Over the past couple weeks, I started an award booking service, Awarding Canada. Very quickly, I got substantial media exposure from CBC’s The National, and CTV News. As a result, I’ve had a surge in requests, mostly Aeroplan, and have learned some interesting tidbits about Aeroplan in speaking with them so much…
1. Ethiopian and Egyptair phantom availability is rampant.
This has been extraordinarily frustrating. When searching for availability, I’ll often use United’s search engine. I’ll then confirm the space on Aeroplan. I’ve been noticing really excellent availability in business with Ethiopian and Egyptair as of late, which shows up on United and Aeroplan. When I go to book it though, it turns out that it’s phantom availability – award space that shows up as available, but when Aeroplan goes to confirm it, it doesn’t actually exist. This often puts my entire plan, that often takes hours of research, to waste. However…
2. Aeroplan has been confirming phantom space on Egyptair with a connection!
Now this is an odd one, and I’m not too sure how it’s going to turn out. I had a client that wanted to go from the Middle East back to Canada for five passengers. When I search for Egyptair availability there is none, not on United, ANA, or on Aeroplan when I just search Cairo-Toronto. However, if I search Middle Eastern City – Toronto, the availability on the Cairo-Toronto segment, that doesn’t show up anywhere else, becomes available! Even more strangely, this space seems to confirm!
3. Don’t trust an Aeroplan’s Maximum Permitted Mileage (MPM) value.
When building an award ticket with Aeroplan, your routing must fit within the MPM value assigned between two cities. That is, the MPM is the maximum allowed number of miles that you can fly between two cities. Any routing that goes above that value won’t be allowed. In the past, Aeroplan used the MPM values published by IATA, and gave a 5% leniency on them. However, this past Autumn, Aeroplan changed their system to create a unique and unpublished MPM value for city pairs. As these values are unpublished, you have to call Aeroplan to get the number. What I’ve noticed lately is that Aeroplan agents will give me wildly different numbers each time I call, and often they’re ridiculous (recently got an MPM value of ~6,000 for YEG-MEL!). Now I don’t ask for the MPM value unless I recognize the agent and know they’re good. I’ll just ask to validate a routing, and if it works, I’ll know it’s within the MPM.
4. Aeroplan’s ticketing system is horrible.
Whenever you make a booking with Aeroplan, tickets are usually issued instantly. However, more complicated itineraries often go into a queue, and are issued within 72 hours. I’ve been noticing that tickets that have more than 2 different carriers or with more than 4 connections have to be manually issued by the ticketing department. Of course, this isn’t a rule, but it’s just something I’ve noticed. I would think that there would be no difference to a computer how many connections or airlines there are, but apparently it does.
5.There are some really random, but extremely useful flights out there
You’d be amazed how many weird flights there are, but that have an incredible amount of award inventory, and don’t carry fuel surcharges. For example, Houston to Stavanger on SAS has plenty of business inventory, and Dublin to Los Angeles on Ethiopian is the same. Being an expert at award bookings is learning which flights are most likely to have award inventory, and building a routing from there.