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It was recently announced that the Aeroplan program that has served as the rewards program for Air Canada will no longer be the rewards program for Air Canada effective June 2020 when the current contract expires. That is obviously still a little ways off, so while there is no rush to make any big changes or spend-downs on your Aeroplan account balance, it still doesn’t hurt to think about ways to use your Aeroplan miles between now and June 2020 when you will no longer be able to redeem them for Star Alliance partner awards.
Even if you don’t currently have any Aeroplan miles at the moment, remember that they are a 1:1 transfer partner of several other programs including Amex Membership Rewards and cards such as The Amex EveryDay® Credit Card, The Business Gold Rewards Card, and The Platinum Card® from American Express.
With that in mind, here are six great Aeroplan awards to book in the next three years:
1. US 48 + DC + Alaska + Canada – “Europe 1” for 110,000 miles round trip
Like most other awards, business class travel on Star Alliance from the US to Europe has crept upwards in price in recent years, but paying 110,000 miles round trip for business class is still pretty good. Europe 1 includes countries such as the United Kingdom, Germany, France, Spain, Switzerland, Sweden, Norway, Ireland, Denmark, and Italy. It is also worth a mention that you can transit a different region for a connection as long as your destination is in the lower priced zone. For example, I could fly Houston – Istanbul on Turkish and then connect on to Paris and just be charged the Europe Zone 1 price even though Istanbul is in Zone 2.
Aeroplan does pass along fuel surcharges, but only if the carrier selected charges them. This means if you select an airline like United, SAS, Swiss, Turkish or even LOT as your carrier across the Atlantic you will not have very high fuel surcharges to contend with. Otherwise you can be hit with several hundred dollars in fuel surcharges to head to Europe, which makes Aeroplan much less attractive. The Aeroplan online booking site is good about displaying taxes and fuel surcharges for you in the total even if you don’t have enough miles in your account to actually book the award.
2. Splurge on Lufthansa First Class to Europe
This one probably isn’t practical for family travel, but if you have always wanted to fly in Lufthansa First Class and you get the chance to head across the ocean in the next couple of years by yourself or with your partner, then you can consider splurging 140,000 Aeroplan miles for the round trip journey at the very nice end of the plane to the Europe 1 countries mentioned above. This is a good price compared to other programs such as the 220,000 miles per round trip that United would want for the same flights.
Sadly, there will be about $1,500 CAD/$1,100 USD in taxes/fuel surcharges for this round award as opposed to the roughly $120 USD in taxes and fees that United would want, but considering the cash price of the ticket, or even the mileage cost via many other programs, it still is somewhat of comparatively good deal for what would likely be an otherwise completely out of range experience for most of us.
If you want to do just 1/2 the splurge, you can book a one-way award from the US on Lufthansa in First Class for about 70,000 Aeroplan miles and $500 USD.
3. Fly a Air Canada Short Haul Award
For 15,000 Aeroplan miles per round trip you can take advantage of their economy short haul awards at a lower mileage cost than other Star Alliance programs would require. Some eligible routes that include travel in the United States are Nova Scotia – New York, New Jersey, DC, Virginia, Connecticut, or Massachusetts; Quebec – all of the above US cities/states + Georgia, Illinois, Indiana, Maryland, Michigan, Minnesota, Missouri, New Hampshire, North Carolina, Ohio, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, Tennessee, and Wisconsin; and Alberta or British Colombia – Oregon and Washington State.
The bad news here again is that there is a downside to these short haul awards on Air Canada metal….the $200-ish CAD taxes/fees, but there is no close-in booking fee, so that can help ease the fees pain in some situations. Which brings me to….
4. Book Close in Star Alliance Awards Without a Fee
Aeroplan is sometimes painful on the taxes and fees front, but they don’t charge a close-in booking fee the way that many of the US programs do if you book an award within 21 days of travel. This means you can book a domestic United operated round trip that leaves tonight for as low as 25,000 Aeroplan miles per round trip and skip the $75 close-in booking fee that United would hit you with for the same booking.
5. Take Advantage of Stopovers and Open Jaws
Perhaps even better than that is that Aeroplan is pretty generous with stopovers and open jaws. They allow either two stopovers or one stopover and one open jaw on trips between continents like US – Europe round trip. You can only book one stopover online and need to call Aeroplan to book over the phone if you want to utilize both stopovers or a stopover and an open jaw as we did here when my mom and aunt flew to Europe and back to celebrate their “retirements” in business class using Aeroplan miles from Houston – London (stopover), London – Paris (destination), Rome – Houston (open-jaw). Retirements is in quotes as they both seem to keep finding their way back into the classroom!
It is also worth knowing that even award travel within Canada, between Canada and the US, and wholly within the Continental US permits one stopover. This means something like Houston – Newark (stopover) – Atlanta (destination) – Houston which would price at the 25,000 mile level assuming you can find saver awards. That is something you could not replicate with United at that award price.
6. Book a Lap Child from $50
Aeroplan is the most reasonable Star Alliance program for booking lap children on award tickets as they charge a flat fee instead of a percentage of the selling price of your award ticket. This can literally save you over $1,000 on a premium cabin award ticket since Aeroplan Infant Award prices are:
- Economy – $50 or 5,000 miles
- Premium Economy – $75 or 7,500 miles
- Business Class – $100 or 10,000 miles
- First Class – $125 or 12,500 miles
Again the trade off can be that Aeroplan does pass along fuel surcharges, but since some airlines like United don’t have fuel surcharges on awards you can still route on their aircraft and avoid both fuel surcharges and the potentially nasty 10% infant surcharges that most other programs charge.
Even though the sunset of the Aeroplan program is in sight in terms of them serving as the frequent flyer program for Air Canada, there is still ample time to utilize their award chart and award rules to book some very solid award flights for your family, even if you don’t have any Aeroplan miles at the moment and need to transfer them in from Amex Membership Rewards or similar.
What is your favorite type of award to book via Aeroplan?
Editorial Note: The opinions expressed here are mine and not provided, reviewed, by any bank, card issuer, or other company unless otherwise stated.