My favourite use of American Express Membership Rewards points is by transferring them to Air Canada Aeroplan and redeeming for Lufthansa First Class. While Aeroplan does impose fuel surcharges for travel on Lufthansa, they’re not that bad when originating in some European countries. I generally love Aeroplan because they have generous routing rules, a great award chart, and don’t impose fuel surcharges on a number of airlines. However, since the announcement of the Air Canada & Aeroplan breakup, the Aeroplan agents have gotten just downright terrible.
I’m on the phone with Aeroplan almost daily for award bookings for clients and I’ve noticed that the competence level of the Aeroplan agents has gone down drastically. I have a nearly perfect theory of why that is. Aeroplan agents used to be the most competent in the industry – you knew that when you called Aeroplan you’d get an agent who knows what they’re doing and are willing to assist. Aeroplan’s new agents are awful as they are not willing to do anything (for example, they won’t let you create custom routing and will only search point-to-point), furthermore they are just downright rude.
My theory for why the competence level has gone down at Aeroplan is simple: the smart, competent Aeroplan agents realised that they will be out of a job once Air Canada and Aeroplan breakup and have left their jobs and found better ones. I am 99% sure this is what happened, because there is no way that literally in a matter of months the agents’ competence levels have dropped so drastically.
The main reason why Air Canada has decided to take back control and create their own frequent flyer programme is because Aeroplan is making Air Canada look bad. Domestic award availability is awful, fuel surcharges are imposed, all of the possible routing combinations are never displayed, the ridiculous booking fees over the phone (that won’t be waived if the website errors – it happens all the time), etc, etc. The list goes on and on.
I sincerely hope that Air Canada creates an industry-leading frequent flyer programme in the next few years.
Be sure to check out some of the awesome Travel Rewards Credit Cards, Hotel Rewards Credit Cards, and Point Rewards Credit Cards that are available and will earn you lots of miles and great travel benefits!