TRUTH-O-METER: Going on holiday?
According to CBC's Marketplace, Air Miles aren't the bargain they're made out to be. CBC
Those miles may not get you as far as you’d think.
You’ve saved your Air Miles for a well-deserved overseas adventure -- but don’t pack your bags just yet.
According to research by CBC’s Marketplace, you may not save that much on some long-haul routes if you use your reward miles to book.
When you book using miles, the flight isn’t free. You’re responsible for paying the “taxes and fees” for the flight.
But what you might not know: “Taxes and fees” includes part of the airfare.
Airlines add a surcharge to certain fares on long-haul routes and Air Miles -- and other loyalty programs, too -- won’t let you redeem your miles against this part of the fare.
There’s a bit of good news if you want to get out of town: If you’re staying within Canada, the U.S., Mexico and the Caribbean, it’s a better deal: Surcharges are much smaller and covered by your miles.
But for trips somewhere far from home, that amount could cost you a lot.
So why the discrepancy?
Marketplace asked Air Miles to explain the difference. In an email, the company wrote: “the mileage portion of an Air Miles flight covers the base fare for a route…all additional charges are set by and remitted to other organizations; this includes taxes and fees.”
So Air Miles includes the airline’s surcharge -- which goes to the airline as revenue -- in taxes and fees when you book.
If you compare a flight booked with miles to a flight booked directly through the airline, you may have to pay more than half, while using up a big chunk of your miles.
Marketplace checked a return flight from Montreal to London leaving in January, 2017. Booked directly? The seats were $798.55.
Booked using more than 5,000 Air Miles? You’d still end up paying $615.55 in cash.
So those miles you saved up? You may think you’re getting a free trip, but the actual value doesn’t get you that far.
Watch the CBC Marketplace investigation on Air Miles starting tonight at 8:00 p.m. on TV and online.