Part 3: Aeroplan North America Award Chart - Distance Tiers 1 and 2
In this article, we will look at distance tiers 1 and 2 of the Aeroplan's new North America award chart using sample flights from Vancouver, Calgary and Toronto. We will see some of the sweet spots and where the value is in the new award chart but also where there is some loss of value in comparison to the current program. Our next article will examine distance tiers 3 and 4 of the new award chart.
The First Tier: 0-500 Miles
The first tier represents the starting rate for award redemptions for flights that are up to 500 miles from your departure point. The prices start at 6,000 points for a one-way economy class ticket or 12,000 points for a return ticket. Of note is that these awards are priced lower than short haul redemptions under the current program.
Which destinations can you reach in this first tier when flying out Vanouver? Below is a Great Circle Map showing a 500 mile radius from Vancouver.
When departing from Vancouver, the chart below sets out some destinations which would be within 500 miles of Vancouver comparing the cost under the current program with the cost under the new program (and assuming direct flights).
As you see, these flights could potentially be cheaper under the new program compared to the current program (depending on dynamic pricing if you are flying Air Canada metal):
Below is a map which shows you the general range of a 500 mile radius from Calgary, followed by a chart showing some of the destinations within reach of Calgary under the first tier, along with the prices under the new Aeroplan program and the current Aeroplan program.
Again, this first tier represents good value in comparison to the current program. For example, for those of you in Calgary who make frequent flights to major cities in BC, you may see some savings with the new program.
Below is a map which shows you the general range of a 500 mile radius from Toronto, followed by a chart showing some of the destinations within reach of Toronto under the first tier along with the prices under the new Aeroplan program and the current Aeroplan program.
Again, we can see that the very short flights from Toronto (under 500 miles) may be cheaper under the new Aeroplan program compared to the current Aeroplan program.
What can we see from this first tier of the new Aeroplan program? First, it’s clear that these shorter routes will be cheaper (or at least have the potential to be cheaper) than they are under the current program. The key caveat to remember is that where a flight is on Air Canada, the award chart contains a range of prices which reflects the dynamic pricing of Air Canada flights. Those flights on partner airlines, however, are guaranteed to be cheaper because partner flights at the first tier are fixed at 6,000 points. Accordingly, if you are flying between Canada and the US, you will be assured the lowest price level by flying with a partner, such as United Airlines (subject to award space).
As the above examples show, some awards will potentially require 20% fewer points under the new program compared to the current program (6,000 points vs. 7,500 points on a one way economy class ticket).
The Second Tier 501-1,500 Miles
Under the new program, flights that run 501 - 1,500 miles will start at 10,000 points for a one way economy class ticket, 15,000 for a one way premium economy and 20,000 points for a one way business class if flying Air Canada and will be subject to dynamic pricing (i.e. increased prices) depending on seats available for a particular flight. Partner airlines will be a fixed price of 10,000 points for a one way economy class ticket, 15,000 for a one way premium economy ticket and 20,000 for a one way business class ticket.
The map below shows you the potential distance you can travel from Vancouver, with the inner ring being 500 miles (Tier 1) and the outer ring being between 501 miles and 1500 miles (Tier 2).
As you can see, this next tier opens up a large portion of the west coast and central Canada and United States to travellers departing from Vancouver. Below is a chart setting out some of the destinations one could travel to under tier 2 along with the comparable prices under the current program.
For the most part these destinations will be cheaper under the new Aeroplan program. One exception is some of the destinations which are further away but still qualified as a short haul flight under the current Aeroplan program, such as Whitehorse in the chart above. For the most part, there is the potential for some modest savings under the new program.
Below is a map showing the tier 2 range of travel on departures from Calgary:
Similar to Vancouver departures, Calgary departures open up western Canada and the western United States as well as central Canada and United States. As would be expected, departures from Calgary have a further eastern reach than do Vancouver departures. The below chart sets out various destinations that fall within tier 2 of the new program and their prices along with comparison prices for the current Aeroplan program.
Similar with Vancouver departures, for the most part there is a good potential that flights in tier 2 of the new award chart will be modestly cheaper than under the current program, with the exception of those few places which exceed 1,500 miles in distance from Calgary and which were part of the short haul flights under the current Aeroplan program
Below is a map showing the 1,500 mile range of tier 2 for departures from Toronto. As you can see, departures from Toronto are within range of the entire east coast of Canada and the United States, as well as some Caribbean destinations.
The chart below shows some of the destinations which fall within tier two and their prices under the new Aeroplan program along with the comparison of prices under the current Aeroplan program:
An analysis of the results for Toronto departures are similar to that of Vancouver and Calgary. There is potential for savings on flights that fall within tier 2 of the new program compared to the current program. However, with Toronto departures, we start to see some sweet spots arising from the fact that the new program creates a large broader North America zone rather than splitting it up into various regions as the current program does. As a result, flights to the Caribbean, which is a separate region under the current program, are treated as any other flight in North America and is priced solely based on distance. Accordingly, under the new program there is a potential for 50% savings on economy class flights, or a 33% savings on business class flights, from Toronto to Nassau, Bahamas or Havana, Cuba and a under the new program.
So how does Tier 2 of the new program compare to the current program? It depends on your destination. Some of the above routes would be classified as a short haul flight under the current program (i.e. Vancouver – Whitehorse; Calgary – Portland). In those cases, the flights will be (at least) 25% more expensive under the new program for a one way economy class ticket (7,500 miles under the current program vs. 10,000 points under the new program).
On the other hand, many of the destinations that fall under tier 2 are beyond the range of what is a short haul flight under the current program. In those cases the flights under the current program would be long haul flights and would cost 12,500 for a one way economy class ticket and 25,000 for a return economy class ticket. In those circumstances, we see that an economy class ticket could be 20% cheaper under the new Aeroplan program. Similarly, when we look at a one way business class ticket which would cost 25,000 miles under the current program, under the new program a one way business class ticket for the above flights could be as cheap as 20,000 points, which represents a reduction of 20% from current award prices.
As noted, there are also some sweet spots at this tier for those departure points that are within 1,500 miles of destinations in the Caribbean. For example, departures from Toronto to Havana or the Bahamas fall within tier 2 of the new program and represent significant savings compared to the current program.
Overall, this tier has the potential to represent good value for many destinations as compared to the current program.