Introduction: A Whirlwind Aeroplan Adventure

Introduction: A Whirlwind Aeroplan Adventure

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Welcome to my next trip report series, which will include business class reviews on Austrian Airlines, Gulf Air, Singapore Airlines, Bamboo Airways, and Air Canada, as well as several airport lounge and hotel reviews.

Why I took this trip

This was a “pure” review trip, which is to say that I took this trip exclusively to review as many airlines, airport lounges, and hotels, as possible, all while minimizing my time away from home. I know many OMAAT readers enjoy the reviews on the blog, so as a new parent I’m trying to keep that going while being away from home as little as possible.

Air Canada Aeroplan is my favorite frequent flyer program, and I particularly appreciate how many unique airline partners the program has. My goal with this trip was to maximize Aeroplan points for a routing on as many interesting airlines as possible.

I hadn’t been to Southeast Asia since before the pandemic, so I kind of set Singapore as my “destination,” and wanted to see how creatively I could get there and back. The beauty of Aeroplan is that you can route from the United States to Asia via Europe, so there really are some great award possibilities.

I plan on doing another one of these trips again soon, covering many of the products I didn’t manage to get to on this trip (including the Etihad Airbus A350, Singapore Airlines Boeing 737 MAX 8, LOT Polish Boeing 787, Lufthansa Boeing 787, and Vistara Boeing 787).

It was so nice to be back in Southeast Asia!

The airlines I flew on this trip

I booked this trip as two one-way Aeroplan awards, traveling a total distance of 23,557 miles.

The routing for my Aeroplan award trip

Specifically, I used Aeroplan’s award chart between North America and the Pacific, which is distance based. Relevant to this trip:

  • A one-way business class award covering a distance of 7,500-11,000 miles costs 87,500 points
  • A one-way business class award covering a distance of 11,000+ miles costs 115,000 points
Aeroplan award chart between North America & Pacific

Let me remind everyone that earning Air Canada Aeroplan points is easy. Aeroplan is 1:1 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 offers a great bonus and some unique perks.

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)

Austrian Boeing 777 business class
Gulf Air Airbus A321LR business class
Gulf Air Boeing 787 business class
Singapore Airlines Boeing 787 business class
Bamboo Airways Airbus A321neo business class

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

Bamboo Airways Boeing 787 business class
Air Canada Boeing 787 business class

Seriously, how awesome is this routing?! Many are probably wondering how you go about booking something like this, so I’ll cover that in the next post, since that’s a big topic in and of itself.

In addition to flight reviews, you can expect reviews of the following lounges (I’ve already reviewed the Amex Centurion Lounge Miami and American Admirals Club Washington, which I visited during my positioning flights to Chicago):

Singapore Airlines Business Lounge Changi Airport

The hotels I stayed at on this trip

While I traveled for nearly a week, I only spent two nights in actual hotels. At the beginning of my trip, I had an overnight in Vienna, and I decided to check out the Andaz Vienna. While the cash rate would have been around 200 Euro, I had a Category 1-4 free night certificate expiring in the coming weeks, so I decided to redeem that. That worked out perfectly, as this is a Category 4 World of Hyatt property.

Andaz Vienna lobby

While not a proper hotel, during my overnight at Hanoi Airport I decided to book the VATC Sleep Pod Hanoi Airport for the night, since it seemed more convenient than trekking into the city. That was… an experience.

VATC Sleep Pod Hanoi Airport

Lastly, at the tail end of the trip I had a night in Frankfurt, and I decided to book the Sheraton Frankfurt Airport. I recently reviewed the connected Marriott Frankfurt Airport, so I was curious to see how the Sheraton compares nowadays. I booked this with a Marriott Bonvoy free night award, given that the cash rate at the hotel was quite high.

Sheraton Frankfurt Airport guest room

Bottom line

I’m happy to be getting 2023 off to a good start when it comes to review trips, with an amazing redemption no less. I redeemed a total of 202,500 Aeroplan points for an incredible journey covering 23,000+ miles of flying, across all kinds of airlines.

Stay tuned for reviews of business class on Austrian Airlines, Gulf Air, Singapore Airlines, Bamboo Airways, and Air Canada, plus lots of lounge reviews and a couple of hotel reviews. I’ll also be dedicating a post to talking about how exactly I went about booking this itinerary, given that it’s probably a mystery to many.

Thanks for reading, and stay tuned!

Conversations (42)
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  1. Aztec Guest

    Finally, a real trip (and holy, what a trip)! Can't wait for the reviews!

  2. HuaHin Guest

    Just returned from 2 months Asia trip via a similar itinerary, JFK HND SIN KUL BKK outbound and BKK DBX ZRH EWR MIA inbound. All in J, Etihad, Swiss, ANA, Gulf. Took a few days to piece together an outbound in November, January return took about 30 min to book; booked it on the beach in Pattaya 3 days prior to departure. Feels like I have a doctorate in Aeroplan, hope they don’t mess with it.

  3. Karen Guest

    Question. I transferred 180K Bonvoy points to Aeroplan on 12/25 and not yet posted on my AC account as of today. Any past experiences with this issue? And customer service phone line is nonexistent.

  4. DMoney Guest

    I love these kinds of trips that demonstrate the power of an airline program. And like a lot of others here, I have a love-hate relationship with Aeroplan. I just booked my family of 5 (two infants though) a trip to India and back on Etihad business class round trip. We are leaving in 45 days and I was astonished to find 7+ seats on Etihad in each direction for our dates. We also have...

    I love these kinds of trips that demonstrate the power of an airline program. And like a lot of others here, I have a love-hate relationship with Aeroplan. I just booked my family of 5 (two infants though) a trip to India and back on Etihad business class round trip. We are leaving in 45 days and I was astonished to find 7+ seats on Etihad in each direction for our dates. We also have a stop over in Abu Dhabi on the outbound and will get to sample the hard product on both B787 and A350. And the funny part - despite leaving from and returning to Toronto, we aren’t stepping foot on AC metal (United, Etihad, Vistara, Air India, all in one trip). The infants cost 2.5k + C$30 per person each way - simply Amazing! The part I hate is that each ticket costs 110k miles, so there goes my family’s two years worth of mileage accruals.

  5. glenn t Diamond

    Looking forward to how you booked this marathon! Would contemplate a less ambitious routing using my stash of Aeroplan miles, for which I share your enthusiasm!

  6. Jake212 Guest

    @Lucky - When did you start using bots in the comment section of your blog. Really hope this is only test and not the new norm. Have a hard time believing multiple users with different usernames posted the *exact* same comment:

    Santos (Guest)
    January 16, 2023, 10:02 am
    This is why OMAAT is in a class by itself among miles/points blogs. Amazing.

    dedektör modelleri (Guest)
    January 16, 2023, 5:30 pm
    This...

    @Lucky - When did you start using bots in the comment section of your blog. Really hope this is only test and not the new norm. Have a hard time believing multiple users with different usernames posted the *exact* same comment:

    Santos (Guest)
    January 16, 2023, 10:02 am
    This is why OMAAT is in a class by itself among miles/points blogs. Amazing.

    dedektör modelleri (Guest)
    January 16, 2023, 5:30 pm
    This is why OMAAT is in a class by itself among miles/points blogs. Amazing.

    1. Eskimo Guest

      @Lucky - When did you start using bots in the comment section of your blog. Really hope this is only test and not the new norm. Have a hard time believing multiple users with different usernames posted the *exact* same comment:

      Santos (Guest)
      January 16, 2023, 10:02 am
      This is why OMAAT is in a class by itself among miles/points blogs. Amazing.

      dedektör modelleri (Guest)
      January 16, 2023, 5:30 pm
      This...

      @Lucky - When did you start using bots in the comment section of your blog. Really hope this is only test and not the new norm. Have a hard time believing multiple users with different usernames posted the *exact* same comment:

      Santos (Guest)
      January 16, 2023, 10:02 am
      This is why OMAAT is in a class by itself among miles/points blogs. Amazing.

      dedektör modelleri (Guest)
      January 16, 2023, 5:30 pm
      This is why OMAAT is in a class by itself among miles/points blogs. Amazing.

    2. XPL Diamond

      What makes you think that Ben is running the bots? Many bots are run by third parties and blog owners consider them as much of an annoyance as readers do.

  7. Weymar Osborne Gold

    Good lord, booking that outbound must have been quite the phone call. There's no way you could have booked that online right? Hopefully Air Canada had good phone support. Pretty cool that you could get a free day in Vienna without going over the 24hr threshold for a stopover though.

  8. dedektör modelleri Guest

    This is why OMAAT is in a class by itself among miles/points blogs. Amazing.

  9. Royi Guest

    As much as this is indeed a great journey, most normal people would want to get to Hanoi with one or two stops max, and that’s when it gets hard. Finding availability on dozen of flights isn’t hard

  10. Eskimo Guest

    @Lucky

    Now the cat is out of the bag and you will be covering this soon.
    Maybe can you also share how long it took you to plan this routing including phone hold times and actual ticketing?
    I'm sure returning at 10,608, or 392 miles short is not a coincidence, would love to hear all about this too.

    Looking forward to your adventures.

    1. Ben Schlappig OMAAT

      @ Eskimo -- Hah, indeed. I'll share all of that in the next post. Stay tuned!

  11. alpha Guest

    Gosh, I'm really looking forward to reading these reviews! How did you get SEN lounge access in VIE considering your onward flight was in business class? Do you have *G? (I assume not, since your LH FRA review is of the C lounge...)

    1. Ben Schlappig OMAAT

      @ alpha -- I have Star Alliance Gold status through Singapore KrisFlyer. I reviewed lounges in Vienna and Frankfurt based on which I've reviewed in the past. I've reviewed the Austrian Business Lounge Vienna and Lufthansa Senator Lounge Frankfurt, so this time decided to visit the Austrian Senator Lounge Vienna and Lufthansa Business Lounge Frankfurt.

  12. Ella Guest

    I’m glad that Aeroplan worked for you. My own experience with them was a nightmare. Flying AC and AC, connecting in Montreal I missed my connection. At the AC counter, the agent and her supervisor both insisted they couldn’t rebook me and I needed to call Aeroplan (which acknowledged on the web site a 2 hour hold time). No work around with DM on Twitter. I couldn’t even find a chair to sit in. So...

    I’m glad that Aeroplan worked for you. My own experience with them was a nightmare. Flying AC and AC, connecting in Montreal I missed my connection. At the AC counter, the agent and her supervisor both insisted they couldn’t rebook me and I needed to call Aeroplan (which acknowledged on the web site a 2 hour hold time). No work around with DM on Twitter. I couldn’t even find a chair to sit in. So I rebooked myself for the next morning and got a hotel room.
    Once home I waited patiently to talk with Aeroplan who told me the agents shouldn’t have done that. Gee, ya think? Aeroplan refunded me a whopping 7000 miles (so out most of my second ticket) and AC told me the short connection was somebody else’s fault so they wouldn’t cover the hotel room.
    In short, I couldn’t even cross Canada on Aeroplan, flying Air Canada. Hearing about your trip flying all over the world with this program just makes me cringe.

  13. R B Guest

    2023 off to a good start!
    Looking forward to reading your reviews Ben :)

  14. Marco Guest

    Really looking to see how you booked this as sometimes just a single sector with Aeroplan can cost as much if not more lol

    "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...

    Really looking to see how you booked this as sometimes just a single sector with Aeroplan can cost as much if not more lol

    "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)"

  15. Bruno Guest

    Hi Ben,

    You didn’t stay in a hotel during your layover in FRA?

    1. Ben Schlappig OMAAT

      @ Bruno -- Whoops, good catch, thanks. Updated the post now to reflect that. I did indeed spend a night at the Sheraton Frankfurt Airport.

  16. Robin Guest

    Can't wait for the how-to. Trying to return from KRK on June 3rd to the states and I'm unable to reproduce your routing for decent miles. I'm from south FL so I find your blog so helpful!
    thank you.

  17. frank Guest

    My favorite travel blog!!

  18. T- Guest

    Thank You for the tease. I’m sure you had an amazing trip(s). Hope to read your posts soon.

  19. DLPTATL Diamond

    Looking forward to all of the detailed reviews, but most curious about the conversation(s) had with the Aeroplan call center to book these. Hoping there's a lot of detail in this regard. I'm guessing the agent wanted to book you more direct routing.

    1. Jh Guest

      If you come armed with flight numbers and airport codes in my experience they just punch it all into the system and you’re good.

  20. Dan Guest

    Me trying to book YVR-SYD in J class and it's 300k points pp

  21. Santos Guest

    This is why OMAAT is in a class by itself among miles/points blogs. Amazing.

    1. Lukas Guest

      +1
      keep up the fantastic work, Ben!

  22. Daniel B. Guest

    @Lucky: a word of caution regarding LOT: the last 3 times we flew with them on business class (in the past 6 months), 1-2 days before check in our seats were taken away from us and we got reassigned to completely different seats even though we had one record locator for both of us. On all 3 occasion it was because certain seats had issues with them. Neither LOT's central reservation, nor the gate agents...

    @Lucky: a word of caution regarding LOT: the last 3 times we flew with them on business class (in the past 6 months), 1-2 days before check in our seats were taken away from us and we got reassigned to completely different seats even though we had one record locator for both of us. On all 3 occasion it was because certain seats had issues with them. Neither LOT's central reservation, nor the gate agents could do anything about it. We had to ask people on board to switch with us.
    The service was good, and the dessert/cheese cart at the end of the meal was great.

  23. Mike Guest

    I miss those days(quite some time ago) aeroplan 120k miles round trip to Asia 1 in F. No fuel charges as long as you avoid AC.

    The routing rules allowed 10 segments TPAC ant TATL with a stopover in each direction.

    1. Ben Schlappig OMAAT

      @ Mike -- THOSE WERE THE DAYS! Never mind that SWISS and Lufthansa first was wide open in advance...

  24. Alvin | YTHK Diamond

    Nine segments, eight different cabin products (not even counting Air Canada's 777 and 787 as two separate products)...what a brontosaurus of a review trip!

  25. DaBluBoi Guest

    Still find it wild that that crazy routing with those range of airlines can be booked with just one airline loyalty program. If only Aeroplan miles didn't expire...

    1. Ben Schlappig OMAAT

      @ DaBluBoi -- Indeed, there's no other program that gives you this much flexibility in terms of mixing and matching airlines. I'm curious, what's your beef with Aeroplan's points expiration policy? Points expiring after 18 months of inactivity (with any activity resetting that clock) seems pretty fair to me.

    2. DLPTATL Diamond

      Would transferring in a nominal number of miles, say 1,000 from a cc count as activity?

    3. Derek H Guest

      If only availability wasn't near impossible to find--that would be more appropriate.

  26. Ryan Guest

    Looking forward to all these reviews!

    I just discovered Aeroplan and am already in love! The number of options are staggering and it opens up so much more availability when you can mix and match routings.

    One question - do you ever have any issues when you're on an itinerary involving multiple Aeroplan partners but the different airlines aren't partners with each other? For example, I'm connecting soon from OS to EY on the same...

    Looking forward to all these reviews!

    I just discovered Aeroplan and am already in love! The number of options are staggering and it opens up so much more availability when you can mix and match routings.

    One question - do you ever have any issues when you're on an itinerary involving multiple Aeroplan partners but the different airlines aren't partners with each other? For example, I'm connecting soon from OS to EY on the same ticket, and I'm curious if I'll have any issues getting boarding passes or checking baggage since these two carriers aren't partners with each other.

    1. Ben Schlappig OMAAT

      @ Ryan -- Checking bags shouldn't be an issue. However, odds are that a non-partner won't be able to issue a boarding pass for your connecting segment on another carrier. However, you should be able to get your boarding pass at a transit desk, at the gate, or via online check-in. Enjoy your trip!

    2. Derek H Guest

      Ryan,

      Don't get too exited. While the program looks shiny and fantastic on the surface, it's plagued with a host of problems. Sure, they have 892734 airline partners and market that at every opportunity, but finding availability for said partners? Good luck. You'll find availability on the route, but it'll be AC for an inflated 280K points in Y.

      As always, flexibility is key for reward programs, and if there is ever a program that...

      Ryan,

      Don't get too exited. While the program looks shiny and fantastic on the surface, it's plagued with a host of problems. Sure, they have 892734 airline partners and market that at every opportunity, but finding availability for said partners? Good luck. You'll find availability on the route, but it'll be AC for an inflated 280K points in Y.

      As always, flexibility is key for reward programs, and if there is ever a program that truly tests that claim, it's Aeroplan. And even then...you better beg, pray, and do whatever it is you can to find any decent availability.

      Oddly enough, the program was much better 3-5+ years ago, even with its fewer airline partner options.

  27. Peking Duck Guest

    Looking forward to reading the reviews. Thanks for taking us along for the ride with you!

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.

Santos Guest

This is why OMAAT is in a class by itself among miles/points blogs. Amazing.

5
Alvin | YTHK Diamond

Nine segments, eight different cabin products (not even counting Air Canada's 777 and 787 as two separate products)...what a brontosaurus of a review trip!

4
Ben Schlappig OMAAT

@ Mike -- THOSE WERE THE DAYS! Never mind that SWISS and Lufthansa first was wide open in advance...

3
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