Aeroplan has a little problem…

For quite a while now, Aeroplan has had rare and intermittent access to Air China and COPA award availability. My understanding is that, in some cases, the technical aspects of partner bookings on these carriers has been broken. There are reports of individuals being denied boarding, even with an Aeroplan ticket, as the booking wasn’t properly made on the partner’s system. Both airlines remain unavailable.

A couple months ago, Air India had a serious issue integrating with the Aeroplan system. I run an award booking service, Awarding Canada, and saw numerous client bookings on Air India shift from ‘I’ space (business class award inventory) to ‘J’ space (full-fare revenue inventory). In this case, my understanding is that Air India had an issue with Aeroplan’s booking system, and to prevent denied boarding situations, Aeroplan worked with Air India to move award space into revenue space. Air India remains unavailable.

And it only gets worse…

A few weeks ago, Avianca award seats were suppressed. I don’t know why, and they continue to be unavailable. And finally, last week, Swiss flights became unavailable, apparently due to denied boarding issues. The award space came back over the weekend, and then disappeared again today.

In all cases, award seats are available on other Star Alliance partners, including United, ANA, etc. The space is there, but Aeroplan uniquely cannot book it.

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This is a problem. A good number of Aeroplan’s partners have significant fuel surcharges when booked using Aeroplan points. All currently suppressed carriers, Air China, Air India, Avianca, COPA, and Swiss, are some of the few carriers without fuel surcharges. These technical glitches are massively devaluing Aeroplan, since numerous areas of the world are inaccessible (most of S. America, India, and China). Further, Aeroplan promises that: “Aeroplan offers you round-trip Flight Rewards to over 1,300 destinations worldwide, on Air Canada, the Star Alliance member airlines and the Canadian domestic partners.” (Per Aeroplan’s award chart). This is simply not true when ~ 18% of available airlines are completely unbookable. And, to boot, all airlines that are blocked represent some of the most value to Aeroplan members. Looks like Aeroplan has a problem, with no end in sight.

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Comments

  1. I’m upset about it. I ended up paying for two trips which I had wanted to book via Aeroplan. The situation with Avianca and COPA is particularly annoying.

  2. Add this to the fact that Aeroplan’s award booking engine already shows a limited number of flights, when compared to United. And when you call Aeroplan to book a flight that you couldn’t find on Aeroplan but could on United, that’ll be $30.

    No reason for them to improve this since they’re the only game in town in Canada…

  3. Would be helpful if anyone knows how to calculate the affected routes by this “glitch”.

    It may only be 18% of the airlines that are not bookable, given the network of Air China and Air India, as well as COPA/AV, I think the number can only be larger.

    It may as well be a class action suit, at very least, false advertisement!

  4. This situation is arguably in Aeroplan’s favour as redemptions are shifted even more toward high-surcharge airlines like AC and LH: as customers get frustrated about the lack of availability, they end up changing their regions of interest to those served by the likes of AC and LH, or they give up redeeming altogether.

  5. I’m in favour of blocking space for these denied boarding type situations, and honestly if the only airline currently unavailable was Air China, I’d be ok, I’d rather not get denied and stuck in China. I had no idea Air India was out. Hadn’t had any problems redeeming for Avianca before, looking at one now so we’ll see if I can book it in the end. The Copa one has really bothered me since they’ve usually got good availability. Swiss affected me last couple weeks, but at least that one got resolved pretty quickly.

    What it seems like though is maybe Aeroplan isn’t ticketing things properly. How would all the other partners be fine but AP can’t issue you a Copa ticket? Or is it purely blocking? I wonder if someone could get the class-action thing going, it’d be very interesting.

  6. Also, Aeroplan blocks all UA award space beyond 330 days, meaning other A* FFP members can reserve space before it is available to Aeroplan, and by the time the flight is within 330 days all “good” UA space is gone!

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