Aeroplan Rewards are not always a great deal!
Dear Ross: I am having great trouble using my Aeroplan reward points. I was offered a round trip to OZ this morning via Tokyo and Beijing for the bargain price of 1.4 MILLION Aeroplan points!!!!! Not even all Business class 2 economy and 1 BC leg…whew! As you know, a business class reward to OZ should only cost 120K points. How do they get away with it?
Well, you are a captive customer sir, and there are only a small, finite number of Aeroplan seats set aside for any given flight. In the old days, I would book some random flight schedule in the future, then show up on the days I wanted to fly, and if there was space, they would usually let me on as a standby passenger.
Now they won’t let you do that – even if the flight is almost empty – unless and only if there are available designated Aeroplan reward seats available on the flight.
These days, you need to plan your Far East trips almost a full year in advance; stay up till midnight on the first day they become available, and press the “BOOK IT” button at 12:01 AM.
You mentioned you are a retiree. If you truly don’t mind potentially wasting your time on the odd occasion, you could still try my old strategy – book something far in advance for 120,000 points; then show up on the day you wish to travel. You should be able to call ahead each day and enquire if there are any available Aeroplan seats on the particular flight you want. If you get lucky, you will get on board when you want, but be dinged a relatively modest change fee.
You can also check the Aeroplan website several times a day to see if seats have become available via cancellation – you can get lucky that way too.
It’s situations like this which have led to a migration away from Air Canada’s reward program and to programs offered by RBC Avion and TD’s Infinte Travel card – both rewards can be used as cash towards any travel, anytime, without restriction.