Dear Aeroplan: Your Hold Times Are RIDICULOUS

Aeroplan is Air Canada’s spun off loyalty program. Back in the day it was probably my single favorite program to transfer points to (they partner with Amex Membership Rewards and SPG), though after many devaluations, it’s more of a niche program that I only use for a few types of redemptions.

The problem is that Aeroplan is a completely separate company from Air Canada, which is just a horrible situation for an airline’s points program to be in. With a spun off program like this, Aeroplan has little incentive to provide a decent experience for members, since they have a pretty captive audience.

For example, Aeroplan’s hold times are consistently horrible. Horrible. Half the time that I call them I get a message saying that they can’t take my call due to “higher than expected call volume.” This isn’t just the past few weeks, but consistently.

I called Aeroplan last night, and I was told the hold time would be 93 minutes. After 140 minutes of waiting on hold my call was disconnected.

aeroplan-call

I called them up at 7AM ET sharp this morning, right when they opened… and I’ve now been on hold for over an hour now.

While the hold times are completely unacceptable (since this is more the norm than the exception), the part that really blows my mind is that they don’t have a callback feature. I typically only get the option of leaving a callback number when hold times are actually short, while when they’re long there’s no such option.

The recording on the phone while waiting talks about how I can go to Aeroplan’s website to learn 12 myths of Aeroplan. Is one of those myths that I’ll actually ever get through to one of their phone representatives?

C’mon Aeroplan, this sucks.

Anyone else have as horrible of an experience with Aeroplan’s hold times as I do?

Comments

  1. Completely agree and it is so pathetic. Sometimes they offer automated call backs and sometimes not. Detest any company that suggests customers visit their website when on hold. The ONLY postive is once you talk to someone they are very competent.

  2. Try LucyPhone.com. Basically, a robot waits on hold for you and calls you as soon as it is connected to a live agent.

  3. This is one of the main reasons I’ve stopped booking through Aeroplan. This combined with the redemption rates. Would rather just use ANA these days for my Amex points, much cheaper for most of the travel I’m doing, even with the fees.

  4. I’m surprised that Air Canada doesn’t up their technological fix to this problem. I mean, Canadians are so known for their ingenuity and creativity…

  5. Was on a mini RTW redemption ticket with Aeroplan and missed my connection on TK from IST. Got on the next flight to my detination but was not sure if my flights on TG were still valid and all other subsequent flights were still intact. Called Aeroplan from overseas and was on hold for over an hour on an international call which I had to then disconnect. Wait times are indeed atrocious!! However when booking the reward travel from Toronto had a wonderful and patient agent.

  6. They are in competition with Air Miles in Canada… who also seem to hold contempt for their customers.

  7. Lucky, I had a similar experience in mid Nov but they clearly had a call back feature and I was told a wait time of 52 mins and received a call back exactly after that time. This happened twice. Am surprised they don’t have the feature now?

  8. Agreed. They now have premium access if you are a top-tier distinction member (through co-branded credit card) or Super-Elite. Without that, you are stuck either using their horrible website or waiting on the phone.

  9. There is a priority line number if you search well the internet or do some social engineering 😉

  10. Funny enough, I had to call in twice a couple days ago to move a flight into the future and cancel it to have the points returned. Did it about half an hour after their opening time and got through within about 20 and 45 minutes. Total process took about 1.5 to 2 hours.

    Previous wait times were much more atrocious but then again I don’t call them much for this exact reason.

  11. Per FT, select French when making the call shortens the wait time especially during peak times. Once connected just politely ask if the agent speaks English, as most if not all of them do!

  12. Try Cathay, it’s just as worse!
    I had to call at 3pm ET, so 4am in HK to get connected.
    And if you choose english, chances are you will get connected to outsourced customer service who don’t know what they are doing.

  13. Aeroplan call centres are chronically understaffed, I have a friend who worked there for 2 years and this was before Aimia (parent group of Aeroplan) laid off many workers. They will do anything to ensure your miles don’t get used. Not as bad as Air Miles in Canada. And you’re right Aeroplan is not a “loyalty” program, it’s a points program.

  14. They have a counterpart on this side of the earth , once I was on hold for more then 3 hours by Asiamiles aka Marco Polo club green tier booking hotline and that was 3 in the morning. Because day time you could not even get the line connected.

  15. Aeroplan has the worst wait time among all companies who provide any kind of services over the phone.
    Totally garbage company, Air Canada really needs to end its relationship with Aeroplan.

  16. After reading all the comments above I consider myself exceptionally lucky. I called at about 10:45p day before yesterday and was connected in about 10 minutes.

    It took an hour and a half to book my itinerary after that but the hold time was lucky. Also, I’m distinction black this year.

    When I was a distinction diamond, I would often go right from the higher than normal call volume message to speaking to an agent; that was fun.

  17. Same problem…. ridiculous hold times and not recently… this was back in July. Waiting an hour and a half only to be disconnected. Makes you feel so small and not valued as a person. Aeroplan needs to hire more staff members

  18. Remember, Canadian industrial policy discourages actual competition. It’s not just aeroplan. You should try calling a Canadian bank or cable company. Pressing two for french is the only way to survive.

    But, yes, two things irritate me more than anything: companies that routinely talk about “unexpectedly” large call volumes and companies that tell me a world of wonder awaits me if I only hang up and go to their website (hint: if I could do it on the website, I wouldn’t be waiting an hour on hold).

  19. Second the comment about CX. Most of the time I get the automatic “can’t take your call, bye.”

    Re: Aeroplan, I encountered this issue when I was on an Aeroplan-issued ticket going into IST the day after the coup. Couldn’t reach Aeroplan after hours on hold. Gave up and booked a new ticket and got refund later. I also find their agents grumpy (but not particularly incompetent once they stop talking over you).

  20. … To finish my story, I was lucky in that 1) I had spare miles, 2) there was spare availability for me to get rerouted to. If either one failed, I would have been f*cked. This underscores the importance of having miles across different programs.

  21. I’ve had situations where I call and they won’t even let me wait on hold. This was when I needed to make a last minute change to an early morning flight that would have departed before the call center opened again. It would be one thing if their website were functional enough so that you could do most things online, but even for very basic things, you have no choice but to call them.

  22. Are you either Silver or Diamond status? Within 30 min they would answer my call or return my call within an hour. I only have silver status.

  23. I couldn’t agree more–the wait times are horrendous–like your dealing with the Kremlin or something…

  24. I expect the next 5 days or so will be extra busy for Aeroplan as everyone scrambles to rearrange/cancel bookings before the new change & cancellation fees come into effect on Dec.6th.

  25. I’m a regular Air Canada customer, and if you thought Aeroplan’s wait times are ridiculous, you should try calling Air Canada for assistance. I’ve given up the last 3 or 4 times I’ve called them. Delta and American pick up within about 2 or 3 minutes. I guess Air Canada’s response is what happens when there isn’t enough competition.

  26. @Edward Scheibler – Good analogy. The national carrier of a socialist country. And our prime minister looks like a camp counselor. Three legged race, anyone?

  27. Hey everyone – phone calls international are cheap! Never call Aeroplan in Toronto – call Mexico or some other location.

    I was in South Africa and wanted to make a new reservation. Called Toronto and was told 1 hour wait time. Called Germany at $.04 a minute on my pay by the minute phone and instantly was connected to Sean who spoke perfect English and finished a complex international points reservation YLW-CPT via several stops in less than 20 minutes start to finish. No wait time and perfect performance. Even once I get connected to the Toronto centre it takes over an hour to make the same reservation.

    So from the US – call Mexico as I understand they answer immediately.

    good luck

  28. Glad it’s not just me. I tried to call several times today. After going through all the trouble of entering my Aeroplan number and PIN it tells me that they can’t talk to me now and I should try later and hangs up. Thank goodness my issue was not urgent.

    In the end I just called AC and only had to hold for about 5 minutes to get my answer. (Partner airline record locators…I don’t understand why all airlines don’t include this info in the itinerary)

    Aeroplan used to be great. But I have not had a reason to contact them in several years since the magical 120K SE Asia F class awards went away. Their business class to Europe mileage requirements are not bad though. Their search engine is weird however. I wanted to fly to Vienna and return from Berlin so I entered the dates in the multicity option. For some reason some flights that show up in a one way search didn’t show up in the multicity search. So I just did 2 one ways. Wish I had realized the difference in YQ. That OS flight to VIE is costing me a lot, but at least it’s a non-stop. But the return on SN and SK is really cheap.

    For some reaon OS, SK and SN won’t let me select seats. Is it just too far out (Sept)? I know some airlines only let you choose seats 6 months out. But NH and TG let me choose now for flights a year away.

  29. I’ve been on hold for an hour now and CANNOT believe it. And you have no choice but to call aeroplan to change a ticket when booked through them. How can there be no callback feature?! Combined with the fact that the points are now a ripoff, I am going to cancel my aeroplan Visa as soon as my trip is over. I’m done with them.

  30. That is interesting, Vania. I called them a few days ago to get a PNR for my Turkish award I had booked online (why you can’t just find that info online, I don’t know – so annoying), but anyway Aeroplan did off a callback option which I used. They quoted 63 minutes and it ended up taking 72 minutes. They also send an e-mail with brief apology for the wait time.

    I also find Air Canada’s wait times excessive (I know they are separate companies). Sometimes they just say it’s too busy even to put you on hold at all. I think the most I’ve ever waited for a US airline was 20 minutes, and usually it’s less than 5 or no wait. It’s ridiculous.

  31. Worst of all! Called 3 times waited for an agent and got disconnected after 50+ minutes each time. It is never less than 50 minutes for me.

  32. ridiculous wait times … made a small mistake that would take 5 minutes to fix and have now been waiting 30 minutes.

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