Air Canada recently re-launched their frequent flyer program, Aeroplan, after buying it back from the company they sold it to years ago – essentially, Air Canada now once again owns and controls their frequent flyer program. Aeroplan is a powerful program due to their numerous airline partners (which you can earn and redeem points on), fantastic elite benefits, a unique award chart, easy-to-understand routing and transit rules, and more.
Aeroplan Airline Partners
Air Canada is a member of the Star Alliance, which means you can earn and redeem Aeroplan points on any Star Alliance member airline. In addition, Aeroplan has continuously been adding new and unique airline partners since their re-launch; some of these new partners are incredible and allow you to redeem your Aeroplan points for some fantastic flying experiences all around the world.
currently, Aeroplan has a partnership with:
- Aegean Airlines*
- Air China*
- Air Creebec
- Air Dolomiti
- Air India*
- Air Mauritius
- Air New Zealand*
- Air Serbia
- Asiana Airlines*
- Austrian Airlines*
- Azul Brazilian Airlines
- Brussels Airlines*
- Calm Air
- Canadian North
- Cathay Pacific
- Copa Airlines*
- Croatia Airlines*
- Ethiopian Airlines*
- Etihad Airways
- Eurowings Discover
- EVA Air*
- Gulf Air
- Juneyao Airlines
- LOT Polish Airlines*
- Olympic Air
- Oman Air
- SAS Scandinavian Airlines*
- Shenzhen Airlines*
- Singapore Airlines*
- South African Airways*
- SWISS International Air Lines*
- TAP Air Portugal*
- THAI Airways*
- Turkish Airlines*
- United Airlines*
- Virgin Australia
* = a Star Alliance member
When redeeming points, you can mix and match airlines – flying a combination of Air Canada, Star Alliance, and other airline partners. There are no restrictions as far as mixing airlines on an award ticket. You can also redeem your points for travel on all airline partners directly on Air Canada’s website – no need to call for relatively simple bookings as most can be done online. There is also no longer a separate website for the frequent flyer program and instead it has been integrated into Air Canada’s main site.
The Aeroplan Award Charts
Naturally with the re-launch of the Aeroplan program, Air Canada has published a new award chart. Airlines like United and Delta no longer publish award charts, therefore it is nice to see Air Canada continuing the “traditional” frequent flyer model where we can easily check how much a flight should cost in points if there is saver-level award availability.
You can redeem Aeroplan points on all partner airlines as long as there is saver-level award availability (when airlines release award seats to their partners). You can redeem points for travel on Air Canada at all kinds of points prices as those redemptions are controlled dynamically based on demand (however, there are still saver-level seats on Air Canada). The best way to search for award space is to simply use Air Canada’s website and search each flight you would like to book individually, one-by-one.
Aeroplan’s Award Chart has been simplified – there are only four “Travel Zones“:
- North America (U.S., Canada, Mexico, Central America, Caribbean)
- South America
- Atlantic (Europe, Africa, Middle East, Indian subcontinent)
- Pacific (Asia, South Pacific)
In the old Aeroplan program, the world was divided into zones like Europe 1, Europe 2, Asia 1, Asia 2, South Pacific, etc.
Aeroplan has published ten Award Charts, these include award redemption levels for travel:
- within North America
- within Atlantic
- within Pacific
- within South America
- between North America and Atlantic
- between North America and Pacific
- between North America and South America
- between Atlantic and Pacific
- between Atlantic and South America
- between Pacific and South America
Aeroplan Award Redemption Levels
Each of Aeroplan’s ten award charts feature a redemption level for travel in Economy Class, Premium Economy Class, Business Class, and First Class (note that not all cabins may be available within/between all regions) and also the total distance flown in miles (each flight on your itinerary is added up separately to make up your total travel distance).
Aeroplan’s award chart is a mix of region/zone-based and distance-based. The old Aeroplan program was region/zone-based, meaning previously a flight from San Francisco to Frankfurt cost the same as a flight from New York to Frankfurt if there was award availability. Now, the flight from New York to Frankfurt would be cheaper as it is shorter in distance. Aeroplan has taken the best of a region/zone-based award chart and a distance-based award chart and mixed them together.
For travel on Air Canada, separate award levels apply; you can still mix Air Canada and partners on one itinerary, though.
Aeroplan Award Ticket Rules
The Aeroplan program is different from the old program – there are no longer restrictive routing rules or maximum permitted mileage (MPM) on award tickets. Because the program is region/zone-based and distance-based, you can potentially construct creative itineraries that would have not been possible under the old program.
- you can add a stopover (a “break” between flights for longer than 24h) for just 5,000 points – even on one-way bookings (not possible for flights in U.S. or Canada)
- layovers (less than 24h) can be added for no additional miles (if you stay within the same total distance flown)
Aeroplan Redemption Examples
Let’s take a look at some examples based on the award chart on the following flights:
- San Francisco to Frankfurt (nonstop distance 5,699 miles)
- Economy Class: 40,000 points
- Business Class: 70,000 points
- First Class: 100,000 points
- San Francisco to Frankfurt to London (total distance flown 6,107 miles; SFO-FRA is 5,699 miles and FRA-LHR is 408 miles, FRA layover less than 24h)
- Economy Class: 55,000 points
- Business Class: 90,000 points
- First Class: 130,000 points
As you can see, by flying onward to London, we are bumped into a higher total distance flown, which makes our award more expensive. If we wanted to stopover in Frankfurt for longer than 24 hours, we would add on 5,000 miles for the stopover (so SFO-FRA-LHR with a stopover in Frankfurt would cost 60,000 miles in Economy Class).
As far as taxes and fees on an award ticket go, there are no fuel surcharges on award tickets (save hundreds to thousands of $), however there is a new CAD$39 partner airline booking fee (applies to all tickets involving flights not fully on Air Canada).
All in All
The Aeroplan program is more powerful than before as you are able to create custom itineraries combining unique airlines – something that wasn’t possible before. The obvious negative change is that several awards have gone up in price. Previously a one-way Business Class ticket from the U.S. to Europe cost 55,000 – 57,500 miles and now the same flight can cost 60,000 – 90,000 points, this can be a huge increase in the miles required.
The biggest positive development is that there are no longer fuel surcharges which means you can save hundreds to thousands of dollars on each ticket – especially when originating in North America on airlines like Air Canada, Austrian Airlines, and Lufthansa. The unique mix of a region/zone-based award chart with a distance-based award chart creates various opportunities to lock in flights at a favorable redemption level, depending on your travels.
The transformed Aeroplan program is powerful and seems to be getting better – especially with the continuous addition of airline partners. You can transfer points to Air Canada Aeroplan from American Express Membership Rewards, Capital One Rewards, Chase Ultimate Rewards, or Marriott Bonvoy.