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Aeroplan Announces Program Changes and Enhancements  
  • Aeroplan Miles now have a set 7 year lifespan
  • Accounts with no activity for 12 months will lose all miles
  • Expired miles can be reinstated for a fee
  • Seats can be had for any flight at anytime....at a major cost
  • New enhanced online booking engine

 

Over the past weekend Aeroplan, Air Canada's loyalty program announced two major changes to the program which helps out Aeroplan with liabilities on their financial statements but make things worse for th% not so frequent flyerr who do not add miles to their account on a regular basis.
Effective January 1, 2007, Aeroplan Miles will xave a 7 year time-stamp attached to them for the month they were earned in and those!miles not used within that 7 years will expire and be deducted from Aeroplan mgmbers account on a monthly basis. All miles earned prior to January 1, 2007 will be(date stamped is December 31, 2006.


How will this affect Aeroplan Members?
Aeroplan states the average time between e eember earning a mile an` spdnding it is two a.d half(}ears, so many meMbers should not"be affected but there are`those (particularly infrequejt flyers) who"are building miles up fop that"trip of lifetime and that may take more then seven yearó so they may stand a chance of losing miles. I for one am included I have miles in my account that were earned more then seven years ago as I have just been trying to build up my account for some really nice trips.

Effective July 7, 2007 Aeroplan will be changing the terms of their expiry policy from 3 years of inactivity to 1 year. Which means if you do not accumulate or redeem miles at least once every 12 months you will lose ALL of your miles. This is not new to the Frequent Flyer industry as many airlines have imposed expiry dates ranging from 12-36 months however there still are many programs that do not have expiry dates on their miles, especially Aeroplan's largest rival, AIR MILES™

How will this affect Aeroplan Members?
Aeroplan states that they have expanded the earning and redeeming abilities of members by adding on more loyalty partners such as ESSO and offering rewards like Gift Cards so that members have more choices then simply earning or burning miles.
How can I keep my miles from expiring?
For Canadian members it is as easy as filling up at ESSO with $3 of gas to earn 1 Aeroplan mile to keep your account active, however for members residing outside of Canada, they will have to continue to rely on travel to earn Aeroplan miles, which for some members may be difficult as they may not travel every year or use one of Aeroplan's partners on a yearly basis.

Effective immediately Aeroplan member's miles that have expired or lapsed after the 7 year period can have their miles reinstated for another 7 years by paying a $30 administrative fee plus $0.01 per restored mile.

How will this affect Aeroplan Members?

It will hit Aeroplan members in the pocket book if they let their accounts lapse and want them reinstated, particularly for those with lower amounts of miles. Whereas it may be worthwhile to restore multiple hundreds of thousands of miles to claim a business class seat, those people who lose 25,000 Aeroplan miles would have to spend $280 to restore them. On top of this $280 they would then have try to find availability for a North America reward flight plus pay the taxes, added fuel surcharge, and no frequent flyer mileage accrual on the ticket. In this case they would more then likely be better off just buying a ticket for the dates they want and earn frequent flyer miles on top of that for roughly the same cost depending on where they were flying to.

Aeroplan has introduced ClassicPlus rewards to replace their Avenue flight reward option. ClassicPlus rewards offer Aeroplan members access to 100% of Air Canada and Air Canada Jazz's available seat inventory. What this means is that if their is a seat available on the flight outside of Aeroplan's classic award availability of 8% of all seats per route per month, you can get that seat for a higher amount of Aeroplan miles. The ClassicPlus seats start at 33% more miles (which is the same as the old avenue rewards) then classic awards with the exception of flights to Europe which will start at 70,000 miles versus Avenue's 80,000.

How will this affect Aeroplan Members?
In effect this is an enhancement to the program as now if their is a seat open on a flight you can redeem miles for it, whereas before if all the Aeroplan inventory for a flight was full you could not get a seat for the flights. For frequent flyers and heavy credit card mileage earners this is generally a good thing as they have many miles to burn and spending a few more miles to the get the flights you want may be worth it. The only issue we see so far with this is that the rewards are dynamic and as Aeroplan states they START at 33% more but some quick runs on the Aeroplan booking engine by ourselves and frequent flyers on FlyerTalk are finding flights at 100%,200% even 300% more miles then classic rewards. In comparison, most other North American carriers offer unlimited access to seat availability at a maximum of 2 times the cost of a regular reward ticket. We will have to wait and see if this is just something Aeroplan is testing or if they will keep these amounts 'dynamic'. So as is typical in this industry it will all depend on when and where you want to go since 33% is better then 100% on another North American carrier but 200% is not.

Probably the best thing to come out this weekend is the launch of the new Aeroplan booking engine on www.aeroplan.com. It is much easier to use then the previous one, has nice features added searching multiple destinations at once (great for the large US metropolitan areas with more then one airport), month long availability calendars, and smart forms that as you type a city name or code it will come up so you don't have to type the whole name in.

- Patrick Sojka
  Editor/Owner
  Rewards Canada


 

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