Introducing Loyalty Corner with Kevin O’Brien

Aeroplan is filled with some extraordinary people and we have featured many Aeroplan Employee Travel photos and experiences since the launch of our blog in November 2010.  It’s with these experiences and stories that we’re able to inspire you and help you get more from the Aeroplan Program. 

One of our most passionate Aeroplan Members is our Chief Commercial Officer, Kevin O’Brien.  He’s been a member since 1992 and has traveled to some terrific places with his family on Aeroplan Miles.

Kevin is not only passionate about the program, but loves it when members share their ideas and feedback on the program.  Over the coming months he’ll be sharing a lot of great stuff as part of our new blog section called “Loyalty Corner.” 

Kevin is very excited to share, listen and hear from you! So without further introduction, here are a few words from Kevin:

I’m excited to launch this new section on the Aeroplan Blog called “Loyalty Corner” which is dedicated to sharing news about the Aeroplan Program, our exciting initiatives and the great brands with which we partner. Like many of you, I’m passionate about Aeroplan. In fact, I’ve been a proud member since 1992!  I’ve used my miles to regularly visit my family, as wedding presents, to travel to friends’ weddings, to attend Carnival in Brazil and for many family vacations. Like so many of you, over the last 20 years, Aeroplan has been a part of many of my best memories and most colorful stories.

For almost thirty years, Aeroplan has been at the forefront of loyalty in Canada. We’ve evolved a great deal since our inception in 1984, but we’ve remained committed to listening to our members, understanding your needs and what you want to see from us.  To mark our 30th anniversary in 2014, we will roll out a wide range of major enhancements based on loyalty trends and the evolving needs, behaviours, and expectations of members like you.

I, as well as the executive management team at Aeroplan, have been listening – by phone, online, and through surveys and focus groups – to what is important to you.   You want a program that provides availability, flexibility, value and simplicity. You want to feel special, recognized and rewarded for engaging in the program. You want to help us shape a program that works for you.

I recognize that you need more reasons to engage with Aeroplan than just “How do I get more points so I can get more stuff for free?” In the loyalty world, a lot of our focus has been on the redemption activity. In many ways, the redemption is like the ride at a theme park and the time spent earning is like waiting in line.  In the same way Disney reinvented the theme park line experience, we need to reinvent the six- or 12- or 18-month experience between earning Aeroplan Miles and redeeming Aeroplan Miles. When those in-between experiences become better, participants in the loyalty program become more engaged and active in the program. We need to make our line more fun! We need great rides, yes but we also need to make the line a valued part of the experience.

I look forward to sharing more posts in the weeks ahead.

Until next time,


13 Responses to “Introducing Loyalty Corner with Kevin O’Brien”

  1. Jean-Luc Carriere October 26, 2014 at 10:04 am #

    Good day,

    On finding flights, it is not an issue for me generally as we can fly from both Toronto or Buffalo.

    My main concern is to see a consistent erosion of benefits over time. This includes the official benefits (those we know we have ”a right to when available”) and those less official ones such as empowering agents to provide upgrades if seats are available (the later almost disappeared). Is this due to frequent flyer programs like Aeroplan made profit centers than sold? Is the main driver changing from building up our loyalty (what we were sold on) to increasing profit (necessity as an independent company)? I am concerned about the recently announced changes to the 2015 benefits. Is this once again putting the bar higher on attaining status and or obtaining benefits (albeit some like taxes on Aeroplan tickets may come down)? Time will tell. I will remain a member of Aeroplan but I am questioning what the real objectives are now and if Air Canada/Aeroplan dominant position (this was not the case when Aeroplan was created) will not continue to result with making the access to benefits more difficult and an erosion of benefits over time.

    • Aeroplan April 10, 2015 at 11:07 am #

      Hi Jean-Luc,
      Air Canada manages the benefits of the Air Canada Altitude program. The best thing to do would be to reach out to the directly to share your feedback on this with them.
      Thank you!

  2. Tina February 12, 2014 at 9:34 pm #

    I recently booked a trip for 3 travellers. Immediately after finalizing it, I realized, I had booked the wrong weekend.
    I called aeroplan and told them of my mistake and had the dates and flight numbers of the correct itinerary.
    I was informed it would be $90. I begrudgingly accepted the charge for the change. Then the agent said, it’s actually $90 per ticket. I was shocked.
    I asked that the other 2 fees be knocked off – $270 + tax is a ridiculous fee for a few minutes work.
    I was offered 1 penalty reduction. Still $180 plus tax for a few swipes on the keyboard. No.
    I asked to speak to someone that has the authority to reduce the penalty to the one fee. I was told it will take 2 – 3 days. I will wait for the call.
    I have diamond status – I thought that might get me something of value. HA.
    Anyway, I am escalating this to the top if I have too. It is simply not right to gouge clients like this.
    A flat fee yes, but $90 per ticket is outrageous.

  3. greg January 8, 2014 at 7:29 pm #

    I feel ripped off. I discovered late in Dec that was was just shy of the 25k point level and sadly my December purchases don’t get credited until Jan. So I redeemed a Holiday Inn Gift certificate for 2000 Aeroplan points only to find out that they didn’t qualify. So I gave up a hotel night for basically nothing. I just booked a market flight – because classic wasn’t available for my dates and ended up redeeming an extra 10k points.

    Is it just me or does it seem like the other point systems are a far better deal? I would like Aeroplan to do something about it.

  4. Gail November 4, 2013 at 4:58 pm #

    I was wondering how often you credit customer’s earned airmiles to their account. I find myself a few miles short for flights I am trying to book so have been watching my balance daily. It has NOT been updated since October 7 … and it’s now November 4! I also concur with those earlier comments – used to be easy to book YVR-LHR-BFS flights on miles but now am told can not even get to Belfast with my Aeroplan ticket. No problem however paying for a YVR-LHR-BFS ticket!

    • Aeroplan December 5, 2013 at 10:41 am #

      Hi Gail,
      The crediting process can vary depending on the partner involved. If you are seeing a trend of miles not being credited please give us a call and an agent will be happy to look into your situation with you. The number is 800-361-5373.

  5. carol July 29, 2013 at 3:55 pm #

    Using Aeroplan rewards used to be a very pleasant experience. Of late, I find that no matter how far in advance I try to book, I can never, ever access direct flights. The plan has become less and less attractive and after many years of loyalty, I question the real value of this plan.

  6. Jean Macleod le Cheminant July 4, 2013 at 7:23 pm #

    Your customer survey does NOT allow any meaningful feedback on the extremely poor service I have received over the last two months until agent Patty in the Vancouver office today at about 4 pm finally dealt with a problem that should have been dealt with as easily when I first called two months ago. I stayed on the line to give the feedback and was unable to provide any information about the problem. NOT IMPRESSED SO FAR!!! This is the only way to get information to you, moreover, since all the Contact Us information does not provide any access beyond the usual cycle. You’ll have to do better than this.

  7. Jean Macleod le Cheminant July 4, 2013 at 7:20 pm #

    I’m trying to contact Aeroplan to give you some feedback after trying unsuccessfully to give any real feedback to your supposed customer satisfaction survey today. After trying to make a name correction to a brand new aeroplan card two months ago, I followed the agent’s directions to scan my passport and email it to your centre and a new card would be sent to me. Nothing has happened and when I called your centre today, another agent, Jean, told me I should fax the passport copy since you get so many emails. I found the email I had sent

  8. Matt May 27, 2013 at 7:55 am #

    Interesting project, and I look forward to reading the updates! As a proud member since 1992, you likely understand the #1 frustration that many of us with lots of banked miles have, namely, fuel surcharges. Paying the taxes most people can cope with. Paying what’s essentially a portion of the fare just erodes the reward — and that’s not fun. Instead of reflecting on “getting more stuff for free”, Aeroplan may need to address the issue of getting less and less. Otherwise, as many of my friends and colleagues have done, members will park their loyalties elsewhere (as likely will I if I can’t find a decent vacation to go on which won’t cost me an arm and a leg).

    • Kevin June 4, 2013 at 4:37 pm #

      Matt – thanks very much for taking the time to write. <!–mep-nl–>You are correct that I can definitely take a member’s perspective. Recently we did a mailing to a number of our members regarding the miles they have earned and used in the past 10 years. I was amazed that I had made more than 50 redemptions – many of those prior to me joining Aeroplan in 2009 and a good number since.
      In the world of air tickets these days, we need to collect a number of related charges on behalf of airlines, airports, the government, etc. Once collected, we simply pass this money through. However, it puts extra burden on us to ensure the redemption itself is great. I’m proud that the value that Aeroplan delivers is outstanding. With that said, given evolving member expectations and some of the other factors you mention, we are looking to do more. In my post, there is a section that talks about things like value, recognition, and flexibility. That paragraph is really the key lens we are taking to the business. We’ve got some pretty exciting things in the hopper right now and I’m confident we will be able to change your view of “getting less and less”. Stay tuned and, as things become clearer, please let me know how we are doing.

      • Karen July 3, 2013 at 9:27 pm #

        Would like to let you know that I am no longer a loyal member. I am switching over to another program. I am totally frustrated trying to find flights; only to find out that it will take me anywhere from 19 to 40+ hours to reach my destination.
        It is not the cost of surcharges, but the lack of availability. I am sure that Air Canada, and subsidiaries can offer better if they try.
        Will not recommend this program to anyone.

        • carol July 29, 2013 at 3:59 pm #

          I completely agree with you comments. Once I use up my points, I will consider discontinuing my membership. I have come to realize that one can never, ever book direct flights using the Aeroplan reward program. My city has, count them, three direct flights to Chicago every day, (flying time about 2 hours) yet when I try and book rewards, I am routed through two other cities for a travel day of 12+ hours.

          This was not the case when I joined Aeroplan many years ago. Something drastic has happened behind the scenes that have made Aeroplan a disaster.