Why did Aeroplan eliminate expiry date for points?

July 7 2013 by Ellen Roseman

The announcement took everyone by surprise. Aeroplan was killing its seven-year redemption deadline for points, scheduled to start on Jan. 1, 2014.

Aeroplan’s sponsor Aimia mentioned the cancellation of the harsh redemption policy in a June 27 news release. It also unveiled a new credit card partner (TD), but only if previous partner CIBC didn’t try to match the TD deal by Aug. 9.

Did Aeroplan decide not to date-stamp points because of a nationwide class action lawsuit by Merchant Law Group?

When I asked that question on Twitter, I heard from Aeroplan spokeswoman Christa Poole. She said members really disliked the deadline. The closer it came, the unhappier they were. The class action simply reflected that animosity.

A senior executive said the same thing to Star columnist Adam Mayers:

The unhappiness became clear during research into the current changes, says Kevin O’Brien, Aeroplan’s chief commercial officer.

“That one was huge,’ he says. “Aeroplan rewards play an aspirational role for members. They accumulate points to do something special and like to plan ahead. So the expiry thing was a big deal.”

However, there’s some bad news for Aeroplan members. They will need more points for business class and first class reward flights to Asia, North Africa, the Middle East, Australia and New Zealand.

The increase adds up to 20 per cent, coming on top of another increase in award redemption levels put in place in 2011, says The Points Guy website.

With a strong competitive market, it is about time Aeroplan cancels mileage expiration. Fortunately, more and more programs are going in the direction of “no mileage expiry.”

JetBlue just did the same thing and Delta doesn’t have mileage expiration either. However the 12-month expiry policy is still active. Members will have to continue to earn miles or redeem them each year in order not to lose their miles.

As an Aeroplan member, I’m glad I don’t have to make a mad dash to cash in my precious miles. But I’m not thrilled with the increase in redemption levels.

Like most collectors, I’m aspiring to take longer flights in more luxurious seats. This announcement means I’ll need more time to save more points than I needed before.

1 comment

  1. Bylo

    Jul 8 2013

    What a dumb, ham-fisted move!

    AP had years to react to the negativity that arose after they originally arbitrarily announced their expiration policy. Why didn’t they back-track earlier when people could do actually do something about it?

    First they antagonize their customers with the expiration policy. Then as those people (including me) spend those miles under duress—at the very last moment after AP has maximized the level of dissatisfaction—they do an about face. That just further antagonizes those of us who have already redeemed our miles under the duress of losing them.

    They couldn’t have done a better job of antagonizing long-time AP members if they’d set out to do so intentionally.

    The new Market fare is an excuse to arbitrarily jack up the miles you need on popular rewards flights. The Distinction classes are a scheme to discount those inflated rates based on how many points you’ve accumulated the previous year. IOW casual flyers—even those who amassed huge points balances in the past—will see the value of their points devalued further by even more than current standards. With these new schemes AP no longer cares how good a customer you may have been in the past, but rather how good you are today.

    As time goes on these mechanisms will allow AP to manipulate rewards in such a way that most people won’t realize how badly they’re being treated. In addition, the add-on fees, taxes and surcharges needed to get “free” tickets have now reached the point where they sometimes represent half the value of the “free” flight.

    Given all these mechanisms now at their disposal how could AP not resist the temptation to further deflate the net value of points?

    Here’s my conspiracy theory: As boomers retire many will have huge AP miles balances that they accumulated while in the workforce. By killing points expiration AP is left with a huge liability for those miles from these now relatively infrequent, retired flyers. Now they can devalue those points without antagonizing the current generation of frequent flyers while forcing the rest of us to pay inflated rates to fly to less popular destinations and/or at less popular times.