Back in the day, Aeroplan was possibly the single most generous frequent flyer program when it came to award redemptions. They had the most generous routing rules, best award prices, and didn’t impose fuel surcharges on partner award tickets. Aeroplan is transfer partners with American Express Membership Rewards and Starwood Preferred Guest, so the points are quite easy to come by.
Unfortunately the generosity of the Aeroplan program changed in 2011, when Aeroplan massively devalued their award chart, whereby the cost of some of the best redemptions increased by nearly 100%. Months later, Aeroplan began adding fuel surcharges to awards on a majority of their partner airlines without notice.
Aeroplan changes meant the end of cheap Lufthansa first class awards!
Between those two changes, the Aeroplan program lost a lot of appeal. That being said, under the current chart there are still some amazing values. For example, flying from North America to “Europe 1” costs just 90,000 miles roundtrip in business class, and you’re allowed two stopovers (one in each direction). If you can fly one of the carriers which doesn’t impose fuel surcharges (like Brussels, Swiss, Turkish, United, etc.), that’s arguably the best value out there for transatlantic travel.
Redeem Aeroplan miles for Swiss business class without paying fuel surcharges
Unfortunately it looks like Aeroplan will be further devaluing their award chart.
Aeroplan announced today that they’ll be adjusting their award chart for bookings made as of December 15, 2015. Some award prices are going up, some are going down, and a positive change is being made to one-way awards.
This PDF has comparisons of the new and old chart for all regions, though here are the change in Aeroplan award costs for travel originating or terminating in North America:
So what are the changes we’re seeing for travel to/from North America?
- The cost of shorthaul awards within North America is increasing:
- Business class is increasing from 25,000 miles to 30,000 miles roundtrip
- The cost of awards between North America and Europe 1 is increasing:
- Business class is increasing from 90,000 miles to 110,000 miles roundtrip
- First class is increasing from 125,000 miles to 140,000 miles roundtrip
- The cost of awards between North America and Europe 2 is increasing:
- Business class is increasing from 105,000 miles to 115,000 miles roundtrip
- First class is increasing from 145,000 miles to 160,000 miles roundtrip
- The cost of awards between North America and Southern South America is increasing:
- Business class is increasing from 95,000 miles to 110,000 miles roundtrip
- First class is increasing from 135,000 miles to 140,000 miles roundtrip
- The cost of awards between North America and Australia is increasing:
- Economy class is increasing from 80,000 miles to 90,000 miles roundtrip
As before, one-way awards can be booked for half the cost of a roundtrip ticket. That being said, under the new chart, one-way Aeroplan awards will be valid for travel between any regions. Previously one-way awards could only be booked for travel originating or terminating in North America. Stopovers continue to not be allowed on one-way awards.
It is worth noting that the cost of redemptions in many other regions is decreasing, though none for travel to/from North America. These redemption cost decreases seem to largely be a function of Star Alliance adding new members. For example, the cost of awards to/from India is down significantly, which is likely because Air India is now a Star Alliance member, which adds a lot more direct options.
Ultimately the Aeroplan award chart changes aren’t unreasonable. I wouldn’t by any stretch of the imagination call this an award chart massacre, but rather just some “corrective” pricing.
The biggest blow here is the cost of first & business class awards between North America and Europe going up in price. Aeroplan still has very appealing pricing between the regions, especially when you factor in that they allow two stopovers. But it’s not the same outrageously good deal it was before.
Keep in mind these changes only kick in for bookings made as of December 15, 2015, even if it’s for travel on subsequent dates. So you still have a few months to book awards at the old prices.
What do you make of the Aeroplan award chart changes? Will they impact whether or not you choose to book awards through Aeroplan?
(Tip of the hat to Ari)