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What’s Going On with Aeroplan? (Amadeus + Call Centre Issues) Ricky November 29, 2019

What’s Going On with Aeroplan? (Amadeus + Call Centre Issues)

Air Canada and Aeroplan have had a tough few weeks since their planned migration to the Amadeus passenger service system (PSS) on November 18 and 19. There have been overwhelming reports of Aeroplan members encountering various difficulties with the program, such as:

  • Aeroplan members not being able to make new bookings and/or change existing bookings in a fashion that is more complex than what the online search engine displays, but still follows the Aeroplan rules

  • Aeroplan members experiencing various bugs and glitches on their tickets, such as entire passengers disappearing from the reservation

  • Aeroplan members’ profiles not having been migrated to the new system yet, resulting in an inability to touch any miles or reservations on the account

  • Of greatest concern, the Aeroplan call centre being almost impossible to reach due to the high call volume, with many members only being able to be placed on the hold queue after calling back 40–50 times

As just one example, Prince of Travel Elites member Arvindh V. reported his experience with the Aeroplan call centre:

So it seems like the end of the road for me with Aeroplan.

After trying to get in the call line for 5 hrs, a fellow member helped me get connected through his Diamond priority line.

A simple process of changing an existing Y seat to J seat which used to take 10 minutes, took me 3.5 hours, because it has to go through ticketing. And the ticketing is still not done because the call centre was closing soon. So I am going to get a call back from an agent tomorrow to finalize the booking.

The final chat with the agent before hanging up confirmed my worst fears. The agents are not able to piece together itineraries segment by segment. They hope to get to use this feature by July 2020, but they have no idea whether the feature will be available or not.

To say that these are operationally challenging times for Air Canada and Aeroplan would be doing them a great kindness. While I of course understand and appreciate the fact that a PSS migration of this scale is a massive undertaking, I do think that clear and timely communication between the loyalty program and its members goes a long way during times like these. 

Therefore, I reached out to my contact at Air Canada for comment on the above issues that Aeroplan members have been experiencing.

Aeroplan Agents Will Be Able to Book Complex Itineraries… But Give Them Time

Air Canada had previously confirmed that the rules governing Aeroplan bookings will not be changing at the time of this system migration, but that Aeroplan agents were encouraged to “book itineraries that are returned by our shopping tool which optimizes available flight options.”

However, many Aeroplan members have reported that, upon successfully reaching the call centre after hours on hold, they were told by agents that itineraries more complex than what the online search engine displayed (i.e., those that were previously booked in a “segment-by-segment” fashion with the help of an Aeroplan call centre agent) were no longer bookable under the new system. 

To this, Air Canada has stated the following:

We are installing a new reservation system and it is a two-step project. In the first phase, now completed, we moved our reservations, ticketing and inventory over to the new system. Beginning in the new year, we will transition our airport departure control.

The system design encourages agents to use itineraries returned from the shopping tool, but we expect that as they adapt to the new system once it is fully in place, agents will be able to devise bespoke itineraries for members.

Air Canada clarifies that the migration to the Amadeus PSS is a two-step project, with the first phase now completed and the second phase scheduled to take place in the new year. In addition, the new booking system that Aeroplan agents use is designed to encourage them to use the shopping tool, but Air Canada is confident that as they “adapt to the new system once it is fully in place”, they will indeed be able to help members with customized itineraries.

It seems to me that the yet-to-be-migrated “airport departure control” system is what’s affecting Aeroplan agents’ ability to book complex itineraries within the new system, although my limited familiarity with airline PSS does not allow me to comment on the exact nature of how the former might be affecting the latter. 

airport-594208_1920.jpg

Nevertheless, it’s a good sign that we can indeed expect Aeroplan agents to help us with custom-built itineraries at some point. Indeed, given Air Canada’s statements, I am quite confident that the rules themselves governing Aeroplan redemptions (i.e., no layover is more than 24 hours in duration, no more than 16 flight segments are on the ticket, and the overall distance flown between your origin and destination falls within Aeroplan’s proprietary maximum permitted mileage [MPM] figure) will not be changing for the foreseeable future.

What’s less positive, however, is the lack of a firm timeline on when we can expect this to happen, which I’d imagine is of great concern to those of you who are planning to book Aeroplan Mini-RTW itineraries sometime in 2020.

Air Canada’s statement seems to indicate a timeframe of January 2020 at the earliest for the new system to be “fully in place”, but given how the first phase in November 2019 has played out so far, the effects of the second phase of the transition could easily ripple onwards for longer. 

If you need to book or make changes to a complex Aeroplan itinerary, I would recommend some patience and persistence as you search for someone at the Aeroplan call centre who is knowledgeable enough to complete your request. 

While recent data points indicate that most Aeroplan agents have been understandably overworked and seemingly reluctant to help members beyond the most basic requests, there are always more proactive agents out there who are willing to go the extra distance and help you find solutions that aren’t immediately obvious.

Such is the nature of the call centre, though, that you may unfortunately have to expend a fair bit of time and energy to eventually find one of those agents…

The Aeroplan Call Centre’s High Call Volume 

I also asked Air Canada for comment on the call centre’s overwhelmingly high call volume as of late, which has resulted in many members not even being able to connect to the hold queue, and facing hour-long wait times even when they do connect. In addition, I asked whether there was a forecasted time by which we could expect the situation to improve. 

Air Canada stated:

Members are unfortunately encountering at times, longer call centre wait times. As you may be aware, in unrelated changes made earlier to the program, members were asked starting in August to make changes to their login credentials and in October to reset their passwords as part of a security upgrade – both of these are contributing to increased call volumes.  We apologize to all our members for the inconvenience.

Alas, while Air Canada acknowledges the inconvenience facing Aeroplan members at the moment, there is unfortunately no timeline that we can expect Aeroplan to be answering calls effectively again.

We can only hope that Air Canada and Aeroplan are looking to address the situation by adding more staff members behind-the-scenes.

Many Aeroplan members have reported speaking with agents who seemed genuinely exhausted and overworked, and I can fully understand that – it’s no enviable task to be learning a brand-new system while handling the huge volume of requests from irritated customers who’ve been on hold for hours. In my view, providing the call centre with additional staffing would be a necessary short-term measure for Air Canada to keep both their employees and their customers satisfied. 

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In terms of practical advice, if you’ve been trying to reach the Aeroplan call centre to no avail, I would recommend trying to get through by entering the membership number of an Aeroplan Diamond member. Diamond members do seem to be having mildly greater success connecting to an agent (although even they have also been told that there is no space in the hold queue and to call back later).

Better yet, if you know someone who has Air Canada Super Elite status, their calls seem to take even higher priority than Diamonds, so that could be the way to go.

If you are currently travelling and happen to experience ticketing issues at the airport that the Aeroplan call centre would normally help with, but are unable to reach the call centre in time, and have therefore suffered delays or interruptions to your trip and incurred damages as a result (for example, you had to pay for a separate flight out of your own pocket), I would recommend documenting the entire scenario and taking up the case with Aeroplan later on, once the dust has settled a bit. 

Despite all their challenges, Air Canada and Aeroplan still have obligations to fulfill their members’ ticketed itineraries, and historically they have been very good about assisting members and making them whole when something is their responsibility. 

Alas, for those of you who simply want to reach the call centre to book some hotly-contested award space that you’ve had your eye on, there’s sadly not much advice I can offer besides persistently calling and calling again. 

Conclusion

Operational issues relating to the Air Canada & Aeroplan migration to Amadeus were always to be expected, although the current state of affairs – especially the inability to reach the call centre – is very unsatisfactory and, if Aeroplan wants to do right by its members, should not be allowed to continue for much longer. 

If you absolutely must speak to an Aeroplan agent, persistence is the key, perhaps along with some help from a friend with Diamond or Super Elite status. And for those of you looking to book custom-built Aeroplan Mini-RTW itineraries, it may unfortunately be a little while until Aeroplan agents are capable of doing so within the new system. 

And on all of the above issues in a situation like this, data points from the community are essential to tracking the latest developments, so I do encourage you to share any of your recent experiences with Aeroplan either in the Prince of Travel Elites Facebook group or in the comments below. 

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27 Comments
  1. Avatar
    Donna

    This problem with this program is many level. Aeroplan unabashedly admit that they cater to the Diamond people…so I guess the vast majority of the rest of us have to take the back seats and have our patience stretched to the limit and simply put up with it.
    I frankly do not know how this sham has survived as ling as it has. I have been a patient member for decades and this poor and very shoddy service has not improved.
    one iota. Now they have theVirus to blame….it has not affected the poor service by much….as it simply could not get any worse.
    Aeroplan you should be ashamed of yourselves for treating good meaning people like this. I do NOT know how this program has survived as long as it has.
    I am simply trying to update my profile so that I can use up what points I have in order to drop this unprofessional and uncaring bunch in a heartbeat as well as the Credit Card that supports it!!!

  2. Avatar
    Roger Hiscock

    March 13
    Today is day three of trying to reach AP, I called AP at 7Am in fact my phone indicates that i have been on hold now for 3hrs and 35min! Why am I calling, well AC changed my upcoming AP reward flight YYZ to LHR return, the flight does not suit me so I wish to cancel…NP go to the AP web site and go to the "manage your bookings" portal and I see my flight, hit cancel and I am taken to another screen where the refund booking button is located, but it in de-activated! So I am not able to speak to person at AP, not able to send an email to them, cant cancel my flight !! At the foot of the AP home page is a small menu and one of the options is accessibility, so I send the team an email asking them politely for advice on how best to achieve my ticket cancellation and the following was the reply: Air Canada has acquired Aeroplan. As a result of this acquisition, Aimia Canada Inc., email addresses at aimia.com are being migrated to aircanada.ca.
    Your message has been automatically forwarded to the recipient’s new email account. Please contact the recipient directly to obtain their new email address.

    So I contact AC enter my booking # and once the screen is populated I hit the cancel icon , and it takes me back to AP’s web site ! I call AC and because of the Virus issue there phones are none operative! *^#$%@ brilliant …and then at 3hrs and 54 min a wonderful voice emerged from my phone as I was typing this story and a very nice AP lady named Susanne from VCR was able to do the deed and cancel my flight for me. Morale of the story is dial in at 7am and stay on hold!! Good luck to all and stay safe!

  3. Avatar
    Frances Henderson

    Aeroplan charged my Visa three times for a flight. Cannot reach an operator, finally have sent off a complaint letter, registered mail asking for refund. Who knows if a human will open it and respond.
    Also could not login to use miles today. It did not recognize my Aeroplan number that I have had for years! I guess those points are unavailable. What a terrible reputation Aeroplan has now after years of pretty good service. I am fed up.

    1. Avatar
      Alex

      If you dont hear back from AP consider contacting your credit card company to get a charge back. TBH I would call them right away because there are time limits on getting a charge back depending on the credit card company. I remember hearing a story where someone initiated a charge back but because it was outside the 60/90 day period they were denied.

  4. Avatar
    Sally Finegan

    I have to say that this service is completely unacceptable. What absolutely horrible service to loyal customers and good agents. There are many solutions available to give some type of good customer service i.e. put more operators on to deal with this transition period, provide an email address that customers can write to etc. My Aeroplan number is not recognized by the system. I have called and been on the phone for hours with no one yet to solve a simple problem. Air Canada what is wrong with you???? I think I am done with Air Canada.

  5. Avatar
    Anne OHagan

    Anne O’Hagan
    Like so many others, I have been trying to cancel a flight booking unsuccessfully for weeks now. After spending hours on hold, I just give up. When trying to cancel on-line, the “Page is not found.” It would be wonderful if Air Canada would step in and handle some of this mess until the new system is operational.

  6. Avatar
    Rosemary House

    My husband’s outgoing Aeroplan flight is showing as cancelled online, although he has received no email notification of this cancellation. The site says this cannot be managed online, please contact Aeroplan. After five days and at least a hundred phone calls I have managed to be put on hold. I have been on hold for 3 hours. I am a Diamond Aeroplan member.
    Changes have also been made to my regular booking that forces me to now spend a night in Toronto. I have been trying unsuccessfully for several weeks to get someone at Air Canada to deal with this.
    But more important is the cancellation of my husband’s Aeroplan flight without notification and without any way of speaking with customer service. Hard to believe this extraordinary situation this hasn’t become major news in Canada.

  7. Avatar
    ISMAIL

    Hi Rick

    Can you share some telephone numbers of your contacts in Aeroplan.
    I have been unsuccessful every day ( twice ) for the last 5 days.) on hold and get disconnected or prompt says to call bach….
    Aeroplan booking shows 99% flights on Air canada , Lufthansa …
    with massive surcharges.

    HELP !!!! NEED TO BOOK SOON

  8. Avatar
    Cynthia Ashperger

    Absolutely horrible. Just spent 3 hours trying to cancel a booking. The Aeroplan web-site is not letting me do it even thought the booking appears on screen and the "cancel" link is there.
    It is a nightmare. A NIGHTMARE!

  9. Avatar
    Joseph Travers

    I can’t even log in to the website (it either pauses and kicks me out, or there’s an internal server error message), never mind book travel.

  10. Avatar
    George

    UPDATE Finally got through to an agent 2.5 hours on hold. Feel for those agents having to deal with this system!

    I did get a quick response from a DM to the aeroplan facebook page and they started the process for me while I was on hold. There were some taxes to be paid so I would have had to speak to a ticketing agent either way. Thankfully I remained on hold even though i was getting somewhere with their facebook page.

  11. Avatar
    George

    Trying to get through to add an infant to our booking. Any suggestions on doing this? I am diamond status but i typically will hang up after 2 hours on hold.

    1. Avatar
      Alex

      Dont hang up, stay on the line.

      I had the same issue where I had to add an infant 3 times over the last 6 weeks of travelling. My wait times were 45 minutes, just under 2 hours and 3.5 hours. However I did use 2 phones at once and except for the 45 min wait, I had to call back anywhere between 20-90 times to get put into the hold queue. This was all between Nov 10th and Dec 20th, 2019.

      Good Luck

  12. Avatar
    sandy goold

    As an update – we finally were answered – the agent was extremely kind – but again – we were appreciative of her struggles and empathized with her challenges with the "new system". She did say it was a real struggle but answered our questions and thanked us for our patience! She said "it’s people like you that make us want to keep trying to understand and adapt to the new system – thank you!".
    AEROPLAN – LISTEN – YOU HAVE GREAT PEOPLE – DON’T LOSE THEM!!! Good folks to work for you are REALLY hard to find… we know…

  13. Avatar
    sandy goold`

    We are diamond status customers and are looking for flights in October to SXM – nothing is showing on line and of course – as other members – regardless of "status" – I am STILL on hold after 1 hour and 45 minutes. We just wanted to find out if AC is flying to St. Maarten in October/November or not or whether to sit tight until the flights propagate to the on line system…
    This is a mess – looking at switching to a different rewards program as they offer no information or updates to their members via email? They MUST know they have a HUGE problem right now – no acknowledgement is an insult to their long standing customers such as us – over 20 years being loyal to Aeroplan…

  14. Avatar
    Mamaki Snow

    Hi,
    Thank you for this information, I have called aeroplan hundreds of times and as every-one knows, they dont take calls right now and they dont put you non hold. As I have black status and not diamond status, it seems unlikely I will get through for who knows how long??
    What I dont understand is, I am trying to simply cancel a ticketed flight that leaves dec 9, and when I try to cancel on the website, I get an alert saying page not found, and as i cant get through to the call centre, how do I go about canceling a flight in advance time? I tried calling aircanada to inquire if they know what to do, and after having been put on hold for 1 hr 1/2 hrs the agent told me they cant do anything regarding aeroplan. So what is the alternative to this situation except finding someone with diamond status to give me their aeroplan number which seems highly unlikely… Does anyone know?

  15. Avatar
    Tim

    I wish we can file a class action lawsuit against Aeroplan. This is absolutely inexcusable.

  16. Avatar
    David

    I have to ask: is there any DP that suggests they are able to change their existing mRTW booking?

    Booked in August a placeholder in X, since I only had the 60K Aeroplan:
    YOW-ORD-EWR-OSL-ARN-CPH-BRU-NAP,VIE-VCE-ZRH-BCN-LIS-MAD-BRU-YYZ-YOW

    BCN is a stopover, NAP-VIE is the open-jaw

    I am looking to swap for them for the following, in J:
    YOW-YYZ-HND-SYD,SYD-ICN-PVG-HEL-ARN-TXL-VIE-FRA-YOW

    The trip is due to happen in May 2020, so availability is getting thinner. Is it worth calling and trying to get it done ASAP or just accept that I wont be able to do it?

    1. Avatar
      litokid

      In the same position. Have a mini-RTW booked for May 2020 and was banking on swapping into some Thai/Lufthansa First Class space. Looks highly unlikely I’ll be able to get those now…

  17. Avatar
    Marlo

    Sorry Ricky but Air Canada is feeding you and the public a bunch of gobbledygook and horsesh!t. The long waits have very little to do with people calling in for login and password help. It has 99.9% to do with the migration to the new reservation system and call centre agents’ lack of familiarity with it. Getting training on it is one thing but having to use it when it goes live is another. Just to give an idea, calls that would normally take under 5mins like a simple flight change or refund request are taking 30+ mins each. When agents can’t even locate reservations to start with you know you’re in trouble.

    As for the airport Departure Control System, it has absolutely nothing to do with Aeroplan or general reservations/ticketing. So when Air Canada says that Aeroplan issues will somehow get fixed in the second phase, it’s unrelated and rather misleading.

    This is what the airport DCS does. About 24-48hrs before a flight is scheduled to depart, information for each passenger on that flight gets pulled from the reservation side of the system into the departure control side. Basically the DCS is what’s used by airport agents to get passengers checked-in and boarded onto flights. It’s an operations platform to dispatch flights, and it has nothing to do with inventory or bookings.

    What the current Aeroplan mess is really about (and Air Canada won’t admit to) is that there are major glitches with how the Aeroplan system is communicating with the new Air Canada reservation/ticketing platform. People think it’s all one system but it isn’t. When a member redeems a flight reward, essentially 2 processes have to happen: first Aeroplan has to check inventory, create an itinerary and take payment using the points in your account, and second, info has to get transmitted to Air Canada/Amadeus in order to create the reservation and ticket it. (Just like there are 2 emails received with every flight reward redemption.)

    Bottom line. It’s going to take a while to sort it all out because flight rewards just aren’t their priority. It sucks but it’s true. They’re doing triage of all the problems and Aeroplan isn’t the top of the list.

  18. Avatar
    Andy

    Hi Ricky, I am a newb here trying to book through aeroplan for the first time. Tried calling in numerous times but no luck getting through. When I tried to book it through the website, I keep getting the error message when I try to pay: ‘Flight Redemption Failure’

    Any idea what I am doing wrong?

    1. Avatar
      Alice

      How far in the booking process did you get when you encountered the error?

      A reddit user posted the same experience. He was told by Aeroplan that error comes up because his profile was still being transferred to the new system. No profile, no points. No points, no redemption. Unfortunately, it seems calling is your only option. They would have to manually transfer your profile over. Be kind, the CSR’s are working really hard to assist everyone.

      1. Avatar
        Andy

        I was able to go through the entire process until after I click ‘pay now.’ I’ve tried at least 5 times and kept getting the same message. It shows my points just fine but the transaction just won’t go through. I wonder if it’s part of their ‘transition.’ I was not able to get in the queue to speak to an agent. for days, it just kept saying try again later.

        1. Avatar
          Eric

          That means your profile has not successfully been ported over from the old system. This happened to a great number of users. You can see your account but can’t book anything until you are in the new system.

  19. Avatar
    Anne Betts

    Thank you Ricky. It’s unfortunate that Aeroplan members need to rely on you to try to bring some sense to this mess, and offer suggestions on how to access the most basic of service. Management should be communicating with members to keep us updated on developments and allay fears that Air Canada’s ownership of Aeroplan isn’t the disaster it’s turning out to be. I for one have lost confidence in what I once thought was a great program. It’s saddening to see members struggle to have their travel plans realized, but worst of all I feel for the present working conditions of Aeroplan employees. I hope management finds some creative ways to make things right for its members and workers.

  20. Avatar
    Dennis

    Thanks for this Ricky. Great content.

    I have been fortunate (knock on wood) to have no issues with the transition other than not being able to access the website at peak times. I booked 2 one way tickets on the website 2 days ago, YVR – TPE – SIN in J, for my girlfriend and I. No issues with the website, and got the confirmation of ticketing instantly. The only issue is that I cannot select seats on the AC metal segment (appears to be a widespread issue for many). Will keep trying throughout the day.

    Side note: The itinerary is AC J from YVR – TPE on the 787-9 and TPE – SIN on SQ’s 787-10, so pretty excited. Was expecting massive YQ on the AC segment, but the total taxes and fees came out to $503.XX total, or about $252 each. I will be offsetting a huge chunk of this charge with Scotia points. Hoping to change to EVA once availability opens up, but last minute EVA availability has been abysmal lately. Either way still very happy with this redemption.

    Dennis

  21. Avatar
    epep

    Thanks for all the clarifications Ricky! Appreciate your work always

Ricky

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