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Aeroplan (Air Canada) cheat sheet for using your miles

by on Sat October 1, 2016 • 2 Comments
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Departing Toronto Pearson

If you have Amex Membership Rewards or SPG points you want to use for flights, Aeroplan can be a good option to get to Europe at reasonable prices if you know which airlines to use and avoid hefty fuel surcharges. Here’s a rundown of the rules and options to use Aeroplan miles – whether you rarely fly Air Canada or have a big stash of miles to use. 

Airlines you can book and where to find award space

You can use Air Canada Aeroplan miles to book travel on Air Canada, its domestic partners, and Star Alliance members, such as United Airlines, ANA, Asiana, and more.

Below is a list of airlines you can book with Air Canada Aeroplan miles and where you can check for award space. Some regional Canadian partners, like First Air and Canadian North can’t be booked online, so you will have to call Air Canada: 800-361-5373.

In other instances, you might want to begin your search on United.com (even though the United award engine is far from perfect) because the Aeroplan website is clunky and not good about displaying connecting flight options.

RegionAirlineWhere to check award space
AfricaEgyptairUnited.com, Aeroplan.com, ANA.com, Award Flight Finder
AfricaEthiopianUnited.com, Aeroplan.com, ANA.com, Award Flight Finder
AfricaSouth AfricanUnited.com, Aeroplan.com, ANA.com, Award Flight Finder
AsiaAir ChinaUnited.com, Aeroplan.com, ANA.com, Award Flight Finder
AsiaAir IndiaUnited.com, Aeroplan.com, ANA.com, Award Flight Finder
AsiaANAUnited.com, Aeroplan.com, ANA.com, Award Flight Finder
AsiaAsianaUnited.com, Aeroplan.com, ANA.com, Award Flight Finder
AsiaEVAUnited.com, Aeroplan.com, ANA.com, Award Flight Finder
AsiaSingaporeAeroplan.com, ANA.com, Award Flight Finder
AsiaShenzhenAeroplan.com, ANA.com, Award Flight Finder
AsiaThaiUnited.com, Aeroplan.com, ANA.com, Award Flight Finder
EuropeAdriaUnited.com, Aeroplan.com, ANA.com, Award Flight Finder
EuropeAegeanUnited.com, Aeroplan.com, ANA.com, Award Flight Finder
EuropeAustrianUnited.com, Aeroplan.com, ANA.com, Award Flight Finder
EuropeBrusselsUnited.com, Aeroplan.com, ANA.com, Award Flight Finder
EuropeCroatiaUnited.com, Aeroplan.com, ANA.com, Award Flight Finder
EuropeLOTUnited.com, Aeroplan.com, ANA.com, Award Flight Finder
EuropeLufthansaUnited.com, Aeroplan.com, ANA.com, Award Flight Finder
EuropeSASUnited.com, Aeroplan.com, ANA.com, Award Flight Finder
EuropeSwissUnited.com, Aeroplan.com, ANA.com, Award Flight Finder
EuropeTAP PortugalUnited.com, Aeroplan.com, ANA.com, Award Flight Finder
EuropeTurkishUnited.com, Aeroplan.com, ANA.com, Award Flight Finder
Latin AmericaAviancaUnited.com, Aeroplan.com, ANA.com, Award Flight Finder
Latin AmericaCopaUnited.com, Aeroplan.com, ANA.com, Award Flight Finder
North AmericaAir CanadaUnited.com, Aeroplan.com, ANA.com, Award Flight Finder
North AmericaUnitedUnited.com, Aeroplan.com, ANA.com, Award Flight Finder
PacificAir New ZealandUnited.com, Aeroplan.com, ANA.com, Award Flight Finder

If you’re using Aeroplan.com to search for awards, beware that it will by default show you ‘Market Fare’ awards first. These awards only include Air Canada flights. Make sure you click the ‘Fixed Mileage’ tab to see all of your options.

fixedmileage

How much do awards cost?

Air Canada uses two types of awards: The Round-trip Fixed Mileage Flight Rewards (formerly known as Classic) and the revenue-based Market Fare Flight Rewards available on Air Canada, Air Canada Rouge and Air Canada Express. There are also Short-haul Fixed Mileage Flight Rewards in North America on Air Canada, Air Canada Express and the Canadian domestic partners.

One way awards are available at 50% of the round trip cost.

You can find the Air Canada and Star Alliance partner award charts HERE.

Aeroplan prices from/to North America

(prices are roundtrip)

Aeroplan Air canada prices fromto North-America
Air Canada adds hefty surcharges to its own international flights (except North America and the Caribbean) and it also adds the surcharges to most of its partners’ flights.

The good news is, there are several airlines you can fly without paying fuel surcharges: Adria, Air China, Brussels, Croatia, EgyptAir, Ethiopian, EVA, SAS, Singapore, SWISS, Turkish, and United, and Air New Zealand.

  • There shouldn’t be any surcharges on ANA (until 07/31/16).
  • There are no surcharges on Air Canada to/from Japan.
  • Surcharges on LOT and Asiana are moderate.
  • You usually pay more for fuel surcharges in premium classes than in economy.
  • Intra-Europe and intra-Asia fuel surcharges are reasonably low.
  • SWISS First Class awards are not allowed

What are award change and booking fees?

 

  • Close-in booking fee: None
  • Change date, airlines, origin, destination, or routing (up to 2hrs before the flight): C$100 per direction, maximum C$200
  • Cancel and redeposit miles: C$150
  • Phone booking fee: C$30

 

Tip: Aeroplan offers great deals for Infant Flight Rewards, for example, C$50 or 5K miles for economy, or $100 or 10K miles for business.

When are award seats made available?

Aeroplan allows awards to be booked from 356 days to 2 hours before departure.

Waitlists

No waitlisting of awards is sallowed.

What stopovers are allowed?

Up to two stopovers or a stopover and an open jaw per round trip are allowed on an international flight. Up to five stopovers and an open jaw are allowed on a round-the-world ticket.

Can you hold an award seat?

No.

What are the best award values?

Air Canada frequently devalues the Aeroplan award chart, and with the latest December 2015 devaluation it increased the price of the only remaining exceptional value: 90,000 miles in business between North America and Europe 1 increased to 110,000 miles.

However, considering that all FFPs devalue, Aeroplan still has some decent values due to its generous routing rules. The best Aeroplan feature is two free stopovers (or one stopover and one open jaw) on a round-trip award. This feature makes Aeroplan awards an ideal vehicle for a longer vacation or even a mini round-the-world trip.

  • You can visit three different places in Europe (one destination and two stopovers) for 60-75K in economy and 110-115K in business.
  • You can visit three cities in Europe and Asia for 75-90K in economy and 150-155K in business.
  • You can visit Australia, South Africa and Europe for 90K in economy and 160K in business.
  • Short-haul domestic flights cost 7.5K one-way.
  • First Class on Lufthansa is 70K miles one-way to/from Europe, much less than the 110K you’ll pay if you used United MileagePlus miles, and surcharges are generally lower for flights originating in Europe

 

Tip: If you want to book a flight with two stopovers, you’ll need to call Air Canada. Make sure you’re ready for a long conversation with an agent and/or call more than once – even if it’s completely within the program rules.

Can you upgrade with miles?

You can upgrade Air Canada and Star Alliance flights with miles, but for most Star Alliance airlines only Y and B classes in economy and C and D classes in business are eligible. Some airlines, however, allow upgrades from other classes. For example, Air Canada upgrades are also available from O (Premium Economy). The complete list of eligible booking classes is HERE.

Aeroplan Air-canada upgrade with miles

What does an upgrade cost?

Upgrading an economy ticket to business between North America and Europe is 20,000 miles, and between North America and South Pacific – 30,000 miles one-way. It may seem like not a bad deal (booking a business class seat outright costs 57,500 miles for Europe 2, and 80,000 for South Pacific) until you remember that Y and B are Latitude (full economy flexible fares).

Alternative miles to book Air Canada flights

You can use miles from any Star Alliance airline programs to book Air Canada award flights, like United, Singapore, Copa, Lufthansa, etc. One of the superb programs to use for round trip Air Canada flights is ANA, since it doesn’t add fuel surcharges (for now) and the award rates are great.

What is an Aeroplan mile worth?

We think an Aeroplan mile is worth about 2 cents if you use the miles for international business class trips to Europe on airlines that don’t levy a fuel surcharge like United, Swiss, SAS, or Turkish. That’s easier if you live in the U.S. and earn your miles via Amex Membership Rewards or Starwood Preferred Guest. If you live in Canada, and fly Air Canada a lot, you may end up using your miles for shorter trips within Canada, and those we value at about 1.5 cents each.

What hotel points can you transfer from?

Starwood Preferred Guest permits point transfers to Aeroplan at a ratio of 1:1. There is a 5,000 mile bonus for every 20,000 points you transfer.

Marriott Rewards transfers points at the following rates:

  • 2,000 MileagePlus miles       8,000
  • 5,000 MileagePlus miles       16,000
  • 10,000 MileagePlus miles     24,000
  • 25,000 MileagePlus miles     56,000
  • 50,000 MileagePlus miles     112,000

Hilton’s HHonors program exchanges points to miles at 10:1, with a minimum exchange of 10,000 points.

Choice Privileges converts points at a rate of 5,000 points for 1,000 Aeroplan Miles.

Wyndham Rewards converts points at a rate of 5 to 1, starting at 6,000 points.

Best Western Rewards converts points at a rate of 5 points to 1 mile.

Club Carlson can convert at 10:1 in increments of 2,000; 50,000 or 100,000 points.

Le Club Accorhotels converts convert points into Aeroplan Miles in increments of 4,000 (4,000 Le Club Accorhotels points = 2,000 Aeroplan Miles)

What credit cards earn Aeroplan miles?

There is a TD AeroplanTM Visa Signature Credit Card for U.S. residents with a 25,000-mile sign-up bonus after spending $1,000 in the first 3 months. You can also transfer points from the American Express Membership Rewards, Starwood Preferred Guest and Diners Club programs.

Can you book awards for others?

Yes.

Can you transfer miles?

You can transfer Aeroplan miles to another account for C$0.02 per mile.

Can you buy miles?

You can’t buy miles on their own. But if you’re making an award booking, you can buy up to 50% of the required award miles for a rate of $0.03 per mile in Canadian dollars. So if you’re booking a trip that requires 100,000 miles, you can buy up to 50,000 miles to complete the booking.

Do Aeroplan miles expire?

Miles will expire after 12 months except for Altitude members and some credit card holders, unless there is at least one mile-earning or redemption activity. You can reinstate your expired miles for C$30 plus C$0.01 per mile.

 

Photo credit: Wikipedia

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2 thoughts on Aeroplan (Air Canada) cheat sheet for using your miles

  1. sunny morris

    I have 60K Amex Membership Reward points that I need to transfer somewhere since my annual fee is due in a couple weeks and I don’t want to renew it. I have a trip to New Zealand from Seattle to plan soon and wonder if my best option would be to transfer these points Aeroplan. Then use them on a United flight. This article talks about that but it’s not quite clear to me how I can book a United flight with Aeroplan points.

    Thak you,
    Sunny

    Reply

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