The Best Uses of Aeroplan Miles (and How to Maximize the Current Sale)

Yesterday, we shared the news of an incredible mileage sale Air Canada’s Aeroplan is running over the next week. The sale goes live at 10am ET this morning, so if you haven’t already, head on over and read up on the details. Regardless of the mileage sale, Aeroplan is still a worthwhile program with some really interesting redemptions. Let’s take a further dive into the Aeroplan program and how you can take advantage now and in the future.

First, A Few Nuances

With every mileage program, there are a few details to cover first. Because these programs can be as clear as mud, we’ll focus on the main ones.

First, let’s start with the positive – Aeroplan’s stopover policy. Unlike some other programs, Aeroplan allows stopovers and more creative routing. Want to fly from the US to Africa and stop in Europe on the way? You can do that. Aeroplan allows one stopover per booking. The only catch is that you’ll have to book a round trip ticket.

On a negative note, Aeroplan passes along fuel surcharges on award tickets, including those on Air Canada. However, that doesn’t mean every partner has fuel surcharges (more on that in a minute). That just means we’ll need to be a bit more attentive when booking partner award flights.

Avoiding Fuel Surcharges

Unlike many of the US programs, Aeroplan has decided to pass along fuel surcharges on award flights. This means that some attractive premium cabin rewards become significantly less attractive. There’s a reason you won’t see Lufthansa first class on this list.

That doesn’t mean you’re completely out of luck when it comes to Aeroplan partner redemptions. There are still some fantastic partners that either don’t pass along fuel surcharges or keep them to a minimum. These include:

  • Aegean Airlines
  • Air India
  • Air New Zealand
  • Asiana
  • Avianca
  • Brussels Airlines
  • Copa
  • EgyptAir
  • Ethiopian
  • EVA Air
  • Scandinavian (SAS)
  • Singapore Airlines
  • South African Airlines (if they’re still around)
  • SWISS
  • TAP Portugal
  • Turkish Airlines
  • United

Unfortunately, that means that airlines like Air Canada, Austrian, and Lufthansa all come with hefty surcharges. ANA, LOT, and Thai add surcharges, but they’re usually fairly reasonable.

You can avoid or minimize the cost of fuel surcharges by departing from a region that has restrictions on fuel surcharges. Think destinations such as Argentina, Brazil, Hong Kong, Japan, New Zealand, Taiwan, Thailand, and Vietnam. I don’t know about you, but I certainly wouldn’t mind visiting any of those places. You’ll just want to make sure that you’re booking one-way departing from those destinations to avoid the surcharges.

Best Uses of Aeroplan Miles

There’s a common misconception by newer folks to this hobby that you have to use an airline’s miles on that airline. In reality, it’s closer to the opposite. Often, the best uses of airline miles are on partner airlines instead of directly with that program’s airline. Aeroplan is no different.

Business Class to the Maldives

Cost at 1 Cent Per Mile: $750

Cost at 1.1 Cents Per Mile: $825

Visit any travel blog or Instagram and chances are you’ll see photos of an overwater bungalow in the Maldives. There’s a reason for the hype, but unfortunately, it can also be challenging to get to from the US.

Thankfully, Aeroplan can really help out with getting there. For just 75,000 miles one-way, you can travel from the US to the Maldives or India in business class. There are a couple options to get there, but Turkish Airlines and EVA Air are some of the most fun. Turkish Airlines in-flight catering is considered some of the best in the sky and if you’re able to snag a seat in their new business class on the 787, it’s a no-brainer. If you’re flying round trip, you can add a stop in Istanbul at no cost.

Business Class to South Africa

Cost at 1 Cent Per Mile: $750

Cost at 1.1 Cents Per Mile: $825

South Africa is another highly desirable destination that takes some serious time to get to. Jon and Ben visited a few years back and absolutely loved their experience. Again, at just 75,000 miles one-way, this is another fantastic option. If you’re flying round trip, adding a stop in Zurich with SWISS is highly recommended.

ANA One-Way First Class

Cost at 1 Cent Per Mile: $1,050

Cost at 1.1 Cents Per Mile: $1,155

ANA’s new first class – “The Suite” (courtesy of ANA)

Typically, if you’re looking to book ANA first class, the best way is through Virgin Atlantic’s Flying Club program. However, with Virgin miles you can only book round trip awards on ANA. If you want to book a one-way first class award, Aeroplan is a solid option to consider.

At 105,000 miles, it’s certainly not cheap. Something tells me you won’t be too upset when you’re sipping Krug at 35,000 feet though. If you’re taking advantage of Aeroplan’s mileage sale, you could essentially “buy” this ticket for $1,050. That’s a significant discount from the usual cash price of over $10,000. Not that you were actually going to pay that much for a ticket, but it’s still pretty cool to think about. Even at the 1.1 cent level, this is still only $1,155. Taxes and fees on this flight should only run around $100. For a special occasion or a splurge, it might be worth it.

If that’s too steep of a price, ANA’s new business class isn’t a bad consolation prize. The seat is currently available on their New York flights, but hopefully is rolled out to a few other routes by the time we start flying again. 75,000 miles for one of the biggest and best business class seats in the sky isn’t too bad if you ask me.

Swiss Business Class to Europe

Cost at 1 Cent Per Mile: $550

Cost at 1.1 Cents Per Mile: $605

SWISS 777 Business Class (image courtesy of SWISS.com)

One of the most popular uses of Aeroplan miles is flying business class between the US and Europe. Unlike other Lufthansa Group airlines though, SWISS does not pass along fuel surcharges. This makes it one of your best options for flying across the Atlantic on points. To make things even sweeter, it will only set you back 55,000 miles one-way in business class. That’s $550 with the Aeroplan sale which is significantly cheaper than anything you’ll find with cash.

Business Class to Oceania

Cost at 1 Cent Per Mile: $800

Cost at 1.1 Cents Per Mile: $880

Air New Zealand Business Class (image courtesy of AirNewZealand.com)

If you’re going to spend 15+ hours on a plane, you’re going to want to do it in comfort. Having a bed can be the difference between hitting the ground running and spending your first few days of vacation completely drained. At 80,000 miles one-way, I’d consider those points well spent. Unfortunately, you’re not going to be alone in this train of thought. Availability can be tough to come by for non-stop flights between the US and Australia/New Zealand. If you’re able to snag one, run, don’t walk.

However, you should have a little bit easier time finding availability connecting through Asia. Booking round trip will allow you to spend some time in places like Tokyo or Taipei. Breaking up long flights is a great way to make travel more fun. Plus, if you’re already going this far, why wouldn’t you want to visit either of those cities?

Other Ways to Earn Aeroplan Miles

Buying miles or flying Air Canada aren’t the only ways to earn Aeroplan miles. Aeroplan is also transfer partners of American Express, Capitol One, and Marriott Bonvoy.

  • American Express Membership Rewards transfer to Aeroplan at a 1:1 ratio
  • Capitol One points transfer to Aeroplan at a 2:1.5 ratio
  • Marriott Bonvoy points transfer to Aeroplan at a 3:1 ratio. However, if you transfer 60,000 Marriott points, you’ll receive a 25% bonus, making the effective transfer rate 3:1.25.

I wouldn’t recommend transferring Marriott points to Aeroplan unless you’re sitting on a mountain of them. If you’re using them for an airline transfer, there are just so many better programs to transfer Marriott points for better value. However, Amex or Capitol One points are definitely worth considering for the right redemption.

One More Note

While no one really knows what the future of travel will look like, that doesn’t mean theres any harm in planning for the future. For those who are open to it, there are some great opportunities to be had. Ultimately, it’s up to you to decide what makes the most sense in this situation.

Final Thoughts

Even without the current mileage sale, Aeroplan is an incredibly solid program worth your time. Adding in the current sale though, there are some really cool opportunities to fly premium products at a significantly discounted price. I know Aeroplan will be on my radar for future travel.

What’s your favorite use of Aeroplan miles?

Author: Stephen Hoechst

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