Aeroplan Improving Routing Rules — No More MPM!

Last week was rough for Air Canada flyers. Towards the end of the week the Air Canada 2015 elite program was announced, and it’s ugly.

Air-Canada-777

Air Canada is unique in that they’ve spun off their frequent flyer program, and in this instance no real changes were made on the mileage redemption side of things through Aeroplan… at least not yet.

Anyway, an inside source has informed me that Aeroplan will be announcing some changes to their routing rules a bit later in the week, and apparently they’ll be positive overall.

Aeroplan’s current routing rules

To briefly recap the major aspects of Aeroplan’s current award rules:

  • On longhaul awards, in addition to your destination Aeroplan allows two stopovers (one in each direction) OR one stopover and one open jaw
  • For longhaul awards, Aeroplan lets you officially exceed the maximum permitted mileage for a city pair by 5% (airlines publish MPMs, which are the most number of miles you should be able to fly between a city pair, so basically they’re letting you exceed that slightly, which is reasonably generous), and unofficially lets you exceed it by 10%
  • Award tickets are manually priced, so it’s up to the agent to verify that the routing is valid — Aeroplan agents are among the most competent in the industry, so they’ll almost always correctly validate routings

For example, the one-way MPM between Los Angeles and London is 6,544 miles. When you add 5% you’re at 6,871 miles, and if you add 10% you’re at 7,198 miles.

Maximum-Permitted-Mileage
MPM between Los Angeles and London

That’s a “fair” MPM. The MPMs are outrageously generous when routing from the US to Asia via Europe, though.

For example, the one-way Atlantic MPM between Los Angeles and Tokyo is 14,991 miles. Add in up to a 10% buffer, and you’re looking at 16,490 miles. Crazy, huh?

MPM
Atlantic MPM between Los Angeles and Tokyo

Aeroplan used to have one of the most lucrative award charts, back before they devalued their award chart in 2011, and then began imposing fuel surcharges for travel on many partner airlines just a few months after that.

Still, there are some great values to be had. For example, Aeroplan charges just 90,000 miles for roundtrip business class travel between the US and much of Europe. Given that you’re allowed two stopovers in addition to the destination, that’s pretty darn good.

That means you could potentially fly an airline like Swiss (for which Aeroplan doesn’t impose fuel surcharges between the US and Europe) and visit three destinations on a single ticket.

Swiss-Business-Class-A330-08
Swiss business class A330

Aeroplan’s new routing rules

Aeroplan will be announcing new routing rules on October 29, and they should kick in immediately.

The biggest change they’re making is that Aeroplan’s computers will start pricing and validating awards, so agents will no longer have to validate routings.

In the process of doing that, though, they’re eliminating the restriction of only being able to exceed the MPM by 5-10%.

My source tells me that the new routing rules are considerably more generous.

Of course the potential downside is that if the computer won’t price or validate an award, the agent won’t be able to get around it. So there could be some cases where itineraries don’t price when they previously would have.

But overall the new routing rules should work in our favor, I’m told.

There won’t be any changes to fuel surcharges and stopover rules, though they are changing one aspect of open jaw rules. Specifically, open jaws will no longer have to be the shortest segment of the itinerary. That’s not a huge change, ultimately, in my opinion.

Bottom line

I’m curious to see how the system prices awards in practice. I do suspect these will actually be positive changes, not necessarily by design, but rather because they’re changing the way routings are validated. The QIK system will be pricing awards, so I’d expect a lot more to be possible. That comes at the expense of transparency in routing rules, though.

Mark this as “developing”…

Comments

  1. Thanks for this. Any word on changes to the open jaw placement? Currently, the open jaw has to touch the furthest point of travel, not by miles flown, but by distance from departure point. It’s a big pain in the ass.

  2. I do not think this is beneficial – every time I book a 10 segment mini-rtw, I always get “Computer failed to price your ticket, it’ll be forwarded to ticketing”.

    If this means no more complex routings designed to avoid YQ, it’s a big downside.

  3. I am not as optimistic as Lucky. I agree with Andy, this likely means no complex routings. The way I read it, we will only be allowed routings suggested by computer, and maybe even limited to routings displayed by the aeroplan website. No more piecing a route together by segments. Tell me it’s not that way!

  4. Good information. If you flew to Asia via Europe with the initial leg on a no fuel surcharge carrier like United or Swiss, would you still pay fuel surcharges if the later flight or flights are on yq charging airlines?

  5. Any chance this will fix the glitch with Copa? They have been having issues with booking Copa tickets for months!

  6. The changes are live on the site now. It’s not clear what the full impact is. But the rules are far less generous than before with some routings no longer being valid. The site does not say what the new routing rules are, you need to try them case by case and it will just flag invalid.

  7. YVR-FRA-SIN-YVR which is way under mpm5 and was easily valid before is now invalid. More generous my behind

  8. @crimsona Where are you getting this from? You can now even add HKG and it still shows as valid. YVR-FRA-SIN-HKG-YVR –> valid!

  9. Was a bit hasty, but using multi city:

    YVR-LHR-FRA, FRA-BKK-SIN, SIN-HKG-YVR is accepted ($1200 taxes and YQ though)
    YVR-LHR-FRA, FRA-MUC-ATH-SIN, SIN-HKG-YVR is also accepted
    YVR-LHR-FRA, FRA-ICN-SIN, SIN-HKG-YVR is not accepted (get an error message when selecting Flight #3). Don’t have EF, but fairly sure that 3rd one is below the AT mpm5

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