Have your Aeroplan miles passed their “sell by date?” Effective Jan. 1, 2007, all Aeroplan miles will be date-stamped to expire at the end of seven years (84 months) from the month the mile is accumulated. Miles in an account with a date-stamp exceeding 84 months will automatically be deducted from the member’s balance on a monthly basis. All Aeroplan miles issued prior to Jan. 1, 2007, will be date-stamped as Dec. 31, 2006, resulting in an end date of Dec. 31, 2013.
Furthermore, effective July 1, 2007, Aeroplan members must have activity in their account at least once within the 12 previous months to avoid the expiration of all miles in the account. Activity is defined as earning or spending miles.
To placate those who might not be too happy with these changes, Aeroplan is offering members whose accounts are in danger of expiring an option to extend their miles for a further seven years (with annual activity) by paying a fee of CDN$30 plus $0.01 per restored mile. Members may also take advantage of this offer to reinstate expired mileage.
Although Aeroplan made a bold move such as posting the changes directly on FlyerTalk so their most frequent of flyers could hear it from the horses mouth sooner rather than later, and are quick to point out that most miles are redeemed approximately two-and-a-half years from being earned, many Air Canada Aeroplan members are not happy with these changes.
Questions about true loyalty are the rule. For example, a retired business traveler who has racked up more than a million miles will not be assured that his or her miles will be there when they are ready to use them — even with activity the miles will expire after seven years unless they shell out more money to keep them active for a further seven years. And there aren’t many who would want to watch their miles slowly fade away on a month-to-month basis. To give Aeroplan credit, they haven’t made the time-stamp retroactive so members have time to deal with their mileage balances and make decisions about future activity — and travel within the next few years instead of waiting until 2013 when everyone rushes to use their miles before they expire.
Yes, Aeroplan is the first North American airline loyalty program to zap all miles after seven years, but it’s a common practice among European and Asian airlines. They give members only three to five years to use their miles before taking them away.
And yes, Aeroplan is the first North American program to impose a one-year activity period. However, other airlines are coming around to this approach. US Airways has announced an 18-month activity period, starting in January. And Delta Air Lines plans to implement a two-year activity period.
Meanwhile, Aeroplan is doing something that will benefit the vast majority of members. There will be more airline seats for redemption. Members can still use their points as before, such as redeeming 15,000 miles for a trip from Toronto to New York City — these awards account for 8 percent of Air Canada’s seat capacity on every route. But now, all capacity available over and above this 8 percent will be offered to members at variable mileage levels — based on actual airline ticket prices, minus Aeroplan’s negotiated rates as the airline’s largest purchaser of seats. (We’re quoting from Air Canada’s press release here.)
A 25,000-mile award would cost members 33,000 to 38,000 miles under this dynamic pricing model. U.S. airlines automatically double the cost, so members would have to use 50,000 miles.
We tip our hat to Aeroplan. These changes will actually help the vast majority of members who want to use their miles for trips.