Why Air Canada’s promise to not remove award charts is such a big deal

Aug 11, 2020

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When the new Aeroplan launches on 8 November, there will still be an award chart.

Though the prices have changed, Aeroplan’s committed to keeping it around — and being honest and upfront about pricing. Here’s why that’s such a big deal.

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Award charts are generally more rewarding than dynamic pricing

Loyalty programmes typically use one of two systems to price award tickets.

The traditional method is by publishing an award chart. This frequent flyer-friendly model spells out exactly how much a ticket costs based on certain parameters, like cabin class and region.

Air Canada promises to keep award charts (Photo by Zach Griff/The Points Guy)

In recent years, some of the world’s largest loyalty programmes have ditched award charts in favour of dynamically priced awards. This means that there’s no telling how much an award ticket costs. The price you see is the price you pay.

Dynamic pricing helps a programme better match the price of an award with its cost. Not great for the member, but definitely better for the programme.

Award charts build trust with members

Loyalty is a two-way street. Frequent flyers need to trust a programme in order to invest their money and time with that airline.

Well, Aeroplan’s definitely working to build that trust. As part of the new programme launch, the programme is promising “predictable pricing.”

For flights operated by Air Canada, the award chart lists a range of prices that accounts for 80% to 90% of redemptions. Additionally, Aeroplan will publish a Points Predictor tool that gives a sense of how many points you’ll need for a given flight.

For partner flights, there’s a fixed-cost chart that varies based on region, cabin class and distance flown — not on date or specific flight.

And there’s no need to worry about Aeroplan pulling a fast one. The company is committed to keeping – and abiding — by award charts. Don’t expect any opaque pricing or deviations from the published ranges. To me, this level of transparency adds even more value to the new programme.

Related: 19 things you need to know about redeeming with the new Aeroplan

Aeroplan’s award chart is devalued, but still around

It’s great that Aeroplan is keeping award charts. Unfortunately, however, many prices have been raised.

For premium-cabin awards, you can expect to pay more points than beforehand. For instance, a business-class flight from Miami to Paris currently costs 55,000 miles. That’ll jump to 70,000 points come 8 November.

Fly SAS’ new A350 using Aeroplan points (Photo by Zach Griff/The Points Guy)

Though the award chart is certainly devalued, there’s a silver lining: Aeroplan is eliminating carrier-imposed surcharges. If you’re flying with a partner that used to have high surcharges like Lufthansa, the price increase may actually represent a good deal relative to the hundreds of dollars of fees that used to be charged.

Related: 11 of the most innovative and exciting changes coming to Air Canada’s Aeroplan

One of the few major Star Alliance programmes left with a chart

By keeping award charts, Aeroplan’s bucking the trend of fellow Star Alliance loyalty programmes.

For instance, United used the coronavirus pandemic as a time to pull its Star Alliance partner award charts, and then immediately raise award costs across the board by about 10%. United-operated flights transitioned to dynamic pricing in late 2019.

Avianca Lifemiles is another popular Star Alliance loyalty programme. Though the South American carrier publishes an award chart, the pricing often doesn’t match what’s listed in the chart.

The other major Star Alliance programme to publish an award chart is Singapore KrisFlyer. Though KrisFlyer is a well-regarded programme, the new Aeroplan will offer some more unique value propositions like the ability to add stopovers to one-way awards and flexible routing rules.

No partner tricks, hidden inventory

In addition to building trust by keeping an award chart, Aeroplan is committed to being transparent throughout the award redemption process.

Lifemiles sometimes blocks Lufthansa first-class awards (Photo by Zach Griff/The Points Guy)

The programme promises not to block specific partner award inventory. Additionally, Aeroplan’s deploying a new booking engine that’s designed to minimize phantom award availability.

Bottom line

Award charts are generally the preferred method for pricing award tickets. You know exactly what to expect as you work to accumulate the required number of points.

Even though the prices have increased, Aeroplan’s promise to keep its award charts builds trust with its members — and shows that the programme is dedicated to transparency.

Featured photo by Zach Griff/The Points Guy

Editorial Disclaimer: Opinions expressed here are the author’s alone, not those of any bank, credit card issuer, airlines or hotel chain, and have not been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by any of these entities.

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