Air Canada expands Tango fares, chips away at loyalty value

For Air Canada customers the process of determining earning rates and benefits in their Aeroplan and Altitude programs is a bit of a challenge from the start. Part of that is because the Aeroplan program is actually a separate company and part is because they’ve created a very confusing set of rules around their operations in general, but the net effect is that things are a challenge even on a good day. This week, without much notice, the airline made some additional changes which shift the rules of the program once again, and very much not in the consumers’ favor. This is bad news, even for their customers who typically buy mid-priced fares on a regular basis (i.e. not the lowest fare only crowd).

“Tango fares” is the name given to the least expensive fare buckets in the carrier’s system and they earn at a different rate than the other economy fares offered, often at 50% or worse. This week several fare classes were reclassified from Flex (formerly TangoPlus; still 100% earning) to Tango. More trips will now earn significantly fewer Aeroplan points and less credit towards Altitude elite status than they did last week. Here’s the chart Air Canada published:


In addition to the lower earning rates, Tango fares are ineligible for eUpgrades, Air Canada’s version of instrument-supported upgrades for their elite members. This “realignment” of fare classes effectively boosts the price of upgrade-eligible fares in nearly all markets. And this comes on top of the recent changes to the eUpgrade scheme which introduced a significant cash co-pay component to the process. Customers now must pay more for their fare to have the opportunity to pay the extra upgrade fee introduced just one month ago.

Air Canada is eroding the benefits in their program – both from an earning and redemption perspective – at a pace which is almost hard to believe. I cannot think of another program which has made so many negative changes so quickly in recent memory.

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Seth Miller

I'm Seth, also known as the Wandering Aramean. I was bit by the travel bug 30 years ago and there's no sign of a cure. I fly ~200,000 miles annually; these are my stories. You can connect with me on Twitter, Facebook, and LinkedIn.


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