Inside Look: Aeroplan

Welcome to the Club

Aeroplan was launched in 1984 as the frequent flyer program for Air Canada, and in 2002, was one of the first frequent flyer programs to break away from the airline to form its own company. In June 2005, Aeroplan completed its initial public offering as a separate entity from Air Canada. Aeroplan program members enjoy membership in the largest global airline alliance, the Star Alliance, and as a coalition loyalty program offers members a vast array of ways to earn and burn miles.

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Earning Ability

Members earn miles when flying Air Canada based on the booking class flown. At the low end, Tango fares (S, T, L, A, K, N, E; plus F on most international flights) earn 25 percent of the miles flown. Flex fares (M, U, H, Q, V, W, G; with some variations on international flights) earn 100 percent of the miles flown. Latitude (Y, B), Premium Economy (E, N, O) earns 125 percent of the miles flown and business class (D, Z, P, J, C) earns 150 percent of the miles flown.

The same percentages are valid for flights on Air Canada rouge. Flight miles earned on Air Canada also are Altitude Qualifying Miles (AQM), and count towards achieving Altitude status. Most Star Alliance airline flights earn up to 125 or 150 percent of the miles flown depending on the booking class.

Aeroplan also partners with regional airlines in Canada as well as earning partners including car rentals, cruises, hotels stays, parking, vacation packages, online retailers, credit cards, moving services and more.

Award Choices
Aeroplan offers over 1,000 award options in travel, activities and merchandise. Flight awards are available to over 1,300 destinations worldwide on Air Canada, Star Alliance members and Canadian domestic partners.

Flight awards fall into two categories, ClassicFlight and Market Fare Flight Rewards. ClassicFlight awards are capacity controlled and Market Fare Rewards are available on Air Canada flights with any unsold seat and are based on the market fare at time of booking the award. The number of miles needed for Market Fare Rewards vary by destination, time of booking, time of travel, demand and the conversion of the fare into miles.

Roundtrip coach ClassicFlight awards within Canada and the U.S. are 15,000 miles for select short-haul flights and 25,000 miles for long-haul flights. Roundtrip business class ClassicFlight awards are 25,000 miles for short-haul flights and 50,000 miles for long-haul flights.

Roundtrip flights from Canada to Hawaii are 45,000 miles in economy and 80,000 miles in business. Roundtrip flights to Mexico, Central America or the Caribbean are 40,000 miles in economy and 60,000 miles in business; to Europe 1 are 60,000 miles in economy and 90,000 miles in business and to Asia 1 are 75,000 miles in economy and 150,000 miles in business.

The most mileage for roundtrip economy flights is needed between Canada and the continental U.S. and the Indian Subcontinent or East, West and South Africa at 100,000 miles.

One-way awards are available for ClassicFlight tickets for 50 percent of the cost of a roundtrip award. This is a recent improvement to the program-earlier, the cost for a one-way ticket was more than half the cost of a roundtrip award ticket.

Infant flight awards start at 5,000 miles in economy class. Around the World awards are 200,000 miles in economy, 300,000 miles in business and 400,000 miles in first with a maximum of five stopovers.

Star Alliance upgrade awards start at 7,500 miles for an upgrade on a short-haul Air Canada flight and range up to 60,000 miles for an upgrade from North America to Africa or the South Pacific, for example. “Great Deals on Market Fare Rewards” are occasionally offered on select routes, offering flight awards for fewer miles than ClassicFlight awards.

Hotel awards are available for stays at over 2,800 locations worldwide with partner hotels and the mileage required varies by location, travel dates and category of hotel. We searched for participating hotels in Vancouver midweek in January and the award nights ranged from 11,500 miles for a Best Western up to 54,500 miles for Fairmont Waterfront. When redeeming with Best Western, Delta and Fairmont hotels, members earn 500 miles.

Car rental awards are available with Hertz in Canada, the U.S and Europe or Avis in Canada, the U.S., Latin America, Australia and other locations; and with Avis, you earn 400 miles with each redemption. Aeroplan offers a wide range of activities and merchandise awards, with awards like a $100 Air Canada gift card for 11,500 miles or an Expedia CruiseShipCenters $100 gift certificate for 13,000 miles or for 4,500 miles, you can visit the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York City or subscribe to Ricardo, Canada’s cooking magazine.

Members can also redeem miles for eco-friendly awards, carbon offsets and mileage donations. Over 404 million Aeroplan miles have been donated to charitable organizations to date through Aeroplan’s Beyond Miles partners, including War Child Canada, Veterinarians Without Borders, Free The Children, among others.

Air Canada partners with all of the airlines in the Star Alliance as well as airline partners in Canada including Air Creebec, Bearskin Airlines, Calm Air, Canadian North and First Air.

Members who rent cars with Avis earn up to 500 miles per rental and between 50 and 5,000 miles per rental with Hertz. Members in Canada can earn miles through using the Destination Miles Booking Service ( book hotel stays and car rentals, earning one mile per $1 CAD spent. Members can earn miles with stays at thousands of hotels worldwide with mileage offers ranging between one to three miles per dollar spent or 250 to 1,000 miles per stay. Participating hotel partners include Best Western, Choice, IHG, Hilton, Marriott, Delta Hotels and Resorts, Fairmont, Shangri-La, Starwood, Traders, Wyndham and others.

Aeroplan partners with American Express, CIBC and TD to offer an assortment of credit cards. Two American Express consumer credit cards are available offering 1.25 miles per $1 CDN up to $25,000 spent and 1.5 miles over $25,000 spent annually or one mile up to $10,000 and 1.25 miles over $10,000 spent annually. There are also two AMEX corporate cards.

Canadian residents can choose from two CIBC consumer credit cards offering 1.5 miles per $1 CDN spent on Air Canada, gas, grocery and drugstore purchases and one or 1.25 miles per $1 CDN spend on everything else. There is also a CIBC Aerogold Visa Card for Business. TD is a new credit card partner offering three consumer and one business card with offers ranging from one mile per $1.50 CDN spent to 1.5 miles per $1 CDN spent.

Aeroplan has a wide variety of retail partners including Home Hardware, SHOP.CA,, Aeroplan’s eStore and very many others. Buying gas at Esso, sending packages through The UPS Store and earning miles when moving with Atlas Van Lines are just a few of the other earning options.

Aeroplan also participates in, American Express Membership Rewards (1,000 points = 1,000 miles) and Diners Club Club Rewards (1,000 points = 1,000 miles). Members can convert CIBC Aventura Points to Aeroplan miles at an exchange rate of 1:1 in 10,000 points increments.

Elite-Level Program
Aeroplan recently introduced the Distinction program that is based on the total Aeroplan miles earned across all coalition partners including airline, travel, retail and financial card partners. There are three tiers: dSilver, dBlack and dDiamond.

dSilver is achieved at 25,000 miles earned in a calendar year and offers reduced mileage levels on Market Fare Flight Rewards up to 20 percent off, 500 bonus miles on eligible roundtrips, 500 bonus miles per Starwood Hotels & Resorts award redemption, double points with SHOP.CA and the Aeroplan eStore, among other benefits.

dBlack is earned at 50,000 miles and offers up to 25 percent off mileage levels on Market Fare Flight Rewards, 1,000 bonus miles on eligible roundtrips, 250 bonus miles per hotel stay, 750 bonus miles per Starwood Hotels & Resorts award redemption, among other benefits.

dDiamond is earned at 100,000 miles in a calendar year and offers up to 35 percent off mileage levels on Market Fare Flight Rewards, 1,500 bonus miles on eligible roundtrips, triple miles on Aeroplan eStore purchases among other benefits, including all of the benefits for the other two tiers.

All Distinction members have access to Distinction Flights–reserved exclusively for Distinction members and dExclusives–a wide variety of one-of-a-kind awards that Distinction members only can bid on with their miles.

Air Canada’s elite-level program is called Altitude and has five tiers, starting at Altitude Prestige 25K that requires 25,000 Altitude Qualifying Miles (AQM) or 25 Altitude Qualifying Segments (AQS) and topping out at Altitude Super Elite 100K, earned after flying 100,000 AQM or 95 AQS. In between, there’s Altitude Elite 35K, Altitude Elite 50K and Altitude Elite 75K. Benefits for all levels include priority seat selection, priority airport check-in and standby, complimentary checked baggage allowance, Maple Leaf lounge access, threshold rewards and exclusive offers. As you move up the tier ladder, you’ll get more benefits. Flight bonuses range from 25 percent to 100 percent of the miles flown. The first two Altitude tiers get Star Alliance Silver status while the top three tiers offer Star Alliance Gold status. The Million Mile Altitude program offers lifetime benefits.

Rules and Conditions
Miles will expire in accounts without any earning or redemption activity within 12 consecutive months unless you are under 18 or have certain Aeroplan credit cards or have Air Canada Altitude status. Expired miles can be reinstated for a fee of $30 CDN plus $.01 CDN per mile.

Award flights can be booked for anyone the member chooses and miles can be purchased and transferred. Members may buy up to 50 percent of the miles needed for an award for $0.03 CDN per mile (plus taxes).

Miles can also be transferred through the website only for $0.02 CDN per mile. Changes to award tickets require a $90 CDN fee, not waived for elite members.

For roundtrip travel within and between Canada and the U.S. (excluding Hawaii/Puerto Rico), one stopover is allowed or one open jaw. Awards solely on Air Canada within North and Central America can include two stopovers or one stopover and one open jaw. If an itinerary includes a Star Alliance flight, one stopover and one open jaw are allowed. For travel between two continents, two stopovers or one open jaw and one stopover are allowed. For travel within the same continent (excluding North and Central America), only one open jaw and no stopovers are allowed.

Aeroplan membership terminates upon death or personal bankruptcy of the member.

Service Support
Aeroplan call centers for members residing in Canada, the U.S. and Caribbean are located in Canada and the operating hours are 7am to midnight ET. The phone prompts you to access recorded information. Members report that the wait times are better for Aeroplan than when calling Air Canada. Call priority is offered for dDiamond members. Aeroplan members can also ask questions via or search the Frequently Asked Questions list online.

Online Services
Aeroplan’s online booking engine includes most Star Alliance carriers, including United, Lufthansa, SWISS, ANA, EVA Air, Air New Zealand, Air India, Copa Airlines, Singapore Airlines, and others. An award flight booked through a call center agent will cost $30 CDN per booking. An online calendar shows availability a month at a time. Requests for missing miles from Air Canada and many Star Alliance carriers can be made online.

Plus Features
Aeroplan is a Star Alliance member and members can redeem and earn miles on the worldwide network of carriers. With so many non-airline partnerships as well, Aeroplan members have many ways to accrue and redeem miles. Aeroplan’s routing rules allow members to include two stopovers or a stopover and an open jaw on international award itineraries. The program no longer places a shelf life of seven years on accumulated miles and no longer requires more than half the cost of a one-way award flight.

Minus Features
Aeroplan flight awards can incur fuel surcharges, which can add up when you spend your miles for a fight. Also, miles expire with no account activity within one year-most programs allow account activity within three years to keep the account active. It’s confusing for members that Air Canada and Aeroplan have separate elite programs.

Report Card from Readers
Rating: B
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Earning Ability: B –
I find I can earn Aeroplan miles relatively easily in a multitude of vendors, etc. Of course, Air Canada miles and bonuses count towards Aeroplan elite so that is also good.
Award Choices: B –
As an Air Canada Super Elite, I have little issue getting an award when I want it. Does it always happen? No, but pretty much am able most of the time to get economy (100 percent) or business (95 percent) when I want it. Plus, I am likely one of the few who is happy to use Aeroplan miles on merchandise from the Aeroplan catalog.
Partnerships: B –
Aeroplan partners are wide and varied—from retailers to magazines, etc. I think the range is quite broad. Do I make use of most or any of them? Pretty much zero—as I focus my point gathering on Air Canada flights which count not only to my Altitude status, but also the Aeroplan distinction level.
Elite-Level Program: C –
I find the Aeroplan elite levels of no interest to me—I happen to be and get Aeroplan Diamond distinction—but I never use the features as long as I am Air Canada Altitude Super Elite.
Rules and Conditions: B –
They are clear enough.
Service Support: C –
Average as I never use or call Aeroplan for any reason.
Online Services: B
(easy booking engine) – I will say the website is pretty good for booking Aeroplan reward tickets—but again, taking advantage of my Altitude Super Elite status.

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Program Rating

Overall Score 7.35

Earning Ability 7.5

Award Choices 7.5

Partnerships 8.0

Elite Level 7.0

Rules & Conditions 7.0

Service Support 7.0

Online Services 7.5[/box]


Program Information
Aeroplan Head Office, Aimia
525 Viger Avenue West, Suite 1000
Montreal, Quebec
Canada H2Z 0B2

Phone: (800) 361-5373