This is a continuation of my evaluation on Aeroplan’s changes which I discussed here. I’ve split this analysis into four parts. This is the second of the four posts – the other parts are as follows:
Part I – Distinction
Part II – Award Chart (This Part)
Part III – Co-branded Credit Cards
Part IV – Various other bits and pieces, including market-fares flight awards
There are two significant parts here. The first is the increase in award levels, for Asia 1/2, Oceania/South Pacific, and North Africa/Middle East. Obviously this is bad, and this is that chart with the increases:
Note that these changes take place on January 1st, 2014, as with all the other changes. Each region in business class is going up by 25,000-30,000 miles and 35,000-40,000 miles in first class.
The bad part is unfortunately the value of the mini-RTW is now ruined. There is now essentially no value in Aeroplan miles in doing these redemptions given that they are roughly 20-35% than using other miles such as United or American, and this is in addition to the fuel surcharges that Aeroplan levies on certain carriers (in fact, most of the carriers with “better” service and decently available award space).
But the upside, depending on how you look at it, is that I would say is dependent on more details that are coming up. For example, there are no changes at all to Europe, intra-region awards, and awards departing from all zones outside of North America. So we currently have no idea what the award levels for Europe to Asia 1/2 is going to look like, nor awards with Asia 1. I personally think that the award chart is going to change a bit, but right now there are still some decent redemptions possible. So the possibility that changes still might occur will determine whether I find whether the entire redemption value is wrecked.
I actually don’t find Aeroplan, honestly, a program worth pursuing. Even now, I just collect Aeroplan whenever they hand some free points up with credit cards and promos. Everyone’s opinion will differ from mine, but my most important redemptions are international business and first class with “premium” airlines. This devaluation further corrodes the value of any redemption.
The only positive change that Aeroplan is making is that they are allowing one-ways on ClassicFlight awards, which is the current award chart. Here is their graphic:
I doubt they will allow stopovers on these one-way redemptions, but it would be great if they did. Nonetheless, this is a very helpful change that aligns the program with most other programs with miles that Canadians have access too. But to me, since they are devaluing the award chart, it looks like the only region that has been left untouched is Europe. So if everything actually happens according to what’s stated in the changes, 45,000 points for business class one-way to Europe is a pretty good deal. Unfortunately, west-coast TATL space unless on United (and even with them will require searching far out) is practically non-existent and fuel surcharges are still present on some airlines, but as far as I know this is the cheapest way to get to Europe one-way in business class with Star Alliance Miles. I am also assuming, however, that one-ways will be available to all regions and in all classes of service.
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.
With these changes, there are potential increases in value with awards that previously were not such a great deal, and definite decreases with awards that were a great value. So overall, I think these changes are moderately bad. The redemptions are overall getting to be a worse value, but changes aren’t clearly specified (such as with awards departing from Europe nor are intra-Region awards). We will definitely see if any changes come up soon.