Air Canada’s Aeroplan program is kicking off the new year by implementing changes to their frequent flyer program, effective as of today. Aeroplan announced the changes to their award chart last June, and while the changes are negative for the most part, one huge improvement is the ability to book one-way awards for half the price of a round trip.
This is really exciting, as even with the price increases there are still some great values to be had on the Aeroplan award chart.
- Travel between the US and Europe “zone 1” is 90,000 miles in business class, which means a one-way business class ticket is just 45,000 miles
- Aeroplan defines Europe 1 as Austria, Belgium, Denmark, France, Germany, Ireland, Italy, Netherlands, Norway, Poland, Portugal, Spain (incl. Balearic Islands; excl. Canary Islands), Sweden, Switzerland, United Kingdom.
- Europe 2 consists of Albania, Armenia, Azerbaijan, Belarus, Bosnia, Bulgaria, Croatia, Cyprus, Czech Republic, Estonia, Finland, Georgia, Greece, Greenland, Hungary, Iceland, Latvia, Lithuania, Luxembourg, Macedonia, Malta, Moldovia, Romania, Russia (Western), Serbia and Montenegro, Slovakia, Slovenia, Turkey and the Ukraine, and is 105,000 miles for the round trip in business class, or 52,500 for the one-way.
- Travel between the US and Asia “zone 1” is 150,000 miles in business class, which means a one-way business class ticket is just 75,000 miles
- Asia 1 is fairly comprehensive, including China, Hong Kong, Japan, North Korea, Singapore, South Korea, Taiwan, Thailand, Vietnam.
- Asia 2 includes Brunei, Cambodia, Guam, Indonesia, Laos, Macau, Malaysia, Mariana Island (Spain), Myanmar, Philippines, Russia (Eastern), and would be just 155,000 miles for the round trip in business class, or 77,500 for the one-way.
The catch is that Aeroplan imposes fuel surcharges for redemptions on most of their partner airlines, but if you can avoid those surcharges then these mileage amounts can be a great value. When booking through the Aeroplan program you’ll want to stick to Air China, Brussels, EgyptAir, Ethiopian, EVA Air, Scandinavian, Singapore, Swiss, Turkish, United, and US Airways as much as possible, as these airlines have no (or as in the case of LOT, very low) fuel surcharges.
It’s also worth noting that you can include other airlines that do impose fuel surcharges on the same Aeroplan award, and you’ll only be charged the fuel surcharges for the segments on the airlines which impose them. So a short intra-European flight shouldn’t have especially high fuel surcharges, should you want to include a segment on Lufthansa or Austrian to connect to your transatlantic segment.
Although I’m never a fan of increases to award charts, I think having the option to book a one-way is an huge improvement. If you’re looking to redeem miles for an award flight this expands your options significantly:
- You could look at using American miles or British Airways Avios to fly Oneworld carriers in one direction, and return on Star Alliance carriers using Aeroplan, for example.
- With the changes to the United award chart, travel on partner airlines is rather expensive, though it might make sense to book Austrian or Lufthansa through United in one direction (as both have high fuel surcharges), then use Aeroplan miles for an airline that doesn’t have high fees in the other.
I typically find the best way to acquire Aeroplan points is through American Express Membership Rewards, which are accrued with the The Platinum Card® from American Express, American Express Premier Rewards Gold Card, The Enhanced Business Gold Rewards Card from American Express, and The Business Platinum Card® from American Express . The transfers are instant, and any Membership Rewards account can transfer to any Aeroplan account, which is quite handy.
Alternatively, Starwood Preferred Guest also transfers at a 1:1 ratio to Air Canada Aeroplan, and given that they offer a 5,000 point bonus when transferring in 20,000 point increments can be a tremendous value. The transfers do take about a week, but you can book a round-trip ticket to Europe for just 75,000 SPG points. I find the Starwood Preferred Guest® Credit Card from American Express and Starwood Preferred Guest® Business Credit Card from American Express tremendously valuable for non-bonused spend, and while I generally use SPG points for hotels, there is a good value to be had in the airline transfers as well.
Overall, while the Aeroplan award chart changes are no doubt negative on the whole, the ability to book one-way awards at half the cost of a roundtrip is a great new option to have.
(In the interest of full disclosure I earn a referral bonus on some of the above links — thanks for your support!)