Earlier this week, I got an email from Aeroplan that caught my eye: “Introducing cash-free flight rewards“. It went further to explain that “Your Aeroplan Miles can now cover taxes, fees and surcharges associated with your flight rewards.”
I was intrigued. For years, I’d been an avid Aeroplan collector but its downfall had always been the same: I always had to pay out-of-pocket to cover the associated fees.
Aeroplan’s new cash-free flight rewards
So I quickly logged on to my Aeroplan account and searched for a flight from my recent history, from YYZ (Toronto Pearson) to DEN (Denver, Colorado) which would cost 25,000 miles round trip. With the new “cash-free” option, I could now opt to pay $194.81 in taxes, fees and surcharges, OR spend an extra 22,918 in miles to cover it.
That’s nearly the entire cost of the flight! For 47,918 miles in total, I can either get 1 fully paid round trip flight from Toronto to Denver, OR be just shy of 2 round trip flights and pay $194.81 in taxes per person.
To evaluate the value (or lack thereof), I logged on to Air Canada’s website to search for the same flight. The same flight there cost $363 and $315 on the way back, totaling $678.
It’s interesting to note the breakdown in the fare summary – both flights are $264 each, but the taxes, fees and charges differ for both flights, resulting in the different fares of $363 and $315. Also interesting to note: the taxes, fees and charges on AirCanada.ca are $148.83, while the taxes for the exact same Aeroplan flight are $194.81. There is also a slight discrepancy in the prices on Air Canada itself – when I selected the flights, it showed a total of $678, but on the Fare Summary screen, it showed a total of $676.83.
Essentially, if I were to use my 25,000 points to book the return flight, it would have a value of $528 ($264*2), which gives us a per point value of ¢0.02. Conversely, I could use an additional 22,918 points to cover the $194.81 in taxes, fees and surcharges, resulting in a per point value of only ¢0.0085. Add this to the fact that the Taxes, Fees and Charges on the AirCanada.ca website are only $148.83 for the exact same flights and this drops the per point value further to ¢0.0065!