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Frustrations with Aeroplan… What to do about it!

This is a continuation of Avery’s post (Aeroplan has a little problem…) from DTCA about problems with Aeroplan. 

Normally, I prefer not writing any negative posts because this blog is about maximizing rewards with tips and tricks. But when there are too many roadblocks, it may feel like our suggestions are not even useful.

For instance, when it comes to Aeroplan, we have written many posts about how to avoid the infamous high taxes and fuel surcharges by leveraging miles with Star Alliance partners. What makes Aeroplan miles so valuable is the ability to redeem reward flights with other Star Alliance members. But this is a moot point if there is no partner availability.

No Swiss Award Availability

However, the challenges arises when there is no award availability to speak of. As mentioned in Avery’s post, I can confirm that I was having trouble with Swiss flights, which caused me to select an unfavourable option instead.

A few months ago, I was just browsing around for some Swiss flights, and I found a fair amount of award availability in August and September; however, a few weeks ago, the availabilities for the entire months of August and September completely disappeared. Eventually, I found a one return flight on Swiss back to Canada in October. I have a hard time believing that there was so few award availability. But let’s just give Aeroplan the benefit of the doubt for this issue.

No United Airlines Award Availability

Screenshots have been updated.

Now, check this out instead. I was looking for a flight from Ottawa Macdonald–Cartier International Airport (YOW) to Portland International Airport (PDX). When you search with United Airlines MileagePlus, there is clearly is award availability.

Now do the search with Aeroplan… and pouf! No United Airlines reward flights.

The explanation that I received is that award space is released to United Airlines MileagePlus members first. About 3 months before the flight, if there is leftover award space, it may be released to other Star Alliance partners. Granted, this is not necessary an Aeroplan issue, as it is probably more of a United Airlines issue for not releasing the availability to Star Alliance partners as readily, but the point remains that it significantly devalues Aeroplan miles.

What to do about lack of award availability with Aeroplan?

As I mentioned earlier in this post, we want to be a blog that focuses on maximizing rewards, rather than bashing reward programs. What I strongly recommend is the following steps:

  • As frustrated as I am with Aeroplan, there are still many options to collect miles easily without flying with Air Canada. So I suggest collecting Aeroplan miles only if it is convenient; like signing up for co-branded credit cards or earning with retail partners.
  • If you insist on flying with Star Alliance, I strongly suggest banking your flying miles to another member with more award availability that suits your travel needs. For example, if you fly United Airlines often, it would make more sense to earn United MileaguePlus miles instead of Aeroplan miles. You can refer to our post on how Canadians can stockpile MileagePlus miles.
  • Consider flying with other airline alliances (i.e. Oneworld or SkyTeam) instead. Personally, I especially collect American Airlines AAdvantage, British Airways Executive Club and Delta SkyMiles.
  • As a Canadian, definitely look into WestJet, Porter or Alaska Airlines (due to its valuable code-share partners) depending on your travel habits. For example, if you live in Calgary, Alberta and are a RBC client, you should definitely look into taking advantage of what WestJet has to offer.
  • Redeem Aeroplan miles if it works out (e.g. if you happen to find award availability that suits your travel needs), otherwise, if you follow some of my suggestions listed above, you should have plenty of other options to choose from instead.

This is why we constantly emphasise the importance of diversifying your miles and points portfolio.

What are your experiences with Aeroplan? Love it? Hate it? Please let us know in the comment section below!

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Pointshogger aims to provide analysis and updates on earning loyalty reward points and maximizing the value of your points. We hope to inspire our readers to experience the joy of travel and make the most out of what they've already got!

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