Consumerwatch: Airline points programs
Published Monday, December 17, 2012 10:57AM CST
Last Updated Monday, December 17, 2012 12:50PM CST
Airline points programs can be a free or inexpensive way to get affordable flights but not all programs are created equal.
Winnipegger Rona Davies said she spent a lot of time collecting Aeroplan points only to find a massive headache when she actually tried to book the tickets.
“It just didn’t work, and it was very frustrating,” said Davies.
Davies wanted to travel to England in October with her husband. She had enough Aeroplan points for one round trip ticket, and she planned to purchase her husband’s ticket from Air Canada.
Davies said after she located a flight to England on Aeroplan, she tried to call Air Canada to arrange a ticket on the same flight. When she called Aeroplan back to book the seat, it was filled.
“So in that hour it took to get through to Air Canada, speak to Air Canada, then get back to Aeroplan, then Aeroplan doesn’t have your seats anymore,” said Davies. “You’re starting from square one again.”
Davies said she was surprised to learn that Aeroplan is no longer affiliated with Air Canada. In 2004, the agency became its own company, owned by international loyalty program operator Aimia.
In a statement provided to CTV News, Aeroplan said it doesn’t provide an option to save flights “as it is not an industry standard to hold inventory.”
That industry standard doesn’t apply to Points.com, which offers airline points that act like currency. Users can exchange their points for rewards with other airlines. They can also buy them or trade them with other users. The catch? It costs between a few dollars and a hundred dollars to make the transactions.
Eventually Davies and her husband booked a second flight with Delta. Now, Davies is looking elsewhere. “We’re looking at other programs,” said Davies.