Get Any Seat. Fly For Less.
Collecting Rewards Industry experts and Aeroplan members discuss how to get the most out of Canada’s leading travel rewards program.
To learn more about Aeroplan’s revamped redemption options, we arranged a roundtable discussion between active Aeroplan members and industry experts.
Here’s who we brought to the table: Vanessa Haywood, Senior Brand Manager at Speedo Canada and an active Aeroplan member; Terry Quinn, owner of marketing and acquisitions organization, Quinn Consultants, and an Aeroplan member since 1984; Patrick Sojka, Founder and CEO of FrequentFlyerBonuses.com and RewardsCanada.ca; and Nadine St-Aubin, General Manager, Aeroplan Product Development & Management.
In its pursuit to provide members with the best possible value and availability, Aeroplan underwent something of a transformation in 2014.
A major part of this revamp was the introduction of Market Fare Flight Rewards, the perfect complement to Fixed Mileage Flight Rewards (formerly known as ClassicFlight Rewards), which provide Aeroplan members with excellent choice when redeeming miles. The combination of these two options has helped Aeroplan offer improved value to its entire membership group.
Bridging the Gap
The program is all about facilitating memorable experiences, giving its members the opportunity to travel to places they may not otherwise have been able to, or to do things that might otherwise have seemed impossible. While saving on business trips is important (and Aeroplan certainly has a strong proposition on Business Class travel), when it comes to being separated from loved ones, for whatever reason, that’s when the importance of having a strong customer-focused philosophy comes to the fore.
Patrick Sojka, Founder and CEO of FrequentFlyerBonuses.com
Terry Quinn and Vanessa Haywood can both strongly attest to that. For Haywood, Aeroplan played an important role in her life—she didn’t just sit back and watch her miles stack up. Those miles were integral to her.
Haywood had travelled the world with her job and, in the process, met and fallen in love with the man of her dreams. There was just one small hitch: he lived in Missouri, while she lived in Montreal. The relationship, it seemed, was doomed from the outset.
Luckily, the miles that Haywood had accumulated made travelling to see her fiancé all the more feasible. “We had a long distance relationship for four years, but luckily, with all of the miles that I’d accumulated from travelling, I was able to go visit him,” said Haywood. “Without my Aeroplan Miles, the relationship would have been very different, and seeing each other would have been very difficult. It made it so much easier to be with one another; it was a major stress relief for our relationship.”
Now living together in Montreal, Haywood and her fiancé still use her miles to visit his parents in the U.S. and also to visit friends. “Being an Aeroplan member has definitely allowed me to do a lot more non-work related travel over the years,” she said.
A Family Apart
When Quinn heard that his daughter was pregnant, it was time for celebration. The newborn was to be the family’s first grandchild, and Quinn and his wife were delighted—just as any parents would be. But they couldn’t celebrate with their daughter. The reason? She lives three-and-a-half thousand miles away in London, England — settled and happily married to an Irish hedge fund manager.
Fortunately, Quinn accumulates enough Aeroplan Miles each year for his wife to accompany him to London to see their new grandchild much more often than would otherwise be possible. For a family living on different sides of the Atlantic, desperate to see more of one another and get to know each other, redeeming miles on flights has been simply priceless.
“Being Aeroplan members has allowed my wife to go and see the grandchildren anytime she wants,” Quinn said. “We have great access to flights—we get the flights we want, when we want them.”
Fixed Mileage Flight Rewards has been in place since Aeroplan’s inception in 1984, and is well recognized in the travel rewards industry for providing great value. This option allows to redeem a fixed number of miles when flying to over 1,300 destinations on Air Canada and over 25 Star Alliance airlines, with access to seats exclusively offered in Canada to Aeroplan members.
Patrick Sojka has noticed the fantastic redemption value for members when they book flights at fixed mileage levels. “60,000 miles for an Economy Class seat to Europe; 90,000 for Business Class—those are really good levels to be redeeming at,” he said. “And given the amount of coalition partners you can earn miles with, these levels are not that hard to reach.”
Market Fare Flight Rewards were introduced in 2014, and provide members with access to any seat available on Air Canada, Air Canada Express or Air Canada rouge. The mileage rates are based on the market rate for the ticket at the time of booking, allowing Aeroplan members access to the best rates and improved seat availability.
“Members can now use up to 20 per cent fewer miles to redeem as they would have with the old ClassicPlus product,” said St-Aubin. “We also recognize our top accumulating members and offer them significant discounts on the miles required, with up to 35 per cent off Market Fare Flight Rewards.”
Sojka was quick to join the discussion. “Market Fare Flight Rewards can be a great redemption option and I’ve utilized it myself four times this past year,” he said.
Haywood has used Market Fare Flight Rewards to redeem miles many times over the past two years. “It’s really easy to play around with and work out my best redemption options,” she said.
From time to time, members can enjoy Great Deals on select routes with Market Fare Flight Rewards. These require fewer miles than a Fixed Mileage Flight Reward. “There have been recent examples of Market Fare Flight Reward redemption deals offering seats to Europe for a mere 30,000 miles,” said St-Aubin.
“When I’m travelling I often don’t know when I’m going to come back, so booking a one-way is a great option.”
When redeeming with Fixed Mileage Flight Rewards, members can also arrange a stopover or go open jaw (when you fly out of a different city than the one you flew into) for no extra miles, which can add a whole new exciting dimension for flexible and adventurous travellers.
Both options have other great benefits tied in. These include the ability to cancel, change or book flights last minute—up to two hours before a flight is scheduled to depart.
Another advantage of the Aeroplan program is the ability to redeem one-way trips at only 50 per cent of the miles needed for roundtrip Fixed Mileage Flight Rewards—an option that most travel rewards programs don’t offer.
“When one-way redemptions are offered in other rewards programs, those trips are often inflated to 60 or 70 per cent of what a roundtrip itinerary would normally cost,” according to Sojka.
Terry Quinn books all of his flights as ‘one-ways.’ “It’s simple and flexible,” he said. “When I’m travelling I often don’t know when I’m going to come back, so booking a one-way is a great option.”
Loyalty in Both Directions
Haywood and Quinn both love the value and availability that Aeroplan provides and they always recommend the program to their friends and family. In the past, they’ve both been members of other rewards programs as well as Aeroplan, but they’ve dropped the other programs. They’ve realized that collecting and redeeming solely with Aeroplan is the best way to go, both from a value and customer experience perspective.
“I’ve had a really great experience with Aeroplan,” says Haywood. “Once you have a good experience somewhere you want to keep having those experiences, you want to keep things convenient and easy.”
So, would either of the two ever consider joining a competitor’s rewards program? “Living in Canada, the benefits of Aeroplan are just so good,” Haywood said. “I don’t see a need — I’m really happy with the program and what I’ve gotten out of it.”
Quinn echoes her thoughts. “I’m very happy with Aeroplan — there’s no need for me to think about another travel rewards program. I always get the seats that I want.”
“If you educate yourself properly — and that doesn’t take a long time —the program will start rewarding you before you know it.”
Get Involved Today
Over the past thirty or so years, Aeroplan has embedded itself into the country’s travel, leisure and hospitality sectors, and in doing so has learnt exactly what Canadian travelers expect from a travel rewards program — and it has strived to deliver that and so much more.
Sojka advises anybody who hasn’t already signed up to Aeroplan, to do so today. “Jump on the program and start earning miles,” he said. “If you educate yourself properly — and that doesn’t take a long time —the program will start rewarding you before you know it.”
Combined, Market Fare Flight Rewards and Fixed Mileage Flight Rewards will help even the most seasoned traveler to maximize value, redeem with ease and get better availability for the seats that they want. Start to learn how you could improve the way you redeem your miles at aeroplan.com/anyseat.
“There are so many great redemption deals offered, and exploring the Aeroplan website is a great way for members to get the most out of their miles,” said Sojka. “Keep checking regularly — even if you don’t plan on redeeming — to keep on top of the best deals. You never know, there may be an offer that’s too good to turn down.”