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Air Canada’s New Aeroplan: Everything You Need to Know Ricky August 11, 2020

Air Canada’s New Aeroplan: Everything You Need to Know

Air Canada has officially unveiled the first details of their brand-new Aeroplan loyalty program, marking one of the most highly-anticipated moments in the history of loyalty programs in Canada and globally.

In this post, we’ll bring you the details on everything you need to know about the transformed Aeroplan program, from all-new ways to earn and redeem points, to a reimagined series of Aeroplan credit cards, to a new unified elite status program for Air Canada frequent flyers.

We’ll also bring you many individual posts over the upcoming weeks with further details on each of these exciting new components. Feel free to access these individual posts via the navigation bar to your right (on desktop) or above (on mobile), and click here for the upcoming content’s release schedule.

Let’s begin with some of the key highlights of the new Aeroplan program:

  • Air Canada’s new Aeroplan program will launch on November 8, 2020, with existing Aeroplan miles honoured 1:1 in the new program.
  • Fuel surcharges will be eliminated on all flight rewards.
  • The new Flight Reward Chart is a hybrid between zonal and distance-based charts, with dynamic pricing on Air Canada flights and fixed pricing on partner-operated flights.
  • Excluding itineraries wholly within Canada and the US, a stopover on a one-way flight will be permitted.
  • A new series of credit cards by TD, CIBC, and American Express with all-new benefits will be rolled out, replacing the current set of co-branded cards.
  • Aeroplan Elite Status will replace Air Canada Altitude as Air Canada’s frequent flyer elite program, offering a wide range of new perks and benefits.
  • The new Family Sharing feature allows you and your family to pool your points and get to the next reward sooner.
  • The new Aeroplan will be closely integrated with Air Canada in every way, making it the first-choice rewards program for Canadians whenever they travel.

If you’d prefer to digest all of the information in video format, you can watch the below video I made covering everything you need to know about the new Aeroplan.

 

You may also refer to Air Canada’s official mini-site on the new Aeroplan program. Otherwise, read on to learn about the new Aeroplan loyalty program in full detail.

In This Post

New Aeroplan – Program Launch

The new Aeroplan program will launch on November 8, 2020.

On that date, the existing Aeroplan.com website and the Aeroplan mobile app will be retired, and the new program will be launched as an integrated part of the AirCanada.com website and Air Canada’s mobile app. Members will be able to log in with the same Aeroplan credentials as they use today.

The program will launch with a brand-new visual identity, phasing out the orange Aeroplan logo in favour of a new wordmark and symbol that aligns with Air Canada’s overall design identity.

Simultaneously, the currency of “Aeroplan miles” will be rebranded as “Aeroplan points” in the new program. We will now earn “points” to redeem for flights, while the currency of “miles” will be retained only in the context of elite status.

Air Canada had previously confirmed that all Aeroplan members’ existing miles will be honoured 1:1 in the new program, so you can expect your Aeroplan mileage balance to transform into your new Aeroplan points balance as of November 8.

Until November 8, the legacy Aeroplan program will live out its final three months in its current form. Members may continue to earn and redeem Aeroplan miles under the current rules, including booking trips for up to 355 days in the future; however, it’s important to note that any changes made after November 8 will be subject to the rules of the new program, not the legacy program.

New Aeroplan – Flight Rewards

We’ve all been wondering about the new Aeroplan’s flight redemption rules for a very long time. Shall we dive right into the details? I think we shall.

Compared to the existing chart, the new program’s new Flight Reward Chart and redemption structure have been entirely rebuilt from the ground up, and I’m sure we’ll all need to spend a fair bit of time studying the new rules and charts to get a handle on everything.

Click here to access the new Aeroplan Flight Reward Chart and follow along as we go through everything.

Because there is so much to cover, let’s organize everything by a series of key facts you should know about the new Aeroplan flight rewards, followed by further discussion of each key fact.

Key Fact #1: The new Flight Reward Chart is a hybrid chart based on both geographic zones and distance-based thresholds.

First off, the new Aeroplan will offer a Points Predictor Tool, which you can try out for yourself on the mini-site, allowing members to input a certain origin and destination and get a sense of the predicted price range for their redemption.

However, in order to truly understand the award pricing, we must refer to the actual Flight Reward Chart.

The new chart divides the world into four zones: North America, South America, Atlantic, and Pacific.

North America stretches to include Hawaii; meanwhile, a border is drawn down the middle of Afro-Eurasia to separate the Atlantic and Pacific zones.

This creates a total of 10 separate award charts: four individual charts for travel within a single zone, plus six individual charts for travel between every combination of the four zones (between North America and Atlantic, between North America and Pacific, etc.)

Each of these 10 charts are further divided into distance bands and classes of service; the combination of these two criteria determine the number of Aeroplan points required for any given one-way booking.

For example, if you were interested in booking a one-way direct flight in economy class from Vancouver to Los Angeles, you’d refer to the “Within North America” award chart. Since the flight distance is 1,081 miles, you’d look at the row for “501–1,500 miles” and the column for “Economy” to see the pricing for a one-way flight.

If you wanted to book a one-way direct flight in business class from Toronto to Munich, you’d refer to the “Between North America and Atlantic zones” chart. Since the flight distance is 4,138 miles, you’d look at the row for “4,001–6,000 miles” and the column for “Business” to find your one-way pricing.

And if you wanted to book this as a round-trip flight, then you’d double this amount to arrive at the round-trip price.

Of course, you’ll also note that within every intersection of an award chart, distance threshold, and class of service, there are in fact two distinct price points listed: a fixed award price for partner airlines, and a range of prices for Air Canada.

That brings us to another sweeping change in the new Aeroplan program…

Key Fact #2: Flights operated by Air Canada are subject to dynamic pricing, while partner-operated flights are available at a fixed price.

The move to dynamic pricing for Air Canada flights reflects significantly closer integration between Air Canada, the airline, and Aeroplan, the loyalty program.

Under Fixed Mileage Rewards in the legacy Aeroplan program, seat availability on Air Canada was capacity-controlled, which left many Aeroplan members frustrated when the award availability dried up and they weren’t able to redeem miles on their preferred flights.

The new program will allow members to book any unsold seat on an Air Canada flight, while the dynamic pricing model tracks the underlying revenue fare for the next available seat and moves up and down accordingly – similar to the Market Fare Rewards under the legacy program.

The range that Air Canada publishes in the award chart represents “a predictable range in points you’ll likely need” for a given Air Canada redemption. Air Canada states that the published range for each redemption will hold true in roughly 90% of cases, while there will be some outliers in either direction.

Meanwhile, seat availability on partner airlines (including the 26 Star Alliance members, as well as international partners like Etihad Airways or domestic partners like Canadian North) remain subject to capacity controls, as before. Therefore, their redemption prices will remain at fixed levels, as indicated in the Flight Reward Chart.

We’ll delve into further nuances of the dynamic and fixed pricing models – including preferred pricing for select Aeroplan members and mixed-pricing awards between Air Canada and partners – in upcoming posts.

Key Fact #3: Carrier-imposed surcharges will be eliminated, as part of an overhaul of the fee structure.

Say it with me now…

👏🏼 NO 👏🏼 MORE 👏🏼 FUEL 👏🏼 SURCHARGES! 👏🏼

Air Canada has taken to heart the #1 complaint among members of the legacy Aeroplan program: the hefty fuel surcharges (also known as carrier-imposed surcharges) that came with reward tickets on certain airlines, including Air Canada itself.

These surcharges will be entirely eliminated in the new Aeroplan program: whether you’re redeeming Aeroplan points for Air Canada economy class, Lufthansa First Class, or any other possible redemption, you will not pay a single cent in carrier-imposed surcharges.

The elimination of fuel surcharges is accompanied by some other changes to the fee structure. Most notably, the new Aeroplan program will introduce a $39 partner booking fee, which will be levied for any reward ticket that includes a flight segment operated by a partner airline other than Air Canada.

The phone booking fee of $30 per ticket will also remain in place; however, Air Canada’s eventual goal is to make all itineraries (even the most complex ones) bookable online, so that members have no need to book via the contact centre.

Moreover, there are wholesale changes to the structure for change and cancellation fees on Aeroplan reward tickets as well. These fees are listed in the below table:

You’ll notice here that the change and cancellation fees vary based on what seems like “fare families” that we know from the world of revenue flights. And that brings us to the next key fact…

Key Fact #4: For any given redemption, members will be able to book in multiple different fare families.

It’s common to be able to book paid flights in multiple different fare families (Standard, Flex, Latitude, etc.). Under the new Aeroplan, so too will we able to book reward tickets under different families to unlock incremental benefits. This applies to redemptions with both Air Canada and partner carriers.

As shown in the above chart, one of the key incremental benefits from booking higher fare families is that you’ll have more favourable change and cancellation fees. On Air Canada economy class flights, higher fare families also unlock additional benefits such as preferred seat selection, an increased checked baggage allowance, and more.

(One very intriguing benefit of Flexible fares in Air Canada business class is that they’ll provide access to the exclusive Air Canada Signature Suites in Toronto and Vancouver, which was previously off-limits to points redemptions.)

The reward prices shown on the Flight Reward Chart represent the base-level prices: “Standard” for economy and “Lowest” for the other cabins. Members will be able to upgrade to the higher fare families by paying a points premium; this premium will vary depending on the market and will reflect the value of incremental benefits offered by each fare option. 

Key Fact #5: Brand-new routing and fare combination logic will be used, including a generous stopover policy.

You’ll notice that the new Aeroplan redemption chart displays all prices on the basis of a one-way journey.

Excluding travel within Canada and the US, each one-way component will have the ability to include one stopover of extended duration at an intermediate point, for an incremental “fee” of 5,000 Aeroplan points.

Let’s look at an example. Let’s say you wanted to fly from Vancouver to Frankfurt on Lufthansa, stay there for two weeks, and then fly to Beijing on Air China, all in business class.

This would be a Vancouver–Beijing award with a stopover in Frankfurt, so we’d figure out the pricing as follows:

  1. Look at the “Between North America and Pacific zones” chart.
  2. Identify the distance band of “7,501–11,000 miles” based on the total flown distance of 9,877 miles for a flight path of Vancouver–Frankfurt–Beijing.
  3. Identify the business class pricing for partner airlines: 85,000 Aeroplan points.
  4. Add 5,000 points for the stopover in Frankfurt, for a total of 90,000 Aeroplan points. You’d also pay the $39 partner award booking fee, as well as any taxes and fees associated with this award.

A stopover on a one-way naturally translates into two stopovers on a round-trip – heralding the return of the original Aeroplan Mini-RTW, albeit with a brand-new award chart in play and an incremental 10,000 Aeroplan points for the privilege of having those two stopovers.

In addition to the allowance of one stopover on a one-way, members may also add additional layovers of up to 24 hours for no additional cost, although they might pay extra miles if their routing bumps them up into a higher distance band.

Now, savvy Aeroplan users might be thinking: “But isn’t a routing of Vancouver–Frankfurt–Beijing over the maximum permitted mileage (MPM)?”

Well, no, because MPM is no longer a thing under the new program. Instead, the program will rely on brand-new logic for determining valid routings and fare combinations; a full discussion of those rules is beyond the scope of this introductory post, and will be covered in upcoming posts.

Key Fact #6: The new Aeroplan search engine will be significantly improved.

Aeroplan’s current search engine for flight rewards is known to be clunky at best and teeth-gnashingly frustrating at worst.

When the new program launches as part of the Air Canada website, the process for redeeming Aeroplan awards online will be streamlined into the same booking engine as Air Canada revenue flights, marking a significant improvement in the user experience.

The new search engine will return up to 150 search results for any given award search, and will allow members to sort and filter by price, airlines, departure and arrival times, and a variety of other criteria – just like when you’re shopping for paid flights.

Among other improvements, mixed-cabin awards will now be displayed with an icon showing the proportion of the itinerary in the desired class of service, while the new search engine will also support IATA city codes (like “NYC” for New York’s three airports or “TYO” for Tokyo’s two airports) as well as inter-airport transfers on the same itinerary (like flying into LaGuardia and out of JFK).

New Aeroplan – Credit Cards

Aeroplan’s three Canadian financial partners are TD, CIBC, and American Express; all three issuers will continue to offer co-branded credit card products. To coincide with the new program, all of the co-branded credit cards will be refreshed and relaunched as well as of November 8, 2020.

As of today, the details of no less than 11 new co-branded credit cards are being announced, with more products to come in the future. These 11 products are divided across the three issuers and across four customer segments: entry-level, mid-range (or “core” segment), premium, and small business.

While these credit cards will be launched under new visual identities and (in some cases) new names, they mostly represent continuations of existing Aeroplan credit cards in the market, and existing cardholders will be transitioned to new products accordingly. 

TD’s four Aeroplan co-branded products will continue under their current identities:

CIBC’s four Aeroplan co-branded products will relinquish the “Aero Platinum” and “Aerogold” labels, rebranding to “Aeroplan”:

American Express’s two Aeroplan co-branded products will relinquish the “AeroplanPlus” label, rebranding to “Aeroplan”:

Existing cardholders of any of the above products should expect to be notified by their bank by late August about upcoming changes to their cards.

All of the cards’ features will transition along with the new program as of November 8, while the physical replacement cards will be mailed out over the upcoming year as cardholders renew their cards.

Air Canada’s goal with the new suite of co-branded credit cards was to create a uniform product in each market segment across all three financial issuers. Therefore, in each segment, TD’s, CIBC’s and Amex’s cards will all have the same points earning rates, perks and benefits, and price points.

The most significant changes to the credit cards are found in each card’s perks and benefits, as summarized by Air Canada in the following chart:

Let’s briefly discuss each key benefit one by one, with more in-depth coverage in an upcoming post:

  • Higher earn rates on Air Canada purchases: TD and CIBC’s entry-level, core, premium, and small business credit cards will all offer a higher earn rate for Air Canada and Air Canada Vacations purchases; while most cards are remaining the same from the current rates, the premium cards will rise from 1.5x to 2x points on Air Canada and Air Canada Vacations.
  • NEXUS credit: TD and CIBC will be rolling out a rebate of up to $100 for a NEXUS application and/or renewal fee, up to four credits within a 48-month period. This credit will be available on TD’s core and premium Aeroplan cards, as well as CIBC’s premium Aeroplan card.
  • Preferred pricing: Aeroplan credit card holders may receive more favourable pricing on Air Canada flight rewards as part of the dynamic pricing algorithm.
  • Free first checked bag: Core and premium cardholders receive this benefit on Air Canada flights (whether booked with cash or points) for the primary cardholder and up to 8 passengers travelling on the same reservation.
  • Shared benefits with Secondary Cardholders: Core and premium cardholders’ benefits extend to their supplementary cardholders as well, greatly expanding the value of the Aeroplan credit cards for any particular household.
  • Maple Leaf Lounge access: Premium cardholders will receive unlimited access to Maple Leaf Lounges prior to boarding an Air Canada flight in any class of service (whether booked with cash or points) – a tremendously valuable benefit.
  • Priority Pass Lounge access: Building upon the Maple Leaf Lounge access, premium cardholders with TD and CIBC will also receive a Priority Pass membership with six complimentary lounge visits per year thanks to their Visa Infinite Privilege benefits. 
  • Priority Airport Services/Standby/Upgrade: Premium cardholders will receive priority check-in, boarding, and standby, as well as a higher priority on the upgrade list, on Air Canada flights in any class of service (whether booked with cash or points).
  • Annual Worldwide Companion Pass: Upon reaching $25,000 of annual eligible spending, premium cardholders will earn a worldwide companion pass for paid travel on Air Canada, priced as follows:
    • $99 base fare for travel within Canada and continental United States (excluding Hawaii)
    • $299 base fare for travel to/from Hawaii, Mexico, Central America, and the Caribbean
    • $499 base fare for travel to/from South America, Europe, Middle East, and Africa
    • $599 base fare for travel to/from Asia, Australia, and New Zealand
    • Taxes, fees, charges, and surcharges extra
  • Elite Status qualification boost: For every $10,000 in eligible spend on the core cards or $5,000 in eligible spend on the premium cards, Aeroplan members will earn 1,000 Status Qualifying Miles (SQS) and 1 Status Qualifying Segment (SQS) towards their Aeroplan Elite Status (which we’ll discuss below).
  • Rollover SQMs and eUpgrades: Premium cardholders will be able to rollover their extra SQMs and eUpgrades to the following year, rather than having them expire worthless at the end of the current status year (which has been a major complaint among Air Canada status members).
  • No expiry of Aeroplan points: By holding any Aeroplan credit card and generating monthly statements, you’ll never fall afoul of Aeroplan’s expiry policy, which now requires only one form of qualifying activity every 18 months to keep your points active.

Finally, let’s talk about the annual fees. Subject to further confirmation, it’s my understanding that we will be seeing increases in the annual fees of the Aeroplan credit cards across most issuers and segments:

  • The two entry-level cards will be priced as they are today: $39 (CIBC) and $89 (TD), with TD’s supplementary card fees at $39, as they are today.
    • Furthermore, CIBC is offering a waiver of the $39 annual fee (whoop-de-doo!) until November 7, 2020.
  • The three core cards will be priced at $139, with supplementary card fees at $75 – an increase from today’s $120 and $50, respectively.
  • The three premium cards will be priced at $599, with supplementary card fees at $199 – an increase from today’s $399–499 and $99, respectively.
  • The two core small business cards will be priced as they are today: $180 (CIBC) and $149 (TD), with supplementary card fees at $50 and $49 respectively, as they are today.
  • The American Express Aeroplan Business Reserve Card: Who knows? Details to come later this month.

This which means that if you were to sign up for one of the current cards before November 8, you’d get to try out the card’s new benefits and features under the new Aeroplan program while paying a lower annual fee for the first year.

On the other hand, by doing so, you may miss out on the signup bonuses on the new credit cards after they launch – and given the sheers sum of cash that the consortium of Air Canada, TD, CIBC, and Visa had paid to buy back the Aeroplan program, don’t be surprised if they launch some acquisition offers like we’ve never seen before in Canada.

Given this trade-off, then, isn’t it a relief that there are 10 cards to choose from among three different issuers? 😉

New Aeroplan – Exciting New Features

After covering the twin key developments in terms of earning and redeeming Aeroplan points in the new program, I wanted to share with you a few brand-new features that the program will be introducing, the likes of which we’ve never seen before in any loyalty program in Canada (and in some cases, globally).

New Feature #1: Family Sharing

In conducting market research for what Canadians most wanted to see out of a new program, Air Canada learned that the “family dynamic” was highly valued among Aeroplan members that the legacy program had failed to address.

To that end, the new Family Sharing feature is designed to make it much easier for trusted family members to pool their points together and reach their rewards much faster.

Gone are the days of having to surreptitiously transfer credit card points to your spouse’s Aeroplan account if you’re playing the game in two-player mode. With the new program, Aeroplan members can form Family Sharing groups with up to eight members in total.

Family Sharing will unify members’ accounts on both the earning and redeeming sides: whenever a member earns Aeroplan points, they get added to the Family’s total pool of points; meanwhile, a redemption made by any member (as long as they are authorized by the group manager to redeem) will cause miles to be deducted proportionally from the accounts of each member in the Family Sharing group.

New Feature #2: Points + Cash

The new Aeroplan program will offer a Points + Cash option on all redemptions to provide members with greater flexibility.

Keeping in mind that every flight reward consists of a points component and a cash component (i.e., taxes and fees, partner booking fee if applicable, etc.), there will be four separate redemption options available to members under Points + Cash:

  • Regular number of Aeroplan points + regular cash component
  • All Aeroplan points + $0 in cash
  • 60% of the regular number of Aeroplan points + 40% of the points component converted to cash + regular cash component
  • Some variable component between 60–100% of the regular number of Aeroplan points + the remaining 0–40% of the points component converted to cash + regular cash component

For all options other than the first one, the exact value at which the new Aeroplan will convert between cash and points is yet to be determined, but Air Canada has confirmed that it will offer better value than the 3cpp valuation at which you can buy Aeroplan miles directly from the program.

New Feature #3: Priority Rewards

As part of the revamped Elite Status program (which we’ll discuss below), Aeroplan is introducing a newly reimagined form of Priority Rewards.

Priority Rewards will give Aeroplan’s elite members a 50% discount on the number of Aeroplan points required to book an award. You read that right – it’s a blanket 50% discount, so if a flight costs 60,000 Aeroplan points, you can book it with only 30,000 Aeroplan points using a Priority Reward.

Each Priority Reward voucher is valid for one passenger on one reward ticket.

Members will earn Priority Reward vouchers based on accumulating Status Qualifying Dollars (SQD) throughout the calendar year: one Priority Reward voucher will be awarded at the thresholds of 4,000, 7,000, 10,000 and 15,000 SQD, as well as every 5,000 SQD subsequently, up to a maximum of 50,000 SQD (for a total of 11 Priority Reward vouchers for the year).

Furthermore, as of the November 8 transition, any current Elite 35K members and above will be granted Priority Reward vouchers to start with, which they can use immediately.

Not all types of redemptions will be eligible for using a Priority Reward. The set of redemptions on which you may use a Priority Reward is dependent on your Elite Status level, as shown below:

As you can see, the most valuable usage of Priority Rewards – a stunning 50% discount on business class awards – is reserved for top-tier Super Elite members. Super Elites’ waivers on fuel surcharges might be moot under the new program, but it looks like there will still be plenty of reasons to butter up your Super Elite friends for favours.

New Feature #4: Status Pass

Going back to the idea of the “family dynamic”, Aeroplan will be introducing the Status Pass benefit as one of the many Select Privileges available to Aeroplan 50K Status members or higher under the new program. This benefit will be rolled out in March 2021.

Status Pass allows high-tier elite members to share their benefits with their loved ones, even when they aren’t travelling together. Recipients of the Status Pass, as well as up to nine fellow passengers on the same reservation, will be treated to priority check-in, security clearance, boarding, and baggage handling (for up to three checked bags), as well as Maple Leaf Lounge access prior to their flight. Star Alliance Gold benefits will not be included.

New Aeroplan – Aeroplan Elite Status

As you may have surmised, the Air Canada Altitude elite status program, which is designed to recognize their most loyal frequent flyers, will undergo a rebrand as part of the launch of the new Aeroplan.

Altitude will be renamed Aeroplan Elite Status starting on November 8 and formally taking effect for the 2021 status year. Aeroplan Elite Status will move towards a calendar year system for qualification and benefits, rather than the current off-cycle qualification and benefit years. 

The new elite status tiers will be known simply as 25K, 35K, 50K, 75K, and Super Elite, while the current Altitude Qualifying Miles (AQM), Altitude Qualifying Segments (AQS), and Altitude Qualifying Dollars (AQD) will be renamed Status Qualifying Miles (SQM), Status Qualifying Segments (SQS), and Status Qualifying Dollars (SQD), respectively.

Of course, everyone’s Altitude status in 2020 will be converted accordingly into Aeroplan Elite Status for 2021, given Air Canada’s automatic extension of elite status earlier this year.

The actual qualification criteria themselves remain largely unchanged. The SQM, SQS, and SQD requirements for each status level all remain in place (with the exception of the SQS requirement for Super Elite, which rises from 95 to 100). So does the 50% relaxation of the SQD requirements for Aeroplan members based outside of Canada.

Meanwhile, the actual elite privileges under Aeroplan Elite Status are also little-changed compared to now. Priority Rewards and Status Pass, outlined above, represent the two major additions to the status offering.

Finally, note that the new Aeroplan Elite Status is not to be confused with the old Aeroplan status. To bridge this gap, the following one-time gestures will be offered to current Aeroplan status holders:

  • 2020 Aeroplan Diamond, Black and Silver status members will continue to have access to most of their benefits through December 31, 2020, including preferred pricing on flight rewards. However, beginning November 8, 2020, Preferential Rates on Flight Reward fees will no longer be available to diamond members.
  • Beginning in September 2020, and through the end of 2021, 2020 Aeroplan Diamond members will receive Aeroplan 25K Status (currently known as Altitude Prestige 25K).
  • Beginning in September 2020 and through the end of 2021, members who have qualified for 2021 Aeroplan Diamond, Black or Silver status will receive Aeroplan 25K Status (currently known as Altitude Prestige 25K). They will also receive a grant of Aeroplan points in their account in early 2021 (5,000 points for Diamond members, 2,500 points for Black members, and 250 points for Silver members).

Finally, when it launches, the new Aeroplan Elite Status will also take a leaf out of the old Aeroplan Diamond’s book: under the Everyday Status Qualification feature, going forward, members who earn 100,000 Aeroplan points per year from eligible sources (credit card spending, eStore, flight activity, excluding welcome bonuses and credit card and hotel transfers) will instantly be rewarded with Aeroplan 25K Status.

New Aeroplan – Earning Points on Flights

Currently, members earn Aeroplan miles on Air Canada and partner flights based on a certain percentage (25%, 100%, 150%, etc.) of the distance flown on the flight, as well as the fare code (“J”, “Y”, “K”, etc.) that the flight was booked in.

Starting later in 2021, Air Canada will be simplifying the points-earning structure on Air Canada flights and “introducing more intuitive earning” – in other words, they’re going revenue-based.

Instead of earning Aeroplan points based on the distance flown, members will be earning points as a multiple of the fare they paid. This move follows the example of many other airlines around North America, and all-but eliminates the arbitrage opportunity of “mileage runs” (i.e., booking particularly cheap fares that covered a long distance to maximize mileage earning).

(It’s important to note that this change only affects how we earn Aeroplan’s redeemable points, not the Status Qualifying Miles or SQM for the purposes of Aeroplan Elite Status. Again, the distinction between “points” vs. “miles” is proving to be a valuable one in terms of distilling the program into the simplest possible terms.)

The multipliers will be based on the fare you book (calculated on the base fare and carrier-imposed surcharges, but excluding taxes and fees), combined with your Aeroplan Elite Status, as indicated in the following charts:

Fare Family

Earning Multiplier

Basic

2x

Standard, Flex/Comfort, Latitude,
Premium Economy, Business

3x

Aeroplan Elite Status

Earning Multiplier

25K, 35K

1x

50K

2x

75K

3x

Super Elite

4x

For example, if you’re have Aeroplan 35K status and booked a Standard fare whose base fare and surcharges summed to, say, $300, then you’d earn a total of 3x (from the Standard fare) + 1x (from your 35K status) = 4x, or a total of 1,200 Aeroplan points for the fare that you paid.

Note that while a move to revenue-based earning is typically a negative development for most travellers, those who regularly book Basic fares stand to benefit here: currently, Basic fares do not earn any Aeroplan miles, but in the new program they will earn at least 2x Aeroplan points.

We’ll do more analysis like this in an upcoming post on the “winners and losers” of the new Aeroplan program.

New Aeroplan – What More to Expect

To conclude this comprehensive guide to the new Aeroplan, let’s highlight a few more things we can expect from the program, both at the time of launch on November 8 as well as farther into the future.

By launch date, I’d expect that we’ll have much greater clarity on all the changes we’ve talked about; I’d expect any lingering questions we may have to be fully answered by then. In particular, I think we’ll definitely see some very impressive credit card signup bonuses around the time of launch, and I’m also very excited to play around with the new flight search engine when it arrives.

We can expect to see more Buy Miles offers being rolled out periodically; we likely won’t see anything as generous as the 1cpp (USD) offer back in May 2020, but rates as low as 1.6cpp or 1.8cpp (USD), as well as SQD incentives such as the most recent round, are very much on the table.

Beginning next year, the new Aeroplan will eventually offer the ability for “micro-redemptions”: redeeming your Aeroplan points for things like seat selection fees, onboard wifi, and onboard meals and drinks. Some components of this are in fact already available as of now, such as the ability to use Aeroplan points to bid for upgrades upon check-in.

Aeroplan will also roll out non-flight rewards starting in 2021, including the ability to use points for hotels, car rentals, and Air Canada Vacations packages. Dedicated partnerships with certain hotel chains may also be on the table in the long run.

Non-travel partners will also play a significant role on the earning side. Expect a revamped Aeroplan eStore, as well as additional retail partners where it’s possible to earn or redeem points.

In my personal view, I’d expect Aeroplan to make serious investments in the digital experience in the long run, including possibilities such as the integration of your Aeroplan card with a digital wallet and the use of Aeroplan points as a broader currency in the retail world, beyond travel. 

Overall, Air Canada has stated that the information presented today only makes up only about 60% of everything that’s to come with the new Aeroplan. We’ll have many more exciting new things to look forward to over the upcoming months, that’s for sure.

Learn More About the New Aeroplan

Don’t forget, if you’d like to absorb all of the key information on the new Aeroplan program in video format, you can watch my video below:

 

In this post, we’ve covered all of the essential knowledge for the transformed Aeroplan program, but there remains so much to analyze, dissect, and discuss Below is what you can expect here at Prince of Travel over the coming week as we sink our collective teeth into all of the juicy details (all times are Eastern Time):

Tuesday, August 11

Wednesday, August 12

Thursday, August 13

Sunday, August 16

Next Week

Conclusion

After many years of designing a brand-new loyalty program from the ground up, Air Canada has today finally announced its transformed Aeroplan program, which will launch on November 8, 2020.

Only time will tell how the new program plays out in practice, but I must say that the new Aeroplan has left me very impressed and encouraged from the outset.

With the elimination of fuel surcharges, a new Flight Reward Chart with sufficient positive changes to balance out the negative, a quartet of exciting new features, a revamped elite status offering, and almost a dozen new co-branded cards on the table, the signs look very promising for Air Canada’s new Aeroplan to deliver outstanding value to Canadian travellers of all types – frequent and infrequent – while assuming a role as one of the world’s leading loyalty programs for high-value aspirational travel.

I’m sure you’re buzzing with first impressions, thoughts, and QUESTIONS – I want to hear ALL of them in the comments below, and I’ll see you in the upcoming posts and videos this week.

Top Offers

American Express Business Platinum Card

100,000 American Express Membership Rewards points
upon spending $10,000 in the first three months

  • 1.25x MR points on all purchases
  • Points transfer to Aeroplan and British Airways Avios at a 1:1 ratio
  • Unlimited Priority Pass access
  • Marriott Gold Elite status
Signup bonus
100,000 MR points
Annual fee
$499
118 Comments
  1. Avatar
    Al

    Great info Ricky. Thanks for your info, I managed to call in for the 1st time and booked an all business ticket.
    YYZ-IST-HKG-SGN 10999ml Turkish and Cathy (23 hr layover at HKG) and stopover at IST
    SGN-HKG-TPE-YYZ 8945 ml with Cathy and Eva with a stop over at HKG

    However, it cost 20K points instead of the 19K (85k x2 + 5k) per my calculation. I guess they round up 10999 to 11000? I asked the agent and she said that was what the system told her.
    Being my first call, I didn’t want to argue but still happy with what I got.

    1. Avatar
      Al

      I mean 18K (85k x2 + 2x 5K )instead of 20K

  2. Avatar
    Maxine

    Hello! We booked the highest fare class business class ticket (flexible) and it’s ticketed as “I”, which means it is not eligible for access to the Signature Suites. It’s a departure from YYZ non-stop to Europe on Air Canada. 🙁

    1. Ricky
      Ricky

      If you booked in Business Flexible then you’ll have access. It’s all about the fare category, not the fare bucket in this instance. I’d imagine the online published rules for Signature Suite access have yet to be updated.

  3. Avatar
    Sam

    Hi – Just wondering if the Amex point transfer 1:1 to new Aeroplan points will continue to be honored? I usually keep my points in Amex until I need to travel and then instantly transfer to Aeroplan and book (to avoid aeroplan miles expiring).

    1. Ricky
      Ricky

      Yes, it’ll continue to be honoured 1:1.

  4. Avatar
    Mark

    Have you noticed that Aeroplan business class seat availability has reduced in recent weeks on some major international routes?

    I have been watching certain one way routings almost one year out and have noticed in the last couple of weeks that good business class availability has suddenly dried up especially for AC flights.

    I am wondering if Aeroplan or AC is holding back seats pending the start of the new Aeroplan program on November 8.

  5. Avatar
    Jonathan

    Hi Ricky, thanks for the great article! Do you think the MR to Aeroplan ratio will get updated with this? Should I transfer my MR points to Aeroplan now or wait until the new program? Thanks!

    1. Ricky
      Ricky

      It’ll still be 1:1, so no rush to transfer.

  6. Avatar
    Jenna

    Hi – For the past few years – super elite have been able to gift status to a companion (50K). With the status pass – will they still have this? Or with the status pass – SE will need to give the pass to the individual for each flight to be able to use the SE status?

  7. Avatar
    Zaibii

    Hi Prince of Travel,

    I know of sweet spot for aeroplan that NO ONE knows about. It is only valid before the new program kicks in. Message me directly and we can discuss the details and whether we want to make it public or not.

  8. Avatar
    Robin

    What I’d like to know is that if getting into the aeroplan credit card scene is worth it for an entry level user for someone looking to fly around once or twice a year (i.e first credit card or someone looking to switch products)

    1. Ricky
      Ricky

      We’ll have to wait to see the new signup bonuses to truly assess, but in general I’d say yes the new program should cater better to the entry-level user who travels infrequently compared to the program before.

  9. Avatar
    LD

    Not a frequent traveller so a lotta those new so-called “benefits” dont really apply to me. I mostly just fly btw YYZ to HKG (HONGKONG) and the devaluation is quite significant. Current chart for roundtrip costs 75k pts whereas the new one starts with 50k*2 =100k (roundtrip, NA to Pacific eco class). Also, are they now saying to give you points equal to what you pay
    vs actual miles flown? Coz that’d be approx $1200 points earned instead of 7791 miles flown, about 1/6 of what I would have gotten

    1. Ricky
      Ricky

      Yes, your understanding is correct. Some individuals will be strictly worse off under the current program, and it may be time to adapt what you use your Aeroplan points for and/or whether you’d use a different points currency to accomplish your existing goals.

      See this post for more discussion on the Winners & Losers: https://princeoftravel.com/blog/new-aeroplan-winners-losers/

  10. Avatar
    CR

    When redeeming through the family account, it is my understanding that it will withdraw points from each of the members’ account. What happens when a family member doesn’t have enough of his/her proportioned points for redemption? Is it taken from the other family members’ balance?

    1. Ricky
      Ricky

      Remember that the points are withdrawn proportionally to their existing balances. So it doesn’t matter, because as long as the family as a whole has enough points, the math will always work.

      Example: Alice has 90,000 points and Bob has 10,000 points. Bob wants to redeem for 50,000 points. Since Bob has 10% of the family total, Bob is deducted 5,000 points. Alice, meanwhile, is deducted 45,000 points, since she had 90% of the family total.

      Trust is paramount.

  11. Avatar
    CR

    Amazing article! We’ve always been dreaded by the intended devaluations but am surprised by some positive changes going forward. Thanks for dissecting and making it easy for us to understand!

  12. Avatar
    Kenzie Jones

    Spot-on article, Thank you!
    Question: Is now a good time to get any of the AP cobranded cards to get the Welcome Bonus, and ALSO take advantage of the new crop of cards that will be launched in November? I currently don’t have any Aeroplan credit card, so wondering if I should wait for launch offers, or also get a card now before they are terminated.

    1. Ricky
      Ricky

      Getting any of the cards now would likely render you ineligible for the welcome bonus when the refreshed cards are launched (except for the brand-new Amex Aeroplan Business Reserve). I’d recommend waiting for launch offers; in the meantime, if you’d like to rack up some Aeroplan miles to make bookings before November 8, you can always consider the Amex MR cards like the Amex Gold or Amex Business Gold and transfer those points to Aeroplan 1:1.

  13. Avatar
    Kevin

    Without MPM limits, are there rules preventing people from taking super long trips or backtracking? I can’t see any yet.

      1. Avatar
        Kevin

        Thank you very much!

  14. Avatar
    BG

    I think Ricky has provided excellent coverage on the new program. I thought a devaluation was coming along but this was not as bad as it could have been. I also feel the coverage has been balanced as there will be articles on winner/loser and comparison to other programs.

    This is by far the best points blog in Canada
    I think it’s great that Ricky is able to monetize his efforts while striking a balance. I will be worried if Ricky still depends on a few referral bonuses at this stage. 😂

  15. Avatar
    Mat

    For the vouchers, do you know if a 25k uses one gifted to them from SE whether they can get the discount on business? Or is it restricted to your level.

    1. Ricky
      Ricky

      If it’s redeemed out of a Super Elite account (along with the Super Elite’s points), then it applies to business class.

      1. Avatar
        Mat

        Thanks for the quick response Ricky! So in order for that to sort of work I’d need to be family with the Super Elite right? Are there any restrictions on how “family” is decided? One of my good friends is an SE.

        1. Ricky
          Ricky

          I’ll say here that the Family Sharing feature is intended to be used by families, but the definition of “family” is up to every individual (as it should be). Family members don’t need to be living together, and there won’t be any same-address requirements or anything like that.

          The program is placing a great deal of trust in members to use the feature in good faith, and the rules may be tightened up if the feature is abused.

  16. Avatar
    Johnson

    The new program fucks us as expected. Ricky why are you happy. Don’t sellout.

    1. Avatar
      Michel

      His giveaway of 25,000 Aeroplan points, in collaboration with AC, when he launched his new website was a pretty transparent indicator that this blog would be taking a new (disappointing) turn.

      All hail our new AC overlords!

        1. Avatar
          CR

          LOL

        2. Avatar
          Scott

          Love it hah

  17. Avatar
    AlphaTier

    What would happen to eupgrades? If we have some sitting in the account and new ones are issued (from CC) will they have an extended period as long as they are below 50? Any detailed clarification appreciated.

    1. Ricky