Details of Aeroplan’s Enhancements: Distinction

As I mentioned yesterday, Aeroplan has revealed several significant changes for the upcoming calendar year, with changes taking place in effect on January 1st, 2014.

On the whole it seems fresh and new, but I would have to say in my perspective, I would say that the changes are pretty lacklustre. I’ve split it into four parts since there is so much to cover.

Part I – Distinction (This Part)

Part II – Award Chart

Part III – Credit Cards

Part IV – Other Changes

Let me attempt and explain why:

First, Aeroplan is launching Distinction, a “elite status” of sorts.

The launch of Distinction, a new tiered recognition program that rewards top accumulating members with preferential mileage levels for redemption. Distinction is a unique member recognition program independent from Air Canada’s Altitude program. Distinction levels are achieved based on total miles earned across all coalition partners including airline, travel, retail and financial card partners.

So what benefits will there be?

Benefits of Distinction:
Benefits begin as of January 1, 2014 and include:

  • Exclusive flight reward benefits with significantly better value on new Market Fare Flight Rewards;
  • Special flights to popular destinations during peak periods with 100% of the seats reserved for Distinction members and offered at ClassicFlight reward mileage levels;
  • Bonus mile offers on eligible Air Canada flights, with select hotel partners, and through Aeroplan’s eStore;
  • Preferential treatment, privileges and limited-time offers, special partner and reward offers and invitations to exclusive events.

Distinction Levels:
Distinction is a unique member recognition program independent from Air Canada’s Altitude program. Distinction levels are achieved based on miles earned across all coalition partners including airline, travel, retail and financial card partners.

Distinction includes three status levels based on a member’s total eligible mileage accumulation:

  • dSilver – 25,000 miles accumulated during the calendar year;
  • dBlack – 50,000 miles accumulated during the calendar year;
  • dDiamond – 100,000 miles accumulated during the calendar year.

Here is a table with their summary of their benefits:

Table of Benefits

Table of Benefits

The problem is, this revolutionary program (which is possible given that this is the first elite status based on accured selected redeemable miles) isn’t very useful for me.

I have no use for Market Fare Flight awards given that they undervalue the price of a Aeroplan point, the bonuses on the eStore, hotel stays, and Air Canada Gateway bonuses may be useful but nothing attractive that makes me want to shop/book with Aeroplan through their system. I think that unless you only collect Aeroplan miles, there are always airlines and points currencies that offer better promotions and a rate of return, even if you’re throwing in the bonuses with status.

The last point is again not significant, as I outlined how you can cut your call center wait centers in this post here. Neither are the privileges/limited-time offers of any significance as I don’t know what sort of offers they will have.

So I just don’t think this is very rewarding to the customer. Does it sound nice? Yes. Do I need these benefits? Not really.

When I look at award programs, I look at the best redemption values of the program and that is how I value the program, even if there are poorer redemptions (so then I just avoid them). That means, if say theoretically there were two types of miles. Mile A, belongs to a program that has both possibilities for redemptions that give a high rate of return and as well as a low value of return. Mile B, on the other hand, has options for redemptions that both give a fair value of return. Which type of mile would I like more? Mile A, definitely, because if I had any type of miles, I would only redeem for their best redemptions and avoid redeeming for the redemptions that give a poorer value on my miles, because I feel I have enough diversification within miles and points where each set of points has their own strengths and weaknesses. This is the same thing with earning.

I don’t quite get Distinction, because while it seems like a really good marketing tool, it also means they’re spending the money to build the infrastructure to recognize elite status, reworking the systems to award more benefits to elite members, and just giving away more points which in my mind screams for a devalution (which you can see to a certain extent – with the award changes). I likely will get dDiamond from points accural. But does that make the Aeroplan currency more valuable? No.

That’s why I don’t like these changes. Aeroplan is spending so much time and effort to make changes which aren’t really meaningful for me. But of course, I am probably not their target customer.

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  1. It’s all a bunch of smoke and mirrors. The only “enhancement” is the one way awards but even then most other programs already offer those at 50%.

    I haven’t redeemed AP points in 2 years. I burned all my points before the last round of “enhancements” including the scam-charges they call taxes and fees which includes fuel.

  2. This is all in preparation for a divorce with AC, and it IS a devaluation – just look at the increase in N.America – Asia redemption values. The rest is complete garbage – no one redeems at the classic plus level except for the odd time when their value is similar to classic rewards.
    The shift is to a CC spending focus rather than FF miles accumulation, and once the tie with AC becomes more tenuous it will be pretty much worthless. Please explain to me why AC would need AP once their agreement is up?

    • I thought there’s still a few years when AC and AP have to renew their agreement. But yes, it does look like the groundwork for a split.

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