As business class products continue to improve, premium economy is becoming more widespread. In terms of hard product, premium economy nowadays is almost like what business class used to be, while business class nowadays is in many cases better than first class used to be.
In early 2013, Air Canada announced that they would introduce premium economy on select longhaul aircraft.
As of now, Air Canada offers premium economy on the following routes:
When Air Canada initially rolled out premium economy they didn’t offer Aeroplan award redemptions for it. As Aeroplan announced late last year with their 2015 elite program change notice, they planned on introducing premium economy award redemptions as of “early 2015:”
In early 2015, Aeroplan® and Altitude members will be able to redeem their Aeroplan Miles for seats in the Premium Economy cabin on Air Canada. Details will be coming soon.
Redeem Aeroplan miles for Air Canada premium economy
Well, as of today it’s possible to redeem Aeroplan miles for travel in Air Canada premium economy. The Aeroplan Flight Reward Chart reflects the redemption rates for travel in Air Canada premium economy:
The fear is always that the award chart is devalued when a new redemption offer is added. But fortunately in this case nothing is being devalued, but rather they’re just adding a new premium economy redemption option.
I think it’s worth clarifying, though, that premium economy redemptions are only available on Air Canada — you can’t redeem Aeroplan miles for premium economy awards on partner airlines (for whatever reason, airlines rarely allow premium economy redemptions on partner airlines).
Pricing is exactly what I would have expected — roughly halfway between economy and business class pricing. For example, roundtrip between the US and “Europe 1” you’d pay 60,000 miles in economy, 75,000 miles in premium economy, or 90,000 miles in business class. That seems fair to me.
Premium economy awards are bookable directly on Aeroplan’s website, and availability seems to be better for travel to Asia than Europe.
Why premium economy isn’t a great use of miles
While the redemption rates for premium economy are reasonable, I think it’s worth noting that in general your best use of Aeroplan miles isn’t for travel on Air Canada. That’s because Aeroplan imposes fuel surcharges for travel on Air Canada, though they don’t for travel on some of their other partner airlines.
For example, traveling to Europe you could spend either 75,000 miles plus fuel surcharges for roundtrip premium economy, or you could spend 90,000 miles without fuel surcharges for roundtrip United business class, which would get you a flat bed.
But no doubt this will appeal to some, especially Super Elite 100K members, as fuel surcharges for award travel on Air Canada were eliminated for those members as of this month.
Kudos to Aeroplan for adding a redemption option without taking anything away (as of now). The redemption rates are reasonable, so I’m sure this is something that will interest many. Here’s to hoping that eventually reciprocal premium economy redemptions between airlines become more widespread.