I received an email from Aeroplan yesterday which included a policy change that will dramatically affect the way I book reward tickets.
Currently, the cost to change reward tickets is $90 per person regardless of the change. This included changes to your itinerary (outbound, inbound or both) as well as cancellations. If you were within 22 days of travel, they would also charge another $90 fee to refund your ticket.
I found that this fee was a bit on the high side but it allowed for you to book a reward ticket in advance so that you knew your dates of travel and had a guarantee of a seat. I would sometimes change my itinerary closer to the date of travel because a more favourable route or airline released award seats and I often employed this strategy when booking for family that tended not to be as flexible as I am for vacation travel.
Effective December 6, 2016, all changes to your reward ticket will use the following matrix:
I’m going to assume you aren’t a Aeroplan Diamond Status member but if you are, you are marginally better off but not by much … and much worse off compared to the previous policy.
After the policy change, if you make a change to your itinerary, you are charged a $100 fee PER DIRECTION, which means that if you have to change both your inbound and outbound itinerary, you will now pay $200. If you happen to be outside of the 22 day window and you need to make changes to both legs, you are better off cancelling the ticket and eating the $150 fee but if you are within your 22 day window, you will pay $200.
The only bright spot to this change is for Diamond Members that want a refund outside of their 22 day window as they will only be charged $30 to refund their ticket.
For those that do not know, to become a Diamond Member, you need to accumulate 100,000 Aeroplan points within the calendar year and credit card sign ups, transfers and some bonuses do not qualify. To reach this goal, you will have to earn points through flights, use of Aeroplan partners and credit card spend on Aeroplan affiliated cards.
This is an absolutely horrible change and of no benefit to the end user. After the recent devaluation of the United MileagePlus Program that saw the elimination of stopovers and increased cancellation fees, it seems as though Aeroplan using this as a green light to hit Canadians with similar measures.
It would seem that Aeroplan’s Mini-Round-the-World reward might be next up on the chopping block. If that is the case, it significantly devalues the program.
If you are contemplating booking a reward flight in the near future, it is best to do so before December 6th if you believe there is any possibility you might need to change your flight.