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Aeroplan surcharges from Europe are less than you think and a great option for Business and First Class

by on Thu July 9, 2015 • 2 Comments
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aeroplan

Aeroplan, a transfer partner of Amex Membership Rewards and Starwood Preferred Guest, has some great award prices for flights from North America to most of Europe in Business and First Class on Star Alliance airlines like United, Lufthansa, Swiss, Austrian, Turkish, SAS, and more.

  • Their award chart still charges just 90,000 miles roundtrip for Business Class and 125,000 miles for First Class on any Star Alliance carrier, even as United MileagePlus charges 140,000 – 220,000 miles for the same flights.
  • And as of last year, one way awards are available for half the price of a roundtrip on all partner airlines, so Business Class is just 45,000 miles one way and First Class 62,500 miles.

The drag is Aeroplan imposes fuel surcharges on many flights that can add up to over $1,000 roundtrip. Exceptions to this rule include United, Brussels, SAS, Swiss, and Turkish Airlines flights, which have no surcharges.

But if you can’t find space on those airlines, you can end up paying only about $200 in fuel surcharges for a flight thanks to quirks in the way they are calculated, so even fancy Lufthansa First Class is affordable.

lufthansafirstclass

1+1 is more than 2 for round trip flights

Yes, a roundtrip should have higher surcharges than a one way trip. But they shouldn’t be more than twice the cost of two one way tickets.

Yet that’s the case with carrier surcharges, making a round trip award more expensive than buying two one way awards.

Note: all the screen shots you see here are in Canadian dollars. U.S. dollars get you about a 20% discount to these prices at current exchange rates.

Here’s a roundtrip in First Class from Washington to Frankfurt on Lufthansa with surcharges of $1,087 Canadian dollars

wasfrafirstsummary

iadfrafristsurcharge

But booking the trip as two one way tickets the cost is $543 + $267 = $810 Canadian dollars in taxes and charges, a $277 savings.

Here’s Washington to Frankfurt for $543 Canadian…

frawassurcharge

And here’s Frankfurt to Washington for $267 Canadian, making the two one ways cost $277  less than a roundtrip award!

wasfrasurcharge

Yes you earn the right to a stopover when you book a round trip award, but $277 is a high price to pay if you ‘re not planning to use one.

europemap

Surcharges are lower from Europe

This is the most useful quirk of surcharge pricing and Aeroplan awards.

Surcharges are much lower for flights *from* Europe than they are on the way to Europe.

In the example above Washington to Frankfurt is $543 Canadian dollars in carrier surcharges (about $438 U.S. dollars).

Yet Frankfurt to Washington is just $267 Canadian dollars (about $235 U.S. dollars) in carrier surcharges!

Yes, other taxes and fees are higher when coming from Europe, so you pay a total of $429 Canadian ($343 U.S. dollars) but you have to pay those anyway, even with United, which doesn’t impose fuel surcharges on awards.

Here are the taxes/fees on the same Frankfurt to Washington award booked with United MileagePlus in U.S. Dollars – about $110.

uasurchargefraiad

So using Aeroplan to book from Frankfurt would only cost you about $235 U.S. more than using United miles.

Yet using United miles you’d have to pay 70,000 miles for the award rather than just 45,000 with Aeroplan. So your $235 is saving you 25,000 miles, which is a good deal, and like buying miles for less than one cent a piece.

It’s a great deal if you can access flights that are more convenient for you than other options and Star Alliance has lots of award space from Europe to the U.S. all year round.

Or if you want to try Lufthansa First Class – book a trip starting from Europe and you can enjoy it on the cheap. Just remember Lufthansa First Class seats are rarely made available more than 2 weeks out so you need to be really flexible to give it a try.

And this pricing doesn’t just apply to Lufthansa flights.

aircanadabusiness

Air Canada’s own flights also have lower fuel surcharges on one way tickets from Europe.

Here’s an example from Paris to New York using Air Canada with a surcharge of just $249 Canadian ($201 U.S.).

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Star Alliance availability in general is pretty good thanks to Lufthansa, even to the West Coast, making Aeroplan a great tool to complete your award trip. You’re going to be paying over $100 in taxes on an award from Europe no matter what miles you use, so paying just about $200 more can be a real value for Business and First Class on the days you want to travel.

How to play this

  • Avoid using Aeroplan for Europe flights originating in the U.S., unless you are flying one of the no surcharge options like United, Swiss, SAS, Brussels, or Turkish Airlines.
  • Instead consider Delta SkyMiles or United MileagePlus miles which have no surcharges on awards that start in the U.S. If you’re feeling lucky, consider American AAdvantage miles, but their no surcharge seats are hard to come by without advance planning.
  • Use Aeroplan to come back from Europe for just 45,000 miles + about $200 extra if you’re looking to conserve your other miles and get more flexibility than no surcharge options.
  • To search for space, you can create an account on Aeroplan.com and the results will show you the taxes and fees. If you don’t want to log in and just want to see award space, use United.com’s award search. What you see there at the ‘Saver’ price is bookable using Aeroplan miles.
  • If you’re traveling to countries in Eastern and Southeastern Europe, you will be subject to higher ‘Europe 2’ prices of 105,000 miles in Business Class and 145,000 miles in First Class. These countries include Albania, Armenia, Azerbaijan, Belarus, Bosnia, Bulgaria, Croatia, Cyprus, Czech Republic, Estonia, Finland, Georgia, Greece, Greenland, Hungary, Iceland, Latvia, Lithuania, Luxembourg, Macedonia, Malta, Moldova, Montenegro, Romania, Russia (Western), Serbia, Slovakia, Slovenia, Turkey, Ukraine.

How to earn Aeroplan miles

Aeroplan is a transfer partner of Amex Membership Rewards, so you can earn them via the Premier Rewards Gold Card, The Platinum Card, the Amex EveryDay Preferred, and Amex EveryDay.

And remember Amex counts different flavors of The Platinum Card as different products, so you could for example earn a bonus on both the regular and Mercedes Benz editions of The Platinum Card.

Aeroplan is also a transfer partner of Starwood Preferred Guest, and there’s a U.S. based Aeroplan credit card from TD Bank that currently has a sign on bonus.

 

 

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2 thoughts on Aeroplan surcharges from Europe are less than you think and a great option for Business and First Class

  1. David

    Hi,
    Perversely, though, if you fly through eastern Europe but don’t terminate in eastern Europe you still pay only 45,000 in miles. For example, Montreal to Istanbul then connecting to Vienna is 45,000 points with no surcharges. Montreal to Istanbul is 52,500 points! LOT is similar; YYZ to Vienna is 45,000 points, through Warsaw, but alighting in Warsaw is 52,500. Sort of a crazy system. Turkish is currently the lowest cost business class flight from Canada to Europe. Even if you cough up the 52,500 points your fees one way are just over $60. LOT is about double that. Hop on AC or Lufthansa and pay hundreds more. Also, you write avoid using Aeroplan for flights originating in the US but in my experience it’s the European hubs you need to avoid, namely Heathrow and Frankfurt, which drive up the price.

    Reply
    1. MileCards.com

      @David – Good tip on the Eastern hubs – Turkish has great service. Unfortunately though doesn’t appear Heathrow and Frankfurt are the the only destination culprits when starting in the US. Flying to Florence Italy via Vienna for example runs the same big surcharge on the outbound, but coming back it’s in the $200 range. Hard to avoid the hubs unless you’re on a United flight to one of the smaller cities.

      Reply

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