Aeroplan Basics – The Award Chart

Tuesday 12th, February 2013 / 05:08 Written by
Aeroplan Basics – The Award Chart
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This is a post in a series on the basics of the Aeroplan frequent flier program.

Related Posts:

Many frequent flyer programs have their own award charts and there are some great gems in each award chart where you can get great value and there are some where you will get very poor value.

Aeroplan’s award chart
Aeroplan’s upgrade chart

In this post, I’ll talk about the best uses of your Aeroplan miles based on the award charts. I will focus on the flights that people based in Canada and US will be using most frequently.

Caveats

The biggest issue with the redemption of Aeroplan miles is the “taxes” and fees that you have to pay when you book an Aeroplan award ticket. These “taxes” are extremely high for flights operated by Air Canada because they include a fuel surcharge that is only applicable to flights operated by Air Canada. Some partner flights do not carry a fuel surcharge. As a result, using Aeroplan miles for flights operated by Air Canada is often not the best value.

Something to be aware of is that if you value flying in business class, using miles will get you a much better return. Revenue tickets in business class are significantly more expensive than revenue tickets in economy class. Award tickets in business class are usually in the range of 1.5 times the price of an award ticket in economy class.

Valuing Your Miles Redemption

Whenever you are considering redeeming your miles, you have you figure out what value you are getting for those miles. Remember, if you are spending 100,000 miles to save only $5, you are not getting a very good redemption.

Milevalue has a great calculator of the value of your mile.

The formula you should use is:

MileValue = frac{RevTicPrice-AwardTax}{MilesRedeemed + MilesForgone}

Where:

  • RevTicPrice- The most you would pay for this ticket
  • AwardTax- The taxes and fees you are being charged to book the award ticket
  • MilesRedeemed – The number of miles required
  • MilesForgone – The number of miles you would receive on a revenue ticket

Best Uses of Aeroplan Miles

Aeroplan award tickets can be of great value and can save you significant money. I find that the best use of award flights is:

  1.  Last minute flying
    • There are no penalties for booking closer to the flight date
  2. Flying into underserved markets
    • If you can find a route that is underserved and cash fares are very high, using an award flight can save you a lot of money
  3. Stopovers (natural or creative use)
    • Every award ticket allows you to make a stopover. If you require a stopover, this can be very expensive on a revenue ticket. If you don’t need a stopover, there are creative ways to make good use of this feature.

Best Parts of the Award Chart

Flight Round-trip vs 1-way Price (in Aeroplan Miles) When to Use Notes
Business Class Tickets Roundtrip Varies by route If you would be willing to pay more than 1.5x the price of an economy ticket to fly in business
Canada / US Short Haul Roundtrip 15K Last minute flightsFlights using some small market airports All flights must be operated by Air Canada
Canada / US Long Haul Roundtrip (with or without stopovers) 25K Last minute flightsBuilding in stopovers and open-jawsFlights using some small market airports
Mini Round The World Roundtrip with a Stopover 75K – 90K (economy) Multi-stop journey through Asia AND Europe

Business Class Tickets

Personally, I don’t value business class tickets at significantly more than economy tickets. However, there are some people who really love flying business class. Revenue fares for business class tickets are usually many multiples of the economy fare. Looking at the award chart, Aeroplan usually charges only about 1.5 – 2 times the economy ticket price. For those who would actually pay a significant premium for business travel get very good value for their miles.

A place where the Aeroplan award chart has particularly good value is the business fare to Western Europe (Europe 1). The industry standard seems to be 100K for this fare. Aeroplan charges 90K + taxes and fees for this fare.

Hefty taxes and fuel surcharges

Something to consider on this route is that your taxes and fees can be very high. As mentioned earlier, flights operated by Air Canada carry hefty fuel surcharges and taxes / fees. As you increase the distance flown, the fuel surcharges increase as well. Where possible, I would definitely fly on carriers such as Austrian, and Swiss as opposed to Air Canada, where possible.

Something else to note is that there are large taxes levied on flights departing from the UK. The tax is also based on the distance flown out of the UK. If you are interested in going to London, for example, you can save significant money on your taxes by booking this flight to connect in another European city as a STOPOVER. If your outbound flight is to North America from the UK, you will pay the higher exit tax. If your outbound flight is to the EU, then the UK departure tax is significantly less.

Short Haul Flights for Canada and US

The first place where I have found great value for my Aeroplan miles is in the Canada / US short haul. For 15K Aeroplan miles + (sometimes exorbitant) booking fees and taxes, you can fly roundtrip on a short haul flight in Economy.

Short haul flights do allow stopovers, as long as all of the flights are covered under the short haul definition. Also, to be eligible, every flight on this route has to be operated by Air Canada. As I mentioned before, award flights on Air Canada carry high fuel surcharges so that is something to be aware of.

The trick is to find routes where revenue tickets are regularly very high.

Short Haul Examples

Here are some examples where it may and may not make sense to redeem your miles. I’ll spare the calculations.

Good Use: YWG – YTS

The route between Winnipeg/YWG and Timmins/YTS would be considered a short haul flight and would cost 15K miles + $150 in fees. A revenue ticket on this route would cost about $800 and you would earn 2564 miles for the flight. This yields a return of almost $0.04 for each Aeroplan mile, assuming you needed to buy this ticket.

Poor Use: YYZ – BOS

The Toronto-Boston route is well served by Air Canada, Delta and Porter (out of Toronto City Centre Airport). Given the level of competition, roundtrip flights are often priced in the range of $300 (often less) and you would receive 886 miles. If using Aeroplan miles for this route, it would cost 15K Aeroplan miles + ~$170. This would yield a return of $0.0082 / mile, which is well below my valuation of $0.0125 / Aeroplan mile.

The definition of short haul for each region is displayed here:

Between And (Province or State)
New Brunswick NB, NS, NL, PEI, QC(via YHZ or YUL) CT, MA, NJ, NJ, NY, VA, DC
Nova Scotia NB, NS, NL, PEI, QC(via YHZ or YUL) CT, MA, NJ, NJ, NY, VA, DC
Newfoundland NB, NS, NL, PEI, QC
Prince Edward Island NB, NS, NL, PEI, QC(via YHZ or YUL) CT, MA, NJ, NJ, NY, VA, DC
Quebec NB, NS, NL, ON, PEI, QCCT, DC, GA, IL, IN, MD, MA, MI, MN, MS, NJ, NH, NY, NC, OH, PA, RI, TN, VA, WI
Ontario MB, ON, QCCT, DC, GA, IL, IN, MD, MA, MI, MN, MS, NJ, NH, NY, NC, OH, PA, RI, TN, CA, WI
Manitoba MB, ON, QC
Saskatchewan AV, MB, SK
Alberta AB, BC, SK, NT OR, WA
British Columbia AB, BC, YT OR, WA
Yukon BC
Territories AB

Long Haul Flights for Canada and US

I have also found there can be good value in using your Aeroplan miles for Long Haul flights within Canada and the US. It costs 25K miles + booking fees and taxes to fly on a roundtrip (with stopovers) award flight. The industry standard is 25K miles for a domestic long haul flight in Economy, which is Aeroplan’s rate as well. For flights that would normally cost over $600 roundtrip, as is the case with many cross country flights within Canada, this would be a good use of 25K miles.

As mentioned above, creative use of stopovers, flying routes where there is little competition or flying last minute are all good uses of miles.

As mentioned before, the best way to reduce your costs is to avoid flying on Air Canada operated planes where possible. If you are flying domestically within Canada, this is not possible. (You should use the US Airways trick if it makes sense) However, if you are flying to US destinations, you will save significantly on your award booking fee / taxes by flying on the US partners of United Airlines and US Airways. The reason for this is because a large portion of the Air Canada’s ticket charge is a fuel surcharge. United and US Airways do not charge the fuel surcharge on award tickets, while Air Canada does. As a result, if you are able to redeem award tickets on partner airlines, you will save the fuel surcharge.

Mini Round the World Tickets

Aeroplan award tickets have quite lax routing rules. One of the ways to game this to your advantage is by buying an award ticket to Asia if you are interested in doing a round the world ticket. Aeroplan allows award tickets from North America to Asia to fly one flight over the Pacific and the other over the Atlantic. This is a great value and one of the best redemptions of Aeroplan miles.

Let’s say you are interested in doing a round the world trip from North America to Asia to Europe and back. What you can do is book your ticket as a ticket to Asia, with a single stopover in a European city. If you are interested in exploring Asia, you can book internal flights in Asia separately. If you are interested in exploring Europe, you can book internal flights in Europe separately as well.

Aeroplan’s Round The World (RTW)

Aeroplan has a Round-The-World redemption that allows you 5 stopovers. Using the Mini Round-The-World trick, you can recreate a very similar itinerary for significantly less miles.

Remember, any award ticket comes with 1 stopover, so you can generate some more “stopovers” by buying internal Asia flights / internal Europe flights.

Class of Service Aeroplan RTW Aeroplan Asia 1 Aeroplan Asia 2
Economy 200K 75K 90K
Business 300K 125K 130K
First 400K 175K 145K
Stopovers 5 1 1

Recap

There are some great redemptions of Aeroplan miles. The best time to use Aeroplan miles are:

  • last minute flying
  • flying where revenue tickets are very costly
  • making use of stopovers

My favorite few points on the award chart are:

  • Business class tickets to Europe
  • Canada / US Short Haul
  • Mini Round-The-World
,

Help Us Educate Canada and Share

3 comments on “Aeroplan Basics – The Award Chart”

  1. Mila Werbik says:

    Using mini RTW ticket. If I fly from Vancouver BC over atlantic to Europe and then to Bangkok, and back to Vancouver, how many points do I need for economy and how many for business?

  2. Jack Bristow says:

    My partner and I will be visiting our son a lot now that he is in Victoria. We have just got into Aeroplan with TD Aeroplan Visa card and will be flying out of Toronto exclusively. Any advice as to how to use our points and what to expect in surcharges with AC ( only direct flight available) would be greatly appreciated. There are lots of stopover routes but being both over 65 the direct flight is more to our liking. Thank you for your time here.

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