Reservations, Aeroplan-style

Travel rewards programs like ours need flights for travellers, but how do we go about securing them in quantities that meet the needs of our members?

Securing Seats The Simple Way

The process is relatively easy. Businesses, individuals or loyalty programs can reserve flights on any airline they choose at prices available to the public.

Many travel loyalty programs and online sites, such as Hopper and Expedia, reserve seats from multiple airlines to provide their customers optimal flexibility between price and flight availability. Other programs, such as Aeroplan, work with one carrier exclusively. Currently, Aeroplan has a commercial contract to purchase seats exclusively from Air Canada and its Star Alliance partners. But as it looks toward the end of that contract in 2020, there is an opportunity for Aeroplan to evolve to include more carriers and their respective partners while continuing to provide competitive value to its members.

Knowing a trick or two

Companies that require a large quantity of seats can purchase them one of two ways: through a “contract” approach to select the exact combination of fare class, dates and destinations needed at a slightly discounted rate; or a “tour operator” approach to reserve 50%–100% of entire flights at a wholesale price.

The advantage that bigger organizations have over most is the high volume of tickets they purchase. Like most industries, airlines offer better prices if you buy in bulk or guarantee a minimum volume. That’s how Aeroplan is able to gain a much larger volume discount, which we then pass on to our members.

A word from the wise

“For loyalty programs such as Aeroplan, with 5 million active members redeeming billions of miles on flight rewards annually, the volume of seats reserved is much larger than most businesses,” said Pierre-Jean Mayol, Director of Travel Products for Aeroplan. “This makes it very appealing for an airline to have supply agreements with the program. In most cases, these agreements discount the publicly available fares in exchange for the program promising to purchase a certain volume of seats. The exact discounts will vary by specific routes, fare classes, advance purchase conditions, seasons, and other factors.”

Simple, really.