I’d like to begin with a sad, but unavoidable fact: Aeroplan used to be a fantastic program until Air Canada drastically devalued it in 2015, but what else is new, really? Nowadays, Air Canada Aeroplan has only one sweet spot in its entire award chart, which is Seattle to Tokyo in Business Class for 55,000 points.
So why then even mention Air Canada here?
Because Aeroplan still has a lot going for it, and ignoring it would be a mistake. Here are some datapoints.
- Aeroplan still has a published award chart.
- It’s easier to find saver rates for Business Class award space on Air Canada than any U.S. legacy carrier (yes, I mean you, American, United and Delta).
- 36 airline partners!
- No fuel surcharges!
- A stopover for 5,000 miles.
- Liberal routing rules: you can fly between two regions via the third one (within reason, of course).
- You can pool your points with up to eight other people.
- The new Chase Aeroplan credit card offers real substantive benefits that go beyond just the welcome bonus
- Three credit card transfer programs: AmEx, Chase and Capital One (also Marriott Bonvoy and Bilt)
Some of these datapoints are self-explanatory, others…
Air Canada redemption schemes
You can find the the Aeroplan award chart here. This chart is a weird combination of region / distance / revenue-based formulas and works approximately like this:
Flights on Air Canada metal are priced according to its revenue-based formulas. For example a Business Class flight to Europe may cost you 180,000 miles one way (a no-starter in my book and probably yours). Now, it doesn’t mean that Air Canada always charges these ridiculous rates, but it can.
However, the redemption rates for Air Canada partners are fixed, and this is where you can find some resemblance of more-or-less reasonable values (remember that for partner airlines, it’s based on region / distance scheme. Here are some examples:
New York to:
- London or Frankfurt – 35,000 in Economy or 60,000 in Business
- Vienna or Tel Aviv – 40,000 in Economy, 70,000 in Business
- Johannesburg – 55,000 in Economy, 85,000 in Business
- London or Prague – 40,000 in Economy or 70,000 Business:
- Istanbul or Cairo – 55,000 in Economy or 85,000 in Business
- Johannesburg – 70,000 in Economy or 100,000 Business
Like I said at the beginning, none of these levels are anything to write home about, but having a published award chart always beats the [dreadful] alternative.
Air Canada airline partners
This is where Aeroplan really, and I mean, really shines!
Star Alliance airline partners
- Aegean Airlines
- Air China
- Air India
- Air New Zealand
- ANA – All Nippon Airways
- Asiana Airlines
- Austrian Airlines
- Brussels Airlines
- Copa Airlines
- Croatia Airlines
- Ethiopian Airlines
- EVA Air
- Juneyao Airlines (connecting partner)
- LOT Polish Airlines
- Scandinavian Airlines
- Shenzhen Airlines
- Singapore Airlines
- South African Airways
- TAP Portugal
- Thai Airways
- Turkish Airlines
- United Airlines
Non-alliance airline partners
- Air Creebec
- Air Serbia
- Azul Airlines
- Calm Air
- Canada North
- Etihad Airways
- GOL Airlines
- Gulf Air
- Olympic Air
- Oman Air
And you can mix and match carriers (without any fuel surcharges whatsoever) for your award flight. Awesome!
A 5,000-points stopover
While not entirely free as it used to be, a stopover for just 5,000 points can be a terrific deal. Especially combined with Air Canada liberal routing rules. You can add one stopover for a one-way flight, or up to two for a round trip.
However, there are some bad news along with the good.
- You can’t have a stopover in North America.
- You have to book it on the phone (and likely pay the C$30.00 Contact Center service fee in addition to the 5,000 points).
The Chase Aeroplan credit card: Preferred pricing
Just to put it straight: I’m not pushing this card or any other credit cards in this guide. The only reason I’m mentioning it is that having the Chase Aeroplan card might make or break your Air Canada experience. Here is why.
Having an Aeroplan credit card and / or elite status might get you better redemption rates. And the Chase Aeroplan card actually gives you the 25K – entry-level elite status – until the end of 2023. This is a unique feature, so unique in fact, that I don’t believe there is another U.S.-based airline credit card offering anything like that.
Considering Air Canada high redemption rates, even a little discount can seriously sweeten the pill, so having a card and a status certainly wouldn’t hurt.
How to book
As far as I know, you can book all Air Canada partners online.