We are in a fortunate position to have airline alliance and partnerships that allow us to use miles from one partner to fly on a different partner. Throw in things like transferrable points (like Amex Membership Rewards, Chase Ultimate Rewards, and Citi ThankYou points), and we all have a lot of great opportunities to fly around the world at some good point prices.
3 Things I Like and Dislike About Booking Awards with Aeroplan
Aeroplan (the loyalty program of Air Canada) is a partner in the Star Alliance group of airlines. That means that you can book airline awards with Aeroplan for airlines like Lufthansa, SWISS, Austrian, Thai, Singapore, Asiana, and more. Oh, and even United Airlines for those that are in the US and need to fly them.
While they devalued their great award chart a few years ago, they still offer business class awards to some regions for less than other partners. This is especially true if you like flying business/first class between the US and Europe. While United will charge you 70,000 miles for a one-way business class award on Turkish Airlines to Europe, Aeroplan will charge just 57,500 miles for that same flight.
3 Things I Like About Booking Awards with Aeroplan
Lap Infant Prices
This is actually a huge one if you want to book a lap infant (and we have done this). Many airlines will either not let you book one or will charge you something like 10% of the actual cash fare (plus taxes/fees) for that ticket – for a young child (under 2) to sit on your lap and not eat any food! Since one-way business class awards between the US and Europe could cost $4,000 or more, that means that booking with United could cost you $600 or more for that lap infant!
Aeroplan offers a flat rate on lap infant tickets – for business class, for example, it is $100 (CAD) for one award.
Tip! For some reason, right now Aeroplan is actually not even charging a fee for the lap infant and instead just a few dollar fee for taxes. So, if you need to add a a lap infant to an existing reservation, do it soon!
Compare that to what United wanted to charge for the same exact ticket we just booked. Yeah, definitely something to like!
No Fuel Surcharges on Some Airlines
While United Airlines and Avianca do not charge fuel surcharges for flights, other airline programs (like those of Lufthansa/Austrian/SWISS, ANA, Aegean, and others) do! Those fuel surcharges can be huge on flights to Europe (less if coming from Europe).
Fortunately, Aeroplan does not charge fuel surcharges on two airlines that other programs typically do – Turkish Airlines and SWISS. Turkish Airlines does not have as big of fuel surcharges as other airlines but it is still nice to pay just a few dollars instead of hundreds! Throwing SWISS in there is nice as that would actually cost several hundreds of dollars if booked with a different program.
Turkish and SWISS are my go-to with Aeroplan for this very reason – the fact that they have nice business class seats/service is a plus also! 🙂
Friendly Award Prices
The route I book the most is US <-> Europe. I know which programs work the best for me on this route and one of them used to be Aegean with just 45,000 miles for business class on that route. However, since they devalued that route, Aeroplan is an even better option now.
For travel to eastern Europe from the US, you will pay just 55,000 miles for business class. If you want to go to western Europe, it will cost you 57,500 miles. Compare this to United which wants 70,000 miles or even Avianca which charges 63,000 miles.
Plus, there are often bonuses for transferring points over from Marriott as well as the rare, targeted transfer bonuses from American Express Membership Rewards to Aeroplan.
3 Things I Dislike About Booking Awards with Aeroplan
Seriously, how often does a website need to be pulled offline for maintenance? With Aeroplan, that happens quite often. In fact, there are times that I have found it offline for maintenance as many as 8 days in a row (for just a few hours in the morning and normally back to normal by 6am EST time or so).
But, I often check for awards before most people in the US are up and it is always an annoyance to not be able to search. Aeroplan really needs to get things working right the first time – especially when their award engine is definitely not a great one. Which brings me to…
Not a Good Award Engine
You would think with all the maintenance they do on it, the Aeroplan award engine would be better! But, no, there are many issues with it that bug me, especially when trying to book a business class ticket.
The calendar is limited with what it shows and even when it shows having business class availability, that may mean that just one small regional leg has business and the long-haul is in coach. You can select to just view all-business class availability but only on the date you select. Otherwise, it is stepping through the calendar.
Also, when you do find some flights, they may error out as no longer available. This especially happens with options that have a United flight in first class. It will show an option with that United flight in coach as well (for domestic flights feeding the international one) but why wouldn’t you select the option with first class? But, it often errors out saying it is not available.
Anyway, I normally will use United’s excellent award engine to search for flights and then go to Aeroplan when I find what I want. Tip: if you do this, make sure you are not logged in to United if you have their credit card or elite status as that will bring up availability on United flights only open for those customers – so it won’t be available on Aeroplan.
The downside is that not everything shows up on Aeroplan so that means calling them up to see if they can help you. Which brings me to…
Long Hold Times
It has been up and down but Aeroplan has been notorious for having crazy long hold times when you call in. Sure, there are some ways and some times that it is easier but it can be a real pain to call to change something or book something only to have to wait a couple of hours to get someone. Yes, that has happened to me.