Air Canada Aeroplan is probably my single favorite frequent flyer program. There’s a lot to love about the program, including the number of airline partners that Aeroplan has. In this post I wanted to specifically talk about Aeroplan’s award stopover policy, which is one of the most generous in the industry. This feature just became more useful, as it’s now possible to ticket these online.
In this post:
Aeroplan allows award stopovers for 5,000 points
Nowadays there aren’t many frequent flyer programs that allow stopovers on award tickets. That’s one of the single best features of Aeroplan — when you book an Air Canada Aeroplan award ticket, you can add a stopover to a one-way award for just 5,000 points (and since all Aeroplan awards price as one-ways, you could also do a stopover in the other direction for the same price).
There are a few restrictions to be aware of when it comes to Aeroplan stopovers:
- Stopovers can be for up to 45 days in duration; if you have a layover of under 24 hours, that’s not considered a stopover
- Stopovers aren’t allowed in the United States or Canada, regardless of the destination
- You can’t transit the same city twice on a one-way award (in other words, you couldn’t fly New York to Frankfurt to Hamburg, have a stopover, and then fly from Hamburg to Frankfurt to Dubai)
- Awards with stopovers can be ticketed either by phone or through aircanada.com
Why Aeroplan’s award stopover policy is awesome
Before we get into the logistics of this, let’s talk briefly about why this policy is so awesome. Sometimes you might be taking an international trip where you hope to visit more than one destination. Ordinarily if you wanted a stopover, you might have to book two separate one-way tickets. Being able to instead redeem just 5,000 additional points for that stopover is an amazing deal.
This policy can come in handy in all kinds of scenarios. Just to give a few examples:
- You could redeem for Etihad business class from New York to Abu Dhabi to Bangkok, with a stopover in Abu Dhabi for 5,000 additional points
- You could redeem for Lufthansa first class from Miami to Frankfurt to Johannesburg, with a stopover in Frankfurt for 5,000 additional points
- You could redeem for Turkish business class from Los Angeles to Istanbul to Bishkek, with a stopover in Istanbul for 5,000 additional points
- You could redeem for Gulf Air business class from London to Bahrain to Male, with a stopover in Bahrain for 5,000 additional points
- You could redeem for Air Mauritius business class from Paris to Mauritius to Johannesburg, with a stopover in Mauritius for 5,000 additional points
Just to give an example of the mileage savings here, let’s use the Lufthansa first class from Miami to Frankfurt to Johannesburg example:
- A Miami to Frankfurt to Johannesburg first class award costs 140,000 points, and then you’d pay an extra 5,000 points for the stopover
- If you were to book this separately, you’d pay 100,000 points for the Miami to Frankfurt flight in first class, and then you’d pay an extra 90,000 points for the Frankfurt to Johannesburg flight in first class
- So you’d save 45,000 points compared to booking those flights separately
The kinds of award stopovers Aeroplan allows
Understandably there are probably some questions about logistics here. Where exactly can you plan a stopover, and what are the limits to Aeroplan’s routing rules? Let me try to break it down as simply as possible.
It’s important to understand Aeroplan’s general rules with award pricing and routing rules:
- For the purposes of award pricing, Aeroplan breaks up the world into four regions — North America, Atlantic, Pacific, and South America — and you can find award charts here
- For travel within and between regions, there are distance-based award charts; that means there are a total of 10 award charts (four for travel within regions, and six for travel between regions)
- Aeroplan has pretty liberal routing rules, and you are allowed to travel via third regions (like North America to Pacific via Atlantic), though you can’t backtrack (technically)
- Ultimately the computer decides what is and isn’t allowed, so if an award doesn’t price, it’s typically not because there’s an error, but rather because you’re pushing your luck
If you’re trying to get a general sense of routing distance, how much you’re backtracking, etc., I recommend using gcmap.com to draw out your itinerary.
I’d say the “no backtracking” policy isn’t quite as extreme as it may sound. You’ll have no issues flying from New York to London via Frankfurt. You will, however, have issues flying from New York to London via Tokyo (obviously). Essentially if you’re not getting greedy you shouldn’t have too many issues with Aeroplan’s backtracking policy.
How to ticket Aeroplan award stopovers
You can now ticket Aeroplan award stopovers either via the contact center or via aircanada.com. Regardless of which method you choose for ticketing, you’ll first want to find individual flights with award availability. You can do this via aircanada.com, or your preferred award search tool.
In other words, if you want to fly from Frankfurt to Zanzibar with a stopover in Muscat, you’d want to first search award availability from Frankfurt to Muscat, and then separately search award availability from Muscat to Zanzibar. This is to keep things simple, and to maximize your odds of finding flights with award availability.
For example, I found the below flights with award availability on Oman Air.
How do we turn that into an itinerary with a stopover, though?
On the homepage of aircanada.com, go to the section where you search flights, click the “Multi-city/Stopover” button, and also check the “Book with points” box. Enter your origin, destination, dates, and how long you want your stopover to be.
When the search results page populates, you’ll see all the available possible itineraries, including the stopover.
If you have issues booking online, or just prefer booking by phone, you can instead ticket these via the Aeroplan contact center. If you are going to book by phone, one strategy could be to book the main part of the award on Air Canada’s website.
Then within 24 hours you can call to add the other segments, and then the award can easily be repriced (just make sure it’s within 24 hours, to avoid fees). I find this to be more efficient, since you don’t have to give traveler details, etc.
Aeroplan has great partners, and points are easy to earn
When I mention Aeroplan, a lot of people might be thinking “well I don’t fly Air Canada a lot.” That’s totally fair, because neither do I. But that’s the beauty of Aeroplan.
For one, Aeroplan points are really easy to earn. 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.
The other thing that’s awesome about Aeroplan is how many airline partners the program has. Aeroplan has more airline partners than any other airline loyalty program in the world. Not only does Aeroplan give you access to all Star Alliance airlines, but Aeroplan also has non-Star Alliance partners, including Air Mauritius, Air Serbia, Azul, Etihad, Gulf Air, Oman Air, Vistara, and more. Best of all, the list of partners continues to grow.
Air Canada’s Aeroplan program has one of the most useful stopover policies of any frequent flyer program. For just 5,000 points one-way you can add a stopover, with very few restrictions. This can really come in handy, especially if you’re planning a long haul premium cabin award.
This feature is now even better than before, as Aeroplan lets you ticket award stopovers directly through aircanada.com.
Have you ever used Aeroplan’s stopover feature? If so, what was your experience like?