Have you ever wondered what is going on when you encounter an error when trying to book an award using your Aeroplan miles?
In almost all cases, the culprit is two words: married segments.
I’ve outlined before, in great detail, what married segments are. For a detailed primer, click here.
> Read More: A Primer On Married Segments
Put simply, the problem with Aeroplan is that its award search engine is not aligned with its booking engine. After entering “from” and “to” and clicking search, the award search engine searches from origin to destination. So if you’re going from London to Los Angeles, it will search for all available options, including married segments partner airlines have made available.
But let’s take the example below of London to Frankfurt to Los Angeles on Lufthansa.
If you click through to purchase it, you will receive the following error message:
Why? While Lufthansa does intend to make both segments available when booked together, Aeroplan confirms availability on a per-segment basis.
That’s problematic, because if you just search for London to Frankfurt alone, you’ll notice the 6:30a flight from Heathrow to Frankfurt is not available.
That’s why the error occurred. Even though Lufthansa is happy to offer award space on that early flight as long as it is connecting to a Lufthansa longhaul, Aeroplan’s technical limitations prevent you (or an agent on the phone) from booking this.
How to Know if Space is Really There
To be clear: there are other problems with Aeroplan. Sometimes space errors out that should not error out and is not related to the married segment problem above. But the married segment issue is widespread and prevalent daily.
To avoid the disappointment of transferring in miles from American Express only to encounter an error screen, search each segment separately that you are trying to book. So in the example above, you would search LHR-FRA first, then FRA-LAX next. If both segments show up independently, you’ll be able to book them together. If not, look for another routing.
United Airlines, for example, has no trouble booking married segments when redeeming MileagePlus miles. It seems to me this is a technical limitation Aeroplan could fix if it wanted to. But this problem has been going on for years, so don’t hold your breath waiting for a patch. Just be aware of it.
This along with other known “errors” will not be fixed because it is not a priority for Aeroplan. Air Canada will be launching their own FF program in 2020 and the ability to book Star Alliance airlines and ticketed on Air Canada stock via Aeroplan will disappear along with it.
So Aeroplan probably figures why spend the money on the website when in a couple of years we will have to completely revamp it.
For the same reason Aeroplan gave the middle finger to people who booked the Swiss first awards (me included), don’t expect this to be fixed. Aimia is going under, it’s just on life support for now. Lay offs have started and morale is very low (this is coming straight from the horse). Its funny because aside from a few glitches, the system works very well. The fact that you can book through the app is nice as well. It’s saved me a few times already. They might be bale to sell off the booking system, but that’s just a drop in the ocean. They just moved into new offices in a brand new tower…
So, the question would be, is this any different if you call Aeroplan and try to make, or is the issue truly beyond the website?
I’ve had luck in the past booking Aeroplan trips where one or more flights were not bookable via the website, mainly by researching with other tools (like KVS) first and then asking for those flights. I’m not sure how many of those past issues were actually due to married segments though.
When it comes to this issue, from personal experience I can tell you that the agents are just as useless as the website.
What a piece of garbage Aeroplan is…and they call it a “rewards” program.
It was always bad, but the last month is become impossible to do anything on the app OR the webpage! Do we have to threaten a class action suit or something?
Here’s my standing Android Play Store review of the APP;
“Cryptic and unintuitive best describes this dinosaur… And months later, it’s worse! Not only that, the website is broken too! Can’t search airports to begin a flight booking! Fire the IT Director, get a mitt and get in the game!
Now another 2 weeks passes, no update available and still broken. You really don’t care at all do you Aeroplan?”
I had the same thought (searching individual segments) when I was having the “Itinerary..not available” message when I clicked through to book.
Today, it shows a flight from GIG-SNA on 8/2 on United Airlines (UA128/UA404/UA631) as available on the search, but gives that message when trying to click through to book.
HOWEVER, I did search each leg independently, and it found each of them available. So, Aeroplan appears to be unable to handle the 3 leg booking on UA (same thing occurs with LAX as destination). I could call, but last time it took a long time to reach the agent, and you’ve indicated that the agent couldn’t book in your case anyway…so, I’m still thinking about whether it’s worth it….
Call. If each segment is available separately, then an agent should be able to book over the phone and waive the call center fee of C$30.