**This post may contain affiliate links. I may be compensated if you use them.

**Note that these changes don’t take place until November 8th, 2020.

I’ll be the first to admit that when Air Canada announced they were ending their partnership with Aimia/Aeroplan and were going to build their own program from scratch, I was skeptical. When it was later announced that they were going to buy Aeroplan and revamp it, I still wasn’t that impressed. I had this feeling that they would just dress it up, but in reality, it wouldn’t be much better than what already existed.

Well, the new Aeroplan is here and it comes with its pros and cons. Although I’ll be referring to some of the old benefits in this Aeroplan review, it’s important to note that since those features are no longer available, you shouldn’t dwell on them. Like any loyalty program, you should be looking for sweet spots that benefit you now. Read my Aeroplan rewards review now for the full details.

Launch dates

The information you’ll see below is what you can expect from the new Aeroplan, but there are a few hard dates to keep in mind.

  • November 8th, 2020 – Soft launch
  • Q1, 2021 – Hard launch

Come November 8th, a lot of the features will be available right away. That said, some things that Aeroplan wants to implement may not be ready until 2021. When I spoke to Aeroplan, they told me there are many things they’re going to add, but it’ll just take more time.

Why the delay? Aeroplan wants to get things right. Some of the things they plan on introducing are just not up to a standard they’re happy with. They’d rather wait to get things right instead of launching something that they know could be better.

I should also mention that moving forward, you’ll be earning and redeeming Aeroplan points, not miles. This is strictly a cosmetic change and doesn’t affect your points in any way. It was just to simplify things on everyone.

Aeroplan Rewards – no carrier surcharges

Aeroplan program has eliminated carrier surcharges (often known simply as YQ) from Air Canada flights. Partner airlines also won’t charge YQ, but there is a CAD $39 booking fee when using them. Fuel surcharges are something that every points collector hated since it added a fair amount whenever you wanted to make a redemption.

For example, last year I was looking at flights to Paris on Air Canada, and the YQ was about $800. I was able to find a cash fare for around the same price and it didn’t require me to use any of my Aeroplan miles. Even short-haul flights were affected as a flight from Toronto to New York would have about $100 in YQ.

This carrier surcharge is strictly a cash grab and has no relevance whatsoever to your ticket. Airlines charge it on award redemptions to try and recapture some lost revenue. Not every airline charges YQ and some countries have strict rules against them which is why many people booking on Aeroplan looked for routes using airlines such as Swiss, EVA Air, EgyptAir, United Airlines and TAP.

Air Canada is the preferred airline for most Canadians since it gives you the most direct access, but if you wanted to avoid fees, you’d have to choose different airlines with less than ideal routes. Using the above example, it would have been much cheaper to fly on Swiss or Brussels Airlines to get to Europe. Of course, that required a stopover and additional travel time.

Now that there are no more carrier surcharges, it creates a lot more options when using your Aeroplan rewards. That said, lower fees do come at a cost.

New Aeroplan changes planes

Dynamic pricing

We all knew that the new Aeroplan would come with some negatives, and that comes in the form of dynamic pricing for award seats on Air Canada flights. As you’ll see below under the new Aeroplan redemption chart, the range in pricing can be quite drastic.

Before you get upset about this, it’s important to note a few things. Aeroplan has not updated its chart in some time, and seats have gone up in price by about 30%. Many other airlines have also adopted dynamic pricing when it comes to flight rewards, so this change really shouldn’t be a surprise.

The way dynamic pricing works is that the number of points required to make a redemption is based on the time of year and the route’s popularity. Someone who wants to fly to the Caribbean on Christmas Eve and return on January 2nd should expect to pay more than someone travelling in May or September.

Some of you might be thinking this sounds like the old market fare pricing, which everyone hated since the number of points required was insane. Based on my observations, it seems much more reasonable. 

To be clear, dynamic pricing only applies to reward seats booked on Air Canada. If you want to book on a partner airline, there will be a fixed number of points required. However, you’re still limited to seat availability as not every seat is open for award redemptions.

Every seat now available on Air Canada

Although dynamic pricing is a pain, every Air Canada seat is available for rewards redemptions. That’s right, if you’re flying Air Canada, you can book any revenue seat open with your points, which includes premium economy and business class. There will be no blackout dates whatsoever. As long as there’s a seat available, you can book it on points. 

If you wanted to minimize the points used, you could use the old strategy of using partner airlines with no carrier surcharges. That said, depending on the time of the year and where you’re flying, it may cost you fewer points to fly on Air Canada.

New Aeroplan rewards chart

New Aeroplan rewards chart Travel Zones

Let’s be clear, even though my Aeroplan review is positive, the new points required for a flight will usually cost you more pints than before. Instead of a slight makeover, Air Canada decide to overhaul it completely and have now introduced 4 zones with different distance thresholds. That means how many points it’ll cost you to fly now depends on where you’re starting from, where you’re flying to, the miles travelled, and the popularity of the route.

Take a look at the new Aeroplan rewards chart. 

Within North America

New Aeroplan rewards chart within North America

Between North America and Atlantic zones

New Aeroplan rewards chart between North America and Atlantic Zones

Between North America and Pacific zones

New Aeroplan rewards chart Between North America and Pacific

Between North America and South America zones

New Aeroplan rewards chart Between North America and South America

I know it’s a lot to take in. Based on the new zones, there are a few things I want to quickly point out. Note that all of the below are based on one-way tickets.

  • Vancouver or Calgary to Tokyo in business class will cost as low as 55,000 points now (was 75K)
  • Toronto to New York City in economy can be had for as low as 6,000 points (was 7.5K)
  • Montreal to Marrakech in business will cost as low as 60,000 points (was 82.5k)
  • Toronto to Orlando in economy can be had for as low as 10,000 points (was 12.5k)
  • Toronto to Hawaii in business will cost as low as 35,000 points (was 80k)
  • Toronto to Hong Kong in business is now as low as 85,000 points (was 75K)
  • Toronto to Buenos Aires in economy is now as low as 40,000 points (was 30K)

Remember, even though some routes now cost you more points, you’re saving on carrier charges. For example, Toronto to Buenos Aires will cost you 20K more points for a return trip, but you’d save more than $600 in carrier charges.

Now let’s say you’re flying to Hong Kong from Toronto. The range is from 85,000-200,000 points. If you flew via EVA Air, you’d only have to 85,000, there could be good value. Yes, you would need to make a stopover, pay the $39 partner fee, and you’d have limited seat selection. But, that may be worth the savings you get in points.

Prince of Travel has a detailed analysis of the new rewards chart, head-to-head comparison against current prices, and list of the best new sweet spots.

Again, overall, redemption flights will now usually cost you more points, but it’s something you’ll have to adapt to.

Stopovers, round the world trips, and maximum permitted mileage

Under the old Aeroplan, you could have one stopover (more than 24 hours) and up to 15 layovers (under 24 hours for international flights or less than 12 hours in North America). As long as you didn’t exceed 16 total segments and the maximum permitted mileage (MPM), you could build some pretty exotic itineraries. For reference, MPM was in place so you couldn’t book some insane flight paths such as Toronto to London with a stopover in Sydney.

Under the new Aeroplan, there’s much more flexibility. You can still have one stopover, but it now applies per direction, and it comes at an additional cost of 5,000 points. That said, you’re no longer allowed to stopover in Canada or the U.S. when departing from North America. There are no changes to the layover policy.

MPM has also been completely removed so you can build true round the world tickets. You can literally fly Toronto, London, Dubai, Bangkok, Sydney, Los Angeles, Toronto. If you look at a map, this itinerary sort of has you going in one direction. As long as there’s no weird backtracking, you can likely build it. Of course, doing this would cost you a lot of points since you’d be piecing together multiple one-way itineraries.

Best of all, these types of itineraries can be built by yourself on the Air Canada website. There’s no need to call in and feed a rep your routing to stitch the thing together.

New Aeroplan credit cards

Aeroplan credit cards will still have three tiers: silver, slate, and black. TD, CIBC and American Express will continue to be the credit card providers of Aeroplan credit cards. Generally speaking, all of the tiers between the credit card providers will have similar benefits. I have a detailed breakdown of the TD Aeroplan credit card changes here.

The new benefits will be introduced on November 8th. If you’re currently an Aeroplan cardholder, you’ll automatically get the new benefits as of that date. Note that some of the current Aeroplan credit cards will go through a name change, your provider will send you a letter if that’s the case.

We do have some details of the new cards coming including the names and what benefits to expect with the different tiers of cards.

New Aeroplan credit cards comparison

New Aeroplan credit card names

  • TD® Aeroplan® Visa Platinum* Card
  • TD® Aeroplan® Visa Infinite* Card
  • TD® Aeroplan® Visa Infinite Privilege* Card
  • TD® Aeroplan® Visa* Business Card
  • CIBC Aeroplan® Visa* Card
  • CIBC Aeroplan® Visa Infinite Privilege* Card
  • CIBC Aeroplan® Visa* Business Card
  • CIBC Aeroplan® Visa* Business Plus Card
  • American Express®* Aeroplan® Card
  • American Express®* Aeroplan® Reserve Card
  • American Express®* Aeroplan® Business Reserve Card
  • American Express®* Aeroplan® Corporate Card
  • American Express®* Aeroplan® Corporate Reserve Card

Aeroplan Visa Infinite Card benefits

  • First checked bag free, all authorized users (even if not travelling with you) up to 8 travel companions
  • Get 1,000 Status Qualifying Miles + 1 segment per $10K spent (bonus elite qualification)
  • Redeem fewer points on average for Air Canada flights (preferred redemption rates)
  • NEXUS rebate up to $100 (some cards)
  • Something TBA in November

Aeroplan Visa Business Card benefits

  • First checked bag free, all authorized users (even if not travelling with you) up to 8 travel companions
  • Get 1,000 Status Qualifying Miles + 1 segment per $10K spent (bonus elite qualification)
  • Redeem fewer points on average for Air Canada flights (preferred redemption rates)
  • Maple Leaf Lounge passes – Get 1 for every $10K spent, up to 4 per year
  • Something TBA in November
  • NEXUS rebate up to $100 (some cards)

Aeroplan Premium Card benefits

  • First checked bag free, all authorized users (even if not travelling with you) up to 8 travel companions
  • Get 1,000 Status Qualifying Miles + 1 segment per $10K spent (bonus elite qualification)
  • Redeem fewer points on average for Air Canada flights (preferred redemption rates)
  • Maple Leaf Lounge passes – Get 1 for every $10K spent, up to 4 per year
  • Something TBA in November
  • Unlimited Maple Leaf Lounge Access for the cardholder (includes authorized users), +1 guest
  • TD and CIBC cards include unlimited Priority Pass lounge access
  • Priority airport services. Boarding, check-in, baggage handling, standby
  • Rollover Elite Miles/eUpgrades – Elite Members only: All unused Elite Miles and eUpgrades rollover
  • Annual companion fare when spending at least $25K annually. The companion voucher will cost as low as $99 and go up to $599 depending on where you’re flying.
  • Something TBA in November

There are a few things to note about these changes. The most appealing benefit may be the free checked bags. It mimics the benefit that Westjet Rewards gives their Westjet RBC World Elite Mastercard holders. As for the TBA in November, I expect it to be a new sign up bonus.

The introduction of earning Status Qualifying Miles (SQM) and segments for spending are interesting. This will help some people make elite status.

It’s also worth pointing out that the above is just a tease as Aeroplan purposely didn’t reveal everything coming from the new cards. I feel that the annual fee some of the Aeroplan cards will go up, so it might be worth signing up now as your annual fee would likely be grandfathered. That said, I do think we’ll some great sign up offers since these are “new” cards. Once I have all the details about the new Aeroplan credit cards, I’ll share them with you.

Aeroplan family sharing

One new feature of Aeroplan that many people will likely find appealing is the new family sharing plans. This will allow groups of up to 8 to merge their points and create one giant pool to make redemptions quicker.

The term family is loose as you can really add anyone you want. They don’t need to live at the same address, nor do they need to be actual family. You can add whoever you want to the group.

Some other rewards programs only allow points to be shared when joining a family group, but not with Aeroplan. People entering the group bring their current points with them, and they can be shared immediately. 

When it comes to redeeming points, things are done on a percentage basis. Let’s say a family of 4 creates a group, and the points being brought in are 40,000, 30,000, 25,000, and 5,000. That represents a split of 40%, 30%, 25%, and 5% respectively. Now let’s say someone in the group needs to make a redemption of 10,000 points, the points taken would be based on the percentage split so it would work out to be 4,000, 3,000, 2,500, and 500 points.

Another advantage of groups is that if someone has status or an Aeroplan credit card that gives them preferred redemption pricing, other members of the group also get those benefits. 

Since there are clearly some opportunities for fraud with these groups, Aeroplan has a few rules. Once you join a group, you can’t leave for 3 months. Once you’re out of a group, you can’t join a new one for 6 months.

Easier to make redemptions

I probably should have mentioned this earlier, but Aeroplan.com will eventually be taken offline as all flight redemptions will be done directly on Aircanada.com or the Air Canada app. When searching for award seats, it’ll show you the number of points required and the cash fare so you can compare.

The new Aeroplan will also show more than 150 flight paths available to reach your destination. This may sound excessive, but it’s aimed at people who want to maximize their redemptions. Remember earlier how I said you could build itineraries with layovers and stopovers? These new search results were introduced for that reason.

The most direct routes will be shown first, but you can filter your search by carrier, stopovers, mixed-cabin, duration, etc. I honestly think this will be a fun feature for experienced and casual Aeroplan users.

Another new feature being introduced is points plus cash. As the name implies, you can choose to use your points plus cash when making redemptions.

Four options will be presented to the member: On one end you can use 100% points, and at the other end, the option to pay a maximum of 40% in cash and 60% in points. The two other options will be (a) The “published” price in points, plus applicable taxes, fees & charges, and (b) Another dynamically-generated combination of points + cash.

Since Points + Cash applies on flight rewards, a value per point is applied against the number of points which is being converted into cash. This can come in very handy for people who don’t have enough points to make a full redemption.

All fares will earn you points

One of the most annoying things about Aeroplan is how you would earn less (or no) Aeroplan Miles depending on the fare class you bought. Moving forward, you’ll earn points on every fare when flying on Air Canada. Depending on which class and any status you have, you’ll earn even more points. 

Points will now be based on the fare you pay for your ticket (base fare and carrier surcharges only). Your earn rate will now be as follows:

  • Basic – 2X earn
  • Standard – 3X earn
  • Flex/comfort – 3X earn

That works out to an increase of 10%-40%. However, all basic fares are ineligible for status qualification as of 2021.

Final thoughts

Overall, I think the new Aeroplan changes are mostly positive. Many people will be disappointed about the dynamic pricing on Air Canada flights, but any travel rewards enthusiast knew that was coming. With so many new credit cards available, there’s definitely an opportunity to travel for “free” in the future, but that’s a story for another day.

New Aeroplan Changes Announced | A huge win for travellers

12 Comments

  1. Glen S on August 11, 2020 at 10:28 AM

    Thanks Barry, great summary. What’s the difference in yearly fees for the silver, slate and black credit cards? Would you recommend paying the additional fee for the black card?

    • Barry.Choi on August 11, 2020 at 10:33 AM

      Glen,

      TD released the new fees and features. I’m guessing CIBC and Amex will be similar – https://www.moneywehave.com/td-aeroplan-credit-cards/

      • Rick Theberge on August 11, 2020 at 5:23 PM

        Great column thx. If you spend $1000 does that translate to 1000 miles or I guess now 1000 points?
        Thanks for the response in advance

        • Barry.Choi on August 11, 2020 at 5:57 PM

          Rick,

          Yes, you’ll earn points instead of miles moving forward. Note that with tickets, the points earned don’t apply to taxes and surcharges. The best way to earn points moving forward is with a co-branded credit card

  2. Tawcan on August 11, 2020 at 7:49 PM

    The no fuel surcharge is a great change for sure. Dynamic pricing can be a pain but if you’re travelling in the offseason it might be beneficial for you.

    I thought United have fuel surcharge or maybe I’m mistaken. 🙂

    • Barry.Choi on August 11, 2020 at 8:19 PM

      Tawcan,

      It’s a pain, but it’s fair.

  3. Paul on August 11, 2020 at 11:08 PM

    Hi Barry,

    This was super helpful and informative.

    To confirm, will existing Aeroplan points be converted over? And if so, at what ratio? And will there be any expiry on the historical program points?

    Thanks so much.

    Ps – sorry if I missed this within the summary above, just wanted to confirm.

    • Barry.Choi on August 12, 2020 at 5:38 AM

      Paul,

      There’s no conversion. What you have now in miles will simply become points. I guess you could say it’s a 1:1 conversion. Your points expiry date will be based on the current rules which aren’t changing. That’s 18 months (recently changed from 12).

      • Paul on August 12, 2020 at 7:27 AM

        Hi Barry,

        Thanks for the response. I do have one follow up question….:

        I have been accumulating points for years and was not under the impression there was an expiry or that you would loose aeroplan points, however you mentioned 18 months. Are you able to add some more context / guidance on this?

        Thanks again

        • Barry.Choi on August 12, 2020 at 7:34 AM

          Paul,

          If there’s no account activity for 18 months, you’d lose your points. All you need is any type of activity and that would reset the clock. So as long as you earn, spend, donate etc. your points, your points won’t expire.

  4. Sailesh Patry on October 15, 2020 at 11:28 AM

    Does this mean previous benefits like Marriot Gold status is gone with the new Amex?

    • Barry Choi on October 15, 2020 at 11:30 AM

      Sailesh,

      Marriott Gold status is not tied to any Aeroplan credit cards. You might be thinking of the American Express Platinum Card that gives you Marriott Bonvoy Gold status. Nothing is changing with that card.

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