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Air Canada just announced its decision to launch its own loyalty program in 2020 when its current contractual agreement expires with Aimia, the operator of Aeroplan. For those not aware, Aeroplan is a spin-off loyalty program of Air Canada and has been independently owned and operated by Aimia for almost a decade. (This is one reason why you utilize a website independent of Air Canada when booking awards with Aeroplan miles.)
The press release states that “By operating its own loyalty program, Air Canada will be better able to strengthen its customer relationships and deliver a more consistent end-to-end customer experience.”
In recent years, Air Canada has been on the move to become more competitive and has invested $10 billion to renew its fleet, and upgraded its product all-around with new seats, Wi-Fi connectivity, expanded and renovated Maple Leaf Lounges, new livery, and new uniforms.
Air Canada’s exclusive contract with Aimia remains in effect until June 29, 2020 and until that point, “Air Canada is committed to business as usual by working closely with Aimia with the objective of providing consistent service for Aeroplan members.”
According to the press release, during this period, Aeroplan members can continue to earn and redeem miles in accordance with the Aeroplan program:
- Before the new Air Canada program launches in June 2020, members will be able to earn and redeem Aeroplan Miles for Aeroplan Rewards, including flights with Air Canada and Star Alliance partners
- After June 2020, miles earned from Air Canada and Star Alliance flights will be credited to the new program, with customers able to redeem those miles for rewards including Air Canada and Star Alliance partner flights.
- Aeroplan miles earned up to June 2020 will stay in Aeroplan members’ accounts, and will continue to be subject to the conditions of their program.
- Air Canada intends to continue to offer Aimia redemption seats for Aeroplan members after June 2020, with pricing competitive with other third-party rewards programs.
- The airline’s most frequent flyers will continue to enjoy Air Canada Altitude status recognition and its associated range of travel privileges, based on their annual flight activities with Air Canada and the Star Alliance member airlines. All Million Mile program qualification activity and status will also be honored in the new program.
- Air Canada intends to implement near-term improvements to Air Canada Altitude and other elements of the customer experience.
Aeroplan is one of my favorite award programs. They are a 1:1 transfer program of American Express Membership Rewards and offer some competitive redemption rates for Star Alliance partners. In particular, their rate for business class travel from North America to Europe can be as low as 55,000 one way. And you can avoid surcharges by flying on any one of these partners:
- Air China
- EVA Air
I recently flew on SAS to Tromsø, Norway to see the northern lights by using Aeroplan miles and I only paid about $12 in total fees.
It sounds like we might see some strong incentives when the time comes around. View from the Wing writes that, “Their number one goal is to win back customers, so they’re going to offer huge enrollment incentives when the time comes.” I imagine most of those incentives will be targeted to Canadians but hopefully we’ll see a new credit card with a strong sign-up bonus for US residents when these changes take place since the current Aeroplan credit card offered by TD Bank is pretty so-so.
In any event, we have three years to prepare for any changes and it sounds like they’re going to make real efforts to make the transition as seamless as possible.
HT: View from the Wing
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Daniel Gillaspia is the Founder of UponArriving.com and creator of the credit card app, WalletFlo. He is a former attorney turned full-time credit card rewards/travel expert and has earned and redeemed millions of miles to travel the globe. Since 2014, his content has been featured in major publications such as National Geographic, Smithsonian Magazine, Forbes, CNBC, US News, and Business Insider. Find his full bio here.