How To Use Air Canada Aeroplan Miles

Filed Under: Advice, Air Canada
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For the less familiar, Aeroplan is the once spun-off but now recently-acquired loyalty program for Air Canada. So if you are earning Air Canada miles, you are actually accumulating miles with Aeroplan.

I know many bemoan the devaluations we’ve seen with Aeroplan over the years — perhaps, rightly so — but there’s plenty of great ways to use Aeroplan miles if you know where to look. Value can be found in everything from complex sweet-spot awards to just leveraging the routing rules and partner network.

With that in mind, I wanted to put together some info to make redeeming Aeroplan miles a bit easier so you don’t have to dig for info when you have questions. We’ll cover how to book, award regions, stopovers and open jaws and more.

With that, let’s dig into it!

Redeem Aeroplan miles on Air Canada and Star Alliance partners

Unlike some programs, Aeroplan uses the same award chart for both flights on Air Canada and its Star Alliance partners. It might not seem like a big deal, but it certainly makes it easier to remember what to expect when booking.

While Aeroplan offers “fixed mileage flight rewards” — e.g. saver level — and “market fare flight rewards,” we’re going to focus on saver level as that’s what you’ll want to book in almost all cases.

Aeroplan Saver Awards Versus Market Fare

Market fare awards are only available on Air Canada flights and are similar to American’s AAnytime awards and United’s Everyday awards. As you can see in the example above, rates can be over 3X the saver rate.

You can redeem Aeroplan miles on the following Star Alliance airlines:

Aegean AirlinesAviancaTACAEVA AirSouth African Airways
Air CanadaBrussels AirlinesLOT Polish AirlinesSWISS
Air IndiaCopa AirlinesLufthansaTAP Portugal
Air New ZealandCroatia AirlinesScandinavian AirlinesTHAI
ANAEGYPTAIRShenzhen AirlinesTurkish Airlines
Asiana AirlinesEthiopian AirlinesSingapore AirlinesUnited
Austrian

It’s also worth noting that Aeroplan members have access to additional “saver” level space on Air Canada, which can come in handy, but you’ll pay more in cash to redeem miles on Air Canada than other partners, as we’ll discuss later on.

Keep in mind that Star Alliance partners Lufthansa, Singapore Airlines and SWISS restrict access to some premium cabin awards.

Lufthansa only allows partners to book first class awards about two weeks prior to departure.

SWISS will only allow Senator and HON Circle Miles & More members to book first class on their flights. You might remember the debacle when Aeroplan showed SWISS first class award space and then didn’t honor the bookings. Yikes!

Finally, Singapore Airlines won’t allow partners to book business or first class awards on their long-haul routes — occasionally, we’ve seen business class space on an A350 but it hasn’t lasted long.

How to find award space and book with Aeroplan

You can use Aeroplan to search for award space on any Star Alliance partners, and their website is one of the better ones. However, if you don’t have specific dates you need to travel, I would suggest starting your search with United’s flexible date search option as you’ll be able to see award availability across two months of dates.

Once you’ve found award space on dates that work for you, it’s easy to login to Aeroplan and run a search to confirm availability. Unless United is showing phantom award space, the main thing to keep an eye on is that United provides more award space on United flights to its own members at times.

If your routing will have connections, you might have to search segment by segment with Aeroplan as it’s not the best search engine if you need connections. But in general the pricing engine works well, and you’ll be able to see the costs in miles, taxes, and surcharges before booking.

Calling Aeroplan

Aeroplan has evolved from having the worst hold times imaginable, and nowadays phone queues are very short.

If you can’t get a route to show up with a simple search, but can find space searching each segment, give Aeroplan a call (1-800-361-5373) to book. The C$30 (~$24) phone booking fee is worth it.

Keep in mind that the Aeroplan call center is not 24 hour — their operating hours are 7AM to Midnight Eastern.

Surcharges on Aeroplan awards

While some carriers don’t pass on surcharges for mileage tickets, Aeroplan is more of a mixed bag. Before you book, you’ll want to know what you’re getting into so use this list as a point of reference.

To avoid high fees when redeeming Aeroplan miles, fly the following carriers:

  • Aegean Airlines
  • Air China
  • Air India
  • Air New Zealand
  • Avianca
  • Brussels Airlines
  • Copa Airlines
  • Croatia Airlines
  • EgyptAir
  • Ethiopian Airlines
  • EVA Air
  • Scandinavian Airlines (SAS)
  • Shenzhen Airlines
  • Singapore Airlines
  • South African Airways
  • Swiss International Air Lines
  • Turkish Airlines
  • United Airlines

Yes, you read that correctly. Air Canada is not included. Aeroplan will impose surcharges on award flights on Air Canada — this is just silly to me, but considering the somewhat antagonistic history the two companies have had is perhaps not that surprising.

Aeroplan routing rules

While the surcharges can jack up the cash cost of your awards, Aeroplan has generous routing rules that can let you put together some fun trips. It helps that, unlike American AAdvantage, Aeroplan allows you to transit multiple regions on awards.

What does this mean practically speaking?

As an example, American wouldn’t let you book an award on Finnair with a connection in Helsinki (HEL) on your way to Bangkok (BKK). But Aeroplan will let you book an award on SWISS that connects in Zurich (ZRH) on your way to BKK.

The previous MPM (maximum permitted mileage) restrictions have been replaced by more general guidance and point-to-point allowances. For the most part, these limits aren’t a major factor — if you are trying to book a very complex itinerary with backtracking segments you might run into them, but otherwise it’s not something I’d stress about when planning to use Aeroplan miles.

Stopovers and open jaws

Note: The Aeroplan program is changing stopover rules as of September 1, 2019.

Aeroplan’s stopover and open jaw rules are where the real fun begins! You can utilize the same kind of routes we discussed above to see destinations on different continents on the same ticket.

On round-trip awards, you can include two stopovers or one stopover and one open jaw. No, you can’t include a stopover on a one-way like you can with Alaska Mileage Plan, but this can still be very useful thanks to Aeroplan’s routing rules.

If you’re like me, you’re probably thinking about how you could book a trip around the world. Off the top of my head, here’s a fun example you could try to piece together:

  • Los Angeles (LAX) to Taipei (TPE) — stopover
  • TPE to Istanbul (IST) — destination
  • IST to Stockholm (ARN) — stopover
  • ARN to LAX

Aeroplan Stopover Example

This round-trip award ticket — pretty much a round-the-world award with fewer stops — would require 150,000 Aeroplan miles in business class, with no fuel surcharges.

Come to think of it, maybe I should look into booking that.

If you want to book two stopovers or a stopover and an open jaw, you’re going to have to call Aeroplan to book. Honestly, don’t be surprised if you have to call if you  want to include even one stopover.

Aeroplan award regions

Aeroplan has a simple region-based award chart with the following rates from the Canada / the continental U.S. and Hawaii:

Aeroplan Award Rates

If you’d like to see award rates between other regions, you can check out the full Aeroplan award chart.

Now, when it comes to determining the cost of your award, the below chart breaks down which countries, states, territories, etc. are in each region.

Canada & Continental USA Canada’s 10 provinces & 3 territories; The 48 contiguous US states, plus the District of Columbia and Alaska.
Hawaiian Islands Big Islands of Hawaii, Kauai, Maui, Oahu.
Caribbean & Central America Antigua, Aruba, Bahamas, Barbados, Belize, Bermuda, Costa Rica, Cuba, Dominican Republic, El Salvador, Grand Cayman, Grenada, Guadeloupe, Guatemala, Haiti, Honduras, Jamaica, Martinique, Netherland Antilles, Nicaragua, Panama, Puerto Rico, St. Kitts, Saint Lucia, Trinidad and Tobago, Turks & Caicos Islands, US Virgin Islands.
Northern South America Colombia, Ecuador (Incl Galapagos Islands), Guyana, Venezuela.
Southern South America Argentina, Bolivia, Brazil, Chile, Paraguay, Peru, Uruguay.
Europe 1 Austria, Belgium, Denmark, France, Germany, Ireland, Italy, Luxembourg, Netherlands, Norway, Portugal, Spain (incl. Balearic Islands; excl. Canary Islands), Sweden, Switzerland, United Kingdom.
Europe 2 Albania, Armenia, Azerbaijan, Belarus, Bosnia, Bulgaria, Croatia, Cyprus, Czech Republic, Estonia, Finland, Georgia, Greece, Greenland, Hungary, Iceland, Latvia, Lithuania, Macedonia, Malta, Moldova, Montenegro, Poland, Romania, Russia (Western), Serbia, Slovakia, Slovenia, Turkey, Ukraine.
Asia 1 China, Eastern Russia, Hong Kong, Japan, Macau, Mongolia, North Korea, South Korea, Taiwan.
Asia 2 Brunei, Cambodia, Indonesia, Laos, Malaysia, Micronesia (Incl Guam), Myanmar, Philippines, Singapore, Thailand, Vietnam.
Middle East & North Africa Algeria, Bahrain, Canary Islands (Spain), Egypt, Iran, Iraq, Israel, Jordan, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Kuwait, Lebanon, Libya, Morocco, Oman, Qatar, Saudi Arabia, Syria, Tajikistan, Tunisia, Turkmenistan, United Arab Emirates, Uzbekistan, Yemen.
Indian Subcontinent Afghanistan, Bangladesh, India, Maldives, Nepal, Pakistan, Sri Lanka.
East, West & South Africa Angola, Benin, Botswana, Burkina Faso, Burundi, Cameroon, Cape Verde, Central African Republic, Congo, Chad, Equatorial Guinea, Eritrea, Ethiopia, Gabon, Gambia, Ghana, Guinea, Guinea Bissau, Ivory Coast, Kenya, Lesotho, Liberia, Madagascar, Malawi, Mali, Mauritania, Mauritius, Mozambique, Namibia, Nigeria, Republic of Congo, Rwanda, Sao Tome and Principe, Senegal, Seychelles, Somalia, South Africa, Sudan, Swaziland, Tanzania, Togo, Uganda, Zambia, Zimbabwe.
Australia, New Zealand & South Pacific Australia, Cook Islands, Fiji, French Polynesia, New Caledonia, New Zealand, Norfolk Island, Samoa, Tonga, Vanuatu.

Change and cancelation fees

If your plans change and you need to change or cancel your award, you’ll need to pay a fee to do so. To change your itinerary whether the date or destination, you can pay C$100 (~$74) plus taxes per direction. This can be done up to 2 hours prior to your scheduled departure.

Canceling an award ticket and redepositing the miles will cost you C$150 (~$111) plus taxes — this can be done up to 22 days prior to departure.

Keep in mind that there isn’t any grace period for canceling Aeroplan awards. While many airlines allow you to change or cancel tickets within 24 hours, Aeroplan is not technically an airline, and you’ll pay change fees even if it’s only been five minutes since you booked.

Earn Aeroplan miles

There are many ways to earn Aeroplan miles with many credit card transfer partners.  Some of those cards available are:

Earn Aeroplan Miles

Bottom line

Like many airline loyalty programs, the key to getting value out of Aeroplan takes more than just a quick glance at the award chart.

By understanding the stopover/open jaw rules and which carriers you can fly without surcharges, you’ll be able to book some great awards with Aeroplan miles.

What other questions do you have about how to use Aeroplan miles?

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Comments
  1. Can anyone recommend some creative trip ideas from Northeast US to Asia or South America? I’m used to AA rules so haven’t been thinking creatively.

  2. Keep in mind, there is about one year to redeem Aeroplan miles for 2 stopovers round the world itineraries – when AC takes over, the devaluations will be huge, sweetspots will be gone – and expect surcharges on all airlines!

  3. I have booked Air China 1st class twice from IAH to PEK, but Aeroplan does not have much award space beyond PEK on a single award. Last year I had to buy ticket to PVG. Aeroplan does not show Air China business available on that IAH to PEK..just 1st and economy.

    This year was able to find space on Avianca Life Miles on Air China in business for 60,000 return from PEK to NNG, while Aeroplan wanted 120,000 miles for same trip, despite not showing it on IAH to PEK to NNG. I had obtained the Life Miles when TU had the bonus, so net cost of 48,000

  4. @Spencer
    In the past, Aeroplan did not impose Carrier Surcharges in a re-price, if you’d already flown your first segment and changed your itinerary. So you could book on the carriers you listed and pay no Carrier Surcharges, fly the first segment, then change routing, carriers and/or stopovers (but not final destination) and the re-price would not include carrier surcharges, no matter what carriers you fly in the new itinerary. (Of course you’d pay the change fee.)

    This was a “trick” accepted by Aeroplan, since it conformed to their rules. Is this still a thing?

  5. The surcharges for AC flights vary wildly. From next to nothing on the YUL-NRT route to insane amounts on the YVR-MEL route. The short haul flights are rarely worth the points. NA to Japan with ANA is a good option, the surcharges are not too bad but availability is low. First class with LH is pointless now with the insane surcharges.

  6. Thanks for the nice write up, Spencer! I love Aeroplan from my one & only time using them for a J redemption to Asia last year! I do have a question:
    1) I never knew Aeroplan allows 2 free stopovers (thought it was just one!!). So is each stopover per direction on a RT flight only? Can’t lump them both in one direction? Thanks!

  7. @Dee

    The SQ LAX-SIN in J showed up on Aeroplan? Wow. It is a 777 I assume?

    From TYO, what airline you used? If it is ANA, how much is the YQ?

    @Tigris23

    The stopovers can be on either direction. Though you can only transit / stop at a place ONCE on each direction.

    For example I just ticketed this 10 days ago
    MIA-LIS-VCE 1st stopover
    VCE-IST-SIN and overnight layover
    SIN-PER Destination (Turnaround)
    PER-SIN another overnight layover
    SIN-HKG 2nd stopover
    HKG-TPE-IAH needed an overnight to connect next day
    IAH-FLL
    Note SIN is passthru once on each direction. Also MIA and FLL are considered as Co-terminals therefore not an OJ, so I can keep 2 stopovers and 1 destination on the R/T.
    160K miles and CAD275.20 taxes, no surcharge, CAD30 booking fee. All in J except the last UA segment there is no J availability. Aeroplan will charge fee should that 2.5 hr flight has J opened up and we decide to move back to J – totally not worth the fee.

    One drawback is, the itinerary shown on Aeroplan site is totally screwed up – one would panic if one does not know better, i.e. to check each partner’s site to make sure everything is intact and not as how Aeroplan shown on its site!
    Also Saudia site can be used with the 014 AC ticket stock to retrieve the reservation – another way to make sure the booking is accurate.

  8. @ Tigris23 — They’re supposed to be one in each direction, and you only get them on a round-trip. You can also do one stopover and an open-jaw instead, which is often more useful.

  9. So basically the only sweet spot for Aeroplan is a round the world Tix in biz? I thought there would be more.

  10. @Jackie

    You can read the chart with the link in the article to find what spots work for you. The information is there.

    Besides, for the most obvious, the US-EU is 50/55K one way – that compares to the 57.5K wanted by AA, and the 60K wanted by UA on UA metal and 70K by UA on partners.

  11. Oh, not to mention you have very little choices for TATL flights using AA miles because OneWorld is weak for both TATL and TPAC compare to Star Alliances. Of course if you are willing to pay BA surcharges then you probably can find availability on every route BA flies with the AA miles. just sayin.

  12. @ Bob — Have you been able to price one of those lately? I believe you (and have done it in the past), but the last few times we’ve tried it we ran into issues. Hence the “supposed to” caveat, as that’s what we’ve been told.

  13. @Jackie

    This is exactly what the author of this article has done

    Right under the partial chart included in the article, there is this paragraph:

    <>

    So what do you expect the fine folks at OMAAT to do? Have you paid for their services for spoonfeeding you?

  14. Jackie, the real sweet spot IMHO is that Aeroplan charges about $100 to add an infant to a biz award. Unlike almost any other program except Avios.

  15. @Tiffany, yes – easily price out over the phone (well worth the CAD34 booking fee)
    The online engine is useless for multicity.

  16. Is allowing two stop overs new thing? I did a RT in Nov 2016 SFO – IST – HYD – SFO. I did not know I could add two stopovers. I would not have missed if it was the case online. Or is it always there but via phone only? Getting so much missed out feeling for trip made more than a year ago haha.

  17. @ Bob – agreed. the multi-city function is useless online. need to call.

    I redeemed 3 prem econ reward seats for YYZ-HKG, HKG-KIX-HND, HND-YYZ for 375K yesterday.

    Note for those trying to redeem more than 2 rewards for prem econ. Aeroplan says they only let you redeem 2 reward seats at a time (their system only shows 2). My traveller had his own points and I had my own. So the agent reserved 2 seats using my points, then was able to book a third seat afterwards using his points, then link our reservations together.

    My question is, on the phone I told the agent the other 2 travellers have their middle names on their passport as their given name and to add it. Agent confirmed spelling and everything but when I got the receipt, it did not have their middle names.

    Is this going to be an issue?
    Everywhere I read says passport must match ticket name. I called back an hour later and the agent said they need to charge a fee to make this change but they would need to cancel my entire trip and re-book which I did not want to because I’m afraid the points will be lost in the shuffle. I don’t know what to do.

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