With United moving away from transparency as it introduces changes to the MileagePlus program this autumn, one carrier has the golden opportunity to differentiate itself from a mediocre field: Air Canada.
Air Canada acquired Aeroplan and is in the process of creating a new loyalty program, set to debut in 2020. We don’t know any details yet. Will earnings be revenue-based or mileage-based? Will there be award charts or fixed-price awards? How about routing rules and fuel surcharges? Will last-minute awards cost more?
So many unknowns, but so many opportunities…
Air Canada has been working for two years on its loyalty program and has a great team building it.
Imagine if Air Canada decided to avoid the bandwagon effect and offered a good, old-fashioned program that offers a meaningful choice to North American customers.
Asking Air Canada to create a totally customer-friendly program is a pipe dream. I’m not wasting my breath with that. But what about something like this?
- Two award types: fixed and variable
- Clearly-defined routing rules and award charts
- Generous stopover rules
- Attractive pricing
- No fuel surcharges
- No close-in fees
- Easy and instant transferability from American Express
Minus the fuel surcharges, what I am proposing sounds much like the Aeroplan program as it exists now. Imagine if Air Canada eliminated fuel surcharges but raised prices, slightly, not dramatically. A current sweet spot is 55K one-way in business or 70K one-way in first class to Western Europe from the USA or Canada. Imagine if that went to 75K for business and 100K for first class but fuel surcharges were eliminated.
A Fair Program
I think there is room for Air Canada to raise prices on fixed-price awards and also offer a more dynamic award chart with last-seat access, no matter how many miles are required, on every Air Canada flight. Anytime the status quo presents an outsized value proposition, it is not safe.
But don’t underestimate the loyalty Air Canada could earn by actually offering a transparent, reliable, valuable loyalty program. And imagine if it offered a website that actually made complex award bookings and changes possible…something United.com once did but no longer does.
My hopes are never up, but I sure would love to see Air Canada do something different. Let’s see what they come up with…
How do you think Air Canada could create a truly compelling, yet realistic, loyalty program?
image: Air Canada