I have long been a fan of Air Canada’s Aeroplan Program. With the launch of Star Alliance Credit Card in Australia, it is now very easy to earn Aeroplan points. In this post, I wanted to touch upon some of the sweet-spots that exist in Aeroplan program that savvy points and miles collectors may be interested in.
Before I talk about the redemptions, here are the basics of the program that you should know about.
- Aeroplan has more airline partners than any other program in the world. At the last count, there were 50 and the numbers keep growing each year. The partners include all 26 Star Alliance member airlines, as well as niche members such as Virgin Australia, Vistara and many more. See this link for full list of partners.
- Aeroplan applies dynamic pricing for redemptions on Air Canada flights, so its better to stay clear of them unless you can find Saver Level Awards.
- For redemptions on partner airlines, Aeroplan operates a combination of distance and zone based chart. These however are fixed price charts and here in lie the main attraction of the program. See this link for Aeroplan award charts.
- Majority of Aeroplan awards can be booked online which is fantastic. You can book one-way, round-trip and simple multi-city awards online. For complex itineraries with multiple segments and stopovers, you will need to contact Aeroplan Contact Centre Team to make the booking.
- Aeroplan does not levy carrier imposed charges on redemption bookings, this can save hundreds of dollars in Cash. You simply pay the Government mandated fees and taxes plus a $39 partner booking fee which in my opinion is acceptable.
- Aeroplan allows stopovers on redemption bookings. For an extra 5,000 points you can add a stopover of up to 45 days. This is an underappreciated feature of the program which most people either aren’t aware of or do not utilise.
- Aeroplan offers two types of reward bookings, lowest priced and flexible. If you are familiar with Singapore Airline’s KrisFlyer program, think of this as Saver and Advantage Award. Lowest priced bookings costs lower number of points, but come with certain restrictions. Flexible awards cost more points, but in-return offer features such as free change and cancellation, access to Air Canada’s Signature suite etc which can be really valuable if your travel plans are not firm.
There are many more intricacies to Aeroplan, but in the interest of simplicity I will leave that for another time. If you familiarise yourself with the points I have mentioned above, that should hold you in good stead 99% of time.
How to use Aeroplan Award Chart
Aeroplan splits the world in 4 broad Travel Zones, namely North America, Atlantic, Pacific & South America as you can see below.
When trying to book an award flight, the first thing Aeroplan members need to work out are the relevant Zones. For example, if you are planning to travel from Sydney to San Francisco, the 2 relevant Zones are Pacific & North America.
Because Aeroplan also factors in the distance when pricing award tickets, the next most important thing members need to work out is the total distance they are flying. One of the best websites to measure flight distances accurately is gcmaps.com. Just put in the relevant airport codes in the boxes (see below) and gcmap will work out the distance for you.
As we can see above, a flight from Sydney to San Francisco covers a distance of 7,417 miles. Armed with the knowledge of zones and distance both, we can now pull up the Pacific to North America Chart (see below) and hone-in on the relevant block to work out the pricing.
The relevant block for our example flight is the one covering distances between 5,001 – 7,500 miles. This tell us that:
- A one-way Business Class flight from Sydney to San Francisco with a partner airline (such as United) will cost 75,000 Aeroplan points. This is for a Saver level award.
- Meanwhile, a one-way Business Class flight with Air Canada on this route can cost up to 175,000 Aeroplan points.
That second point is a moot-point though, as Air Canada does not operate non-stop flights between Sydney and San Francisco.
Top Business Class redemptions with Aeroplan Points
Aeroplan award chart is quite literally a treasure trove of high value Business and First Class redemptions, and while it is impractical to cover every single redemption, here are a few examples of what I consider sweet-spots in the program, most relevant for Australia based Aeroplan members.
For the fist set of redemptions I want to talk about, let’s take a look at the chart below.
As you can see, this is the distance chart for travel within the Pacific Zone. The Pacific Zone is massive and encompasses countries such as Australia, New Zealand and all the island nations in Pacific in the South, to Northern most cities in China, Japan & Korea in the North.
The block I want to focus on is the one with the distances between 2,001 and 5,000 miles (highlighted above). A one-way Business Class flight within Pacific Zone prices out at just 45,000 Aeroplan points. This opens some mouth watering opportunities. For example:
- You can fly ANA Business Class between Sydney and Tokyo for 45,000 Aeroplan points.
- You can fly Thai Business Class between Sydney/Melbourne and Bangkok for 45,000 Aeroplan points.
- You can fly Bamboo Airways Business Class between Sydney/Melbourne and Ho Chi Minh City (Vietnam) for 45,000 Aeroplan points.
- You can fly Eva Air Business Class between Brisbane and Taipei for 45,000 Aeroplan points.
- You can fly Virgin Australia Business Class between Brisbane/Sydney/Melbourne/Adelaide and Denpasar (Bali) for 45,000 Aeroplan points. Although in this case, given the ease of earning Velocity points, you will be better off redeeming 49,000 Velocity points.
As a comparison, programs such as Qantas Frequent Flyer and KrisFlyer which most Australian’s tend to lean on, charge anywhere between 68,400 points to over 100,000 Miles to fly on most of these routes.
The next set of redemptions I want to focus on is also within pacific zone, but this time for distances between 5,001 – 7,000 miles.
This particular distance band offers tremendous value. For example:
- You can fly Air Mauritius Business Class, non-stop between Perth and Mauritius for 60,000 Aeroplan points.
or, you can mix and match partners and build an itinerary like the one below.
On this itinerary, you can fly Virgin Australia Business Class from Adelaide – Perth (via Mel) and connect on Air Mauritius Business Class to fly to Mauritius. And because Aeroplan lets you take a stopover of up to 45 days for an extra 5,000 points, this is what you can build for just 85,000 Aeroplan points:
- Fly Virgin Australia Business Class from Adelaide – Melbourne.
- Fly Virgin Australia Business Class from Melbourne – Perth.
- Fly Air Mauritius Business Class from Perth – Mauritius.
- Take a stopover of up to 45 days and explore Mauritius and neighbouring islands such as Comoros & Reunion Island’s to your heart’s content. When you are done:
- Fly Air Mauritius Business Class from Mauritius to Madagascar and explore it’s beautiful beaches and some of the most unique flora and fauna.
All of that for just 85,000 Aeroplan points.
Other Business & First Class Redemptions with Aeroplan Points
Outside of the Pacific Zone, there are many more lucrative redemptions. Some of these are:
- You can fly Etihad First Class between Abu Dhabi and London for 65,000 Aeroplan points.
- You can fly Vistara Business Class between Delhi and Frankfurt for 45,000 Aeroplan points.
- You can fly Etihad Business Class between Sydney and London for 110,000 Aeroplan points, or have a stopover in Abu Dhabi of up to 45 days for an extra 5,000 points.
- You can fly Oman Air First Class between Bangkok and Muscat for 80,000 Aeroplan points.
- You can fly Lufthansa Business Class between Chicago and Frankfurt for 70,000 Aeroplan points.
- You can fly Lufthansa First Class between Frankfurt and Delhi for 65,000 Aeroplan points.
- You can fly Bamboo Airways Business Class between Hanoi and London for 80,000 Aeroplan points.
- You can fly Ethiopian Business Class between Addis Ababa and Cairo for 20,000 Aeroplan points.
- You can fly Oman Air Business Class between Muscat and Dar Es Salaam for 45,000 Aeroplan points.
These are just a few examples of what is possible if you are prepared to put in time and effort. With 50 airline partners, the opportunities Aeroplan offer are truly endless.
Most points and miles collectors in Australia are too heavily invested in Qantas and Velocity Frequent Flyer Program’s and that is fine. They are after all two of the easiest and most widely available points currency you can earn in the country.
But if you have always limited yourself to those two programs, I implore you to expand the horizon and cast the net on Aeroplan, you will be blown-away with what you may find.
Have you redeemed Aeroplan points? Leave a comment below.