As the date when Air Canada and Aeroplan end their agreement approaches quickly, we’ve been busy allocating our points to make the most of them in 2018 and 2019. Jason and I have a love – hate thing going with Aeroplan; it’s given us the opportunity to travel around the world affordably but has also caused us unnecessary grief and stress due to their mediocre system and poor customer service. In this post, I’ll tell you about 3 major issues we’ve experienced with Aeroplan and give you some tips on how to mitigate them.
Issue 1: 2 tickets were cancelled after being ticketed and we were never notified
-The scenario: Last May, we booked 2 one-way tickets to fly in April 2018. As we cannot go on this trip, we called Aeroplan to change the ticket for a trip in December 2018. The agent was very helpful and expedited the request quickly and within days, I received a refund for the taxes on the other ticket, was billed the taxes and change fees on the new tickets, received a confirmation the reservation was ticketed, and even chose seats on the new flights.
-When we noticed something was wrong: Since we’ve had bad luck with things going wrong with Aeroplan, I logged in over the weekend using the app to have a look at our reservation; the reservation was no longer appearing in our bookings. Initially, we thought it was a glitch with the app, but the reservation wasn’t showing up anymore on the Aeroplan website either. We called Aeroplan to get it sorted; after being on hold to speak to an agent, and then on hold while agents worked with ticketing to resolve the issue, we found out that our tickets were cancelled almost 2 hours later.
-Why the tickets were cancelled: The reason the ticket was cancelled was because the change was not valid based on the terms and conditions associated to the ticket, even if the agent made the change (train your agents better?). Long story short, when you book a flight using Aeroplan points, the fine print states that you can make changes to a ticket but the travel needs to occur within one year of the initial tickets being booked: since the initial tickets were in May 2017, we’d have to travel by the date in May 2018 the initial tickets were booked, not within 1 year of making the change.
-The outcome: As a gesture, Aeroplan did not charge us the $300 we would have had to pay to cancel the ticket; we were charged $200 ($100 change fee per ticket) and all the points and taxes we pad were refunded. Thanks Aeroplan, but you never did explain why we were not notified of the cancellation and issued a refund.
-New tickets: The agent also confirmed the space was still available on the flights we wanted and urged us to rebook using the app or website to avoid paying a $50 booking fee per ticket over the phone (gee thanks Aeroplan, your agent messed up, and you can’t rebook us and waive the fee? We’ve been talking to you for 2 hours now). We start to search through the app but the flights are not showing up and eventually when we logged into the website directly, the flights were available and we booked. In the end, we were able to book the flight coming back to YVR instead of SEA, so at least there’s that, right?
Issue 2: One segment on my ticket was removed and I was never notified
-The scenario: We booked two return business class segments using Aeroplan segments, until we realized one of my segments was in economy. When this happens, if availability reappears, you can call Aeroplan and they will update your ticket. This was the case and so Aeroplan updated my ticket for the missing segment to be in business class. Had I known all the chaos that would ensue after, I’d have kept my ticket in economy.
-What happened: After the change was confirmed, I did not receive a new itinerary and figured everything was okay. Eventually, I logged in to the airline’s site and saw that I did not have a segment from PVG – Shanghai Pudong Airport to SFO – San Francisco International airport but did have a ticket from SFO to YVR. It appears someone messed up the ticketing process and forgot to add back the segment.
-The outcome: I called Aeroplan but they were closed since they’re only open 07:00-00:00 ET (Eastern Times) so needless to say, I didn’t sleep too much that night. Thankfully, space was available on business class for the PVG to SFO flight and Aeroplan fixed the ticket. Can you imagine the nightmare of going through Chinese customs without a ticket to SFO and then being stranded or having to pay out of pocket for a new ticket?
Issue 3:Our tickets had an issue and needed to be resolved before the airline would issue us a boarding pass
– We arrived at LAX to get check-in and get boarding passes for our flights to ICN – Seoul Incheon airport on Asiana. For one reason or another, Asiana would not give us boarding passes until an unknown ticketing issue was resolved (we still don’t know what it was to this day).
-What happened and the outcome: By this time, the Aeroplan call centre was closed so we ran all the way to Air Canada and caught up with an agent who just about to leave. Thankfully, he was able to fix the glitch with our ticket and we were able to get checked in for the flight after all. While it was very stressful, we did end up having enough time to shower at the lounge.
We’ve had more positive experiences with Aeroplan than negative ones and while I don’t like to complain and write posts like this, I think it’s important for people to know the risks involved with their tickets. We’ve been lucky so far in avoiding potentially disastrous travel interruption situations but others have not been so lucky. While the issues were partially due to our mistakes, they were mostly due to Aeroplan’s mistakes and poor customer service. While we keep learning, we do feel the onus is on us to monitor and be on top of everything because while Aeroplan should be responsible and take care of you, we don’t have a lot of faith that they will.
Here are tips to help you avert a potential travel interruption due to a ticketing issue:
- Check your booking frequently: While it might sound crazy, we’ve started to login once per week to check our booking but checking once a month should also suffice. If something looks strange, call Aeroplan immediately.
- Use the right credit card: We always use a credit card we keep for the long term to pay for the fees associated with the ticket. In addition, when you check your credit card statement, if they refund the fees, this is a good indication your ticket has been cancelled and you can follow-up. This might be very unlikely because as we explained in issue #1, while our ticket was cancelled, they never refunded the taxes, we had to request that.
- Travel Insurance: The travel insurance associated with your credit card will not cover your reward tickets. While some cards do, they are very few and far between and the fine-print can be confusing. If you are unsure, call your credit card provider. From my research, the only card that appears to offer travel insurance for Aeroplan tickets is the TD Aeroplan Visa.
- Check-In Early: You will know if there is an issue with your ticket when you check-in and I recommend checking in as early as possible. The reason why this is so important is that Aeroplan’s call centre hours are limited to 07:00-00:00 midnight ET (Eastern Time). If you need to speak with an Aeroplan agent outside of those hours, you’re pretty much SOL (shit out of luck). If the Aeroplan Call Centre is closed, you could try speaking to an Air Canada agent in person but there is no guarantee they will and can help you. While it gets complicated, in some cases Air Canada is the issuer of the ticket and has access to the system.
- Schedule Changes: In some cases, Aeroplan might change your itinerary due to a schedule change or other factors. While you should receive an email notification about this, it is not always the case. When you are checking your booking, look at the details. If Aeroplan did change your itinerary and you are unhappy with it or it doesn’t work for you, you can call them and ask them to change it to something else and in some cases, they will accommodate the change at no extra fee. We do recommend checking the availability to see what change you want rather than letting the agent decide for you (i.e. we booked a ticket from YYZ to YVR on a 787 and that flight changed to an A321 so we called Aeroplan and asked them to book us back on a 787 flight that departed at a different time).
- Searching for Availability: As we experienced lately, the availability listed on the website and the app can be different and it appears the website has more availability options so when possible, have a look at the website if you are not finding what you want on the app.
Have you experienced any issues with Aeroplan? Do you have any tips to add to the list?