The changing face of Aeroplan

Discussion in 'Air Canada | Aeroplan' started by igloocoder, Nov 10, 2011.  |  Print Topic

  1. igloocoder
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    igloocoder Silver Member

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    Last year when the e-Upgrade program was announced I was somewhat outraged and betrayed. Twelve months later, the program mostly worked out in my favour (I say that as an SE who only had to sit in Y when he was on a single cabin plane).

    Yesterday when I read about the fuel surcharge situation I had the same feelings of outrage and betrayal. Now that I've had 12 sober hours to consider the changes, I'm starting to wonder if things in the future might be better (I say that as an SE with almost a million AE miles in his account).

    Here's how I'm currently formulating the thoughts. With the 2011 Top Tier program certain changes, like the minimum number of AC segments and/or miles, were implemented in an attempt to focus on those who are truly loyal to AC. I embrace this change and wouldn't consider it to be bad if the thresholds were raised. It exists to eliminate those that credited miles to AE only to get lounge access and/or other perks without actually funneling any revenue to AC. This is both good for me (less people in the lounge) and good for AC (less *A lounge access fees to pay with no revenue gained).

    This spring AE changed the reward redemption chart. People were up in arms that a "mini-RTW" was going to cost 50% more (among other changes they didn't like). While it certainly reduced the number of "mini-RTW's" that I could book, I didn't think it was all that bad of a change. The preachers to the "do-anything-to-fly-at-the-pointy-end" crowd (the yahoos over at upgrd.com come to mind) decided to proclaim that dumping miles to AE was no longer the way to go. As an AC loyalist (I'm not at fan-boi level though), this was good for me. It meant that in the next year I'd see less people redeeming AE "mini-RTWs" which would open up seats for me to make use of. Granted, the yahoos and their minions will find another way, but just maybe it would filter out a few who thought the new way was too hard.

    I think yesterday's "announcement" of YQ charges will have a similar effect as the award chart changes. People are up in arms and seeing no benefit to the program now. Those that were using it as a tool to easily get cheap flights without the need for loyalty will move on to the next easy-to-game FF plan. They are leeches; don't let the door hit you on the ass on the way out. Most AE members will continue to redeem for non-premium cabin travel on AC so they won't notice the change too much. Those that are heavily invested in AE and are knowledgeable about their redemption options will get split into two groups; those who want to burn their miles at as low a cost as possible, and those that want to burn their miles. The first group will scrounge around and find the airlines that aren't having YQ charged and book their rewards on them so that they can continue to say things like "I flew F to <blah airport code>. The second group will book whatever airline, regardless of YQ, because it's about experience, not bragging rights.

    Between the departure of those who think the program is too costly (and not easy enough to game) and those that will only book premium cabin on non-YQ charging flights, there will be a decline in premium cabin redemption on great airlines such as LH and TG. I know that AE redemptions essentially all come from the same pool as other FF programs, so there will still be competition for availability, but there might be a little bit less due to people getting out of the game and/or changing programs and getting to the point of being able to redeem again.

    Possibly one of the biggest benefits that nobody has mentioned in all of these changes is that a reduced number of AE members will likely mean a reduced call center volume which could mean a shorter wait time. Okay, it's a stretch, but you can't deny that there has to be a correlation between the number of members and the daily call total.

    Anyways, I'm still not 100% sure if the YQ changes are going to see some of the same benefits long-term as the other changes have. I'm hoping they do. Maybe the leeches will all head to a different pond.
     
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  2. c_9
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    c_9 Silver Member

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    Thanks for this, igloocoder. Interesting take on the past year. I hope we do see a gentle adjustment of availability and not too much pain in the costs department.
     
  3. tcook052
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    tcook052 Silver Member

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    It is a stretch IMHO as I don't see this thinning the crowd by massive enough amounts to see a difference in call wait times. There's no doubt a percentage of the FFers will seek greener pastures elsewhere but the flip side is the call centre demand could in the short term actually rise as some may either try to book awards on non YQ airlines believeing they will be next to face the imposition of a surcharge or who is booking anything to use up their remaining points before moving on.
     
  4. igloocoder
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    igloocoder Silver Member

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    Yep. I figured the same thing when AE changed the reward chart. Instead of making redemptions easier, it was going to make them harder in the short term as people booked trips wholesale before the increased mileage change took place.
     
  5. Rejuvenated
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    Rejuvenated Gold Member

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    I have totally supported this change ever since it was announced. And in addition to loyalty, I don't see those 5 segments/10K miles difficult to achieve.
     
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  6. ACMM
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    ACMM Gold Member

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    Thanks for posting igloocoder ... very good overview and statement. I am taking a wait and see approach ... I have been an AC flyer and SE for 11 years now in a row ... all the changes that have happened over the years have not dissuaded me at all and likely this will not either ... but time will tell and am looking forward to see how things roll out in the coming weeks :)
     
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  7. SensFan
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    SensFan Gold Member

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    A reduction in the number of RTW redemptions will lower call wait times. While I was changing a mini-RTW this morning I heard Nadia introduce herself to at least three new callers in 20 minutes before I was put on hold. Hopefully I don't cost my agent his job because his call volume is too low.
     
  8. Canadi>n
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    Canadi>n Gold Member

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    Since the fuel surcharge applies equally to economy and premium fares, I am not sure how you can say those redeeming for economy fares will not be affected as much. If anything, it impacts them more than those of us who redeem for premium awards. Am I not getting more for my $600 when redeeming in the "pointy end" of the plane than the poor soul who pays the same $600 to sit behind me? Yes, I pay more AE miles for my award, but considering the base real cost of an economy ticket is 1/5th to 1/10th that of a first class ticket, I am certainly getting more for those extra miles and they are getting less for their $600.

    True this will further rid AE of those "leeches" who only use AE as a program of convenience, but at a severe cost to the rest of us. But it's not going to dissuade me from redeeming premium class awards over economy awards since I get a better return for both my miles and $s.
     
  9. igloocoder
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    igloocoder Silver Member

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    I'm not sure I worded the part about non-premium cabin redemptions correctly. What I was trying to get at is that most people redeeming with AE are doing so for trips within Canada, or to the US, or maybe to the Caribbean. The number of people that redeeming for J and F cabins on 8-10 segments is minimal. The number redeeming for Y flights between two Canadian points is probably much, much higher, if not the majority. Heck, I'd even venture to say that the majority of redeemers don't know that they can do so on airlines other than AC. As a result, they're already being hit by the fuel surcharge. Adding YQ to flights by non-AC airlines won't even be noticed by those people, and if it is it's not going to be a big shock based on their other redemption experiences.
     
  10. igloocoder
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    igloocoder Silver Member

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    I'm with you here. It is at a high cost to us. What I'm arguing is that the benefit might just be tangible and valuable too. Only time will tell for that part. Now that we know that this is only currently going to affect LH flights, I suspect the benefits will be tiny, if we notice them at all. If it was across all, or most, partner carriers we would have seen a much bigger exodus.

    I'll also make no bones about it, I'll be paying the YQ when I'm booking my pointy end flights. If LH is the carrier of choice for a route I need/want to take, I'll have no problems ponying up the dollars. In the end even an extreme of $2000 in fees and charges for 10 J/F segments is much closer to my financial ballpark than purchasing those segments outright.
     
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  11. All poorly thought out speculation IMHO.
     
  12. tcook052
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    tcook052 Silver Member

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    What a useless contribution to the discussion. :rolleyes:
     
  13. mtlfire

    mtlfire Gold Member

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    Interesting analysis with some valid points. Although like with any statement, we can't all expect to agree 100% of the time. I agree with several of your positives, but I'm not sure I agree with the value or the weight you attribute to them in regards to the value of the devaluations.

    Like anyone else I appreciate a good deal when I see one. I've never flown in F. But I do a decent mix of J and Y lately although I'm still more often in the back of the bus. I've redeemed few miles, and have never done a RTW. I'm relatively "young" but my flying career is even "younger" I never flew before 2006. Since then I've been largely adamant about being loyal to Air Canada in large part because of the fact that they offered loyalty to me through Aeroplan.

    This has included over the few years of my flying career rarely looking at flights other than with AC and having flexible travel plans to remain on AC. Since 2006 I've thrown nearly 100% of my money at AC (granted, I never made SE, and I don't fly nearly as much as some other members that I respect here. But I'm often flying domestic on a ticket for a mere 700 miles that someone paid less for to fly to Signapore).

    In essence my few redemption's mean I've yet to be greatly penalized. Despite that, I still feel a bitter taste in my mouth. As I said in another thread, a lot of people complain, threaten to jump ship and never do. I likely won't either as I still live in YUL, AC still has a great product, and our credit card options don't leave us many other airline partners to consider compared to the US. But what that bitter taste has driven me to do is to search all star alliance partners before booking my flights and crediting back to AP. Last week alone I did 9 segments on US Airways and credited to AP. I would think this is the exact opposite of what both AP and AC seek to accomplish.

    This will be my least loyal year to AC while all the time still crediting to AP. In the end it isn't Aeroplan that's losing out, but Air Canada. I think that is one of the disadvantages of spinning off their reward program, it can only result in divergent and competing goals that can't satisfy both partners.

    Just my .02 cents.
     
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  14. southender
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    southender Silver Member

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    I read with interest all the posts that offer perspectives on the good, the bad and the ugly of the various FF programs. I dip my FF toes into other ponds (hello Delta, never again, WestJet) and keep coming back to AC/AP because on balance it meets my needs.

    I travel for work and can book refundable so my eupgrades have not been an issue; with a young family, options to redeem for travel beyond NA are limited. Yes, I have redeemed for 'stuff'- to the thorough enjoyment of my kiddies. Will I do it again?- you bet. I have learned from others on this and the other board that an AP linked credit card limits my flexibility; I have learned to status match so I can try before I buy into 'the grass is always greener in the other airplane's cabin'; and my family has reaped the rewards of time saved in lines via Nexus (esp at YYC during Christmas).

    When I have to travel, I am happy with the options AC offers to me. When I choose to travel, I am pragmatic about the fact that it is the destination, not the journey (although the journey up front is WAY better- just ask my teenager).
     
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  15. charlilo
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    charlilo Gold Member

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    If more taxes = less people to bother us, why not a little more taxes?
     
  16. Randy Petersen
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    Randy Petersen Founder

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    I've heard this from others as well. I'm reading this thread to determine the changes and my own personal choices in the Star Alliance. I look for more relevant posts on this topic.
     
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  17. RoninTech
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    RoninTech Silver Member

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    I made a couple of posts about this here and here in the other big thread. I hope what you are saying is true and fewer people attempt F redemptions as that will also favour leeches like me. ;)
     
  18. jarusoba
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    jarusoba Silver Member

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    Thanks, OP, for writing this. This has been my view but I couldn't have written it as well as you did.

    I don't like the YQs but I'm not at all bothered by it. After $2K of YQ, an F RTW is still a good value. The only thing that still bothers me is that there are other *A FFPs that do not charge the YQ. And those cheap @sses of those FFPs would continue to take those F seats. It would be nice if YQ was charged across the board...
     
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