Impressive: Air Canada Aeroplan’s solution for cancelled Etihad bookings

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Earlier this year, we reported on amazing award space to fly in Etihad apartments between London and Abu Dhabi. In some cases, all nine seats in the Etihad first class cabin were bookable as award tickets. Unfortunately, some of these bookings got cancelled without reason. Aeroplan committed to fixing that and I think most people got rebooked in Etihad first class. Then, over the past week, we started receiving reports of some bookings being cancelled again. Unfortunately, it seems that at least some of the bookings won’t be honored after all, but Aeroplan is stepping up and offering a very unique solution that I think demonstrates an impressive desire to do right by their members.

a seat in a plane

The saga of cancelled Etihad first class awards booked via Aeroplan

For those who haven’t followed this story, let me sum up the saga in easy bullet points:

  • Etihad released a ton of first class award space back in March 2023, with up to all 9 first class seats bookable on some dates
  • A few weeks later, in mid April 2023 many passengers received notice of a change in itinerary that turned out to be the cancellation of their awards. Air Canada Aeroplan helped people get rebooked in Etihad first class when flights were still available.
  • At the end of October 2023, we received a number of reports from at least some of those passengers who received another email about a change to their itinerary. The email looked like nothing had actually changed, but the bookings disappeared from both AirCanada.com and Etihad.com.
  • Several readers who were cancelled again within the past week initially reported Aeroplan phone agents saying there was nothing they could do but accept a business class booking on another carrier if flights were available as awards.

At that point, I reached out to Air Canada Aeroplan for more information about what was going on, whether passengers were going to have their Etihad apartments bookings honored, and what affected passengers should do to get a solution. Members obviously want to be confident in the fact that their bookings will be honored and many booked entire trips around the chance to fly Etihad apartments.

Air Canada Aeroplan’s solution

Late last night, we heard back from Aeroplan. Here was part of the response we received:

We do know that many of our members were looking forward to taking advantage of this redemption opportunity specifically with the goal of experiencing Etihad’s First Class apartments, and we understand that for those members, being rebooked on just about anything else doesn’t compare. For these reasons we are offering to accommodate impacted members with the following:

  • The option for the original itinerary to be rebooked into First Class or Business Class on any available redemption seat on any day with AC or any of our partner carriers, including Emirates to/from/via Dubai, for no extra points cost (and for a refund for the difference in points if rebooked purely into Business Class), and
  • A credit of 50,000 bonus Aeroplan points per traveler, deposited into the original redeeming member’s account, in consideration of this highly unique situation

Members wishing not to rebook are eligible for a full refund of points and taxes/fees paid. In these cases, the 50,000 bonus Aeroplan points per traveler will still be awarded.

Needless to say, we sincerely regret this inconvenience to our members.

That is an impressive solution. Obviously, in an ideal world, everyone would have their Etihad apartments bookings honored and I think Aeroplan understands that (and in fact, I have to imagine that was the solution they would have preferred). In an unideal world, I’d say that they are going above and beyond expectations to fix this.

This solution demonstrates two things to me.

First, the problem here is clearly Etihad. If Air Canada Aeroplan ultimately wanted these bookings cancelled, they wouldn’t be offering the chance to fly on Emirates for no additional miles (Aeroplan has a separate award chart for Emirates that costs significantly more than awards on all of their other partners) and they certainly wouldn’t also give 50,000 points per traveler. Clearly, Etihad just wasn’t willing to play ball here. That’s disappointing. It’s also confusing. My understanding is that bookings made through American Airlines AAdvantage have been unaffected. I’m not sure why Etihad and Air Canada couldn’t work this out, but it doesn’t make me wildly confident in the future of the partnership.

Second, this says a lot about Air Canada Aeroplan. Not only does it clearly indicate that they “get in” in terms of the fact that many people plan entire trips around special redemptions like this one, which are more valuable than the simple transportation from point A to point B, but it says a lot about their desire to do right by customers. It doesn’t matter who you are, things don’t always go right. This response shows a willingness to go the extra mile to make it as right as they can.

I’m sure that many will still be disappointed that they won’t get the expected chance to fly in Etihad apartments, but I’d say that this is as fair of a solution as one could hope to see. I had simply hoped that they would offer to reaccommodate people on a partner like Emirates or that they would be able to lean on partners like Singapore or Swiss that don’t often release first class space to partners and ask for them to help members out, but I wouldn’t have expected the added gesture of fifty thousand bonus miles per passenger. Given that first class awards on this route only cost 65,000 miles per passenger, Aeroplan is essentially almost entirely refunding the cost of the ticket and offering to rebook passengers either in first class on partners who have first class award availability or in business class on partners with award availability (and still refunding the difference in price between first and business class on top of it!).

Obviously a big problem here is that some people simply won’t be able to find replacement award space. That stinks and I imagine that some folks will have to cancel trips because of that fact. In that case, the 50,000 bonus points per traveler will hopefully ease the burden on a future trip.

I don’t think one could have expected a more generous solution. Kudos to Aeroplan for taking care of members here.

I should note that I’m not sure how long it will take to implement this solution or whether you’ll need to reach out to Aeroplan proactively to receive the bonus miles, but it’s worth searching for award space and calling Air Canada Aeroplan to get rebooked if you find something that works. You can even change the dates of the trip entirely, so it appears that there is quite a bit of flexibility. My assumption is that the 50K bonus points will post automatically and might take a bit of time.

Bottom line

Etihad had released a a flood of first class award space to partners back in March. Some of those who had booked via Air Canada Aeroplan have had their bookings cancelled. Aeroplan has indicated that they are not able to rebook at least some of those itineraries and for affected passengers, they are offering the chance to rebook on any available partner in first or business class, including on Emirates, for no additional miles (or for a refund of the difference if rebooked entirely in business class) and 50,000 bonus points per traveler. While it’s disappointing that some members who were counting on the Etihad apartments experience won’t be getting it and others will have to cancel entirely if they can’t find alternative availability, Aeroplan is offering as generous a solution as anyone could have expected.

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43 Comments
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Andy

Wanted to add my data point. First of all thank you Nick for staying on this and posting it as I would have had no idea about this resolution otherwise. I had booked and ticketed a First Apartment award back in March for travel in January 2024. It was cancelled by Etihad on April 12th. I was not dogged enough back then and ultimately refunded with Aeroplan for no charge in April. I had made other positioning bookings and had to cancel those as well, some of which had cancellation fees, which I ate. I phoned Aeroplan this week and by providing the details and approximate date of the above email the agent located the information internally and escalated to their supervisor. Supervisor authorized the 50k apology miles which were posted to my account immediately. So, even though my award was cancelled eight months ago they did honor it for me. And I told the agent– while I truly appreciate the gesture, and it does engender loyalty to the program going forward, in this case haha I would have rather had the chance to fly the First Apartment, which remains on my “bucket list”! So, oh well. Guess I need some Etihad Guest miles now… Anyway, thanks again Nick. All in all two hours on the phone was well worth it.

embpilot

I also made two seperate calls and dealt with multiple hours of hold time. Air Canada and aeroplan won’t budge and will only offer to rebook me at same points cost redemption within 7 days. The supervisor went so far as to tell me I was lying when I referenced this article.

JetDriver

After 2 separate calls and 4 hours of hold time, air canada and aeroplan absolutely will not offer anything other than 50,000 points per traveller. I’m not sure where your source came from but what they told you vs what they’re doing are 2 different things. Perhaps you can creat a group for those affected by this and transfer to your air canada contact for them to deal with us directly.

Jimmy

I have upcoming multiple flights itinerary in two weeks. I haven’t received any cancellation notice from either Air Canada or Etihad and on both airline website ticket still shows. Do you recommend I reach out to air Canada and get my LHR to AUH leg get it switched to LHR to DXB on Emirates?

IAD- LHR – United Biz
LHR- AUH – Etihad First

Jimmy

Thanks Nik. I’ll update the comment if anything changes leading up to my flights.

Jay P

You’re spot on here. What more could be asked from a FF program in this situation? Really, it’s just great CS.
An example of blogs working for the good of everyone since Aeroplan surely realizes the bad press from this would go far beyond the relatively small number of people directly affected.

Scott

I find this selective generosity on the part of aeroplan interesting. They do well here but then that’s juxtaposed to AC suing seats.aero. Also, since you have high level contacts, what is Aeroplan’s official position on Eva, ANA, and Thai being blocked on AC’s end???

Last edited 6 months ago by Scott
Ed Bastian

Seats.aero is infringing on Aeroplan’s IP. What’s difficult to understand about that? Seats.aero is a paid service – they’re monetizing AP’s proprietary info (seat loads) and taking clicks away from AP’s website hurting their ad revenue. I don’t know what will happen in court but I’m sure AP’s perspective is very easily understood by any small or large business owner. If someone took every Frequent Miler article and podcast word for word and posted it on their own site with their own ads and referral links don’t you think FM would have a right to be upset and pursue legal recourse?

Scott

On the use of AC’s logo and name they could be, although I don’t know if showing consumer confusion is required. Out of the 7 claims in the suit, 5 were unrelated to award searching and were focused on trademarks/copyrights etc. On the core service that is provided, courts have ruled that scraping public, non confidential data is perfectly legal. The ads that AC has on there site are likely negligible. Ultimately, AC’s search is so bad that third party providers have popped up to help fill that space. Why spend over an hour searching for an Eva award on AC when you can find out in 2 mins on seats.aero that AC is blocking that partner from redemptions. AC makes lots of claims in their lawsuit but the big one(network intrusion)/scrapping and IT related points don’t seem to have much merit. Suprisingly, brokers/fraudulent resellers were not mentioned once in the lawsuit so far. Seats.aero may only need to remove the maple leaf and associates logos to move forward. Finally, all of this is done so that customers can redeem miles on AC, they’re still getting the bookings in the end.

Last edited 6 months ago by Scott
Jay P

I don’t think this is a fair comparison. Aeroplan’s business model is clearly not based on info, as a blog is. I’m not saying they don’t have a legal case, I’m not a lawyer. But I disagree with your specific argument.

ECR12

Had a similiar resolution when Swiss had the “mistake first class” award space a few years back. They issued a notice that first class tickets were cancelled. I asked them to switch mine to business and refund the difference (and instead they issued me a J ticket and refunded ALL the miles).

Was never sure whether they intended to do that or not, but I sure didnt ask. Getting 9 hours in J for just the minimal taxes was… NOT BAD.

Andrew C

Maybe I’m a contrarian (and honestly, I have no stake here) but I don’t find their resolution impressive at all. They’re not even guaranteeing transportation, on tickets they already issued. They should be making everyone whole by getting them from origin to destination on the date they booked. What am I missing?

Andrew

I think it’s mostly because it’s partner award space. If it was booked with Etihad miles, absolutely, but usually if a partner cancels an award or changes planes or anything of that nature, they say you’re basically sh*t out of luck unless it’s the week of the flight. They’ll normally just refund the miles. This is what happened with booking ANA with Virgin points even if there was another flight that day with F availability (not award availability but open seats).

Andrew C

That is definitely not my experience, and I have been at this a very long time. Sometimes you have to be persistent, and sometimes you might not like what they offer you, but I have never not been offered similar transportation to what I booked. Personal experience in recent memory with DL, UA, and CX.

Andrew

Curious what the issue was with DL, UA, and CX and what the resolution was. I’ve had this come up multiple times and never pushed back too far, especially since it’s normally months out.

Josh

I agree that it’s a subpar resolution. They’re offering you to switch your award, but finding the award space to begin with is the hard part. I was hoping they would still be able to make the tickets go without having to work around award space.

50,000 miles is nice but pretty bleh for all the hassle.

Jay P

Gotta think most people in on this particular deal are comfortable with the hassle. Isn’t that the game now? How many people were faithful AC flyers who accumulated a bunch of miles and happened to find Apartments space? There might be someone, but nobody reading this. It’s all about the rare score.

Ray

Really appreciate these updates from Nick and helping us with these issues.

Jonathan

Since you’ve got someone at Aeroplan who will actually respond, next can you ask them what they are doing to fix all of the accounts that were unnecessarily deactivated recently? I spent hours this week on hold with them only to be told that I needed to email proof of residency to an email address, which I have not received a response from. Others online are saying that it could take 3-6 months. I only found out about my account because was planning on book award space for my honeymoon, but since I couldn’t get into my account that space has dried up.

Maybe since their customer support seems to be working on things they will try to fix this widespread issue next

Chris

I rebooked into EK first but they took the 50k away. Is that just me or other people too? Or have u rebooked into EK F and still got the 50k?

Chris

May i know which departure you spoke to? So I can refer the agent to that department if the agent doesnt agree to my EK F and 50k.. thanks so much, i was crying when my EY F got cancelled….

Chris

I just spoken to aeroplan agents and a supervisor, they say it’s either EK first class OR 50k, but not both… So what’s going on? Are you sure we can get both for the inconvenience?

Chris

Do you know which department send you this email? I don’t need the name but just the department so that I can have the aeroplan call centre to verify with them. Otherwise they cant do anything…

Chris

So in day 1, when EY cancelled on us, the 50k was pretty much instantaneous, but my flight was also switched to Gulf Air business. Upon changing to EK first, the agent took away the 50k.

It appears that the wording in their response was a little misguiding. Are the solution being Switched to Business and get 50k + difference in points, or Switch to First but without 50k?

Would you be able to clarify with them? TIA

Ray

Did you see award availability for the EK online for the new booking or was the agent able to find a booking even though it wasn’t showing availability online? I don’t see any availability for my dates.

Chris

it needs to be available for AC to book. Mine was available so they rebooked me

Chris

You are right! The 50k points were automatically deposited into my account prior to calling aeroplan. But the agent manually removed it for me. I just called again, the supervisor said it’s either first class or business class + 50k…. I’ll try to call again in a few days time. It’s quite unfortunate that agent decided to manually remove my points

Chris

Updates! In the end I Aeroplan agent transferred me to customer service, and good that the CS team actually received he memo email, and returned me the 50k which the previous aeroplan supervisor insist on taking away. I don’t blame him, as he hasnt received the memo yet. But good that the CS agent fixed it for me. Thank you Nick for your info! It made my day a lot better!

Andrew

Nick, any insight why Aeroplan doesn’t have any etihad F or business class availability anymore even when it’s available on other partners? I assume this is related? We booked F and J last year to Seoul with a stopover in Abu Dhabi and had an excellent experience. I’m kind of bummed it seems it’s impossible to book this routing with Aeroplan anymore. Really wanted to incorporate this again and have a longer stay at Al Maha which was phenomenal.

Brandon S

I’ve had a great experience with Aeroplane as well when I booked a Lufthansa business class award and for some reason it was ticketed as wait listed – had a ticket number but not confirmed. After about 30 minutes on hold, they moved me to a comparable Swiss flight in business that had no available award seats, in a revenue class. Not sure if they worked something out behind the scenes or actually purchased the seat but it was a very impressive interaction.

rocky_nnc

Air Canada removed my 50k certificates as soon as i cancelled the Chase Card.
Now they won’t get me back the certificates.
Missed to read the underwriting , this case doesn’t apply to any cards anywhere. so was not logical from my side 🙁

Lukas

That’s solely on you. If you read the terms (or read THIS WEBSITE), you’d know that once you cancel your Chase Aeroplan credit card, your certificates would go away.

rocky_nnc

Absolutely, i read it later, i am not sure how i missed that.
I also made a point above , but this is the worst policy, points are much better.

Mason

I booked three apartments for Aug 23. Then got the email that it was canceled. I had to pull out and cancel in June as I did not think anything would happen (which it didnot). Rebooked MAN to IAH Sin so not too sad. Think AC will compensate?