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.
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.