Flight schedules change all the time, they may decide to depart earlier, later, or cancel the flight entirely. What can you do when this happens? Being proactive is key to ensure you get what you want.
Aeroplan may or may not notify you when there is a schedule change, or they may have sent an email, but it’s gone to your junk mail. I recommend you to monitor your your flights once a week starting 2 months out from your departure date.
To check your flights, go to Manage My Bookings page on Air Canada’s website, put in your 6 digit booking reference code, and you should see your itinerary. During a schedule change, you will see your original flight being duplicated. Below is an example of part of a trip I’ve booked for my client.
At the top is the original flight schedule during booking time, as you can see, Air China then changed departure time from 14:40 to 11:30, 2 hours and 50 minutes earlier! After that, it changed again from 11:30 to 11:20. It is now 3 hours and 10 minutes earlier than the original time, does that work for you? If so, you may leave as it is, otherwise, you should call Aeroplan to change your flight.
The unofficial rule is that, for any involuntary schedule changes greater than one hour, you may ask Aeroplan to change your flights for free. However though, to avoid spending unnecessary time on the phone with the agent, you should be proactive and find the flight you want, then call them for the free change.
Sometimes though, you may not find any award inventory on an alternative flight, and here comes the YMMV part. An agent may open up a revenue seat for you, on Air Canada flight, if the award inventory is unavailable. In addition, under special circumstances, they may also buy a revenue flight for you on a Star Alliance partner flights! This is rare however, and the agents will decide whether to do this or not on a case-by-case basis.