A couple of years ago, Aeroplan moved in house with Air Canada to become all-in-one. They also redid their program which I said at the time had trade offs. I have booked a whole bunch of awards with the old program and the current program and there are two big problems I have with the current Aeroplan.
Two Things I Cannot Stand About Aeroplan
With the old program, I wrote a post about three things I liked and three things I disliked about the program. Unfortunately, one of those still exist and has gotten worse lately.
I will say up front, I still really like Aeroplan, I like how I can choose to pay with all miles or do a mix up to 60/40 (where you pay 60% of the miles required for the trip and the rest in cash which values the miles at around 1.5 cents per mile – which is pretty good).
The Aeroplan Award Engine and Reservation System Still Has Problems
But, their online system continues to have a lot of problems. I have been searching for some awards lately and every single day I am getting errors online.
The old Aeroplan system was terrible with daily pop-up dialogs about the system being under maintenance (I think Aeroplan claimed to do more maintenance on their award site than Air Canada does on their airplanes – nothing wrong with AC planes but the amount of time Aeroplan spent on “maintenance” for a website was insane!).
I was hopeful that the new system would fix it and, for the most part, it has. But, there are still plenty of problems.
Let’s start at the beginning. This is something that happens a lot. I will try to login and it will do it’s twirling “we are logging you in” business. And then, it just stops and doesn’t work. Like, I’m no longer logged in and it says I can continue as a guest or try again. But trying again doesn’t work either.
This happens often.
When I finally do get logged in, then I am searching for awards and it will sometimes just pop up the following message:
This will sometimes happen when I am searching for an award to/from a smaller regional airport. I don’t know why it happens then, but it does! Oh well. I come back after a few minutes, sign-out, sign back in, and we are good to go again. Until about 7-8 searches and it happens again.
Limited Options After Booking
So, I finally booked the award I am looking for (completely with partner airlines) but say I want to make a change? Nope, changes are not possible online for these awards. This means that I would have to call in to make a change – and calling in to any airline right now is just a horrible way to waste a ton of time on hold. This includes Air Canada.
This is actually a very poor way to run the system. It is cheaper to make changes than canceling an award so it is more advantageous to just change it instead (plus, you can do it in real-time instead of making sure your miles are given back immediately). But, the system does not let you make those changes online! That’s just ridiculous! At least make it be an option and if the change is too complex, then it can say you need to call in. But, no, you don’t even have the option to change.
Which brings us to the next section…
The Aeroplan Agents Need Help
I don’t know what happened but it seems like all the agents I have talked to since 2021 at Aeroplan are not very good with complex – and sometimes even simple – situations. It almost seems like they may have outsourced to a support staff that is supposed to read the text on the screen instead of knowing the system.
I shouldn’t have to teach their agents about their own program!!! 🙂 If I do, I want to be paid for it. 🙂
Agent #1 Fail
Now, I’m sure there are great agents still – it is just unfortunate that I have not had any of them lately. For example, I needed to book one award over the phone because it would not show up online. In the past, the phone fee gets waived since it cannot be booked online. Well, not only would the agent not waive the fee but she also couldn’t even find the long-haul flight segment. That wasn’t even my issue! I had that one and the last segment but the Air Canada system wasn’t showing the originating segment (even though it showed up with every other award engine and would if I matched it as a multi-city).
So, now we went two steps back since she kept telling me the long-haul wasn’t available and couldn’t be booked. After about 10 minutes of trying to help her help me, I finally gave up and told her thanks, but I’ll hang up now and just book this on my own and pay the extra miles for the multi-city option. Sure enough, I could book it, including the long-haul that she said was not available.
Agent #2 Fail
A couple of days later, I had to call in again and was trying to get help with a reservation. When I was telling her it was not showing up even though it was bookable with everyone else, she took a very condescending tone with me and was telling me that it does not matter if it shows to others – if it doesn’t show to them, it cannot be booked. Ok, let’s break this down.
I started by saying that I wanted to book it with them because I had the miles ready with them and it was just 70,000 miles while United was 77,000 miles. She stops me and tells me that the reason I am probably not seeing it for 70,000 miles is because the award price is based on the ticket price. I told her that this is a partner reservation so it is a fixed rate. She said, “No, that is not true. The award rates fluctuate no matter which airline you book.”
She then went on to tell me that I cannot use United’s award rates and assume that Air Canada’s are the same. So, I am trying to explain that this is not anything about United, this is her own system that has these awards at 70,000 miles for a partner reservation. She again tells me that I am wrong and that it can go up to 400,000 miles and is not locked.
So, I pull up the PDF that explains all this (which I found quicker via my own site than Air Canada’s! 🙂) and read it off to her. She asked me where I was getting this from and I told her, “I am reading this right from your own website!” She asked me to tell her where she could find it. !?!?!?!?! I read off the website address and waited.
I told her I do this all the time so I am very familiar with the system but just needed help because it wasn’t working online – and it had nothing to do with variable award rates. She finally finds the page and reads to me what I just read to her and tried to use it to prove her point that award rates fluctuate for partners! Finally, she went to talk to a supervisor – and cut me off.
I have spoken with 4 Aeroplan agents in the last couple of weeks and they were all quite clueless about their own system. This is nothing like it was a year ago and more – those were very knowledgeable agents that I spoke with. I am not sure what is happening over there now but Air Canada NEEDS to do better training.
I really do like booking awards with Aeroplan and will continue doing so. But, there is no question that their system needs work. Honestly, the United Airlines system is waaaaay better for awards and making changes after. But, the Aeroplan system has more transfer partners and has lower rates for the awards I book.
I just hope they get their act together soon. From online to on the phone, there is plenty of room for improvement.