Aeroplan charged me a change fee that I believe was unconscionable.
I am heading to Germany for Christmas this year with my family. We booked tickets via Aeroplan on Turkish Airlines months before the diplomatic spat that has effectively barred U.S. citizens from entering Turkey. That’s a problem because we have a stopover in Istanbul.
It has been over a month since the diplomatic row began and I figured it would be solved by now, but it persists. While my wife, traveling with a German passport, is okay, my son and I will be denied entry into Turkey under current rules. That forced me to modify our tickets.
While it is plausible that the diplomatic crisis will be resolved before my travel date in mid-December, I figured it was not wise simply to hope for the best. Instead, I began searching for alternate award space.
I found Air New Zealand business class award space via London, which seemed like an ideal alternate to flying on Turkish Airlines. To be clear, I had no desire to change routing. I have not yet reviewed Turkish Airlines 777-3oo Business Class on this blog and was looking forward to doing so. But it would have been quite problematic to be denied boarding in Los Angeles or be forced to spend 36 hours in the Turkish Airlines Lounge in Istanbul.
Aeroplan Plays Hardball
I phoned Aeroplan and explained the situation to agent, stressing that the change was was necessitated by the inability of U.S. citizens to travel to Turkey.
The agent refused to waive the change fee, stating it was not Aeroplan’s problem that Turkey and the United States are experiencing diplomatic issues.
I asked what would happen if I left my reservation intact and was denied boarding in Los Angeles.
The agent had no answer, but insisted that she could not waive the change fee. She did not even offer to look into shortening my connection so I could connect immediately to Germany. (That would have been ideal solution, but there was no award space available…I had already checked)
So I paid the 100CAD/ticket change fee. The change has been made.
But I don’t think Aeroplan should have charged me for the change. I don’t think my change was voluntary in so far as the current itinerary is invalid.
Aeroplan is the loyalty program that charges you 30CAD for a telephone booking when the website is broken. I find its ticketing and change fees unethical in the unbending way they are applied. Agents are not empowered to waive any fees at Aeroplan and unfortunately supervisors also (seem) to have their hands tied. It is not a nice way to do business. It’s just one more reason I’ll be happy to see Air Canada take back its loyalty program in 2020. Let’s hope that Air Canada will be a bit more benevolent about changes beyond the passenger’s control.