Chrispee, I understand your frustration about the fees. When we have used our Aeroplan pts., if the fees are less than actually buying the flight, we use our points.
We always used to support AC and generally had good service, but twice now in the last year they have totally irritated us. Once by totally changing our direct return flights from Rome and once putting us on an AC Rouge return flight from Barbados. My DH is tall, and would never have been able to sit in their 29" pitch seats. When we asked to at least upgrade to Premium Economy they wanted to charge us for the upgrade because we were changing our seats!! We refused, they were the ones who had changed our regular flight to a 'tin can' no frills flight. So in the end they did not charge us.
Lannypc - "So I've come to the conclusion that I am not going to go out of my way for Aeroplan points. I will accumulate them if convenient but not get any special credit card for them." That is exactly what we have done. We have used up what Aeroplan points we had, cancelled our AC credit card and now have a credit card that accumulates points. We can use these points on any airline, and we can also use the points to cover all taxes as well.
We are much happier with this system. So when we see a seat sale to wherever we want to fly, we then book our flights online and use our points to pay for the flights.
Flyertalk has a few threads going about unhappy AC customers and their awful Rouge planes.
When we did use our AC points, I found we had to book 354 days in advance to get the flights we wanted.