Aeroplan announced changes to its award chart today, effective 15 December 2015. The bad news is that the amazing prices to Europe in business and first class will go up, a tad. The good news is that this round of award chart inflation is relatively modest, some regions go down in price, and most importantly, one-way awards will now be bookable between any regions.
The Good News: One-Way Aeroplan Awards Between Any Region
Aeroplan introduced one-way awards a couple years ago with an odd caveat — all one-way travel had to originate or conclude in North America. That routing restriction on one-way awards will be suspended effective 15 December, creating great opportunities for one-way travel in any part of the world. One-way travel is possible now, but you are charged the round-trip price and must book over the phone, incurring a C$30 call center fee. This rule change makes your Aeroplan (and thereby American Express Membership Rewards) points more valuable by making them more versatile.
Some Aeroplan Regions See Cheaper Prices
The Indian Subcontinent has been an oddity in Aeroplan pricing, with prices between India and other regions that often defied logic. If I had to guess the reason for the high prices it would be that prior to Air India’s joining of Star Alliance there was no way to get from India to another region directly: routing via one or more “third” regions was required. Air India’s entrance in Star Alliance has solved that and led to a welcome relief in pricing.
For example, right now if you want to travel from India to South Africa in first class the price is 140K miles each way. That price drops to 100K miles each way on 15 December. Travel within the Indian subcontinent drops to 60K r/t in business class from 75K, though that still seems very high.
The Bad News: More Aeroplan Points For North American Travel
Prices will go up for domestic shorthaul Canadian business class travel, South America, and Europe in business and first class as well as to Australia in economy class.
- Short-Haul (short flights) Within Canada:
- Business class is rising from 25,000 miles to 30,000 miles round-trip
- North America and Europe 1:
- Business class is rising from 90,000 miles to 110,000 miles round-trip
- First class is rising from 125,000 miles to 140,000 miles round-trip
- North America and Europe 2:
- Business class is rising from 105,000 miles to 115,000 miles round-trip
- First class is increasing from 145,000 miles to 160,000 miles round-trip
- North America and Southern South America:
- Business class is rising from 95,000 miles to 110,000 miles round-trip
- First class is rising from 135,000 miles to 140,000 miles round-trip
- North America and Australia:
- Economy class is rising from 80,000 miles to 90,000 miles round-trip
Let’s face it — after what we have seen United and Delta do (and especially after what Aeroplan has done in the past), this could have been a lot worse. 70K for one-way first class to Europe is what United used to charge prior to its 2014 devaluation, when a one-way first class trip to Europe rose to 110K one-way. Aeroplan tacks on fuel surcharges of about $400 in each direction, but Lufthansa First Class will remain a good redemption option since Aeroplan charges no close-in booking fee and Lufthansa First Class award space will not appear less than 15 days prior to travel.
Round-trip travel to Western Europe (“Europe 1”) is still a good deal at 110K r/t in business class, especially because Aeroplan allows two stopovers on round-trip awards and doesn’t pass on fuel surcharges on Brussels, SAS, Swiss, Turkish, and United flights.
South America is not the best redemption — considering Avianca-TACA and Copa do not have great business class products — but flying United or Air Canada will still get you lie-flat seats in business class and don’t forget Turkish flies between Buenos Aires and Sao Paulo.
In all honesty here, I am “relieved” by these changes, for the award chart increases to North America – Europe premium cabin redemptions could have been much worse. The ability to redeem one-way awards anywhere is a huge plus. Let’s hope this is it for 2016 Aeroplan devalautions.
Check out the new award chart here.
(tip of the hat to Lucky)