Update: This has now been resolved, and things are back to how they were before.
Well this is… interesting. It appears as if Aeroplan’s website is no longer allowing members to book awards that don’t originate or terminate in Canada or the United States. If you search an award for travel between any other regions (which was previously bookable online), the following error message appears:
Please call Aeroplan Internet Redemption to book this reward at 1-888-270-7025. To get an agent, simply follow the instructions.
FlyerTalk members report being told that this is a new policy, and that awards not originating or terminating in Canada or the US aren’t bookable online anymore.
The way I see it, there are two possible explanations here. The first explanation is that this is a short term IT glitch. I suspect this is the case, though Aeroplan is doing a horrible job communicating that. If this is a temporary IT glitch, the error message should make that clear, rather than just indicating that these types of awards aren’t bookable online. I also believe this is a glitch since the error message specifically urges members to call the internet redemption hotline, rather than the general reservations number (where they’d get the telephone booking fee).
The other possible explanation is that this is a deliberate move on the part of Aeroplan. Aeroplan is Air Canada’s spun off frequent flyer program, and just a couple of weeks ago we learned that Air Canada will be taking back their frequent flyer program in 2020, and will be discontinuing their relationship with Aeroplan. This is obviously devastating news for Aimia (Aeroplan’s parent company), and I suppose that this could be a way for them to save costs on redemptions, since they know many people won’t bother if they can’t book online.
In this case I’ll just assume that this is a very poorly communicated glitch, and not a pathetic cost cutting technique. If it is a short term glitch, hopefully they find the time to resolve this before 2020. 😉 I’ve reached out to some contacts to find out more, and will report back if I get any updates.
(Tip of the hat to Don’t Call the Airline — except in this case you can)