Air Canada's aeroplan is a valuable program for North American reward flyers. A member of Star Alliance, Air Canada has expanded it's international reach throughout the world with recent deliveries of Boeing 787 aircraft and makes these destinations available through reward flying.
- Competitive Fixed Mileage reward chart
- Short Haul program for low redemptions to major cities in Canada from United States
- Surcharges waived on some carriers that impose them
- Ability to pay for taxes and fees with points, albeit at a poor redemption rate
- Reasonable change and cancellation fees
- Very generous stopover rules on round-trip reward tickets
- Efficient reward search engine
- A single Multi-city stopover can be booked on line
- Calendar view showing reward availability
- Favorable redemptions to Europe
- Points do not expire with TD Bank credit card
- Surcharges on their own Air Canada flights as well as other Star Alliance carriers
- Mostly unreasonable Market Fare program can be three times the Fixed Mileage points
- Full refunds of points and taxes are only allowed when cancelling up to 22 days before departure
- Cancellations after 22 days must be rebooked within the original one year ticket period
- Surcharges, taxes and fees are not shown on results screen
- Upgrades using points are not fully explained by Air Canada
Aeroplan reward pricing is region based. While the regions are mostly typical to other carriers' region definitions, there are a couple of notable differences:
Europe is spit into two regions. The farther east region(#2) includes Finland, Greece, Poland and Turkey which typically are included in European regions. (Although the pricing difference for premium class rewards between Europe 1 and 2 is negligible.)
Asia 1 includes Hong Kong and Macau where these southern cities are typically in Southern Asian regions. (Although the pricing difference for premium class rewards between Asia 1 and 2 is negligible.)
Fixed Mileage Reward Chart
Aeroplan has two programs; Fixed Mileage and Market Fare. Fixed Mileage, which was called the "Classic" program is their Saver reward program. Market Fare is a dynamic priced system usually cost prohibitive but from time to time offers good specials.
This is the Aeroplan reward chart from North America and Hawaii to all regions.
The values are for a round-trip. One-way rewards are allowed for 50% of the stated points.
The reward chart departing from all other regions.
Market Fare Rewards
If you value your points then a Fixed Mileage reward should be your goal, unless there is a promotion offering Market Fare redemptions that are lower than Fixed Mileage rewards which happen from time to time. Under normal circumstances however Market Fares are significantly higher. While standard rewards for many programs are double the saver, this example of dynamic pricing is three times that of a Fixed Mileage reward.
Market Fare rewards are only applicable to Air Canada flights.
Aeroplan status members are eligible for reductions in required points on Market Fare prices only. These reductions are not absolute and are dynamically priced. Apparently they will be calculated when you select the itineraries. Maximum reductions are:
- Silver members: Up to 20% reduction
- Black members: Up to 25% reduction
- Diamond members: Up to 35% reduction
For Market Fare specials go here.
Short Haul Rewards
Short Haul Rewards are flights on Air Canada (or their domestic partners) from cities shown in the chart below. From the United States you can fly from most East coast and Midwest states to Toronto and Montreal. From the Northwest you can fly to British Columbia or Alberta.
Round-trip redemptions are as follows:
- Economy: 15,000
- Premium Economy: 20,000
- Business: 30,000
Star Alliance - Around the World
Aeroplan offers the Star Alliance Around the World Reward for the following Aeroplan points:
- Economy: 220,000
- Premium Economy: 250,000
- Business Class: 300,000
- First Class: 400,000
In addition to points you are responsible for surcharges, taxes and fees.
Surcharges / Taxes and Fees
Air Canada imposes surcharges on some carriers, including their own flights. Airport and other governmental taxes are charged as with all loyalty programs.
Aeroplan may allow all surcharges, taxes and fees to be paid with aeroplan points. You must have the required number of points in your account for this option. While the value for each point is not published, various examples indicate you will get around .0075 cents per point. Overall this is a poor return, yet if you have excess points or points that will expire worthless this could be an option.
Because surcharges are applicable on Air Canada this often prices out actually flying Air Canada routes. The most expensive surcharge carriers will be Air Canada, Austrian Airlines and Lufthansa. While ANA is on the surcharge list, if flying to Tokyo those surcharges are minimal on ANA as well as Air Canada. Asiana's surcharges are not that bad.
Aeroplan imposes full surcharges on the following international carriers:
- Air Canada
- Austrian Airlines
Aeroplan imposes reduced surcharges on the following international carriers:
Aeroplan does not impose surcharges on the following international carriers:
- Air China
- Air India
- Air New Zealand
- Brussels Airlines
- EVA Air
- South African Airlines
- Turkish Airlines
- United Airlines
Some of the most affordable reward opportunities using Aeroplan points is on other Star Alliance carriers because of the surcharges imposed on Air Canada flights.
This is an example to Copenhagen in Europe. The Air Canada international flight costs $375 in fees while the SAS flight costs only $63 in fees.
This trip is to Shanghai. Flying on Air Canada is the most expensive at $310 while you could fly EVA for a cup of coffee or go the wrong way on SAS for $22.
This example is also to Europe where Swiss is $41 and Air Canada is $381. But for 15K additional points you could go first class on United and save $320 in fees. That means you are spending about 2 cents a point for first class.
Air Canada has a great product, however it's important to look closely at the surcharges when making the decision on which reward to procure.
Aeroplan imposes the following charges plus taxes. The charges are quoted in Canadian Dollars with the current exchange rate to USD in parenthesis. (Effective 12/6/2016)
- On-line ticketing no charge
- Call Center ticketing: C$30 (USD $22.50)
- Express delivery of paper ticket: C$35/C$50 (USD $25.50/$38) depending on method
- Change to date, time, class of service, routing, etc. C$100 (USD$75) PER DIRECTION CHANGED
- Re-booking charge for cancelled tickets: C$150 (USD$112)
- Redeposit points for cancelled ticket: C$150 (USD$112)
Rules pertaining to ticketing, changes and cancellations.
- You may book a reward for anyone you want and you don't have to travel with them.
- Tickets are valid for 12 months from the date of first issue.
- Air Canada has no blackout dates but some partner carriers may impose blackouts
- You may book a reward up to 2 hours before departure
- Changes are allowed up to 2 hours before departure of the first flight. No changes allowed once ticket is active.
- If changes reduce the required points there is no refund from the original amount paid. However you are responsible for any additional points or taxes/fees resulting from the change.
- Reward tickets may be cancelled up to 2 hours before first departure. You must re-book within the original one year period and pay the rebooking fee. Failure to do so with forfeit the points.
- Reward tickets that are cancelled up to 22 days before scheduled date of departure are eligible for full refund of the points and taxes after paying the redeposit fee.
- Cancellations made after 22 days but before 2 hours of departure can be re-booked after paying the fee and within the original 1 year time period.
- Cancellations made within 2 hours of departure forfeit all points, taxes and fees.
- Market Fare (standard) rewards may not be converted to Fixed Mileage (saver) rewards
Children under 2 years may fly for a reduced amount provided they don't occupy a seat. Children aged between 2-11 require a reward ticket and an adult traveling with them. Exceptions may apply. Conditions for infant travel:
- Flying within Canada or within Continental USA and Hawaii do not require a ticket.
- Flying between Canada and Continental USA and Hawaii require a ticket that is taxes only.
- Only one infant per adult traveling.
- On all other itineraries, Infants occupying a seat require a reward ticket.
Prices for Infant reward travel:
- Economy: C$50 or 5,000 points
- Premium Economy: C$75 or 7,500 points
- Business: C$100 or 10,000 points
- First: C$125 or 12,500 points
Note: If you book 2 one-way trips you will be charged 2 infant reward fees.
Itineraries booked with multiple class cabins, such as one segment coach and one segment business, will be charged the higher redemption value for full trip. Note: See warning in Reward Search section on multiple class search results.
Points automatically expire 12 months from the date of last activity, earning or redeeming. Status members and TD Aeroplan credit card holders in good standing are exempt from this expiry rule.
Aeroplan uses something called centralized maximum mileage to determine if a route is valid. However they do not publish specific rules. What this means is, internally within their systems they have determined the maximum miles you can take in flight segments to get to a destination. Of course when searching for flights you will always get valid routings. However multi-city routes may cause validation issues. (See Reward Searching below) If you have a route in mind you can contact their call center and see if they will give you the maximum mileage allowed or assist you in building the itinerary.
Layovers / Stopover / Open-Jaw
Aeroplan has generous stopover rules for round-trips on Air Canada flights as well as Star Alliance flights. Layovers are 4 hours for domestic and 24 hours for international. Stopovers are more than 24 hours at a location within the itinerary. Stopovers on not permitted on one-way itineraries.
Round-trip stopover rules allowed on a Fixed Mileage reward:
For travel between Canada and the Continental 48 United States.
- One stopover is allowed along with the destination. You may take an open jaw in-lieu of the stopover, such as Los Angeles - Toronto then return Montreal - Los Angeles. Or this could easily be a stopover in Toronto with the destination being Montreal.
For travel between Canada/Continental USA and Hawaii/Puerto Rico/Mexico/Central America/Caribbean.
- Air Canada flights only. You are allowed TWO stopovers in addition to the destination. In this example you could go from New York to Honolulu with a stopover in Vancouver and a stopover in Toronto. You could also have an open-jaw in lieu of a stopover. For example instead of returning from Honolulu you could return from Kahului (Maui).
- When at least one flight is on Star Alliance. You are allowed one stop over and one open-jaw. An itinerary for this allowance could be Denver to Honolulu, go to Kona creating the open-jaw, Kona to San Francisco for a stopover then back to Denver.
- Intercontinental travel you are allowed TWO stopovers. An open jaw may be taken in lieu of a stopover. There are multiple scenarios for this generous benefit.
- Intracontinental other than described above in the North American sector no stopovers are permitted. This is within Europe, South America, Asia, etc. Anywhere where flights don't start/end from North America. However you can get an open jaw.
Around the World Rewards
You can only travel in one direction and must cross both the Atlantic and Pacific. Five stopovers are allowed and one open-jaw is permitted. You can only stop in a city one time. In general backtracking is not allowed unless the published flights require it. (Such as NRT-SYD below) In this example you depart from Toronto and your stopovers are: Tokyo, Sydney, Singapore, Zurich, London and the open jaw is returning to New York.
You must have an aeroplan account to search for rewards at aeroplan.com.
The Aeroplan search engine is quite good and easy to use. The only real issue is when multiple class bookings are returned. This is discussed below.
To search for a reward fill in the blanks and press search. You can search for different types of rewards as well. In this example the search is for flights. Choose Round-Trip, One-Way or Multi-City.
Available Fixed Mileage rewards and Market Fare rewards are returned and can be selected by clicking on the tab. There are no Market Fare rewards for this particular itinerary. If there are no rewards for either Fixed or Market then you will be directed to the Availability Calendar.
To view the detail of the flight, times, aircraft, layovers and service class click on details.
Unfortunately Aeroplan doesn't show the taxes and fees on this screen. You have to select a flight to view the total cost. With the surcharges you must view the cost.
To go back to the list of applicable flights click on Change Flight.
DO NOT USE BACKSPACE in reward search as this causes multiple issues and you will end of starting over.
You can start over with New Search or go to Availability Calendar for more date options.
To see a 2 week range of availability you can click on "Flexible Dates" initially or the Availability Calendar on the results screen.
Select a yellow day (Market Fares may also show on this screen) and click on the "Search" button which is not shown in the snapshot.
To take advantage of the generous stopover rules allowed by Aeroplan use the Multi-City option. The main limitation of this option is if no Fixed Mileage rewards are available for any of the needed segments you are stuck and need to start over. Therefore it's best to search each segment individually before entering all the destinations and dates to a multi-city search. You can only use Multi-City to book one stopover.
The itinerary goes from Chicago to Copenhagen with a stopover, then on to Shanghai which is the destination. The return is straight back even though you could add a stopover in say Tokyo. To book 2 stopovers you must contact the call center.
The results show an excellent round the world two city reward ticket in business class for 150,000 points plus C$82.
Because only round-trips allow for stopovers you can not build a multi-city
Allowing for two stopovers on a round-trip saver reward ticket is industry leading. While the reward redemptions are very reasonable, this benefit certainly is the best. Stopovers are even allowed on domestic rewards, something that is usually reserved for international travel. If using Aeroplan points take advantage of this great benefit.
A comparison of Aeroplan's redemptions versus the other North American based reward program (minus Alaska) shows the program to be competitive. It is best to Europe and if you can avoid the surcharges (UA,Swiss,SAS) it's the lowest. However it is competitive across the board. Only United will allow an extra stopover, American and Delta do not. Avoiding the surcharges is the key.
Note the Europe First Class difference between Aeroplan and United Partner, meaning Lufthansa. While Lufthansa will charge a surcharge of around $500 each way, 80,000 points means you can fly LH first class for 0.0125 cents per point over United.
Aeroplan's Short Haul program is similar to American's 500 mile program, without the mile restriction. Redemption values are the same, Economy 15,000 and Business 30,000 for a round-trip. Aeroplan has a Premium Economy tier at 20,000.
Depending on the fare of the itinerary you selected there might be some value to these rewards. At the standard 2.5 cents per point (you can by Aeroplan points for slightly less) this means your purchase fare would have to be; Economy $375 and Business $750 to receive minimum value for your points. The one stopover allowed on these rewards makes them more valuable.
Air Canada official upgrade program uses eUpgrades, certificates earned by Aeroplan members by flying Air Canada, to upgrade on Air Canada flights. However recently they have joined the Star Alliance Upgrade program that allows you to use Aeroplan points on Air Canada and other participating Star Alliance flights or other Star Alliance program points (i.e. United Mileage Plus) on Air Canada flights.
The standard Star Alliance upgrade rules are shown on Air Canada's site. The issue is these standard rules do not include Premium Economy which Air Canada offers. Air Canada states that only Economy class booking codes Y and B along with Premium Economy class code "O" are eligible. However the reward chart only shows Y and B class fare upgrades. In addition the rules state one segment and one class upgrade is allowed. Technically this means the upgrade from Y/B is to Premium Economy.
You may however use your Aeroplan points on any Star Alliance flight that has upgrade availability. This chart represents the one segment requirement.
Use this link to apply for an Air Canada upgrade.
Aeroplan points are earned flying Air Canada flights. Points earned are flight mileage based. An adjustment to the points earned is made based on booking class:
- Business Class: 150%
- Premium Economy: 125%
- Latitude (Y/B): 125%
- Flex (M/U/H/Q/V/W/G): 100%
- Tango [within Canada] (S/T/L/A/K/F): 25%
- Tango [all other] (S/T/L/A/K/F): 50%
Minimum earnings are 250 points. The Air Canada earnings chart.
You may also earn Aeroplan points when flying on any Star Alliance flight as well as other Aeroplan regional partners. Typically the earning rates are similar to Air Canada. Click to check your Star Alliance carrier earning rate.
Aeroplan has numerous credit card options for Canadian residents. For United States residents there is a credit card that offers a signup bonus through TD Bank. One major benefit according to their information is your Aeroplan points NEVER expire as long as the card is open and in good standing. Given the fact Aeroplan has a 12 month expiration this is a worthwhile benefit.
You can convert your AMEX Membership Rewards points as well as SPG Starpoints to Aeroplan points at a 1:1 ratio, as well as getting the SPG 25% bonus when transferring 20,000 points. Complete list of transfer partners:
- AMEX Membership Rewards 1:1
- Starwood Preferred Guest 1:1 (Plus 25% bonus on 20K increment transfers)
- Best Western Rewards 5:1
- Choice Privileges 5:1
- Hilton HHonors 10:1
- Le Club Accor 2:1
- Marriott Rewards 5:1 to 2.8:1 based on transfer amount
- Wyndam Rewards 6:1
- Avis: 500 points per airport rental, 250 off-airport
- Hertz: 500 points per airport rental, 250 off-airport
Hotels: (Partial list)
- Choice Hotels: 250 points per stay
- Carlson Hotels: 250 points per stay
- Hilton: 1 point per eligible USD spent
- Marriott: 1/2 points per eligible USD spent based on hotel
- Best Western: 250 points per stay
- Fairmont Hotels and Resorts: 500 points per stay
- IHG: 500 points per stay
- Langham Group: 500 points per night maxium 1,500 per stay
- Pan Pacific: 500 points per stay
- ParkRoyal Hotels: 500 points per stay
- Starwood: Up to 3 points per eligible USD spent
- Shangri-La Hotels: 500 points per stay
- Wyndam Hotels: Minimum 250 points or 2 points per eligible USD spent
- Park'n Fly: 100 points per valet service
Aeroplan's Shopping Portal is called eStore aeroplan. Ordering from over 100 online retailers can earn aeroplan points quickly. A minimum 1 point is earned for each dollar spent with numerous specials offering multiples of points per dollars.
Aeroplan allows you to purchase points. While other programs typically sell points in bulk with a maximum, Aeroplan allows you to purchase up to 50% of the required points for a trip. The purchase price is C$.03 per point plus taxes. Converting to USD this will probably end up around 2.5 cents after the taxes. If you are looking at a premium class reward ticket, this may be a good option in the event you don't have enough points in your account.
All things considered Aeroplan is an excellent program. It's shining star is the stopover rule which allows you to really build a great trip and visit as many as 3 cities with greater than 24 hour connections. Mini-round the world itineraries are possible as well. The downside are the surcharges, but there are enough options that you can avoid these if you want. Air Canada's own surcharges are not extreme, like some other carriers. And with the "sweet spot" to Europe you can fly in business class round trip for 110,000 points. Finally Aeroplan has good availability with its own flights and Star Alliance partners. It doesn't matter how inexpensive a program is if you can get the reward. Aeroplan makes the rewards available.