Several months ago, my award booking service, Awarding Canada, was covered on CBC’s The National. Today, a news article on CBC, Aeroplan says ‘blackouts are gone’ — but what about those fuel surcharges?, quotes Aeroplan as taking issue with me. The article notes:
“Aeroplan doesn’t charge fuel surcharges on all their carriers.” said Campbell. “[Taiwan airline] Eva, United, Swiss Airlines, they don’t charge fuel surcharges.”
An Aeroplan spokesperson wrote in an email: “[We] don’t charge fuel surcharges, but instead apply them where applicable on behalf of our airline partners.”
They’re right. Fuel surcharges (carrier surcharges) are actually billed by Air Canada. When you make a booking on Aeroplan, the taxes and fees show up on your credit card statement as being charged from Air Canada, whereas change fees are charged by Aeroplan.
However, to the end consumer, does it really matter? Yes, Aeroplan and Air Canada are separate companies, a fairly unique organization for frequent flyer programs. In the eyes of Canadians, do most care or know? I doubt it. To most Canadians, Aeroplan is Air Canada, even though it is not. And even if most people understood the difference, Aeroplan could arrange with Air Canada (or vice-versa) to reduce or remove fuel surcharges. United’s frequent flyer program does it.
If it was simply an issue of the carrier demanding the collection of fuel surcharges (like British Airways does to partner programs), then why does Air Canada, Lufthansa, etc., not demand the collection of fuel surcharges for United redemptions, where substantially more redemptions presumably originate? In fact, I think it looks rather worse that Air Canada doesn’t demand the collection of fuel surcharges on partner redemptions, but gouges their own members.
Their excuse is terrible. But they’re right. Technically, Air Canada collects the surcharges, and not Aeroplan. But Aeroplan should engage their bargaining power to get rid of, or at least limit, these surcharges. If United can do it, so could Aeroplan. And if the issue is coming from Air Canada, and Aeroplan is more than willing to get rid of fuel surcharges, shame on them.