The other day, a friend of mine floated the idea of a group trip to Las Vegas. With the proposed dates over two months away, I thought I’d try to book my flight and/or hotel on points. After all, I’ve amassed an impressive amount on my Aeroplan program, a loyalty program that “THEORETICALLY” allows people to exchange their hard-earned reward points for things like airplane tickets, hotel stays, or a Broil King professional barbecue tool set featuring a durable design tough enough for even the most demanding griller! Yes, I’m sitting on a healthy balance, not so much because of my spending habits, but due to the fact that it’s been almost two years since I’ve actually been able to redeem points for any sort of travel rewards. Drawing on my experience, and the experience of friends, I believe your chances of successfully booking a flight on Aeroplan is roughly equivalent to your odds of catching a home run ball at a major league baseball game.
Having said that, I’m sure you’re wondering how I fared this time. After all, how does the saying go? Thirty-sixth time’s the charm?
The first thing I did was look into a flight to Vegas in mid to late May. The good people at Aeroplan offered me exactly ONE, a United Airlines flight that leaves Vancouver at before-the-crack-of-dawn 6:30 a.m. and touches down in Vegas at 8:49 p.m. Yes, that’s right. A 14+ hour flight with what I can only assume is a stopover in New Delhi. If, on the other hand, I want the basic comforts of a direct 2 hour and 40 minute route, it’ll cost me.
I then looked into hotels, hopefully something on or close to the strip. Again, no dice. I was offered a grand total of three choices. Two were approximately an hour drive from the strip and the third, while closer, is apparently located by some railway tracks. On the bright side, complimentary earplugs come with the room. And I wish I was kidding, but no.
In hindsight, I figured, maybe two months is a little tight. If you’re going to redeem your points for travel rewards, maybe you should look to book well in advance of your trip. How well in advance? Six months? Eight months? How about TEN MONTHS? Surely Aeroplan would be able to accommodate my late January of 2015 Tokyo trip?
Alas, no. After checking the “My Dates Are Flexible” box, how many non-stop flights to Tokyo was I offerED some TEN MONTHS in advance of my trip?
Exactly zero. None. Zilch.
Our of curiosity, I tried to book as far in advance as Aeroplan would allow, almost a full year before my planned travel date. So, how many non-stops flights to Tokyo was Aerogold offering some TWELVE MONTHS in advance of my trip?
Exactly zero. None. Zilch.
I remember a time when I used to actually be able to redeem my Aeroplan points for travel rewards. Granted, it was two years ago but still, there was a time. So what’s happened between then and now? Are there that many more people snatching up the available seats – up to a year in advance? Have, as I suspect, the actual number of seats allotted to Aeroplan been decreased? I’ve tried to contact Aerogold for answers but haven’t had much luck getting through despite multiple attempts.
Apparently, the odds of your actually talking to someone to their call center? Only slightly better than your odds of successfully booking a flight on their rewards program.