Awesome: New Air Canada Aeroplan & Gulf Air Partnership

Awesome: New Air Canada Aeroplan & Gulf Air Partnership

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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. We’ve seen several partners added in recent months, including EtihadAzulVistaraAir SerbiaVirgin Australia, Air Dolomiti, and Eurowings Discover.

Aeroplan has now added yet another new partner, which is the program’s 42nd airline partner, and it’s one that I’m really excited about. I’ll take it a step further — of all of the additions so far, this one is the most interesting to me — Gulf Air has been added as an Air Canada Aeroplan partner as of today (August 24, 2021).

Gulf Air is an airline I’ve been wanting to fly again, yet the airline has very few useful airline partners that allow economical mileage redemptions. Also keep in mind that with the new Aeroplan program having been launched in late 2020, members have access to award tickets with no carrier imposed surcharges, as well as stopovers for just 5,000 extra miles one-way.

Air Canada & Gulf Air partnership details

A new loyalty program partnership has been launched between Air Canada and Gulf Air, offering Aeroplan members mileage earning and redemption opportunities. I wanted to take a look at the opportunities this affords, and also talk about Gulf Air, for those who aren’t familiar.

What is Gulf Air?

Gulf Air is a Bahrain-based airline, and back in the day it was the most global Gulf carrier. The airline is more “boutique” nowadays, and has a fleet of a few dozen planes, which it flies as far West as London, and as far East as Manila (pre-pandemic there had been talk of Gulf Air resuming flights to the United States, but that seems like a long shot).

I reviewed Gulf Air back in the day on the A330, though those planes have been retired in the meantime. Instead, Gulf Air’s flagship aircraft is now the Boeing 787-9, and the airline has gorgeous Apex Suites in business class on these Dreamliners.

Gulf Air’s Boeing 787-9 business class

Redeem Aeroplan miles on Gulf Air

It is now possible to redeem Air Canada Aeroplan miles on all Gulf Air flights. A few things to note:

  • Gulf Air awards follow Aeroplan’s standard partner award pricing chart
  • Aeroplan members are able to book Gulf Air flights online at aircanada.com, or via the call center
  • Gulf Air flights can be combined with flights operated by Air Canada and other international airline partners (so you could fly from Newark to London on United, and London to Bahrain to Cairo on Gulf Air, for example)
  • While there are no carrier imposed surcharges, the standard 39 CAD partner booking fee applies

For context, here’s the Aeroplan award chart for travel within the Atlantic region (which includes both Europe and the Middle East):

Here’s Aeroplan’s award chart for travel between the Atlantic region and Pacific region (if you were flying from Europe or the Middle East to Southeast Asia):

For example, you could fly one-way business class:

  • From London to Bahrain to Dubai for 45,000 Aeroplan miles
  • From London to Bahrain to Bangkok for 80,000 Aeroplan miles

In both cases you could redeem an extra 5,000 miles to have a stopover of over 24 hours in Bahrain. This is so much better than any other easily accessible Gulf Air redemption option out there.

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.

Redeem miles for all Gulf Air flights

Earn Aeroplan miles on Gulf Air

With this new partnership, Aeroplan members can earn redeemable miles (but not elite miles) on all Gulf Air flights. Miles are earned based on the distance flown:

  • Business class passengers booked in the J, C, D, and I fare class earn 125% Aeroplan miles
  • Economy class passengers booked in the Y fare class earn 100% Aeroplan miles
  • Economy class passengers booked in the L, M, B, and H fare class earn 50% Aeroplan miles
  • Economy class passengers booked in the U, V, E, O, N, S, K, X, Q, and W fare class earn 25% Aeroplan miles
Earn miles for all Gulf Air flights

Bottom line

Air Canada Aeroplan has added Gulf Air as its newest airline partner. This is a partnership I’m extremely excited about, as Gulf Air offers a phenomenal business class product, but doesn’t currently have many airline partners with good mileage redemption opportunities.

If you have transferable points, the best way to book Gulf Air flights is now through Air Canada Aeroplan. I’m delighted by how Aeroplan keeps adding new airline partners, which is something that other programs simply don’t seem to be pursuing in the same way.

I can’t wait to redeem with this new opportunity!

Anyone else excited about the Aeroplan & Gulf Air partnership?

Conversations (7)
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  1. gneal

    Unless I've overlooked it somewhere, I really miss the NEXT and PREVIOUS buttons on each post. They are especially useful since I can only read the blog from time to time.

  2. Pat O.

    My perception is that Aeroplan is moving towards the lower quality of the aviation market and aligning with airlines that most Canadians would prefer to avoid. The better quality airlines for the Gulf region are Qatar & Emirates, neither of which are part of Aeroplan. It is exceptionally difficult to redeem J&F reward flights with ANA, Singapore and EVA. Instead, Aeroplan pushes redemptions to carriers like EgyptAir or Air China. To be blunt, flying over...

    My perception is that Aeroplan is moving towards the lower quality of the aviation market and aligning with airlines that most Canadians would prefer to avoid. The better quality airlines for the Gulf region are Qatar & Emirates, neither of which are part of Aeroplan. It is exceptionally difficult to redeem J&F reward flights with ANA, Singapore and EVA. Instead, Aeroplan pushes redemptions to carriers like EgyptAir or Air China. To be blunt, flying over danger zones proximate to Iran, Yemen, Afghanistan is not high on most westerners' preferences. IMO, this is of little value to the vast majority of Aeroplan members who would prefer easier access to reward flights and less of the "mixed cabin" redemption farce.

  3. Super

    I'm not sure I see the value in this. Checking the Aeroplan page, yes I can book LHR-BAH-BKK in Business with no cash surcharges, but it's 124,289 points. The standard award is 80k + CA$442.89. For around the same cash price I can use AA miles to book CX FIRST for just 10k miles more.

    I suspect this is more ideal for hard to reach niche middle-east locations.

    1. Ben Schlappig

      @ Super -- The "surcharge" you're referring to is the UK Air Passenger Duty, which isn't imposed by the airline. Offsetting that with miles isn't a good deal. The cost is 80K miles, before government imposed taxes and fees.

  4. Euro

    Air Canada Aeroplan is dipping their paws into a lot of Middle Eastern carriers with partnerships/cooperation. This after Etihad and Qatar as well. Not sure how having this many partnerships in one region of the world will benefit them/work...

    1. moe

      @euro canada has very strict foreign operation and fly over laws, Qatar, MEA, gulf air and ethiad only have very limited access to the country and can essentially only operate at one airport in the country if they chose to operate to Canada without a partner in the country... this allows them to have flowing traffic to their networks... This is why Air Canada operates many routes that other north american carriers simply can't.... for...

      @euro canada has very strict foreign operation and fly over laws, Qatar, MEA, gulf air and ethiad only have very limited access to the country and can essentially only operate at one airport in the country if they chose to operate to Canada without a partner in the country... this allows them to have flowing traffic to their networks... This is why Air Canada operates many routes that other north american carriers simply can't.... for Air Canada they gain revenue from these flights as well as program utilization from a global standpoint... also theres a reason aeroplan has a partner and phone booking fee $$$$

  5. PekingDuck

    Totally OT: Just got this from CX: CLUB NOTICE
    *Permanent closure of The Bridge at Hong Kong International Airport*
    Having been temporarily closed due to the reduced flight schedule, The Bridge lounge at Terminal 1 of Hong Kong International Airport will now be closed permanently.

Featured Comments Load all 7 comments Most helpful comments ( as chosen by the OMAAT community ).

The comments on this page have not been provided, reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by any advertiser, and it is not an advertiser's responsibility to ensure posts and/or questions are answered.

gneal

Unless I've overlooked it somewhere, I really miss the NEXT and PREVIOUS buttons on each post. They are especially useful since I can only read the blog from time to time.

Pat O.

My perception is that Aeroplan is moving towards the lower quality of the aviation market and aligning with airlines that most Canadians would prefer to avoid. The better quality airlines for the Gulf region are Qatar & Emirates, neither of which are part of Aeroplan. It is exceptionally difficult to redeem J&F reward flights with ANA, Singapore and EVA. Instead, Aeroplan pushes redemptions to carriers like EgyptAir or Air China. To be blunt, flying over danger zones proximate to Iran, Yemen, Afghanistan is not high on most westerners' preferences. IMO, this is of little value to the vast majority of Aeroplan members who would prefer easier access to reward flights and less of the "mixed cabin" redemption farce.

moe

@euro canada has very strict foreign operation and fly over laws, Qatar, MEA, gulf air and ethiad only have very limited access to the country and can essentially only operate at one airport in the country if they chose to operate to Canada without a partner in the country... this allows them to have flowing traffic to their networks... This is why Air Canada operates many routes that other north american carriers simply can't.... for Air Canada they gain revenue from these flights as well as program utilization from a global standpoint... also theres a reason aeroplan has a partner and phone booking fee $$$$

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