Air Canada + Aeroplan
As unhappy as we all are about Air Canada, unfortunately they are the biggest airline in Canada and they know it! Aside from their high ticket prices, poor customer service and high fuel surcharges for award bookings, they do have some good points. When I think of Air Canada, I do think about the personal TV screen that each of us have in front of our seats and we get to watch a lot of Canadian content. Air Canada is a member of the Star Alliance partners, so if you want to avoid high fuel surcharges, you can book an award ticket with one of its Alliance partners who have cheaper surcharges. What’s also great about Air Canada is that if you fly on its Alliance partners, you can continue to collect Aeroplan points. So you can essentially just fly on partner Airlines and book award tickets on partner airlines without actually flying on Air Canada. That’s the value of the Aeroplan points. There have also been some lucrative sign up bonuses on Aeroplan credit cards to top up your accounts.
If you are savvy at managing your points and able to find affordable flight tickets on Alliance partners, then Aeroplan + Air Canada is a big win!
Unfortunately, Air Transit does not have any loyalty points program, but it is a chartered airline so we cannot expect too much. But you can increase your rate of return if you have a credit card that gives you additional bonus points for travel related expenses. For example, the AMEX Gold Rewards gives you 2x the points on travel related expenses.
The reason I put this airline on the list is because it does fly to 25 different countries, so there’s a good enough variety and the plane tickets are generally cheaper and that alone can already make the trip more worth it. I’ve been on Air Transit flights to Europe a few times, they noticeably have more affordable prices compared to other airlines.
The knock I have on them is to be careful with the tickets that you purchase because they are not guaranteed, if you miss your flight, you actually have to purchase a new ticket, which I experienced first hand, it was not fun. The worst part was that a lot of people miss their flights that day because the train to the airport broke down, but Air Transit was not customer friendly enough. Had we been on Air Canada, we would have just been bumped to a later flight instead of being forced to purchase a new ticket. This is where travel insurance might come in handy.
Without a loyalty points program and without a guarantee on our flight ticket, I will be avoiding this airline from now on.
Porter Airlines + VIPorter
This definitely a no-brainer airline if you ever get the chance to fly on it. Enjoy the Porter lounges, great customer service and always remember to shop for fairs. They frequently have 50%, 40%, 30% discounts on flight tickets so I hope I don’t find you buying tickets at regular price. If you know you’re going to travel frequently and you need more flexibility on flight tickets because you cannot always take advantage of the discounts, then I would suggest that you look into Porter Passes. It’s for sure more expensive than the discounts, but cheaper than regular fair.
WestJet + WestJet Rewards
I think this is a great alternative. Only problem is that it is only focused on North and Central America. But they are a Partner of American Airlines so you can continue to collect WestJet Rewards by flying on American Airlines to destinations that WestJet does not serve. Furthermore, if you earn RBC Rewards, you can always convert your points to WestJet Rewards to top up your account. And don’t forgot about the WestJet RBC MasterCard and WestJet RBC World Elite MasterCard because your points can add up fast if you take advantage of all the different ways of earning points.
It may feel like slim pickings for Canadians compared to other countries, but there is still some value to be had within these Airlines.