I’ve written in the past about how Air Canada Aeroplan is my single favorite frequent flyer program for redeeming points. Aeroplan is a program you should care about even if you never fly with Air Canada.
My single favorite thing about Aeroplan is the number of airline partners that the program has, and that list only continues to grow. I wanted to take a look at that in a bit more detail in this post — what airlines does Aeroplan partner with, and why does it matter so much?
Aeroplan has more airline partners than any other program
The Aeroplan program allows you to redeem points on over 45 different airlines, and counting. There’s not a single airline frequent flyer program in the world that has this many redemption partners, so that’s truly remarkable.
The major global airline alliances generally allow reciprocal award redemptions as one of the main perks of the concept. With Air Canada being part of the Star Alliance, of course you have access to the over two dozen Star Alliance member airlines. But what’s most impressive is the number of non-alliance partners that Aeroplan has.
Why should you care so much about this?
- Aeroplan points are extremely easy to come by, including with transferable points currencies, as I’ll explain below
- Aeroplan allows stopovers on awards for an extra 5,000 points, which is a rare feature nowadays
- Aeroplan allows awards on all partners to be booked online, and there are no fuel surcharges on any awards
- Aeroplan has some unique airline partners that are otherwise tough to redeem on, ranging from Air Mauritius, to Gulf Air, to Oman Air, to Vistara
- Being able to mix & match airline partners on a single award is awesome, especially for getting to more remote destinations
There’s simply not another airline program that has anywhere close to this depth of partnerships. This could be useful whether you want to travel to the Canadian Arctic in Canadian North economy…
Or want to travel to Madagascar in Air Mauritius business class…
Or want to travel to Oman in Oman Air first class…
Full list of Aeroplan airline partners
Here is the current list of Air Canada Aeroplan’s 46 airline redemption partners:
- Aegean Airlines
- Air Canada
- Air China
- Air Creebec
- Air Dolomiti
- Air India
- Air Mauritius
- Air New Zealand
- Air Serbia
- All Nippon Airways (ANA)
- Austrian Airlines
- Bamboo Airways
- Brussels Airlines
- Calm Air
- Canadian North
- Copa Airlines
- Croatia Airlines
- Ethiopian Airlines
- Etihad Airways
- Eurowings Discover
- EVA Air
- Gulf Air
- Juneyao Airlines
- LOT Polish Airlines
- Olympic Air
- Oman Air
- Scandinavian Airlines (SAS)
- Shenzhen Airlines
- Singapore Airlines
- South African Airways
- TAP Air Portugal
- Thai Airways
- Turkish Airlines
- United Airlines
- Virgin Australia
Why is Aeroplan seemingly alone in adding partners?
Aeroplan is in a league of its own when it comes to adding airline partners for the purposes of award redemptions. That’s not because folks behind the program have some secret recipe that other programs don’t have. It’s simply because the people behind the program see value in this for members and put a lot of effort into it, and other programs seemingly don’t.
I remember having a conversation with the head of a certain airline loyalty program some time back, and I brought up the topic of how the program had lost several airline partners over the years, and it would be nice to see a focus on adding more partners for members to redeem their points. The answer? “That’s not really a priority for us.”
I find that logic puzzling, but then again, I find a lot of the changes we’ve seen at major frequent flyer programs in recent years to be questionable at best. So, why is Aeroplan countering the industry trend by adding a never-ending list of new partners?
- First and foremost, Aeroplan is truly run by avgeeks who are obsessed with airlines and flying, and I imagine on some level they’re adding partners that they’d love to be able to redeem their own points on
- The reality is that there’s a business case for what Aeroplan is doing — award reimbursement rates are typically quite low, so Aeroplan will typically make money when you transfer your points to Aeroplan, and then redeem them on a partner; that’s not only a great business model independently, but also a great way to drive up engagement in Aeroplan, and awareness of Air Canada
- Air Canada has clearly given Aeroplan leadership latitude to add partnerships that are good for the program, rather than just adding a very limited number of partnerships that are driven by revenue management and other commercial agreements; compare this to Delta, which nowadays only seems to want to work with airlines it has equity stakes in
I do have to say, I’d love to be a fly on the wall for Aeroplan’s pitches and negotiations when adding new partners. Aeroplan has managed to add some airline partners that are redemption-only, meaning Aeroplan leadership has convinced people at these airlines to allow Aeroplan members to redeem, without any sort of commercial agreement otherwise. That must take some skill!
If the whole Aeroplan thing doesn’t work out, these people could probably fly to the Canadian Arctic and be fridge salespeople (and they could fly there on Canadian North using Aeroplan points, natch!).
How to earn Aeroplan points
As mentioned above, one of the great things about Aeroplan is that the points are pretty easy to come by. Air Canada Aeroplan is 1:1 transfer partners with Amex Membership Rewards, Capital One, and Chase Ultimate Rewards.
Transfers from all of these partners are generally instant, which matters because often there might be award availability but then you find that a transfer takes multiple days, which can quickly ruin your plans.
Aeroplan has more airline partners than any other frequent flyer program in the world, and that’s something I really appreciate. The program now has over 45 airline partners and counting. I love the consistency offered by these redemptions, from being able to mix partners on a single award, to there not being any fuel surcharges, to being able to have stopovers on one-way awards.
The best thing is that Aeroplan is only getting started when it comes to adding partners, and we’re told to expect even more interesting partners in the future. I can’t wait to see what airlines are next.
Anyone else appreciate Aeroplan’s breadth of airline partners as much as I do?