
2020

March 21,
2021

June 21,
2021

September 21,
2021

No status
+
No card

-
-
-

-
-
-

-
246K
583.2K

-
246K
583.2K

No status
+
Core card

-
-
-

-
-
-

-
238.8K
571.2K

-
238.8K
571.2K

Aeroplan 25K
+

No card

-
-
-

-
-
-

-
238.8K
571.2K

-
238.8K
571.2K

Aeroplan 25K
+

Core card

-
-
-

-
-
-

-
238.5K
571K

-
238.5K
571K

Aeroplan 25K
+

Premium card

-
-
-

-
-
-

-
238.5K
571K

-
238.5K
571K

Aeroplan 50K
+

No card

-
-
-

-
-
-

-
238.3K
570.7K

-
238.3K
570.7K

Aeroplan 50K
+

Core card

-
-
-

-
-
-

-
238.3K
570.7K

-
238.3K
570.7K

Aeroplan SE
+

Premium card

-
-
-

-
-
-

-
238.3K
570.7K

-
238.3K
570.7K

According to the published ranges on the Flight Reward Chart, Vancouver–Sydney should cost the following most of the time:

  • 50,000–90,000 Aeroplan points in economy class
  • 70,000–160,000 Aeroplan points in premium economy
  • 85,000–200,000 Aeroplan points in business class

As you can see, the Vancouver–Sydney route is currently a major anomaly in several ways.

The new Aeroplan is supposed to be able to book every last seat on Air Canada flights, so it’s a mystery why there are no results showing up in economy class on this route during June and September.

Furthermore, the price for premium economy and business class are appearing far above the published ranges on a consistent basis throughout the schedule.

This does not line up with our initial expectation: while we knew that some routes would trend towards the higher end of the published ranges, the occasions that prices exceeded the published range were meant to be limited to only the most popular peak dates, not consistently throughout the schedule.

It’s worth noting that there are a very limited number of dates at the very end of the schedule, where two awards per day show up at more reasonable prices:

This may align with the reality under the old program that the award seats on Vancouver–Sydney were very hotly contested, and would be booked up very quickly as soon as they were released at the end of the schedule.

However, that doesn’t explain or excuse the fact that the rest of the flights throughout the year are pricing far higher than the published ranges, rather than merely at the top end of the published ranges.

So, How Does the Preferred Pricing Work?

Looking at the tables, we can arrive at the following preliminary conclusions about how Preferred Pricing works at the moment.

  • The greatest “jump” in pricing occurs between a regular “no status + no credit card” Aeroplan member and a member who shows even a minimal level of engagement with either Aeroplan 25K status or an entry-level or core credit card.
    • Anecdotal data points indicate that even a “no status + entry-level credit card” member will still benefit from the jump in pricing compared to a “no status + no credit card” member. 
    • In the majority of cases, this discount is pretty consistently around 8–15% of the original price that regular members see. Some exceptions include:
      • When a flight is dynamically priced higher than the published range, the base-level discount can be up to 40%, as in the case of Vancouver–Tokyo on September 21 or Toronto–São Paulo on March 21. Essentially, members who engage with the program seem to be rewarded here by being quasi-exempt from the elevated dynamic pricing for ordinary members.
      • However, this does not hold true across the board: in the Vancouver–Sydney examples, the base-level discount is only around 8,000 points off a total of 583,200 points – a measly 1.4%. Having said that, the Vancouver–Sydney route seems to be pricing anomalously as a whole, so maybe we’ll wait and see if any kinks need to be ironed out here.
  • Once you have either Elite Status or a co-branded credit card, the further discounts are less meaningful in terms of earning a higher level of Elite Status tiers or signing up for a higher-tier credit card.
    • Members who have either Aeroplan 25K status or a core credit card see the same pricing.
    • A member who has both Aeroplan 25K status and a core credit card (or a premium card) sees a further discount of about 200–300 Aeroplan points on each award.
    • A member who has Aeroplan 50K status (regardless of what card they hold) sees another further discount of about 200–300 Aeroplan points on each award.
    • That’s it. I was surprised to see that there was no difference between an Aeroplan 50K member with no credit card… and a Super Elite member with a premium credit card.  

Essentially, as things stand, there are four separate tiers of award pricing:

  1. The regular pricing for members who have no status and no credit card, which is displayed to everyone if you aren’t logged in.
  2. The first discount tier of 8–15% (with some exceptions), available to members who engage with the program by earning Elite Status or holding a co-branded credit card.
  3. The second discount tier of a further 200–300 points, available to members who engage further with the program through both Elite Status and a co-branded credit card.
  4. The third discount tier of a further 200–300 points, available to members who engage further with the program primarily by earning Elite Status – after all, an Aeroplan 25K member with a premium credit card did not reach this tier, whereas an Aeroplan 50K member with no credit card did.

With this structure in place for Preferred Pricing, it’s clear that reaching the first discount tier will be the most meaningful step you can take to save points on your future Aeroplan redemptions.

If we go by the anecdotal evidence of a “no status + entry-level credit card” member unlocking this discount (Preferred Pricing is a published benefit on these cards, after all), then this means the no-annual-fee CIBC Aeroplan Visa Card could have a key role to play.

Just by holding this no-fee card in perpetuity and using it to bolster your credit history, you’ll continuously unlock a discount of 8–15% compared to the prices that regular Aeroplan members pay.

Beyond the first discount tier, the savings of up to 500 points on each award redemption really isn’t the most meaningful, and I personally think Aeroplan Super Elite members may even feel a little hard done by with being offered such a measly discount.

It’s nice to save up to 500 points on a redemption if you’re already a high-level elite member or if you were already going to get the premium credit cards, but I wouldn’t say the Preferred Pricing benefit is a reason to go out of your way to do either of these.

Remember that the patterns we’re seeing here are correct as of now, but can always change over time – that’s the nature of dynamic pricing, after all.

I’ll be keeping a close eye on the Preferred Pricing patterns and will let you know if it changes, and I certainly wouldn’t rule out Air Canada using this benefit to offer surprise discounts for members who hold certain status and credit card combinations on a whim.

Conclusion

The nature of the dynamic pricing model and the Preferred Pricing benefit was always a big mystery coming into the launch of the new Aeroplan program, so I hope that our efforts at data collection and analysis have been helpful in understanding how they work. 

For the most part, the dynamic pricing model seems to be pricing Air Canada’s international flights below the published ranges on the Flight Reward Chart at the moment, most likely as a reflection of the depressed demand for global travel during the current pandemic.

There are also some exceptions, like Vancouver–Sydney, which seem to be priced consistently far above the published range, and may represent kinks that still need to be ironed out in the new system.

Meanwhile, the Preferred Pricing benefit seems to be stratified into four separate pricing tiers, with the greatest jump occurring between the “average Aeroplan member” and a member who engages with the program through either Elite Status or a credit card. That’ll be key to unlocking the greatest value on Air Canada flights in the new program going forward!

Have you played around with the new program extensively yourself? Do your search results correspond to the above findings, or are there further granularities that I’ve missed? Let me know in the comments below.

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42 Comments
  1. Avatar
    Randisney

    Thanks for directing me here from YouTube Ricky, this is exactly what I was looking for! Unfortunately, I’m not seeing anywhere near the same savings as your research saw. I’m looking to book an Aeroplan business class return YYZ – LHR Nov 23-30 2021 and the savings I see from having a core AND premium card (no status) when I’m logged in is just a total of 2,200 miles (1,100 each leg) over not being logged in with no card discount. The closest example in your article would probably be YUL-CDG and that’s showing over 12,000 point discount on the return flight. Have things changed that much in a couple of months since you researched or is YYZ-LHR route just not discounted very much do you think? TBH, the point discount for having both a core and premium card, is extremely disappointing. When the trip is over 110k points, to save just 2k points is nothing.

  2. Avatar
    ben senise

    ricky, so now i my profile on the aeroplan website shows that i have a credit card but i’m not seeing any difference in the number of points required for a reward. am i misunderstanding something? does the level of discount depend on how much i’ve spent on my card, which is this case is nothing yet?

    1. Ricky
      Ricky

      It shouldn’t depend on your credit card spend; not entirely, anyway. Just by having the card, you should see a meaningful discount, and it’s been hinted that you may see further discounts based on spending in the future.

      As I recall, you had only applied for the Aeroplan credit card a couple of days ago, correct? I’d give it a few more days for your account to reflect the preferred pricing. Let me know how it goes.

      1. Avatar
        ben senise

        ok, finally seeing the discount in points. timeline was saturday card approved. tuesday status on aeroplan showed as “credit card member.” friday discount is showing.
        so six days from approval of the amex AP card to getting a discount.

  3. Avatar
    TO

    Is the preferred pricing supposed to be on all flights or is it just applied to a few? I don’t see that kind of difference when I compare.

    1. Avatar
      Rachel

      Preferred pricing is only a thing on Air Canada flights – partner flights remain fixed!

  4. Avatar
    Siddharth Sharma

    How do we upgrade AC flights using miles?

    1. Ricky
      Ricky

      There will be a Star Alliance Upgrade Award chart coming in 2021. Otherwise, you’d use eUpgrade credits (earned from Aeroplan Elite Status) to upgrade, rather than Aeroplan points.

      1. Avatar
        Siddharth Sharma

        But if we want to upgrade AC flights using Aeroplan points? Like we used to earlier.

        1. Ricky
          Ricky

          This would be part of Bid Upgrade, which is part of the check-in process starting 24 hours in advance.

  5. Avatar
    Ezequiel

    I’d like to know too about the discount while using Basic vs Core credit card since I cant get a core right now. Not asking for a review but to share your thoughts. Also it would be interesting since you mentioned it how to get 100k with some effort.

    1. Ricky
      Ricky

      For the 100K points per year – that’s all about timing your purchases around eStore events (for stuff you may or may not need) and other promotions (like the 10x points on Air Canada purchases promotion we recently saw from TD, CIBC, and American Express). Good timing lowers the requirement by 90%.

    2. Ricky
      Ricky

      Currently it seems like there’s no difference between Basic vs Core (based on reports from Basic cardholders who’ve conducted searches). Air Canada has hinted that these variable discounts will change over time, with Super Elites / premium cardholders being rewarded more heavily than they are now (and even potentially greater discounts depending on how much you spend on the card). So I’d say that difference in Basic vs Core could potentially become more meaningful in the future, too, but I’d still expect Basic cardholders to unlock that initial 8–15% discount at a minimum.

      1. Avatar
        Ezequiel

        Thanks a lot Ricky for taking the time, really useful!

  6. Avatar
    ben senise

    Ricky, is the discount for having an entry-level credit card the same as the for having a core card? i can’t see myself getting one of the higher-end cards at the moment so i was thinking of getting the no-fee CIBC card strictly for the discount. what do you think?

    1. Ricky
      Ricky

      As of now it seems to be the same, but it can always change over time. See my response to Ezequiel above.

      1. Avatar
        ben senise

        got it thanks. i tried to apply for the CIBC no-fee card but the website kept choking. I don’t know what was wrong but I just decided to bite the bullet and get the Amex card. I never have trouble with the amex website.

  7. Avatar
    Dave Keating

    The new Aeroplan is much more expensive than the old one. We used to take trips across Canada and to the US for 25,000 points return. Now those flights are showing as 25,000 one way or more. We also often stopped in Toronto for a week to visit family on our regular trip from Vancouver Island to New Brunswick and this stop is no longer permitted so we would need to make 3 one way tickets to stop in Toronto

  8. Avatar
    Annie

    My next question would be on Family sharing. According to their info page (https://www.aircanada.com/ca/en/aco/home/aeroplan/family-sharing.html), “Members with redemption privileges can use points from the shared balance to redeem for rewards.” and “Have an Aeroplan Elite Status Member or primary Credit Cardholder in your pool? Everyone can benefit from their preferred pricing!” If this is the case, then just 1 person with the status is good for the whole team 🙂

    1. Ricky
      Ricky

      Yes, that’s how the Family Sharing would work in this case. Just one person with status or with the no-fee CIBC card!

  9. Avatar
    Kenny

    Great analysis as always Ricky. Appreciate your leg work

    Coincidentally myself and P2 applied for the base CIBC AP card yesterday for just this purpose – keep around in perpetuity to maintain some form of status etc. The free 10K in pts don’t hurt either. Low hanging fruit, haha

    1. Ricky
      Ricky

      Gotta pick up the low hanging fruit always. Not a bad idea to downgrade the higher-tier CIBC cards (when they have better bonuses of course) to the no-fee card in the future, too.

      1. Avatar
        CR

        Would downgrading it gives the 10k WB?

  10. Avatar
    John Stech

    I think you may be onto something and have lowered my anxiety about this route that I use annually.

    The prices from Sydney to Vancouver are pretty normal (40-50k) and sometimes cheaper than the old program (I hold an aeroplan card but no status). I’ve also seen some business class tickets for 72K which is less than the old cost 80k.

    I had my family booked this Christmas to go see family in Australia. I booked the first day that tickets came out and score four economy on the way, and four premium economy on the way home in mid-January. I was pretty excited and hope to replicate the bookings this year but won’t be if they are 238k from YVR-SYD.

  11. Avatar
    Bob

    @Mitch, who cares. SEs are OPM and captive. There is no need to give us benefits.
    AC knows we for the most part have to fly them due to lack of options for work.

    Anyone who has had the choice, left AC a long time ago

  12. Avatar
    Brian

    Sorry, Ricky, but I call BS. Case in point – I had a business class flight scheduled (noon ex YVR for YYZ) for November 28 until last Wednesday when it had to be cancelled. Aeroplan lived up to its word and returned the 25K miles to my account and refunded the $83 plus in fees to my credit card. I just NOW went to the “new” Aeroplan site and see that the same flight on the same day would cost 166.5K miles and $34 cash. Right, SOME improvement. Air Canada lives up to its past history – as expected! There ARE other flights that day for 23 to 34K miles but not the midday flight. Don’t be in such a rush to laud the little boys from YUL.

    1. Ricky
      Ricky

      There’s no lauding intended in this post. It’s meant to be a way to accurately capture the pricing at this moment in time, so that we can determine the patterns and keep track of whether or not they change in the future.

      Your point is addressed here: “It’s worth noting that the December 21 prices shown mostly reflect only one or two of about 10 daily flights – the remaining flights are all priced much higher, due to the peak demand on this date.”

  13. Avatar
    Jane

    After reading this article my opinion of the no fee CIBC Aeroplan credit card has gone up at least 8-15%.

  14. Avatar
    Tom

    Any idea where to see the Star Alliance Upgrades on the new Aeroplan site?

    1. Ricky
      Ricky

      Those haven’t launched yet – they’ll be coming in 2021.

  15. Avatar
    Woodrow

    Great analysis. I suspect (hope) that SE + premium card holders will start seeing an additional price break when overall prices begin to rise with increased demand. As it is, it’s certainly under performing the expectations that were set before program launch, as there’s no price value for those of us holding top status and a premium card.

    1. Ricky
      Ricky

      Let’s hope so – we’ll be keeping a close eye out!

  16. Avatar
    Dino

    Really nice Ricky. Good job as always.

    1. Ricky
      Ricky

      Thank you Dino!

  17. Avatar
    Terry

    Do you need to add the appropriate credit card to your account to receive “preferred pricing”?

    1. Ricky
      Ricky

      It gets automatically linked when you sign up, no need to add it yourself.

  18. Avatar
    Peter

    THANK you for a terrific analysis, Ricky. This information would have been impossible for most of of to obtain “on our own”. Good work!

    1. Ricky
      Ricky

      My pleasure Peter, glad it was helpful!

  19. Avatar
    Alex

    I think the prices for flights to Australia may be explained because of the limit of 50 people being able to actually get in a flight unless that changed

  20. Avatar
    Chris M

    Thanks for outlining this Ricky!

    Aeroplan is overcomplicating the process for minimal savings in most cases. The sweet spot spot for minimal effort here is Core Card + 25K Status. If your reading this post you most likely have a core card and reap most of the benefits. I don’t imagine miles enthusiasts have no card + no status option.
    There seems to be no incentive to pursue status or a premium card with this pricing.

    Its interesting Aeroplan took this approach. However this may change in an environment with more flight demand.

  21. Avatar
    Jay*

    YVR-YZP, also has some kinks that needs to be worked out since the distance is under 500 miles, yet definitely not pricing out in the appropropriate Miles bracket.

  22. Avatar
    Mitch

    RIP Super Elite being worth anything anymore. That writing was on the wall when they started throttling IKK a few years back but here we are.

Ricky

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