By the end of this year, Aeroplan members will have access to all seats on all Air Canada flights, according to Rupert Duchesne, Aeroplan’s chief executive.
Duchesne said the entire plane will be available for unrestricted award booking by the end of 2006. At present, only 15 percent of seats on an Air Canada airplane are allotted for Aeroplan award bookings.
Duchesne pointed out that even though the 15-percent mark is fairly generous by industry standars, and a full 5 percent above last year’s allotment, members still seem to have problems with award availability.
“We are allotted twice as many seats as any other airline loyalty program, but it is still not enough,” Duchesne told The Financial Post. “We need more, and later this year all the seats on a plane will be available to Aeroplan members. You may have to pay more [in points] to get a seat at the last minute, but if you want a seat, it will be your choice.”
Duchesne hinted the cost of booking a last-minute seat may be “roughly double.”
This year, Duchesne forecasts 10 percent of Aeroplan award redemptions will be on non-air products. “But in a matter of two, three or four years, we expect one-quarter to one-third of redemptions will be on non-air rewards.”
NOTE: Most major North American programs already allow access to all seats free of capacity controls with “any time” awards.