Aeroplan has launched a campaign called “Mythbusters” with the intention of being more transparent about the truth behind the “myths and misconceptions” about flight reward program. The campaign aims to clarify 12 common myths.
I decided to copy paste their information (title in bold and explanation in italic) and provide my commentary below for each one. Fair warning, this may seem like Aeroplan is only catering to newbies.
Therefore, just a quick disclaimer, I may sound mean on some of my commentaries, but I do appreciate Aeroplan’s efforts to at least try to explain themselves. In some situations though, they are shooting themselves in the foot.
So let’s get started!
1) Fixed Mileage Flight Rewards are never available
- Truth is, over 70% of our flight rewards booked are at Fixed Mileage levels. These flights rewards are limited and go fast so they might seem hard to get.
- Some are even booked at levels lower than that!
Already shooting themselves in the foot and it’s only the first one!
Generally, market fare rates (which consists of the other 30%) are not always (only a few exceptions) more favourable anyway, so 70% actually means nothing. I don’t think it is fair to say that people say “Fixed Mileage Flight Rewards are never available”. What I hear more often is that there is low award availability. And Aeroplan, you helped confirmed why by admitting that the demand is much higher than the supply. Which actually does mean that there is low award availability because you cannot keep up with the demand.
Aeroplan’s explanation was actually pretty annoying to read. Why not say something like: “Aeroplan is working with its airline partners to create more fixed mileage flight rewards to meet the growing demand!” Unless, there are no plans to increase fixed mileage flight rewards availability.
2) Aeroplan has blackout dates
- Actually, we do not have blackout dates. Our two flight reward options: Fixed Mileage Flight Rewards and Market Fare Flight Rewards let you fly anywhere, any time on all Air Canada flights.
- If you are trying to book during peak flying periods and can’t find any available flights, it’s simply because they go fast. It’s smart to book early. Plus, don’t forget to check our Market Fare Flight Rewards, which opens up even more seats for more miles.
Same response as above. If the demand for the product is so high, why not create more inventory? Otherwise, people get stuck with the miles and frustration just grows. I understand that Aeroplan has to answer to shareholders, and it becomes more profitable when people cannot use their miles. What’s more important? Profitability or happy customers? Just need to find a balance somewhere.
3) Contact Centre Agents have access to more seats
- As a matter of fact, you have access to the same seats as our agents do by booking through aeroplan.com or through the Aeroplan app*. We can understand the assumption though as our agents have expert training.
If that’s the case, as more and more people learn how to book online (which I think is the trend anyway), without dealing with an agent, then I foresee some call centre job cuts.
Furthermore, this myth would not even come up if there was more award availability. I am sure that lots of the calls that the contact centre agents receive is that they cannot find award availability and need help finding some.
4) You need to book a year in advance to find a seat
- Not necessarily. Our airline partners release seats all year long, so you don’t need to plan that far in advance. In fact, almost a third of our flight rewards are booked last-minute.
Again, not really going to be a myth or issue if there was more award availability.
5) It’s virtually impossible to change or cancel a flight reward
- In reality, you can cancel or modify any flight reward up until 2 hours prior to the flight. Cancelling can be done right online and any modifications can be made by calling our Contact Centre. For a full refund, you need to cancel 21 days in advance.
- You can change your flight dates, flight times, class of service, routing and/or itinerary on unused Flight Rewards for non-refundable fee plus taxes per ticket.
This is actually very useful information. Though I guess Aeroplan did not want to take this a step further and disclose the actual fees. It is a $90 (plus applicable taxes) cancellation fee per person per reward ticket.
6) You can only earn miles by flying
- Not so. In addition to earning miles by flying, you can earn Aeroplan Miles in a variety of ways, including by fuelling up your car, shopping, eating out, subscribing to magazines, staying at a hotel and much more. We have over 150 partner brands you can earn with online and offline.
This is my first positive commentary. I think the main reason this myth is around is because of a lack of interest in earning miles and points to begin with, rather than a lack of understanding. If people are interested in the topic, they would have easily figured this one out anyway.
Aeroplan’s newest partner is The Brick. Any time there are new partners, it is a very good thing. I am actually really glad that Aeroplan has so many different ways to earn miles!
7) Only the Contact Centre can credit my miles if I forget to provide my Aeroplan Number when flying
- Actually, you can request to have your miles credited online 24/7 through our Help Centre. You can also book a flight, manage your rewards, update your profile, convert your miles, reset your password, create your Contact Centre PIN, order a new card and more.
I feel the website is pretty good already. I did not think that this was a myth to begin with. Either way, it is probably a good reminder for some.
8) I’ll have to be on hold for 2 hours if I call in to book a flight
- Truthfully, while this may have happened in the past, we have since upgraded our system so your wait time should be shorter.
- But why call at all? You can book a flight online and through the Aeroplan app! We have also worked hard to offer you a wide variety of self-serve tools so you can get the help you need right away.
I guess the job cuts are already happening? It is clear that Aeroplan is trying to push people away from calling them and doing most things online. Personally, I do feel bad about the job cuts that are happening or about to happen, but it is probably a better move to switch over to as much online service as possible. Ideally, this should reduce Aeroplan’s expenses and pass on the savings to the consumers? Perhaps open up some more fixed reward flights?
I am sure that everyone is already seeing the trend here.
9) Aeroplan is the only program where the miles expire
- Actually, your miles will not expire as long as you stay active by having at least one qualifying activity in the previous twelve months.
Also a myth that is created because of a lack of interest in earning miles to begin with. Even when people find out that miles never expiry with activity, it does not increase their interest anyway.
10) There are no real perks to achieving status with Aeroplan
- As a matter of fact, members with status in the Aeroplan Program have the opportunity to earn more and redeem for less.
I have to admit, the elite status program is fairly weak with Aeroplan. For this one, I will give Aeroplan the benefit of the doubt. I will chalk this one up to being too new to the scene (only introduced on January 1, 2014), so I expect that improvements (not devaluations) will be phased in over time.
11) I can’t use my miles to book flights for my friends and family
- Truth is, you can use your miles however you want, including booking flights for friends and family. They don’t have to be travelling with you… and they don’t even have to be Aeroplan Members.*
- Simply enter their personal information when booking flights through aeroplan.com or the Aeroplan app. It’s that easy! Both you and the person you are booking for will receive a copy of the transaction by email.
- *Exception for Super Elite members booking international travel in business class using a Priority Reward.
This is one of my favourite reward option offered by Aeroplan. I have used it many times within my family. I hope that this continues to remain in effect. It is also a great way to provide a gift to someone that you care about.
For example, if you have a friend or family member who cannot afford a flight ticket to come visit you, you can use your miles to fly them over. Or better yet, use your miles on them to go on a trip together!
12) My credit card is my Aeroplan Card
- Not so. They are different cards. With your Aeroplan Card you can earn miles at our partners, with an Aeroplan-Affiliated Credit Card, you can earn miles everywhere. Better yet, you can earn twice when you pay with your credit card and show your Aeroplan Card at partners.
I actually think that this confusion was mostly caused by the credit card companies. Lots of their agents / representatives have a difficult time accurately explaining the difference between the Aeroplan reward card and a co-branded Aeroplan credit card.
I am going to side with Aeroplan on this one and blame the credit card companies for some incompetence.
There you have it! The full list. Like I said, I was going to be mean for the most part. But I do really appreciate Aeroplan’s efforts to help clarify certain common misconceptions. This list should really help clarify a lot of common misconceptions. So I am willing to give my thumbs up to Aeroplan!
However, you mean have noticed the theme throughout most of the post. Whether these myths are true or not, this initiative would not have been necessary if there was more fixed mileage reward availability. If Aeroplan is using this initiative to gain more customers or solidify existing customers (and it actually works), but without increasing their award availability, then there will just be more unhappy customers.
UPDATE- per the comments below, it is worth noting that Aeroplan does not have much control on how much award availability is released to them, which would have been a more useful explanation to address some of the myths.
The sad part is that Aeroplan actually has a lot of sweet spots. The challenge is that there are too few sweet spots. So here is my suggestion to Aeroplan. Increase your fixed mileage flight reward availabilities (market fare rates are not good enough)! This would be a WAY better customer-friendly initiative!