How To Redeem Aeroplan Points Like A Pro

How To Redeem Aeroplan Points Like A Pro

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Air Canada Aeroplan is the most useful frequent flyer program in the world… if you know what you’re doing. In this post I wanted to dig a bit deeper into the program, and talk about how you can maximize value with it.

Why you should care about Air Canada Aeroplan

Even if you’re not an Air Canada frequent flyer, you should still care about the Aeroplan program. Why?

  • Aeroplan points are easy to come by, as the program is transfer partners with Amex Membership RewardsCapital One, and Chase Ultimate Rewards; on top of that, there’s the Aeroplan® Credit Card (review) in the United States, which is phenomenal
  • Aeroplan has 45+ airline partners, more than any other frequent flyer program in the world; not only does the program partner with Star Alliance airlines, but it has all kinds of other partners, ranging from Air Mauritius, to Bamboo Airways, to Etihad Airways
  • Aeroplan has incredibly generous routing rules, allowing you to plan some pretty wild itineraries, if you’re into that
  • Aeroplan allows stopovers for 5,000 extra points; this is an amazing opportunity, especially combined with the generous routing rules, since it means you could fly from the United States to Asia via Europe with a stopover there

You’ll almost consistently get the best value redeeming your Aeroplan points on partner airlines. Award pricing on Air Canada can be steep, as it’s dynamic, while travel on most partners has consistent pricing.

Just how far can Aeroplan points be stretched? Well, I recently redeemed 115,000 Aeroplan points for a six segment, one-way business class award from Chicago to Vienna to Rome to Bahrain to Singapore to Ho Chi Minh City to Hanoi. Not bad, eh?

Redeem Aeroplan points for Oman Air first class

Aeroplan award charts & award pricing

Aeroplan takes a unique approach to award pricing. I appreciate Aeroplan’s transparency, as the program publishes award charts with pricing for travel on partner airlines.

To start, it’s worth understanding that Aeroplan breaks the world up into four zones:

  • North America — this includes North America and Central America
  • Atlantic — this includes Europe, Africa, the Middle East, India, etc.
  • Pacific — this includes North Asia, Southeast Asia, the South Pacific, etc.
  • South America — this includes South America

Below is a map showing which countries belong to which regions.

Aeroplan’s four award zones

Aeroplan then publishes distance based award charts for travel within and between each of these regions. That means there are a total of 10 Aeroplan award charts. In other words, the cost you’ll pay for your award ticket is a combination of the zones you’re traveling between (or within), combined with the distance.

Note that the pricing is based on the cumulative distance traveled during your one-way journey. All pricing is one-way, so it never matters if you’re traveling one-way or roundtrip. Also, you’ll want to focus on the “partner airlines” pricing, since pricing on Air Canada is dynamic, and falls within a certain range.

Anyway, below you can find Aeroplan’s 10 current award charts.

Aeroplan award chart within North America
Aeroplan award chart between North America and the Atlantic
Aeroplan award chart between North America and the Pacific
Aeroplan award chart between North America and South America
Aeroplan award chart within the Atlantic
Aeroplan award chart within the Pacific
Aeroplan award chart between the Atlantic and Pacific
Aeroplan award chart within South America
Aeroplan award chart between the Atlantic and South America
Aeroplan award chart between the Pacific and South America

All Aeroplan partners have the same award pricing, except one partner — Emirates. Emirates was recently added as an Aeroplan partner, and the airline has a completely separate award chart with variable pricing.

Aeroplan award chart for travel on Emirates

While you can mix and match Emirates awards with travel on other partners, it would follow the higher award chart pricing.

The basics of redeeming Aeroplan points

With the details of Aeroplan’s award pricing out of the way, let’s talk a bit about the logistics of actually redeeming Aeroplan points. What are the fees like, are there fuel surcharges, what are the routing rules, how do stopovers work, how do you actually book, etc.?

Aeroplan has an amazing array of airline partners

The single greatest thing about the Aeroplan program is just how many airline partners Aeroplan has. Aeroplan has over 45 partners. Not only does Air Canada belong to the Star Alliance, but Aeroplan has all kinds of other airline partnerships, with carriers ranging from Air Mauritius, to Bamboo Airways, to Etihad Airways, to Gulf Air, to Oman Air, etc.

The possibilities are endless, and I can’t emphasize enough how valuable this is. Nowadays it seems like we’re seeing many airlines reducing their number of partnerships, so it’s incredible to see the flexibility you have with Aeroplan points.

See this post for full details on all Aeroplan airline partners.

Redeem Aeroplan points for Gulf Air business class

Aeroplan allows stopovers for 5,000 points one-way

Nowadays there aren’t many frequent flyer programs that allow stopovers, so that’s another special aspect of Aeroplan. Aeroplan will let you add a stopover on a one-way award for just 5,000 additional points. You can include a stopover with each one-way award.

Stopovers are not available on awards for travel wholly within North America. Stopovers can even be booked directly on aircanada.com, making the ticketing process seamless.

The value of this is simply massive, especially since you can have a stopover in a different zone altogether. Traveling from the United States to Mauritius? You could have a stopover in Europe. Traveling from the United States to Australia? You could have a stopover in Asia.

Note that if you’re connecting on a long haul award within less than 24 hours, you can do that without it counting as a stopover. So you can add as many ~23 hour stopovers along the way as you’d like.

See this post for full details on the Aeroplan stopover policy.

Redeem Aeroplan points for Bamboo Airways business class

Aeroplan has very generous routing rules

Aeroplan probably has the most generous routing rules of any frequent flyer program. While most programs are pretty strict in terms of the routings you can take and how much you can exceed the direct distance, Aeroplan really lets you push it to the extreme.

As a general rule of thumb, you should have no issue exceeding the direct distance between two cities on a long haul award by 50%, and you may be able to fly even more than that. For example, I booked an award from Chicago to Hanoi via Vienna, Rome, Bahrain, Singapore, and Ho Chi Minh City.

Now, admittedly on some level you pay for a circuitous routing due to the distance based award chart. But still, the value is potentially huge.

Aeroplan doesn’t explicitly publish how far you can push routing rules, and the added challenge is that most complicated itineraries would need to be booked via the call center. So there is some trial and error here, but you’ll probably be delighted by what’s possible.

US to Asia via Europe? That shouldn’t be an issue at all. US to Australia via Asia? That also shouldn’t be an issue. Now, there are some limits. For example, it’s unlikely you’d be able to travel from the US to Europa via Asia, for example.

Redeem Aeroplan points for Lufthansa first class

Aeroplan allows six segments per one-way

When redeeming Aeroplan points, you can book up to six segments on a one-way award. Admittedly most people probably wouldn’t want to fly six segments one-way, but that is the limit. That’s what I managed to do with a recent award, as I flew from Chicago to Hanoi via Vienna, Rome, Bahrain, Singapore, and Ho Chi Minh City.

Redeem Aeroplan points for Singapore Airlines business class

Aeroplan has no fuel surcharges

One fantastic thing about Aeroplan is that the program doesn’t have carrier imposed surcharges (often referred to as fuel surcharges) for travel on any partner airline. That’s hugely valuable, given how expensive these can be through other programs.

Redeem Aeroplan points for All Nippon Airways business class

Aeroplan booking, change, & cancelation fees

What kind of fees can you expect to pay with Aeroplan? To start, there are potentially some ticketing fees, as follows:

  • There’s a 39 CAD partner booking fee, which applies to each partner award ticket booked, regardless of whether it’s done online or by phone
  • There’s a 30 CAD phone ticketing fee, for reservations ticketed by phone rather than through aircanada.com

On top of that, there are fees if you need to change or cancel an Aeroplan award. As a general rule of thumb, you can expect that a ticket change on a standard award will cost you 100 CAD, while a ticket redeposit on a standard award will cost you 150 CAD.

Fees are potentially lower if you’re booking a higher priced award, and you can also expect to pay more to refund a ticket through the call center (though there’s no reason to do that, since you can easily redeposit awards on aircanada.com). Also note that fees are per direction of travel, so you’ll pay even more if you’re traveling roundtrip on one itinerary.

Aeroplan award change & redeposit fees

Personally I’d consider change and redeposit fees to be the single biggest weak point of the Aeroplan program. Several other popular frequent flyer programs have eliminated these fees, so you’ll want to avoid speculative bookings.

Aeroplan lets you buy points at time of booking

One potentially useful feature of Aeroplan is that you can buy points at an attractive cost at the time that you’re ticketing an award. Let’s use a Lufthansa first class award from San Francisco to Frankfurt as an example, which costs 100,000 points.

Aeroplan award availability

When you go to ticket your award, you’ll see a few different options:

  • The standard is that you can redeem 100,000 Aeroplan points and pay 72.90 CAD (54.43 USD) in taxes & fees
  • If you don’t want to pay any cash, you could redeem an extra 7,290 Aeroplan points to avoid paying those fees; I wouldn’t do this, since you’re only getting 0.01 CAD of value per Aeroplan point
  • You can potentially reduce the number of points you have to redeem by 20% or 40% by paying extra cash; for example, you could reduce your points requirements by 40,000 by paying an extra 767.90 CAD (~573 USD), which is essentially a way to buy Aeroplan points for ~1.43 cents each (in USD)
Aeroplan buy points cost

This could potentially be a great deal, so it’s definitely something to be aware of.

Aeroplan award booking process

In general you’ll want to do what you can to search and ticket your Aeroplan awards directly on aircanada.com:

  • You can search award availability on the home page by clicking the “Book with points” button
  • All Aeroplan airline partners show availability through aircanada.com, and I find that Aeroplan has among the fewest issues of phantom award availability
  • You can even book a stopover directly through aircanada.com; once you initiate a search, just click the “Multi-city/Stopover” button, and then you can select your origin and destination, stopover city, and how long of a stopover you want
Aeroplan’s stopover feature on aircanada.com

Complicated itineraries will generally have to be booked via the call center. Aeroplan often has long hold times, though I find that calling at opening time helps with minimizing how long you have to wait. You can reach Aeroplan at 800-361-5373.

How to book amazing Aeroplan itineraries

All of the above probably sounds great, though how do you actually go about finding amazing deals? For example, I recently published my trip report introduction about an adventure I booked with Aeroplan. To start, let me recap what I booked.

My outbound journey covered a total of 12,948 miles across six segments. I booked the following in business class for 115,000 Air Canada Aeroplan points plus $112.82 in taxes & fees:

1/05 OS66 Chicago to Vienna departing 4:20PM arriving 8:20AM (+1 day)
1/07 OS501 Vienna to Rome departing 7:55AM arriving 9:30AM
1/07 GF26 Rome to Bahrain departing 11:10AM arriving 6:35PM
1/07 GF165 Bahrain to Singapore departing 11:50PM arriving 12:25PM (+1 day)
1/08 SQ186 Singapore to Ho Chi Minh City departing 5:30PM arriving 6:40PM
1/08 QH256 Ho Chi Minh City to Hanoi departing 10:10PM arriving 12:20AM (+1 day)

My return journey covered a total of 10,608 miles across three segments. I booked the following in business class for 87,500 Aeroplan points plus $150.11 in taxes & fees:

1/09 QH73 Hanoi to Frankfurt departing 9:40AM arriving 5:15PM
1/10 AC841 Frankfurt to Toronto departing 9:45AM arriving 12:30PM
1/10 AC1204 Toronto to Miami departing 6:30PM arriving 9:40PM

My fun trip routing with Aeroplan points!

How did I go about booking that? While I’ve written in the past about how to go about finding good Aeroplan deals, let me explain in a bit more detail, because as you might expect, aircanada.com didn’t recommend the outbound itinerary I chose. 😉

How to find Aeroplan award availability

Let me share the step-by-step of how I went about finding the above routing. Finding a truly great redemption takes a lot of effort and a significant amount of patience. While I’d like to think I’m pretty good at this, I put a significant amount of time into planning this, so don’t expect you’ll be able to put something like this together in five minutes.

Maybe you’re used to going to aircanada.com and seeing awards for travel on Air Canada that are priced at 300K+ points one-way? That’s totally normal, but that’s not how I like to redeem my Aeroplan points.

Aeroplan redemption rates on Air Canada can be steep

Let me emphasize that I took this trip specifically to be able to review as many new airlines as possible, so my itinerary choices were motivated largely by airline products I wanted to try. Furthermore, to the average person, taking a six segment one-way routing probably sounds like hell, rather than something fun. I feel like that disclaimer is necessary.

Anyway, let’s start with the return. Amazingly enough, Air Canada’s website showed an itinerary from Hanoi to Miami via Frankfurt and Toronto. That included travel on Bamboo Airways and Air Canada. Per Aeroplan’s award chart, a one-way award between the Pacific and North America that covers a distance of 7,501-11,000 miles costs 87,500 points in business class.

What a great value, and there wasn’t even any effort required to book, since it could be done directly online.

Aeroplan award availability on aircanada.com

The return itinerary seemed way too simple for me, so I decided to see how extreme I could go with the outbound. 😉 With Aeroplan’s distance based award chart, I’m always looking at the different distance thresholds, since obviously I want to maximize that.

In this case I was aiming to fly 11,001+ miles, which would be the highest mileage band between North America and the Pacific, and which would cost me 115,000 Aeroplan points.

How did I find the routing that I wanted? Well, I had a few airlines I knew that I most wanted to fly, so I pieced things together. I knew that I wanted to fly via Europe, so I started by searching award availability between Europe and Asia.

I saw that Gulf Air had business class award availability from Rome to Bahrain to Singapore, on both the Airbus A321LR and Boeing 787-9, so I knew I wanted to fly that.

Aeroplan award availability on aircanada.com

Now I just needed to figure out how to fly from the United States to Rome, and how to fly from Singapore to Hanoi. I ended up searching availability from major gateways in the United States (including Boston, Chicago, New York, Washington, etc.). Eventually I found an Austrian Airlines itinerary from Chicago to Rome via Vienna, which would allow me to review the Boeing 777-200ER and Airbus A320. Awesome!

Aeroplan award availability on aircanada.com

Lastly, I needed to find award availability from Singapore to Hanoi. I saw that Air Canada’s website was showing availability from Singapore to Ho Chi Minh City on the Boeing 787-10, and then from Ho Chi Minh City to Hanoi on the Bamboo Airways Airbus A321neo.

Aeroplan award availability on aircanada.com

I know to most people that routing sounds horrifying, though to me it sounded fun. How did I actually go about booking that, though?

See this post for my top tips on redeeming airline points.

How to ticket complicated Aeroplan awards

At least as of now, Air Canada’s website won’t allow you to ticket itineraries that are this complicated, so you need to book via the call center. As you might expect, that’s half of the adventure. After all, how do you explain to a phone agent that you’d like to fly from Chicago to Hanoi via Vienna, Rome, Bahrain, Singapore, and Ho Chi Minh City? You’d probably expect to get a response like this…

Well, if you get a good agent, it shouldn’t be complicated at all, and they might not even be fazed by your peculiar preferences. Once I was on the line with an agent, it took only 14 minutes to ticket the above itinerary from start to finish. That surprised even me.

How did I go about explaining what I was looking for? The conversation went something like this:

Me: “Hi there, I’m looking to redeem Aeroplan points for a business class ticket from Chicago to Hanoi, but it’s a complicated itinerary with six segments, and I wasn’t able to book this on aircanada.com. Would you be able to help, please?”
Agent: “Sure, I can’t guarantee it will price, but let’s give it a try. What did you have in mind?”

To avoid overwhelming the agent too much, I decided to break it down in segment pairs, to match up with what Air Canada’s website was showing. Furthermore, since there’s sometimes married segment availability, this is usually the best option for actually finding availability. So the call continued like this:

Me: “I was looking to travel from Chicago to Rome on January 5, from Rome to Singapore on January 7, and from Singapore to Hanoi on January 8. I can give you the flight numbers, if that will help.”
Agent: “Let me just pull up availability, give me a moment.”
Agent: “Okay, which flights were you looking at?”
Me: “On January 5 I was looking at OS66 from Chicago to Vienna, connecting to OS501 from Vienna to Rome, on January 7.”
Agent: “Yep, I got that.”
Me: “Great! Then from Rome to Singapore I was looking at GF26 from Rome to Bahrain, connecting to GF165 to Singapore.”
Agent: “I see that as well.”
Me: “Awesome! Lastly, I was looking to fly from Singapore to Ho Chi Minh City on SQ186, connecting to QH256 to Hanoi.”
Agent: “I see that as well.”

Sure enough, a moment later later the agent confirmed the price. I’d note that Aeroplan agents tend to not bat an eyelid to complicated itineraries. They’ve been trained that circuitous routings are allowed, given the combination of the zone and distance based award chart.

Furthermore, there’s no manual review here as to whether a routing is allowed or not. Rather it all comes down to what the computer prices. I was fully prepared to hear…

…but nope, it worked out!

Bottom line

Air Canada Aeroplan is an incredible frequent flyer program, thanks to reasonable award redemption rates, a generous stopover policy, a huge number of airline partners, and very generous routing rules. I redeem more points through Aeroplan than through any other frequent flyer program, and consistently get great value.

The key is that you have to put in some work to maximize Aeroplan points — it takes some research and time to find the good options, but when you do, they’re disproportionately rewarding.

If you haven’t yet booked an awesome adventure through Aeroplan, hopefully this is the encouragement you needed. Hopefully it also sheds some light on my Aeroplan booking process.

Have any OMAAT readers redeemed points through Aeroplan?

Conversations (65)
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  1. Timothy Guest

    I'm currently studying in Europe (Paris) and would need to go to Hong Kong to take care of some documents this summer and would like to continue on to Canada/North America to visit my family.

    According to the post, this should be impossible or at the least, very unlikely?

    1. Marco Guest

      It appears Paris-Hong Kong-Canada cannot be booked (exceeds the mileage?) and would need to be booked separately. As well as stopovers are not allowed in Canada or the US, the Canada to US sector will need to be booked separately as well.

      Even though Aeroplan works mainly for J if you are going with Economy your best bet would be to check with Cathay Pacific directly.

  2. [email protected] Guest

    One nuance that I ran into with the feature where you can choose between four different combinations of points and cash is that when you change an itinerary, you are locked into that option (proportionately) even if the points requirement for the new itinerary changes.

  3. bo Guest

    Great article as always - thanks Ben. I've had terrible luck though lately trying to get through to Aeroplan on the phone. They give me a wait time of 57 minutes, but still no answer after 3 hours. I tried to get through the next day, waited over an hour, and was disconnected. I ended up trying to call in 8 times over 10 days to get a ticket refunded (this particular one couldn't be...

    Great article as always - thanks Ben. I've had terrible luck though lately trying to get through to Aeroplan on the phone. They give me a wait time of 57 minutes, but still no answer after 3 hours. I tried to get through the next day, waited over an hour, and was disconnected. I ended up trying to call in 8 times over 10 days to get a ticket refunded (this particular one couldn't be done online) and never got through. Took screenshots of all of the call logs and had to contest the original ticketing charge through my credit card, which was successful. I guess each person has to evaluate if the hassle of having access to all of these great airlines through Aeroplan is worth it in the end when something goes wrong.

  4. JGeo Guest

    What about the checked in luggage ? Did you have to collect them at any airport and check in again ? Also did you require any transit visa at any of these airports ?

    1. Ben Schlappig OMAAT

      @ JGeo -- I didn't check in any bags, but generally if you have continuous travel you should be able to check bags through to your final destination, even if traveling on different airlines. I didn't need visas for any destinations based on my combination of having a US and German passport.

  5. MoJoe Diamond

    Excellent and informative article, Ben, thanks. Have some points now with Aeroplan, Amex, Capital One, and Chase. Individually they won't go that far (for a party of two), but by converting and combining Aeroplan points and using some of the tricks you mentioned, I can see some interesting possibilities.

  6. mauipeter Guest

    Hi Ben, would you mind elaborating how exactly you booked that for 114 K miles? 'I flew from Chicago to Hanoi via Vienna, Rome, Bahrain, Singapore, and Ho Chi Minh City.'

    1. Marco Guest

      That's the main part that was left out. You can clearly see each of those segments when added up prior to calling are far more than what was redeemed. I guess it's a feature that can only happen by calling in and the system just calculates it at the agents end. I think it was kind of mentioned but lost in translation lol

      Others on here too have complained how difficult it is to try...

      That's the main part that was left out. You can clearly see each of those segments when added up prior to calling are far more than what was redeemed. I guess it's a feature that can only happen by calling in and the system just calculates it at the agents end. I think it was kind of mentioned but lost in translation lol

      Others on here too have complained how difficult it is to try and redeem with Aeroplan within the award chart's mileage calculator, so it would be nice to see how this was booked.

    2. Andrew Guest

      The computer isn’t naturally suggest 6 flights for a single award flight. He explained it very clearly in the article that it’s best to search segments individually. Also, if two flights are together quote then together in case their is married segment issue. I’ve done bookings with aeroplan with no issues. Agents are pretty solid.

    3. Marco Guest

      Wow...instead of explaining how three sectors when viewed separately ORD-FCO-SIN-HAN that add up to 180K and $313 in taxes as per your screenshots, become 115K and $112 in taxes after booking with the agent..... you just decide to delete my reply to you as well as your previous response to mauipeter as well as another username lol. It is your blog after all....Cheers!! Like I said the system probably calculates the distance and groups together...

      Wow...instead of explaining how three sectors when viewed separately ORD-FCO-SIN-HAN that add up to 180K and $313 in taxes as per your screenshots, become 115K and $112 in taxes after booking with the agent..... you just decide to delete my reply to you as well as your previous response to mauipeter as well as another username lol. It is your blog after all....Cheers!! Like I said the system probably calculates the distance and groups together as in the past with the RTW trips bookable with Aeroplan.

    4. Marco Guest

      Just ignore. You did not delete. (Facepalm) No idea why it didn't show up. Thanks for the detailed write up and insight

    5. Ben Schlappig OMAAT

      @ mauipeter -- I built the itinerary myself, and then the pricing of 115K miles was based on the award chart, which I referenced at the beginning of the post. A one-way between the United States and Asia that covers a distance of 11,001+ miles in business class costs 115,000 Aeroplan points.

    6. Marco Guest

      So then if these were booked individually it would be 180K and $313

      Chicago-Rome 70K + $104
      Rome-Singapore 80K + $103
      Singapore-Hanoi 30K + $106

      However when booked with an agent and since all are within the permitted total mileage it drops down to 115K and $112 in taxes and fees.

      Amazing. I had no idea this could be done.

      Does the same apply with booking two sectors each with a stopover or are those priced separately as you don't need an agent to book those.

    7. Andrew Guest

      @Marco

      Yes, this applies to stopovers when booking two sectors. I booked IAD to AUH in F with a stopover and then AUH to ICN in J for 145k points (before the recent devaluation). Separately it would be 130k for the first flight in F and 60k for the second flight, so 190k total.

    8. Marco Guest

      Thanks Andrew. To think I was going to book Canada-Indian subcontinent as one (87.5K) and then Indian Subcontinent to Singapore (60K) as another, which can now be booked as Canada-Indian Subcontinet-Singapore all as one for (87.5). Am I right?

      This now makes Aeroplan really great :)

  7. Anthony Joseph Guest

    Ben, The most educational and informational posting by you in quite a while. I learned a lot. In fact I had posted a comment not even 2 weeks ago about my "bad" experiences with trying to redeem awards in business class at reasonable rates.
    BTW, I have heard from so many close friends who a frequent fliers ( I live in the Pacific Northwest) that Air Canada totally sucks.... Although you Toronto-Miami flight sounded...

    Ben, The most educational and informational posting by you in quite a while. I learned a lot. In fact I had posted a comment not even 2 weeks ago about my "bad" experiences with trying to redeem awards in business class at reasonable rates.
    BTW, I have heard from so many close friends who a frequent fliers ( I live in the Pacific Northwest) that Air Canada totally sucks.... Although you Toronto-Miami flight sounded awesome. But there are a lot more horror stories of poor service, poor hard product even on their Dreamliners.

  8. Sir Digby Chicken Caesar Guest

    Excellent article Ben, thanks!

  9. Phil Guest

    It is a decent program for sure, however you make no mention of high taxes and fees on Aeroplan award tickets in Europe. The points are paid at a reasonable rate but then they add taxes and fees and this can often add up to much more than just buying the ticket outright with cash. (especially if you fly the discounters, but even if you buy the exact same ticket it's close.

    1. Ben Schlappig OMAAT

      @ Phil -- Aside from the partner booking fee, Aeroplan doesn't pass on any carrier imposed surcharges. So the taxes and fees are what would be charged by the airline as well when booking a revenue ticket.

      There's no denying that value is sometimes limited redeeming points for intra-Europe economy on a route that's also served by a ULCC like Ryanair, but that's not because Aeroplan is tacking on fuel surcharges.

  10. 54austin Guest

    Aeroplan might be good for business class tix, but I have wasted many hours trying to ticket mixed-class itineraries that include aa frist-class segment. As Ben noted, the cancellation fees are a bummer, and if you want first class as part of your itinerary, the cost-benefit may not work out.

  11. Bob Guest

    90% computer says no
    10% routing allowed.

    If AC flight involved, 99% computer says no.

    Hyping up this program in order to push Chase credit cards is dishonest.

    No mention of the $150 per direction per person change/cancel fees?

    1. Ben Schlappig OMAAT

      @ Bob -- "No mention of the $150 per direction per person change/cancel fees?"

      Did you read the post?

      To be more constructive, I'm curious what kind of routings you were trying to book where you got a "computer says no?" Because Aeroplan's routing rules are even more generous than I outlined in this post...

  12. jcil Guest

    Are there any options for Premium Economy awards on partner airlines? Charts seems to show this option only for Air Canada flights.

    1. Ben Schlappig OMAAT

      @ jcil -- Unfortunately not. Even though premium economy has become so popular, partner redemption opportunities for the cabin remain limited.

  13. hungry Guest

    A question about cancellation policies-

    I booked an award flight on Etihad, but the departure time changed by 8 hours, and I can't fly it now.

    Making a cancellation through the website states CAD 150, and through call center is 175. However, this should be free given the major change in flight time / duration etc. Why'd be the best way to fix this?

    1. Andrew Guest

      Call and explain the situation. They should waive the cancellation fee for an 8 hour departure time change.

    2. Bob Guest

      Call. Wait 5 hours on the phone, but they'll waivw the fee.
      Be ready for more hold when your taxes don't get refunded automatically.

    3. Ben Schlappig OMAAT

      @ hungry -- Yeah, the change fee for that absolutely should be waived.

  14. Daniel M Guest

    Hi Ben. I think this article is a bit too generous toward Aeroplan.
    1. Aeroplan closes late at night and there's no non-Canada phone number, so you can be screwed if there's any problems at check-in on a partner airline ticket in Asia or other parts of the world. It's hard to take Aeroplan seriously as a global loyalty program until they fix this.
    2. The 39 CAD partner airline booking fee is...

    Hi Ben. I think this article is a bit too generous toward Aeroplan.
    1. Aeroplan closes late at night and there's no non-Canada phone number, so you can be screwed if there's any problems at check-in on a partner airline ticket in Asia or other parts of the world. It's hard to take Aeroplan seriously as a global loyalty program until they fix this.
    2. The 39 CAD partner airline booking fee is overly-punitive on cheap itineraries like intra-EU or intra-Japan.
    3. Unfortunately Aeroplan has nasty phantom availability issues with Copa Airlines (CM). Nearly everything I saw on Aeroplan around the holidays wasn't really available (especially in business class), and of course I had already transferred from AMEX to Aeroplan when I discovered the availability didn't exist. Aeroplan did offer to transfer the miles back to AMEX though.

    1. Andrew Guest

      I don't disagree with these comments, but there is great utility with Aeroplan when booking long business class trips. The number of partners is also outstanding. They also have had transfer bonuses with Amex and Chase as well. As award availability gets more and more difficult to find, Aeroplan's number of partners will become their differentiator. I honestly think having to call for difficult bookings is a plus sometimes because fewer people do it. I...

      I don't disagree with these comments, but there is great utility with Aeroplan when booking long business class trips. The number of partners is also outstanding. They also have had transfer bonuses with Amex and Chase as well. As award availability gets more and more difficult to find, Aeroplan's number of partners will become their differentiator. I honestly think having to call for difficult bookings is a plus sometimes because fewer people do it. I think it's one of the reason the Virgin Atlantic sweet spot on ANA hasn't been devalued yet (it's a hassle to book with their long hold times).

    2. LarryInNYC Diamond

      Whoa:

      Aeroplan did offer to transfer the miles back to AMEX though.

      That's burying the lede! Did this wind up happening?

  15. Mr. S Guest

    Quick question….I get why Aeroplan would be compelling for people who fly business.

    But for people who always fly coach, are there any competitive advantages or reasons to use Aeroplan (over other programs) besides stopovers and the large number of partner airlines? Coach prices often seem a little higher than other programs. Am I missing something?

    1. Ben Schlappig OMAAT

      @ Mr. S -- I find Aeroplan's economy pricing to be competitive, though it won't usually be lower than you'll find through other programs. I think the variety of partners, ability to have stopovers, and ease of earning the points, are the main advantages of booking economy awards through Aeroplan.

  16. Jimmy’s Travel Report Diamond

    Ben, what kind of hold times did you deal with? What time of day was your call and lastly did you use a call back feature? I need to call to discuss a couple redemptions, and I’m wondering what I’ll be dealing with..?

    1. Ben Schlappig OMAAT

      @ Jimmy’s Travel Report -- Great question! Hold times can be rough, though personally I have no issues getting through when I call right as the Aeroplan call center opens. I'll update the post to reflect these details.

    2. Jimmy’s Travel Report Diamond

      Thank you Ben, great post and I’m looking forward to the rest of the trip report.

  17. Eskimo Guest

    Thanks for the detailed experience.
    I would consider this booking very lucky.
    Definitely lacking some drama that I was expecting.

    At least a long wait time or an agent who refuses to listen to your explanation.

    1. TheOtherBen Guest

      Likely calling in first thing in the morning also meant less-grumoy, more helpful agents :D

  18. Ever Guest

    So stops under 24 hours are allowed as a connecting flight?

    1. Ben Schlappig OMAAT

      @ Ever -- Correct, that just counts as a connection, and not as a stopover, which is great.

  19. DMoney Guest

    Two things I'd add based on my personal experience this past week. I was trying to book three tickets from BOM to YYZ and a simple search on Aeroplan Website showed most itineraries would require an economy hop to Europe, followed by United Polaris to US and then to Canada with AC or United.

    1. At first, I saw an AC 5th freedom flight from BOM-LHR which offered Premium Economy seats. I wanted to see...

    Two things I'd add based on my personal experience this past week. I was trying to book three tickets from BOM to YYZ and a simple search on Aeroplan Website showed most itineraries would require an economy hop to Europe, followed by United Polaris to US and then to Canada with AC or United.

    1. At first, I saw an AC 5th freedom flight from BOM-LHR which offered Premium Economy seats. I wanted to see if I could get PE on that flight and then connect from LHR to YYZ (through ERW or IAD or ORD) on United. The website would let me select the flights and take me all the way to seat selection page and error out. I tried several times and called Aeroplan three times to see if the agents could price it. No luck. My potential lesson learned - you can not have a custom itinerary that includes an AC flight since AC tickets are dynamically priced.

    2. I then saw Etihad business class availability from AUH to ORD for 9 seats. Unfortunately Etihad only had 2 seats from BOM - AUH for my dates. So, this time, I tried to select 3 economy seats on Etihad from BOM - AUH, followed by 3 Business seats from AUH - ORD - YYZ (ORD - YYZ on United). This time as well, the online tool would price the itinerary and take me to seat selection page and then error out. I was confused since this time all my flights were on partner airlines (so no dynamic pricing), the cost quoted was 110k points per seat, which is what it would have costs for all Business seats, but mind you mine had 2 legs in economy. To me, it seemed like a valid itinerary, but Aeroplan's tool won't allow to ticket it. I again contacted Aeroplan 3 times, and each agent had the same issue. One of the agent confirmed to me that this was likely due to first flight being in Economy, due to which Aeroplan didn't allow next segment(s) on business. They said if I chose a business seat to AUH (the routing was BOM - MUS/BAH - AUH with first leg in economy and second short leg on EY business), the system would allow it to be priced. The other option would be to add a stop over in AUH (BOM - AUH still in economy), which would also be priced correctly. In the end, I decided to just book AUH-ORD-YYZ online (for 90k points each), and then add BOM-AUH separately for 12.5k points each. I can stay in AUH as long as I want and it would only cost me 102.5k points total for the journey rather than 115k points if I had chosen AUH as stop over.

    1. Eric Guest

      This was a helpful comment, thanks for sharing so much detail.

    2. APAnon Guest

      I’ve had agents consistently try to price a stopover as a multi city especially when changing existing bookings. I’ve tried to explain it but they say the price has gone up by the cost of the segment. Has this happened to you?

  20. Beachfan Guest

    Thanks Which of their partners is more likely to have TATL J from LAX?

    OS used to regularly drop a couple of J awards when their schedule opened, but that was years ago.got the post!

    1. Ben Schlappig OMAAT

      @ Beachfan -- LAX is always tricky with transatlantic award space. I find that Lufthansa, LOT, and SWISS all pretty regularly have award space, though it can require flexibility and booking at the right time. Good luck!

    2. Brodie Guest

      LAX based here and agree it is tough. I find better availability out of SFO as well as DFW and IAH. SFO is a quick hop on Alaska/AA from either SNA or LAX and you can usually bag F for $60 more than coach on Alaska. Lounge access is included as well on Alaska, at least for another month.

    3. beachfan Guest

      I always only see one seat on LOT (to ORD), any others that you know of that have two more often?

  21. World_Traveller New Member

    I'm also a big fan of Aeroplan. One thing that I like about the program, which you didn't mention, is that you can "buy down" the points redemption with cash. You get four options, ranging from 100% points (and no cash) to roughly 50% points. The effective cost of the points varies, but I've found that it ranges from just over 1 cent per mile to around 1.3 cents per mile (this is in USD,...

    I'm also a big fan of Aeroplan. One thing that I like about the program, which you didn't mention, is that you can "buy down" the points redemption with cash. You get four options, ranging from 100% points (and no cash) to roughly 50% points. The effective cost of the points varies, but I've found that it ranges from just over 1 cent per mile to around 1.3 cents per mile (this is in USD, at the current CAD-USD exchange rate). If you value Aeroplan points at more than 1.3 cents per mile, you'd almost always want to choose the lowest-point and highest-cash redemption option. This is also great for people who don't generally have huge point balances. I recently booked LAX - HND - SYD in business on ANA for 52,500 points plus ~$600. Pretty good deal, I think.

    1. Ben Schlappig OMAAT

      @ World_Traveller -- Excellent point! Let me update the post to reflect that.

  22. R B Guest

    Awesome post!
    Recently booked 2 R/T tickets on Air Mauritius from CDG-MRU in J, 240k using Air Canada Aeroplan miles in total. Very happy.

  23. Samuel Guest

    Can you book first class with Aeroplan for partners that offer it?

    1. Ben Schlappig OMAAT

      @ Samuel -- Yep, you sure can!

    2. Samuel Guest

      Will it just show up as a 4th column only when available?

    3. Ben Schlappig OMAAT

      @ Samuel -- Exactly. You won't see the column unless first class is available. In fairness, fairly few partners make first class award space available to other airlines. This includes Lufthansa (up to 15 days in advance), Oman Air, Etihad, ANA (though space can be really tough to come by), Air China, and Air India.

    4. Andrew Guest

      Yup, booked Etihad first with a stopover in AUH and then continued to Seoul in business class. It's not as intense as Ben's booking, but was still a good option for us as finding two F seats with award availability is often a headache. We're traveling ANA F, Etihad F, and Qatar F this year as a couple all on points so we'll get to compare! Not sure if we'll ever be able to book so many F tickets as a couple as it seems like the airlines are tightening up F space.

  24. Freddy Guest

    Thank You for such a detailed informative post ..so had no Dora Aeroplan was such a great program ..shall look forward to redeeming some award for my future trips

  25. zagman1112 Member

    @Ben I am looking at booking tickets for my family of four to Maui next December. Have you seen good redemptions for Hawaii with Aeroplan from the West Coast?

    1. Ben Schlappig OMAAT

      @ zagman1112 -- Hawaii is always tricky with miles. If you're coming from the US West Coast, it all comes down to what saver level award availability United has. It could be a good use of Aeroplan points, though it's not going to get you any disproportionate value.

    2. Chris Guest

      It's not on its own but if you have Air Canada / Aeroplan Elite status and have some priority rewards, then Hawaii can a nicely valued redemption. The priority reward vouchers give you 50% off round trip reward flights, and even at the lowest tier they're good for 50% off economy flights within Canada or the US - including Hawaii. Picking some random days next month I could do YVR to HNL round trip in...

      It's not on its own but if you have Air Canada / Aeroplan Elite status and have some priority rewards, then Hawaii can a nicely valued redemption. The priority reward vouchers give you 50% off round trip reward flights, and even at the lowest tier they're good for 50% off economy flights within Canada or the US - including Hawaii. Picking some random days next month I could do YVR to HNL round trip in economy for 28k points / 2 for a total of 14k points per seat. Not too shabby.

  26. BuiltInYorkshire Guest

    Quick question, is this worth joining if you are based outside the United States?

    I'm in the UK and am flying Turkish in a couple of weeks to Senegal and wonder if this is the year to try and start doing something with points.

    Unless I can do Emirates, I don't particularly have a favourite airline.

    1. Ben Schlappig OMAAT

      @ BuiltInYorkshire -- Absolutely! Aeroplan often sells points at a reasonable cost, where it could be worth buying points exclusively for a premium redemption on a partner. There's lots of value to be had when originating in the UK.

    2. BuiltInYorkshire Guest

      Thanks for that, I've got an embarrassing amount of holiday days to use this year and want to make the most of it :)

  27. DLPTATL Diamond

    Great article Ben! Thanks for the step-by-step. You have me dreaming about an around the world trip using some of Aeroplan's more unique partners. I'm just not sure I can convince Mrs. DLPTATL that it would be the vacation of her dreams.

    1. Ben Schlappig OMAAT

      @ DLPTATL -- Hahaha, I hear you, I'm not sure Ford would be down for a trip like this either. But you can always compromise, and do a semi-fun routing with a stopover, so that the trip is broken up a bit. Even if you're trying to go somewhere like Oman or Mauritius, it could be fun to have a stopover on the way.

Featured 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.

Ben Schlappig OMAAT

@ Bob -- "No mention of the $150 per direction per person change/cancel fees?" Did you read the post? To be more constructive, I'm curious what kind of routings you were trying to book where you got a "computer says no?" Because Aeroplan's routing rules are even more generous than I outlined in this post...

2
DMoney Guest

Two things I'd add based on my personal experience this past week. I was trying to book three tickets from BOM to YYZ and a simple search on Aeroplan Website showed most itineraries would require an economy hop to Europe, followed by United Polaris to US and then to Canada with AC or United. 1. At first, I saw an AC 5th freedom flight from BOM-LHR which offered Premium Economy seats. I wanted to see if I could get PE on that flight and then connect from LHR to YYZ (through ERW or IAD or ORD) on United. The website would let me select the flights and take me all the way to seat selection page and error out. I tried several times and called Aeroplan three times to see if the agents could price it. No luck. My potential lesson learned - you can not have a custom itinerary that includes an AC flight since AC tickets are dynamically priced. 2. I then saw Etihad business class availability from AUH to ORD for 9 seats. Unfortunately Etihad only had 2 seats from BOM - AUH for my dates. So, this time, I tried to select 3 economy seats on Etihad from BOM - AUH, followed by 3 Business seats from AUH - ORD - YYZ (ORD - YYZ on United). This time as well, the online tool would price the itinerary and take me to seat selection page and then error out. I was confused since this time all my flights were on partner airlines (so no dynamic pricing), the cost quoted was 110k points per seat, which is what it would have costs for all Business seats, but mind you mine had 2 legs in economy. To me, it seemed like a valid itinerary, but Aeroplan's tool won't allow to ticket it. I again contacted Aeroplan 3 times, and each agent had the same issue. One of the agent confirmed to me that this was likely due to first flight being in Economy, due to which Aeroplan didn't allow next segment(s) on business. They said if I chose a business seat to AUH (the routing was BOM - MUS/BAH - AUH with first leg in economy and second short leg on EY business), the system would allow it to be priced. The other option would be to add a stop over in AUH (BOM - AUH still in economy), which would also be priced correctly. In the end, I decided to just book AUH-ORD-YYZ online (for 90k points each), and then add BOM-AUH separately for 12.5k points each. I can stay in AUH as long as I want and it would only cost me 102.5k points total for the journey rather than 115k points if I had chosen AUH as stop over.

2
Ben Schlappig OMAAT

@ zagman1112 -- Hawaii is always tricky with miles. If you're coming from the US West Coast, it all comes down to what saver level award availability United has. It could be a good use of Aeroplan points, though it's not going to get you any disproportionate value.

2
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