When Air Canada’s latest press release claimed that the Aeroplan program was still one of the world’s most valuable loyalty programs, we were skeptical to say the least — especially in the wake of the airline’s recent slash and burn treatment of the program.
Effective March 1, Elite members and those flying with them will be required to redeem double the miles if there is no availability of Hospitality Class seats. Elite members will surely miss the option of having access to any unsold seat in Hospitality Service at the regular requirement of miles — a big blow.
Lounge access benefits were also dealt a severe blow. Although eligible Aeroplan flyers will continue to have complimentary lounge access, including all benefits that come with access, lounge access for members’ guests will be restricted. Super Elite and Elite members may invite their immediate family whenever they travel and Super Elite members may invite one guest whenever they travel. Elites may invite one guest whenever they travel on intercontinental flights. All other guests will be required to pay CAD$20 each.
Furthermore, V-class fares are no longer eligible for upgrades. And, in an effort to justify these changes, Air Canada Aeroplan tells us that these policies remain competitive with the North American industry.
Perhaps due to an overwhelming number of complaints from its members, Aeroplan is going back on a few decisions it had made previously. Elite and Prestige members can once again confirm upgrades at 72 and 48 hours respectively, rather then 48 and 24 hours as previously stated. And deeply-discounted fares, including travel on Tango by Air Canada flights, will be eligible for 50 percent of miles flown, rather than the 35 percent as previously stated.
Aeroplan is also reducing elite qualification thresholds for 2002. Super Elites need to earn 88,000 miles (down from 100,000), Elites need to earn 33,000 miles (down from 35,000) and Prestige need to earn 17,000 miles — a 1,000-mile discount. And to make it easier for current elite members to retain their status, Aeroplan is offering Super Elite, Elite and Prestige members 1,000 bonus status miles for each of their first three flights within Canada, between Canada and the continental United States and internationally before March 31.