One of my favorite things about Air Canada Aeroplan is the emphasis that the program has on adding partners. Aeroplan has more airline partners than any other airline frequent flyer program. Aeroplan has just announced its newest airline partner. It’s one I’m excited about, though the redemption rates (unsurprisingly) leave a bit to be desired…
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Air Canada & FlyDubai partnership details
As of December 6, 2023, a loyalty program partnership has been launched between Air Canada and FlyDubai, allowing Aeroplan members to redeem points for travel on the airline. This comes roughly a year after Aeroplan added award redemptions on Emirates. I wanted to take a look at the opportunities this affords, and also talk about FlyDubai, for those who aren’t familiar.
What is FlyDubai?
FlyDubai is a Dubai-based carrier, owned by the government of Dubai. The airline operates a fleet consisting exclusively of Boeing 737s, though in the future the airline will take delivery of Boeing 787s. FlyDubai’s network consists of regional flights, with services as far west as Europe, and as far east as Southeast Asia.
While Emirates and FlyDubai have the same owner (the government of Dubai), the airlines are operated separately, though do have a partnership. FlyDubai overlaps with Emirates on some routes, while many routes are exclusively served by one airline or the other. One of FlyDubai’s advantages is that the airline has smaller aircraft, so can serve destinations that Emirates can’t.
FlyDubai currently has three different Boeing 737 business class products, with one of the products featuring flat beds. The airline will soon be introducing a fourth new business class product, which will consist of suites with doors.
Redeem Aeroplan points on FlyDubai
As part of this partnership, it’s possible to redeem Air Canada Aeroplan points on all FlyDubai flights. Unfortunately awards on FlyDubai don’t follow Aeroplan’s standard award chart, but rather follow Aeroplan’s special Emirates award hart, which you can find below.
As you can see, this is a distance based award chart with pricing ranges, so there are a lot of factors that can impact award pricing. A few things to note:
- There are no carrier imposed surcharges on these award tickets
- FlyDubai redemptions can be fully combined with Air Canada and 45+ airline partners, and the same routing rules, change fees, stopover policies, etc., apply; if you include other partners, everything prices per the above award chart
- FlyDubai awards can be booked through aircanada.com, or through the Air Canada contact center
- The distance bands above apply worldwide, and not to a specific geography (unlike Aeroplan’s regular award charts)
Air Canada Aeroplan is transfer partners with Amex Membership Rewards, Chase Ultimate Rewards, and Capital One, so if you have transferrable points this is a great program to book through. On top of that, there’s the Aeroplan® Credit Card (review), which is lucrative card in the United States.
Unfortunately award costs are very steep
On the surface, it’s super exciting to finally see FlyDubai get a redemption partner, since previously options for redeeming on FlyDubai were limited. FlyDubai uses Emirates Skywards as its frequent flyer program — however, unlike for Emirates flights, FlyDubai award pricing is dynamic through Skywards, and is rarely attractive.
So, what is Aeroplan’s award pricing on FlyDubai like? The good news is that there’s almost always award availability, down to the last seat. The bad news is that pricing is very, very high. Aeroplan redemptions on FlyDubai look mighty similar to Skywards ones.
For example, a short business class flight from Bahrain to Dubai would cost you 66,500 Aeroplan points one-way (the same price as on Emirates), while the same route on Gulf Air would cost just 15,000 points.
A business class flight from Belgrade to Dubai would cost you 124,300 Aeroplan points one-way.
Suffice it to say that it’s hard to get excited about this award pricing. I don’t think Aeroplan is trying to be greedy here, but rather it seems that FlyDubai is probably just offering Aeroplan a very unattractive deal when redeeming points. It almost seems like Aeroplan is paying whatever the cost of a ticket would be, give or take.
So there’s no way Aeroplan can allow 15,000 point redemptions if the program is having to pay FlyDubai $1,000 for an award ticket, for example.
Air Canada Aeroplan has added FlyDubai as a partner. FlyDubai has an extensive network out of Dubai, and offers a solid experience. While it’s on the surface exciting to see FlyDubai get an airline partner, unfortunately the redemption rates leave a lot to be desired. FlyDubai doesn’t seem interested in offering any deals on award redemptions (whether through Emirates Skywards or another program), and these rates reflect that.
What do you make of the new Air Canada Aeroplan & FlyDubai partnership?