I often hear a lot of complaints about Aeroplan and Air Canada, ranging from poor service, to high tax and fuel surcharges, lack of award availability, blackout dates, etc.
Just as we are about to discuss the lack of competition in Canada, Jetlines announces that they plan a new low-cost airline that will save consumers up to 40% off the regular market fares.
First of all, many other airlines around the world have similar issues and some less. For Aeroplan, I think the main issue is more of a lack of competition in Canada.
For example, if you generally only fly within Canada, your choices are to earn points with WestJet Rewards, VIPorter, Aeroplan and now Aurora Rewards. Otherwise, all the other airlines do not even have a loyalty program.
If you fly internationally often enough, then it may make more sense to earn points with an international carrier instead. Personally, I also collect British Airways Executive Club Avios, American Airlines AAdvantage, Delta Air Lines SkyMiles and Southwest Airlines Rapid Rewards.
That being said, if you are stuck with Aeroplan, there are with 3 Canadian financial institutions (CIBC, TD and AMEX) that have a co-branded credit card with Aeroplan, which makes it easier to earn those points faster.
The biggest sell for Aeroplan is that Air Canada is part of the Star Alliance, which is probably what is keeping Air Canada afloat. If they ever left the alliance, then you can be sure they will tank.
I was hoping that WestJet can step it up, but the main issue they have is that they are not part of any airline alliances. They do have a partnership with American Airlines, but it is difficult to compete with the three major alliances.
Going forward, my advice will continue to be diversification so that you are not stuck with only one program. You want to be able to take advantage of multiple promotions, giving you more options and flexibility.