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Update: Air Canada Aeroplan is now a Chase partner! Points can be transferred on a 1:1 basis.
There are many ways to redeem Aeroplan Miles to get maximum value. Aeroplan is the loyalty program of Air Canada, the Canadian flag carrier. On the surface, it has gone through some upheaval in the past few decades. In 2002, Air Canada detached the program as a corporate entity and eventually sold it to Aimia, a travel consolidator based in Quebec. In 2018, the airline announced its intention to repurchase Aeroplan.
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Redeem Aeroplan Miles
Despite all the confusion, very little is expected to change at Aeroplan when it reunites with Air Canada. It remains one of the most rewarding frequent flyer programs with many opportunities for cost-effective redemptions.
Aeroplan’s Star Alliance Award Partners
For starters, one of the best things about Aeroplan is its membership in Star Alliance, the world’s largest consortium of airlines. This gives members the option of redeeming their miles at the following carriers:
- Air China
- Air India
- Air New Zealand
- ANA (All Nippon Airways)
- Brussels Airlines
- Copa Airlines
- Croatia Airlines
- EVA Air
- LOT Polish Airlines
- Shenzhen Airlines
- Singapore Airlines
- South African Airways
- TAP Air Portugal
- Turkish Airlines
How to Earn Aeroplan Miles for Redemption
Before you can redeem Aeroplan Miles, you need to work on accumulating them. You can increase your stash of Aeroplan miles in several ways:
When you fly First (F or A) or Business Class (J, C, D, Z, P) on Air Canada, you get a 50% class of service bonus on top of the 100% base miles flown. Premium Economy (O, A, R) and full-fare Economy (Y, B) yield a 25% bonus. Economy fares M, E, U, H, Q, V, and W give you 100% of mileage flown, while you receive 50% for discount and basic Economy (S, T, L, K, G, N).
Tip: Join Air Canada Altitude to get minimum mileage credits for short flights, rather than the actual distance flown.
You have several options for transferring credit card points to Aeroplan miles. American Express Membership Rewards is your best bet since the transfer rate is 1:1. Capital One transfers at a 4:3 ratio, and you can convert Marriott Bonvoy points at the rate of 3:1.
With Marriott, you get a 5,000-mile bonus for every 60,000 points transferred, netting 25,000 Aeroplan Miles for every 60,000 points. You can also transfer points from Barclay’s Arrival Premier card at 1.7:1. It’s not a great deal, but another option in a pinch.
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Other transfer partners may fit your situation. Diner’s Club transfers 1:1 in 1,000-point minimums but can take up to four weeks to complete. Also, there are partners in hotel programs, although these may not be the most advantageous.
Here are some of the hotel options:
- IHG Rewards (transfers in 10,000-point blocks at a 5:1 ratio)
- Hilton Honors (also 10,000 points at a time, at a 10:1 ratio)
- Wyndham Rewards (6,000 point minimum at 5:1)
- Best Western Rewards and Choice Privileges (both 5:1)
- Radisson Rewards (10:1)
- Accor Hotels (2:1)
- Golden Circle Rewards and Coast Rewards (both 1:1)
Secret Hacks for Redeeming Aeroplan Miles
The biggest hidden secret of the Aeroplan program is that you’re allowed two stopovers and one open jaw (in lieu of one of the stopovers) when redeeming miles for an award ticket.
The availability of two stopovers is huge: it magically converts a time-consuming, connection-ridden flight into the opportunity to visit three destinations in the same trip. Being able to take advantage of an open-jaw can also be very useful. It allows you to fly into one city and leave from another, introducing the possibility of some exciting overland travel.
Additionally, you can take advantage of layovers to explore a destination. Aeroplan defines a layover as anything less than 24 hours. This potentially gives you some time to visit a museum, dine in a restaurant, or check out the top sights.
While these options may complicate the process of searching for award flights, the good news is that Aeroplan’s website is usually accurate in displaying space, with little phantom availability.
Sweet Spots in the Aeroplan Award Chart
Aeroplan currently has a region-based chart for redeeming miles. There are several places where the rates can work to your advantage. You can use an international travel credit card to get you there.
U.S. or Canada to Europe
Roundtrip rates for Europe region 1 are 60,000 miles in Economy, 75,000 in Premium Economy, 110,000 for Business, and 140,000 for First. Aeroplan defines Europe 1 as Austria, Belgium, Denmark, France, Germany, Ireland, Italy, Luxembourg, Netherlands, Norway, Portugal, Spain (including the Balearic Islands but excluding the Canary Islands), Sweden, Switzerland, and the United Kingdom.
Also, while 110,000 miles for a roundtrip Business class redemption from the U.S. to Europe may not be the best deal, it is reasonable and fair. As long as you avoid the airlines where Aeroplan imposes fuel surcharges, your out-of-pocket costs will be negligible (more on this below). Also, remember that you can get more out of your trip by taking advantage of the two stopovers.
Transcontinental Flight Awards in the U.S. and Canada
You can book a domestic cross-country flight in Business Class for just 50,000 miles roundtrip (United charges a minimum of 70,000 miles for the same award). Economy and Premium Economy are 25,000 and 40,000 miles, respectively. And yes, you can add one free stopover if you’d like.
Long-Haul Transpacific Flights
A Business Class award from either the U.S. or Canada to Africa or India costs 150,000 miles roundtrip. You can also book U.S./Canada to Australia/New Zealand for 160,000 miles in Business Class and include a stopover in Asia.
Flights to the Arctic
If a visit to Manitoba or Nunavut is on your bucket list, you’re in luck. Aeroplan is the only program that partners with Canadian domestic airlines, giving you access to flights that would typically be extremely costly. With some planning, you can snag a trip that would generally cost more than $1,000 for 25,000 miles roundtrip in Economy (or 15,000 for a short-haul flight).
Fuel Surcharges on Aeroplan Awards
Let’s start with the good news. Here are the airlines where Aeroplan doesn’t levy fuel surcharges:
- Air China
- Air India
- Brussels Airlines
- COPA Airlines
- EVA Air
- Singapore Airlines
- Turkish Airlines
The carriers that immediately jump out are Singapore and Swiss. The lack of fuel charges on Swiss is noteworthy since the costs on Lufthansa are particularly substantial. It’s a list that gives you many options to work with.
Here are the airlines where you’ll get hit with draconian fuel surcharges:
- Air Canada
- Asiana Airlines
- Austrian Airlines
LOT Polish Airlines and Thai Airlines are in the middle. You’ll pay, but it won’t be onerous. One mildly annoying situation is the practice of Aeroplan levying fuel surcharges on their awards.
Other Key Points to Remember About Aeroplan Miles
To search award availability, you’re required to open an Aeroplan account. You’ll need activity on your account every 12 months to avoid forfeiting your miles. If you’re using the Aeroplan program as a transfer-and-burn way station to book awards, you won’t have much to worry about. If you do keep miles in your Aeroplan account, any form of activity will qualify to keep them alive, including point transfers or award bookings.
You don’t have the option to purchase miles with Aeroplan. However, you can top up your account to redeem an award at the cost of three cents per mile.
Changes to an award will cost you CAD $100. Online cancellations are CAD $125 and CAD $150 over the phone. While these aren’t the worst fees out there, it’s worth avoiding them if possible.
You can book an award with one stopover online but generally will have to call to arrange for two stopovers (and pay a $30 fee).
Summary of How to Maximize and Redeem Aeroplan Miles
The Aeroplan award program offers great flexibility by allowing bookings on all Star Alliance airlines. There are several sweet spots on the chart, notably transcontinental flights with the U.S. or Canada and flights from U.S./Canada to Europe. As an added bonus, award flights are allowed two stopovers or one open jaw (in lieu of a stopover).
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- 1 Redeem Aeroplan Miles
- 2 Aeroplan’s Star Alliance Award Partners
- 3 How to Earn Aeroplan Miles for Redemption
- 4 Secret Hacks for Redeeming Aeroplan Miles
- 5 Sweet Spots in the Aeroplan Award Chart
- 6 Fuel Surcharges on Aeroplan Awards
- 7 Other Key Points to Remember About Aeroplan Miles
- 8 Summary of How to Maximize and Redeem Aeroplan Miles