I came across this article and survey a few days ago and thought it would be nice to share.
Apparently, Frequent Business Traveller asked frequent flyers to rate their award programs. The answers were either “very satisfied”, “satisfied”, or “not satisfied.”
Here are the results:
I am really surprised at is how Aeroplan places at the very bottom of the list, with just under 68% of responses which were not satisfied with Aeroplan. Strangely enough, Aeroplan is a perfectly fine “company.” They have a decent website with easily accessible award space, a relatively good call center, and a relatively responsive communication channel (twitter, etc.) way before any of the other programs. So it was not surprising Aeroplan before 2010 was consistently one of the best award programs and they won lots of Freddies.
But I think what has really been suffering is the “meat” of the program which is the actual award redemption themselves. Other than relaxing the award routing rules way back more than five years ago, all they have done is devalue. They raised the award price value by more than 50%, added fuel surcharges to certain airlines, and recently they’ve announced more changes in 2014 which I talk about here, here, and here (which I think so far the outcome is a bit mixed – some good/some bad).
I understand that it is difficult with Aeroplan as they are a completely separate company from Air Canada, and I want to like Aeroplan. I really do. But simply I feel I am not getting any value from the program which I cannot get from other programs, which means it is just not worth it for me to accumulate miles with Aeroplan when there is another equivalent. A very good example is transferring SPG/Amex points. The other options that are available, such as American or Avios are just for me a better value.
You can market and tout your benefits, advances, and enhancements as much as you want, but the reality is as soon as people who have been diligently collecting miles (and have not read my blog ;)) for an Aeroplan redemption and realize that there is a “co-pay” of $800 in fuel surcharges from YYZ-LHR will honestly deter them from continuing to collect Aeroplan miles.
What I think is interesting to mention is not necessarily having seats available that stump flyers, as Aeroplan has the same award availability (with Star Alliance partner award space) with United to the most part. This survey isn’t certainly the most scientific or replicable as the flawed award availability study, but I think what’s really resonating is how all value is relative. If you look at the European mile currencies, they all have decent ratings. But that’s because relative to one another, they are all fairly equal. Each program has their strengths, but in Europe where it is even harder to collect miles, the consumer is aware of the extent of the value award miles can present. I would say this is the case for many people simply because Aeroplan is (perhaps rightfully) compared to the US programs, nearly all of which allow one-ways and do not charge fuel surcharges for the most part. When you don’t have these, I guess you’ve got ratings like Delta. Frankly I am not so surprised to see Delta Skymiles way down the list, along with Air France. I guess nobody really likes Skyteam that much.
In any case, with AA and US merging and Aeroplan completely reshuffling its credit cards and program, it will be interesting to see how the market will change. But I think consumer expectations, especially in North America, will remain the same.