Are you a frequent-flyer? Add joining an airline loyalty program to the to-do list.


Studies conducted by Aimia Inc., the owner of Aeroplan rewards and most loyalty programs in Canada, in 2012 showed that approximately 2.3 million rewards were issued to members, roughly a point per 14 seconds, including more than 1.6 million flights on Air Canada and Star Alliance carriers. They offer domestic travel and more than 1,000 destinations worldwide. In addition to flights, the 4.6 million active members also have access to redeem points for merchandise, hotel stays, and car rentals. All merchandise can be redeemed online at and items range from clothing to gift cards for Air Canada travel for others. Because Aeroplan is the oldest frequent-flyer program in Canada, they have several partnerships with financial institutions and credit cards where patrons receive points from purchases, such as Toronto Dominion banks, Scotia Bank, and Bank of Montreal. Porter, on the other hand, has not yet set up any partnerships with banks or other companies. While also flying with Star Alliance, Aeroplan members are able to redeem their points for seat upgrades or pre-boarding abilities. Within their loyalty program, there are different tiers of members who have traveled further than 25 kilometers, 35 kilometers, 50 kilometers, and 100 kilometers.

VIPorter, owned by Porter Airlines, competes against Aeroplan’s reward program. VIPorter is marketed towards clients as a faster and more convenient as it automatically starts accumulating points after five flights and your points expire only after four absent years of flying with Porter. VIPorter’s target audience is anyone who travels via plane, as it is directed towards creating a more luxurious, comfortable traveling experience with remarkable yet simplistic perks. Aeroplan’s target audience are business professionals and constant travelers, due to the complex nature of their rewards program, the expiry dates, and the loops one must jump through in order to sign up.

VIPorter is spoken about from the moment you enter the Porter lounge pre-boarding to the moment you land at your final destination to spark an interest in knowing more about the program. Porter hopes that the ease and experience of flying with Porter will drive clients to use the VIPorter program more often, in spite of the fact that individuals are automatically a member after their first flight. Their strategy has proven successful as Porter has opened more terminals throughout Canada and the United States faster than originally proposed in their expansion plans. One major differential between Porter and other airlines is Porter only offers one class; one that emulates first class, whether it is the private lounges, leg room between seats, or food. Therefore, VIPorter points cannot be redeemed for merchandise or upgrading seats, but can be put towards future flights. Porter chose to create their airline in this fashion because they believe individuals should be offered the same traveling experience, no matter what their situation.

Both Aeroplan and VIPorter are effective in promoting their programs while remaining free to use. Travelers with these companies should definitely take advantage of what they have to offer due to their inexpensive nature, and their ability to make traveling a more enjoyable experience.

James Birchall