The “backbone” of our current leg of travel is an Aeroplan Rewards booking. This booking is a round trip flight from Vancouver to Melbourne, Australia, with layovers in Taipei on the way there, and in Ho Chi Minh City on the way back. This cost us 80,000 points each plus $596.21 in additional fees. Aeroplan changed their redemption costs last December, so North America to Australia is now 90,000 points. Now, the additional fees weren’t ideal, but they were by far on the lower end of things when we looked at different itinerary options, and more importantly, if we wanted to reduce the surcharges further, we would end up with less than ideal flight options.
Before I get into too much detail, let me first say that in my experience, talk of travel and rewards bookings online are either too complicated and advanced (and only understood by people who spend all their time on FlyerTalk Forums) or too simple without concrete examples and advice. Hopefully I strike a balance between the two, so you can understand what Kait and I did without knowing ICN > HND is going from Seoul to Tokyo.
There are just 2 things you need to do to maximize the value of your Aeroplan Points when making a redemption:
- Book a round trip fixed-mileage flight reward with 2 layovers
- Choose flight segments on airlines that don’t have surchages
One of the best things about Aeroplan flight rewards is that you get to have 2 layovers (i.e. Stops in cities for longer than 24 hrs) added to your itinerary for free (or for the cost of the additional surcharges on the extra flight segments, see #2). So, in our case, booking a round trip reward flight from Vancouver to Melbourne costs the same amount of points as booking reward flights from Vancouver to Taipei to Melbourne to Ho Chi Minh City to Vancouver. So always add 2 layovers to a reward booking to maximize value.
(There are rules about total distance you can fly, and thus, what cities are viable layovers. This gets into the advanced stuff. Try to pick your destination city for the round trip to be as far from your starting city as possible for a given rewards booking, and most reasonable layovers on the way there and back should work).
2. Minimize Additional Fees
Air Canada is part of the Star Alliance, so Aeroplan points can be used for reward bookings on flights with any carrier in the Star Alliance. Each airline and their respective rewards programs differ from one another, and each have their own policies with regards to additional surcharges for reward bookings. In the case of Aeroplan rewards bookings, if the carrier airline charges additional fees for reward bookings, Aeroplan passes those fees on to you. If the airline doesn’t charge additional fees, then Aeroplan does not charge you additional fees. So, the trick to minimizing additional fees is to plan your route in such a way that all (or most) of your flight segments are on Airlines that don’t charge additional fees for rewards bookings. Which airlines are those? Here’s the list:
- Air China
- EVA Air
Value of Points
Conservatively, for our booking it would have cost around $2600 to book flights to all the cities in our itinerary. Taking away the $600 we paid in surcharges, our 80,000 points was redeemed at a value of approximately $2000. This gives a value of 2.5 cents per Aeroplan point.
General rule of thumb for Aeroplan points, anything better than 1.5 cents per point is good value. Don’t use your points if your getting less than that.
So that’s a quick overview of how to maximize the value of your Aeroplan Points. I’ll have another post in the future on how to actually plan out your itinerary trying to follow these 2 rules using the Aeroplan booking tool.