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There is big news in the frequent flyer world this morning as Air Canada is going to part ways with their current mileage program, Aeroplan, in about three years when the current contract expires. Uniquely, Aeroplan is a third party company and Air Canada essentially does not own its own frequent flyer program. As many of you know, frequent flyer programs are big businesses in and of themselves, and it seems that Air Canada wants directly in on that action.
As such, beginning in June 2020 Aeroplan will no longer be the frequent flyer program for Air Canada, and instead you will earn miles directly into the new Air Canada program when you fly Air Canada or other Star Alliance partners. Until June of 2020 it is business as usual with your miles earned from flying Air Canada going into your Aeroplan account. You will continue to be able to use those miles to book award flights on both Air Canada and other Star Alliance partners until the June 2020 transition.
Okay now here is the rub, the miles you have in Aeroplan at the time of the changeover won’t be transferrable to the new Air Canada program. You will reportedly continue to be able to use them for Air Canada award flights after June 2020, but we don’t yet know at what rates, and you will no longer be able to use them on other Star Alliance partners. This means they will likely become much less valuable to many travelers when that transition occurs. You will presumably still be able to redeem them for things like retailer gift cards and lawn mowers, but I know that isn’t how most of us like to use our miles.
Since this is still three years away you don’t necessarily need to worry too much about it today or change any crediting or redemption patterns right this second. However, you will probably want to work your Aeroplan balance down over the next few years before June 2020 when you can no longer use those miles for Star Alliance partner flights on airlines like United, Lufthansa, Singapore, ANA, and many more. If you already have a pretty big Aeroplan balance, you may not want to continue crediting too many miles to that program if you aren’t sure you can use them before June 2020.
Additionally, if you have a baby, or may in the next three years, it is worth mentioning that Aeroplan is actually one of the most generous programs out there for lap infants. On award tickets you can pay just a flat fee in miles or dollars for lap infant’s ticket instead of paying 10 – 25% of the going cash fare. Aeroplan’s lap infant charges on awards are:
• Economy: 5,000 miles or $50
• Premium Economy: 7,500 miles or $75
• Business Class: 10,000 miles or $100
• First Class: 12,500 miles or $125
Compared to other similar programs that could easily want $1,000 for a lap infant ticket when you are flying to Europe in first or business class on an award ticket, that is a steal. While I presumably won’t have any lap infants of my own three years from now, if Air Canada does not retain a flat fee for lap infants in their new award program it will be a loss for family travelers who have used this program to save on Star Alliance award tickets.
If you want more info, you can read the releases both from Aeroplan and Air Canada. Air Canada also has a new site about their coming program in 2020 set-up here.
What are your thoughts about this big change for Air Canada and Aeroplan? Do you have some Aeroplan miles you need to spend down in the coming years?
Editorial Note: The opinions expressed here are mine and not provided, reviewed, by any bank, card issuer, or other company unless otherwise stated.