Update: aeroplan.com has fixed or ‘recovered’ the online searching feature. We will monitor closely and report back if anything changed. Also, though I do not want to conspire anything just yet, one of the FTers reported that the Aeroplan agent told him the ‘block’ was permanent.

Would this just a beginning? Is this how Aeroplan ‘testing water’?

The Story

This afternoon (May 26th, 2017), a member of Flyertalk.com (more discussion here too) reported that he could no longer book a flight that is one of Star Alliance partner flight operating outside of North America. Then he realised that he could no longer search any Star Alliance flights outside of North America. Another member called Aeroplan agents and confirmed this SHOCKING news. Besides that $30 scam phone booking charge (Update: seems this time, Aeroplan will let this fee slip), Pekflyer will discuss how this will affect all of us in two scenarios and what should we do moving forward!

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You can no longer book a simple one-way flight on Aeroplan’s website

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While United.com showing a number of flights and you can still book using UA miles

Background

So Air Canada decided not to renew its partnership agreement with Aimia (Aeroplan’s parent company) ending in June 2020, and Aimia’s (AIM.TO) stock price has lost 70% of its value since then. Even though it bounced back a little bit yesterday, after the Aimia CEO, Mr Johnson had an interview with Bloomberg reassuring its members and shareholders that despite the contract termination with Air Canada, Aimia will have ways to remain a sustainable business beyond 2020. Of course, he did not go into any details on how will he do it.

Before this change they made TODAY, they have already blocked some airlines that have no YQ changes, a.k.a scam charges or fuel surcharges. Pekflyer has reported before.

Why it sucks?

Here, I will list two scenarios how you might be affected (Disclaimer: these are from my first reaction, and there might be more)

Scenario 1:

If you are in say anywhere in the world outside of NA, maybe in Istanbul, you need to grab a quick one-way ticket from one city to another one, because the airport just exploded and your original ticket was cancelled, and you have no idea when the original flight will be resumed. Before today, you were able to just open your Aeroplan app, or go to aeroplan.com, find an available flight, book it and leave this city.

Now, YOU NO LONGER CAN DO THAT! YOU HAVE TO CALL TO BOOK! What is the catch of that?

Oh Aeroplan does not operate 24 hours a day, and even they operate, the wait time is normally very long. With upcoming promised operation cuts, I do not dare to fancy they will be better on that.

SO YOU WILL BE STRANDED IN ISTANBUL AND HOPE FOR THE BEST

P.S this is based on a real story, as I was at IST hours after the explosion. As a Aeroplan Diamond member, I was unable to reach Aeroplan Call Centre. Some of my friends also tried, but were unable to get hold of Aeroplan during that time.

Scenario 2:

Many people from points and miles game all loved about Aeroplan’s generous routeing rules, where you can redeem a mini round-the-world ticket for a price of round trip ticket. While the routeing rules have not changed yet, which I confidently predict, it will change soon too, unless Mr CEO confirms otherwise.

Since now you longer able to search any flights outside of North America, how can you verify if the flights are available for you? Typically, we recommend people piece their flight’s segment by segment, and it is known that Aeroplan’s flight search engine always produces the worst routeing and flights.

Now you have lost your last resort to battle with Aeroplan to extract the max value for your hard-earned mile.

Really? Can’t I just call to search?

If you ever try to work with an Aeroplan agent, you would know this, even with all flights were found and ready to book, it can take up to 2 hours to finish a booking. Now, you are relying on an agent, who may not as knowledgeable as you, to find out whether a flight is available for your itinerary, I cannot imagine how hard this could be.

What my options now?

1. STOP EARNING AEROPLAN MILES on your credit cards, e.g. cut off your Aeroplan earning credit cards; switch to a flexible points system, such as AMEX Member Rewards points, or SPG points.

2. CREDIT YOUR MILES TO OTHER PARTNERS OR DITCH STAR ALLIANCE FOR NOW: try to fly with another Star Alliance airline for the time being, or ditch it for now. Find a Oneworld or Skyteam program that fits your travel pattern, or considers Alaska Airline’s Mileage program.

3. PREPARE TO SPEND MORE TIME WITH AEROPLAN AGENT: If you want to get max value from your Aeroplan miles, it is a once-in-life-time opportunity for introverts like me to practice my interpersonal skills. It means you will need to call some agents before you can book an ideal flight.

Conclusion

Aeroplan’s behaviour has signalled their fear, and I hope TSX will reflect on that on Monday. I am looking forward to seeing the stronger Short interests. And I urge anyone who wants to book their mini-RTW trip, to book ASAP.

Special thanks to Matthieu from Milesopedia for the tip