Aeroplan has just released a new award chart which will go into effect July 15 and it hurts.
On the whole, the changes to pricing of Air Canada awards aren’t terrible, nothing goes down but awards like coach to Hawaii goes from 40,000 to 45,000 (business is harsher, 60,000 up to 80,000). Business to nearer Europe goes from 85,000 to 90,000. Business to the Middle East and to Australia go from 115,000 to 135,000. Plenty more increases but on the whole all of that scale.
Aeroplan claims that “[t]he adjustments represent an average increase of less than 5 per cent in the number of miles per reward for all ClassicFlight (Air Canada) and Star Alliance flight rewards.”
Rewards Canada echos that changes in Star Alliance flight prices are mostly “to bring these rewards in line with the rewards for Air Canada only flights.”
Now, in fairness, some of the crazy high prices that already existed in Aeroplan’s Star Alliance award chart go down, not becoming cheap but just becoming less exorbitantly expensive:
- Coach from the US and Canada to Asia south of Singapore (eg Bali) goes down from 95,000 miles to 90,000
- Coach from the US and Canada to the Middle East and North Africa goes down from 105,000 miles to 80,000
- Business from the US and Canada to the Middle East and North Africa goes down from 150,000 miles to 135,000
- US and Canada to India awards go down — coach from 130,000 to 100,000; business from 185,000 to 150,000; first from 240,000 to 210,000
- US and Canada to ‘East, West, and South Africa’ awards go down — coach from 130,000 to 100,000; business from 185,000 to 150,000; first from 240,000 to 210,000
That’s not just a highlight of the reductions in prices, though, that’s all of ‘em. And nearly every other award goes up, though a handful remain the same like most awards to and from Northern South America except those to and from the US or Canada.
Award pricing from the US and Canada:
- Business class to nearer Europe goes from 80,000 to 90,000 (still a relatively good price)
- First class to nearer Europe goes from 100,000 to 125,000 (25% increase, but still a better price than United/Continental).
- Further off destinations in Europe like Greece go up to 105,000 in business (5%, to United prices) and 145,000 in first (a 20% increase and 10,000 more than United).
- Business class to most of Asia goes from 100,000 to 125,000 — a reasonable price, but the end of the great bargains Aeroplan had been offering. First class goes from 120,000 to a whopping 175,000. That’s a 46% increase, it’s more than most competitor programs, and ends the very motivation that I’ve had for collecting and for redeeming Aeroplan points.
- Australia awards, which used to be a value, go from 75,000 to 80,000 in coach; 100,000 to 135,000 in business (35% increase), and 140,000 to 185,000 in first (32% increase).
Aeroplan still has generous routing rules (two stopovers or a stopover and an open jaw, whereas United and Continental allow only the latter on roundtrip awards and American doesn’t offer stopovers at all except on distance-based oneworld awards). But they don’t yet allow one-way awards on Star Alliance partners.
As a result of these changes, I’m not longer recommending Aeroplan as a value play in miles. There are still some good rewards options, 90,000 in business class from the West Coast of the US to Italy is still a bargain, and they’re a good program to use with Membership Rewards points which transfer instantly to Aeroplan. They promise additional improvements in their online booking engine which should help, though I do find it annoying that as a general matter they don’t hold award reservations — instant ticketing only. But at least I haven’t heard anything about plans to add fuel surcharges onto their partners awards, they only asses those when actually redeeming for Air Canada flights.
July 15 will be a sad day for what was once one of the really great value programs for flying premium can international awards.
Still, it’s been such a value that I’ve been saying for awhile that I expected some of the great awards like US to most of Asia in first class for 120,000 miles and US to much of Europe for 80,000 in business and 100,000 in first (less than United charges for business) to go away. ANd so it does, and so it shall.