A frequent Air Canada business traveler says he saved the bulk of his remaining earned Aeroplan miles to enjoy in his retirement, but when the frequent flyer went to redeem his reward travel, he learned that a career’s worth of loyalty points had disappeared without warning due to account inactivity after changing travel habits in his golden years.
Recent retiree Chris French says that a career of business travel allowed him to fly nearly a million miles on Air Canada. When the former globe-trotting passenger retired recently, he had big plans for his Aeroplan balance of around 370,000 miles. Unfortunately for the Ontario man, he soon learned that no longer being a frequent flyer has real disadvantages.
When French attempted to book a dream trip after earning his gold watch, he was surprised to discover that his miles had been voided because he had not used the Aeroplan account for a 12-month period. The pensioner says he received no notice from the airline that he was about to lose a large chunk of the rewards he had earned over his lifetime.
“Hopefully, I was going to save these miles that I’ve accumulated and use them in my retirement,” French told CTV News. “I was fuming. I just thought that I spent all my time accumulating these miles for my retirement and now they are gone. They said we can’t help you. They’re gone.”
An Aeroplan spokesperson told CTV Toronto that the policy of allowing miles to expire in cases of account inactivity has been in place for more than a decade. The company points out that members are given several alerts well in advance, warning them that the miles are subject to being voided if the account is not used.
French says that Aeroplan offered to allow him to restore the points for a fee of more than $3,000. He said that due to his changed circumstances, this isn’t a penalty he is in the position to pay.
In the FlyerTalk forums, there is very little sympathy for the suddenly Aeroplan-poor air traveler. FlyerTalk members who make a point of knowing the ins and outs of the loyalty programs in which they participate had some trouble understanding how a frequent business traveler allowed himself to be tripped up by such an easily preventable mistake. Other Flyertalkers pointed out that paying around three grand to recover well over a quarter-million-miles would be a good return on the investment.
Chris French may have only himself to blame for his predicament, but he is not alone in his plight. Retired private pilot Michael Lipp also should have known better, but shortly after his retirement in 2017, he learned that his dream around-the-world trip would not be happening. It seems Captain Lipp had inadvertently let his Aeroplan account lapse with more than 100,000 miles left on the table.
Does a frequent flyer’s ignorance of the rules rightfully not constitute an emergency on Aeroplan’s part or is this simply a case of a company taking advantage of the small print to hustle once loyal customers? The discussion is developing now.
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