Wondering how to earn and redeem Aeroplan miles for award flights?
Aeroplan miles can be a big help when you’re trying to maximize your award flight redemptions. With a large network of partners and no fuel surcharges on award tickets, there’s a lot for an award traveler to like.
Even if you’ve redeemed Aeroplan miles in the past, the loyalty program has undergone a massive overhaul and there’s plenty to learn about Aeroplan’s new award flight pricing.
In this Aeroplan guide, you’ll learn:
- the basics of the Aeroplan Loyalty Program,
- how to earn Aeroplan miles, and,
- how to use Aeroplan miles for the best value.
A Beginner’s Guide to Redeem
Aeroplan Miles for Award Flights
With legacy carriers like Delta and United ditching their award charts in favor of dynamic award pricing, flexible currencies (i.e. Amex Membership Rewards, Chase Ultimate Rewards) and their transfer partners will become even more important than ever in order to get the best value on award flight redemptions.
Aeroplan is one of the airline award programs that can help you get the most from your miles and points.
Aeroplan Loyalty Program Basics
Aeroplan is the loyalty program of Air Canada, a member of the Star Alliance along with airlines like United, Swiss Air, Lufthansa, TAP Air Portugal, Turkish Airlines, and ANA. Aeroplan Air Canada also has several non-alliance partnerships, most notably perhaps with Etihad.
This is important because you can redeem your Aeroplan miles for award flights through Aeroplan on these partner airlines because of the beauty of airline alliances.
The Aeroplan award program divides the world into 4 geographic zones. These are North America, South America, Atlantic, and Pacific.
Within these 4 geographic travel zones, Aeroplan prices award flights based on the actual distance flown between your departure point and destination.
There are 10 distance-based award charts to show pricing between and within these travel zones.
Here’s a look at the award chart between the North America and Atlantic zones, which includes the United States and all of Europe.
Within each distance band, Aeroplan flights are priced based on whether the flight is flown by Air Canada or one of the airline’s Star Alliance or non-alliance partners.
The pricing for partner-operated flights is fixed, while Air Canada’s pricing is dynamic within defined mileage ranges.
You can see all the Aeroplan award charts here.
To calculate the cost of an award flight, first, identify the zones your itinerary will touch. This tells you which of the 10 award charts to look at. Once you have the correct award chart, you can then figure out the distance between your departure airport and destination.
Tools like Great Circle Mapper can help you easily calculate the miles flown. Aeroplan also has a Points Predictor tool to help you know how much your award flight will cost based on the zones and distance flown.
Aeroplan Award Calendar
Aeroplan’s award calendar is open 355 days in advance for bookings. Normally, it’s best to book award flights as far in advance as possible so as not to lose the seats you need.
Keep in mind, though, not all partners release availability at the same time. As an example, United doesn’t open up their calendar until 337 days in advance. That means Aeroplan won’t be able to show available award space on United flights until United shows the space they have once their award calendar is open.
So if you’re looking at the far reaches of the Aeroplan Award calendar, the partner space you see is likely not everything that’ll ultimately be available as calendars open.
Aeroplan Loyalty Program Pros & Cons
As with every airline and hotel loyalty program, there are things to really love while other things…not so much. Aeroplan is no different.
Let’s start with the positives.
No Fuel Surcharges
Aeroplan does not pass on fuel surcharges to award bookings, even when the flight is flown by carriers like Lufthansa, Austrian, and Swiss Airlines.
No surcharges are always a good thing because they can quickly negate the value of the miles and points you’re redeeming.
Aeroplan allows you to add a stopover to one-way award tickets and 2 stopovers to roundtrip award tickets for only 5k Aeroplan miles per stopover.
There are a lot of possibilities with adding a stopover, but for now, just know that you can’t backtrack when adding a stopover. However, you are able to touch 3 different geographic travel zones.
I’ve gone into more detail about the potential value of adding a stopover below.
You and up to 7 family members can be part of a family sharing pool, which you can set up from your Aeroplan Dashboard. Once the pool has been created and your family members joined, all the Aeroplan miles earned amongst the family pool will add to 1 shared mileage balance.
Family can be immediate members like a spouse, children, parents, and grandparents. But can also include anyone else in your family like aunts, uncles, and cousins.
This shared balance of miles can be redeemed for Aeroplan award flights by any member of the family pool.
in addition, if a member of the family pool has Aeroplan Elite Status or the Aeroplan® Credit Card, every in the family group gets the associated benefits.
Points & Cash Award Flight Bookings
After you find the award flight you need, Aeroplan displays a review itinerary page. From here, you can select how many Aeroplan miles you’d like to use for your award flight and how much cash (if any) you’d like to use.
Obviously, having more options to book award flights is always preferable. And the value Aeroplan is offering with the cash portion of these mixed award tickets is quite reasonable when calculating the cent-per-point value.
Just note, there is also an option to subsidize the normal taxes and fees of your award flight with Aeroplan miles. This doesn’t work out to be a good use of your Aeroplan miles so skip it.
Lap Infant Award Tickets
Many airline award programs charge around 10% of the cost of the award flight. When you’re flying a premium class especially, this can be a lot of miles or cash to add a lap infant to your reservation.
However, Aeroplan only charges 2,500 Aeroplan miles or $25CAD to add a lap infant. This is by far one of the best values for travelers with babies.
Now, let’s look at the negatives to the Aeroplan loyalty program.
Partner Booking Fee
For most U.S.-based award travelers who redeem Aeroplan miles, they’re likely booking flights operated by one of Air Canada’s alliance or non-alliance partners.
And unfortunately, Aeroplan charges a $39CAD booking fee per person to book partner award flights. There’s simply no way around this.
Also, it’s important to note that Aeroplan will charge $30CAD to make an award booking by phone, even when the award wasn’t bookable online with the only exception being stopover itineraries.
Loyalty Program Changes
In 2020, the Aeroplan loyalty program underwent a complete overhaul. And while eliminating fuel surcharges was a hugely positive change, there’s no sugarcoating the increased pricing for many Aeroplan award flights to destinations across the globe.
Numerous sweet spots are no longer sweet, but rather just mediocre when compared with the award pricing of other airline award programs.
With that being the case, let’s look at how you can still get value when using Aeroplan miles for award flights.
How to Earn Aeroplan Miles
As a U.S.-based miles and points enthusiast, earning Aeroplan miles is easy because you have several ways to earn them.
First, you can decide whether the co-branded Aeroplan Credit Card makes sense for you.
Current Welcome Bonus: Earn 70,000 Aeroplan miles after spending $3,000 within the first 3 months of opening your account.
Favorite Card Features:
- 3x for purchases made with Air Canada directly for every $1 spent
- 3x on grocery and dining purchases for every $1 spent, including takeout and delivery services
- 1x on all other purchases
- Earn 500 bonus Aeroplan Miles every month when you spend at least $2,000 monthly on your card
- No foreign transaction fees
- Free first checked bag
- Get Aeroplan 25k Status for the first calendar year when you spend at least $15,000 in a calendar year
Annual Fee: $95
In addition to the card’s other benefits, if you’re someone who flies Air Canada a lot, you’ll likely also benefit from the preferred pricing on Air Canada-operated award flights that comes with being a cardholder.
Aside from earning miles with the Aeroplan Credit Card, flexible points can also give you access to Aeroplan miles.
You can earn these valuable transferrable points and miles with cards like:
- American Express® Gold Card
- Chase Sapphire Preferred® Card
- Capital One Venture X Rewards Credit Card
- Marriott Bonvoy Boundless® Credit Card
All of these transferrable points transfer to Aeroplan at a 1:1 ratio, except for Marriott Bonvoy points. These points can be transferred at a 3:1 ratio. When you transfer Marriott points in 60k-point increments, you’ll get a 5k mile bonus.
So, 60k Marriott points are equal to 25k Aeroplan miles.
You can also look for promotions with Aeroplan’s travel partners on rental cars and hotels, shop at the Aeroplan eStore (check that the merchant allows orders from outside of Canada), as well as convert points from Aeroplan hotel partners.
Keep in mind, this last option isn’t a terrific value. The conversion is far from 1:1 and you lose value per Aeroplan mile gained.
Americans may also prefer to shop through the Chase Ultimate Rewards or Capital One shopping portals for a larger selection of merchants for U.S.-based travelers.
Of course, it’s also possible to earn Aeroplan miles by flying on Air Canada or another airline partner with a cash ticket and crediting the miles earned to your Aeroplan account.
ProTip: Miles in Aeroplan rewards accounts expire after 18 months when no miles have been earned or redeemed. Use the eStore, redeem for a flight, credit a cash flight to your Aeroplan account, or transfer flexible points into your account to reset the expiration date before your Aeroplan miles expire.
How do you search for Aeroplan award flights?
In order to get started with Aeroplan, you’ll need a loyalty account. It’s free to join and is necessary to search for award flights. Of course, you’ll also need a place to transfer points from Amex, Chase, Marriott, and Capital One!
Head over to the Aeroplan-Air Canada website and click on “Sign-in” on the top right of the screen. Click on, “Join” and follow the prompts to create an account.
When you’re finished, remember to add your new loyalty member number and password to whatever tool you use to stay organized.
I started with and still use a spreadsheet which you can get by signing up for my free Travel Hacking Basics course.
Once you’ve joined Aeroplan, you’ll be able to search for award flights. Enter your Aeroplan login. You can use the search tool on the homepage, just be sure to toggle over from “Cash” to “Points.”
For a basic one-way or round-trip search, simply enter your departure and arrival airports, as well as your dates and the number of people traveling.
Once your search results are displayed, you’re able to see all classes of available award seats. You can click on the details for each itinerary to see more about the routing.
If you’re searching for a Business Class ticket, be sure to watch for mixed class awards versus the entire itinerary in the premium class.
If you find what you need, select the flights and then Aeroplan will bring you to a fare review page. From here, you simply follow the steps to complete the booking.
For a multi-city search, Aeroplan’s website can piece together an open-jaw itinerary. However, stopovers cannot yet be booked online. You’ll need to call.
Before calling, search for the itinerary you want in one-way segments to find the space you need. Then, feed the information to the agent.
One thing to watch for when doing award flight searches is phantom award space.
Aeroplan’s website is greatly improved over what it was years ago but it’s wise to confirm the space you’re seeing is also being seen by other partners.
To do this, you can search on United or ANA or even use a tool like ExpertFlyer.
Like your favorite teachers always said, check and recheck your “work” for the best possible outcome!
There’s nothing like the panicky, sick-to-your-stomach feeling when you transfer your precious flexible currency into an airline account only to discover the award you want doesn’t actually exist.
Which Aeroplan partners are bookable online?
All of the Star Alliance partners and many of Aeroplan’s non-alliance partners can be searched for on the Aeroplan website and paid for with Aeroplan miles.
For non-alliance partners who don’t aren’t don’t show up on Aeroplan’s website, a paid tool like Expert Flyer can come in handy. You can search for the award space you need and then call to book the award flight.
Best Ways to Redeem Aeroplan Miles for Award Flights
Aeroplan’s award pricing doesn’t wow you with sweet spots. The gigantic overhaul of the award program in 2020 came with significant price increases largely across the board.
That’s not to say there aren’t some solid ways to extract value from Aeroplan miles. In addition, Aeroplan’s pricing can be decidedly middle-of-the-pack in terms of competition for many destinations, including Europe.
Combined with United’s dynamic pricing, ANA’s fuel surcharges, and Avianca LifeMiles not always showing all available space, this makes it still important to include Aeroplan in your search comparisons for Star Alliance award flights.
Even if Aeroplan’s award pricing lands similarly to other Star Alliance partners, a difference of a couple of thousand miles is still worth the savings, especially when you’re booking award flights for multiple travelers.
Let’s now, look at a few ways to maximize your Aeroplan miles.
1. Stopovers for 5k Aeroplan Miles
Not all airlines allow stopovers on award itineraries so this on its own already stands out.
Aeroplan allows you to add 1 stopover to a one-way award flight and 2 stopovers to a round trip award flight. Each stopover costs 5k Aeroplan miles.
The routing rules are generous in that they allow you to touch 3 travel zones which opens up a ton of possibilities. The only limitations are you can’t backtrack and no stopovers are allowed in the U.S. or Canada. Stopovers can also only be up to 45 days long.
The award flight cost is based on the distance to your destination, not your stopover. So for example, let’s say you wanted to fly from New York to Bangkok with a stopover in Istanbul.
You’d start by looking at the Aeroplan award chart for the travel zone your destination is in, Bangkok for our example, which is in the Pacific Zone.
Next, you’d use Great Circle Mapper to calculate the distance for the route you’d like to fly. In this case, we want to fly from New York-Istanbul-Bangkok. The total mileage flown is 9,672 miles.
Knowing the mileage flown, look at the correct distance tier on the award chart to determine the price of the award ticket. In this case, a one-way business class seat from New York to Bangkok would be 85,000 Aeroplan miles. You can add a stopover in Istanbul for just 5,000 additional miles, for a total of 90,000 Aeroplan miles.
There are a couple of other important tips to remember when adding a stopover.
First, check the routing of your flights in Aeroplan. For the example above I showed an example with direct routing. Assuming these flights show on Aeroplan, then the calculations above check out.
However, if the award search results show flights that have connections, you’ll need to add these places in when you calculate the miles flown with Great Circle Mapper to ensure the proper distance tier on the award chart.
Second, if you’re trying to put together a round trip award with at least 1 stopover, consider how an open-jaw and where you put that stopover may reduce the overall cost of your itinerary.
Also, it’s currently not possible to book these stopover itineraries on Aeroplan’s website. Search for the flights you want in individual one-way segments to confirm availability and flight preference, assuming there are options.
Write down all the information and call Aeroplan to book.
2. Large Number of Aeroplan Partner Airlines
The sheer number of Aeroplan’s airline partners stands out as a strength. Their Star Alliance Partners are probably the most well-known. However, Aeroplan has a strong lineup of non-alliance partnerships, as well.
These partners are:
Azul Brazilian Airlines
Central Mountain Air
Middle East Airlines
Sri Lankan Airlines
Some of these airlines are very niche, so perhaps not valuable to everyone. However, given the remote destinations some of these airlines serve and how easy it is to earn Aeroplan Miles, it makes it possible to use miles and points to fly to these hard-to-reach places.
For example, it’ll cost just 20k Aeroplan miles roundtrip in coach to fly from Winnipeg to the bucket-list destination of Churchill for a polar bear safari. The cash prices for this flight on partner Calm Air average $1,200. That’s roughly a 6 cent-per-point redemption value!
In particular, partners like Air Creebec, Canadian North, Central Mountain Air, and Calm Air are valuable for reaching Canada’s far north and avoiding high-priced cash tickets to reach this remote part of the world.
3. Transcontinental Flights in Business Class
For just 50k Aeroplan miles round trip, it’s possible to fly between the east and west coasts on Aeroplan’s partner United.
If you fly in economy, it’s just 25,000 Aeroplan miles round trip.
United has gone to dynamic pricing, so Aeroplan’s fixed price could work out to be considerably less than what United would charge for its own flight.
You have to find United Saver availability in order for Aeroplan to show the award space. It’s easier to find economy space than business space, however, a tool like ExpertFlyer can help search and alert you when a business class seat opens up.
Here’s an example going from Newark/NYC-Seattle. You can see Aeroplan’s pricing, 12.5k and 25k one-way in economy and business class, respectively.
Searching on United for the exact same flight, on the exact same date, here’s what shows. You’ll pay slightly less for a one-way seat in coach when booking with United on this particular date compared to Aeroplan’s fixed pricing.
However, you’ll pay 2,500 more when booking this business class flight through United. Aeroplan’s fixed pricing works to your advantage.
4. Hawaii Award Flights from the Mainland U.S.
Aeroplan’s North America travel zone includes both the mainland U.S. and Hawaii. Unlike other airline award programs, Hawaii is not considered another travel zone.
However, award ticket pricing will depend on where you are coming from in the mainland U.S. because of the distance bands on each award chart.
In particular, west coast locations will get the best pricing. Flying to Hawaii for 50k Aeroplan miles round trip in business is a solid deal.
It’s not the best way to get to Hawaii with miles and points, but it’s worth knowing to have more options as you compare your options.
5. Award Flights in the same Travel Zone
Aeroplan’s distance bands within travel zones feature pricing that is on par with short-haul options like British Airways. There are good deals to be found especially within the Atlantic, South America, and North American travel zones.
Within North America, flights less than 1,500 miles flown are as little as 10k Aeroplan miles in economy when the flight is operated by partner United. Flights less than 500 miles flown are only 6k Aeroplan miles in economy.
For Air Canada-operated flights, you’ll pay between 6k-15k Aeroplan miles for these distance bands.
In the Atlantic travel zone, flights under 1,000 miles are only 7,500 one-way Aeroplan miles in economy for partner-operated flights. This can be a great option for connecting by air between cities in Europe and between Europe and North Africa.
For example, Aeroplan would charge 7,500 miles to fly one-way economy from Lisbon to Marrakech on its partner TAP Air Portugal.
For the same flight, operated by the same partner, United is charging 27.5k United miles for a one-way in economy class!
Lastly, within South America, the Aeroplan award chart has only a single tier. You can fly one-way in economy within South America for just 15k Aeroplan miles.
For example, you can fly on Star Alliance airline Avianca between Bogota and Santiago, Chile for just 15k Aeroplan miles one-way in economy or 30k Aeroplan miles one-way in business class.
Keep in mind this flight is nearly 3,500 miles flown. For comparison, flying between New York and L.A. is about 2,500 miles. With this in perspective, Aeroplan’s pricing stands out.
United’s dynamic pricing fluctuates, however, on this random date you’d pay 22k United miles for a one-way coach seat and 44k United miles for a one-way business class seat.
Remember, Aeroplan and United are Star Alliance partners. These are the exact same flights showing on the Aeroplan website for considerably fewer miles.
Now, imagine adding a stopover within South America for just 5k, perhaps into gorgeous Patagonia, and it could be possible to get 3 South American destinations for as little as 20k Aeroplan miles.
6. Seattle to Tokyo in Economy or Business Class
Lastly, this particular route between Seattle and Tokyo is as good of an Aeroplan sweet spot as you’ll find among the above examples.
An award flight between the 2 cities will cost just 35k Aeroplan miles one-way in coach and 55k Aeroplan miles for a one-way business class seat.
Obviously niche for those who live in or reposition to Seattle, but still a great deal to have in your points and miles arsenal when you’re planning travel to Asia.
All Nippon Airways operates this route and is known for its stellar business class experience.
Aeroplan Bottom Line
Aeroplan miles are easy to earn given their access via travel rewards credits and hotel credit cards offered by American Express, Chase Ultimate Rewards, Marriott, and Capital One. As a Star Alliance member and a partner with numerous additional airline partners, there are a lot of ways to redeem your Aeroplan miles.
Combine this with Aeroplan’s generous stopover routing rules and no fuel surcharges on award tickets and it’s easy to see why Aeroplan miles can be quite valuable.
While the program saw a huge overhaul with price increases across the board, you can still maximize Aeroplan miles for a solid return.
So, what are your questions about how to use Aeroplan miles?
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