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Using Aeroplan travel miles query

Oxford, United...
posts: 8
reviews: 29
Using Aeroplan travel miles query

Dear Advisors!

I am trying to book a few flights, and use my Aeroplan miles to best effect. I am a Canadian residing in the UK. So far I haven’t found any very good deals - the Aeroplan seems to leave me with quite a few £s/$s to cover!

I have 68000 air miles, and I need to go to London to Geneva soon, and Vancouver in April, with a quick trip to Seattle during that trip

The Aeroplan option for Geneva leaves me with a bill for about £150, and I could book it myself on the same airline (Swiss) for £180.

The Vcr trip I could book for £628, and using 60,000 miles it would be £380.

The trip to Seattle is the best deal, except that it leaves me with very limited times to travel that do not allow me the time there. It would cost £220 on Amazon, but using 15000 miles I would shell out £95

Also, according to Star Alliance upgrade chart, there doesn’t seem to be an upgrade option from Europe to North America.

Can I use a common or central site that allows me to use my Aeroplan miles? The Star Alliance site doesn’t seem to allow me to do this. I am surprised at how limited the value if the miles seem to be. Any other ideas?

Thanks for any help

ET

7 replies to this topic
Newmarket, Canada
posts: 673
reviews: 35
1. Re: Using Aeroplan travel miles query

I would suggest you read through the Air Canada Flyertalk forums for tips on the best use of your miles.

But, a few quick pointers to make more valuable redemptions...

1 - Not all Star Alliance airlines charge the fuel surcharge when redeeming Aeroplan miles. Familiarize yourself with the good ones and bad ones. For the specific destinations that you've mentioned, consider Swiss (LX) and United (UA), where fuel surcharges don't apply on reward tickets. Avoid Air Canada (AC) and Lufthansa (LH) where possible.

2 - Use your miles on Business or First class seats. Redeeming for economy seats is not great value, especially when using an airline that charges fuel surcharges.

3 - You can only book your seats through the Aeroplan website or the Aeroplan call centre. However, there are a variety of great tools out there for making your search for seats more efficient and effective. Once you've figured out the best routes, go to Aeroplan to actually book the ticket. Spend a good chunk of time reading the advice on Flyertalk.

4 - Plan your trips well in advance and be flexible with your dates and routings.

You can get great value out of your miles, but you need to understand the tricks of the program to really make it work well.

Oxford, United...
posts: 8
reviews: 29
2. Re: Using Aeroplan travel miles query

Thanks DCH - I will start going through those forums. Lots of material to get through!

In terms of using UA or Swiss for my trips, when I plug in YVR to Seattle, or LHR to YVR, Aeroplan doesn't offer an alternative airline. Do I have to alter my route in order to avoid AC?

Newmarket, Canada
posts: 673
reviews: 35
3. Re: Using Aeroplan travel miles query

The Aeroplan search engine is going to suggest routings on AC first, and doesn't give you all possible routes to get there. This is where some of the other search engines are best for doing your research. If you're going to stick with using the Aeroplan website to do your searches (really not the best tool), you should look segment by segment to get the different options.

So, if you wanted to go from LHR to YVR with United, you could search LHR-ORD, and then search ORD-YVR. Then do the same thing LHR to IAD, etc, etc. You just need to understand what routes are used by the various airlines to get to your desired destination (know where their hub cities are), and plug in the segments individually. The Aeroplan search engine is going to default to the LHR-YVR non-stop option on Air Canada first, followed by a series of connecting flights, also on AC. And without a doubt, this is the most convenient option. You just have to decide if it's worth making a connection somewhere to avoid paying the fuel surcharges. Sometimes, I just pay it because convenience wins out--look at it as a 'discounted' flight instead of a 'free' flight. However, if I'm going somewhere that requires a connection anyway because there is no non-stop option, then I'll certainly look to fly a routing on an airline without the surcharges.

Newmarket, Canada
posts: 673
reviews: 35
4. Re: Using Aeroplan travel miles query

Oh, and one more thing... Even if you get a flight on UA without the YQ charges, you're still going to be on the hook for various government taxes. Departing LHR can be painful with the UK Air Passenger Duty. But, you will at least avoid the bulk of the add on cost.

Oxford, United...
posts: 8
reviews: 29
5. Re: Using Aeroplan travel miles query

Thanks again DCH. It is more complicated than it appears! The trip to YVR is long enough, I think, so I will probably have to pay up. It is strange on the Star Alliance upgrade chart, Eur - North America doesn't seem to be an upgrade category.

Newmarket, Canada
posts: 673
reviews: 35
6. Re: Using Aeroplan travel miles query

Don't bother using Aeroplan miles for the Star Alliance upgrades. I believe on AC, using a star alliance upgrade requires that you first have purchased a ticket in Y or B booking classes, which are the most expensive economy fare buckets they have (fully flexible "Latitude" fares). I don't know if M also qualifies, but in any case, you need a rather expensive ticket to start with. There also needs to be award space available on the flight you've booked. If you're looking at a flight that has business class reward space available, you'll get better value just redeeming straight up for a business class award than paying for an expensive Y fare and upgrading it.

You're right, it is more complicated than it appears, and it takes a while to get the hang of playing the game well. I've redeemed roughly 3 million Aeroplan miles over the last 10 years or so, trying to adapt as they keep changing the rules of the game.

Oxford, United...
posts: 8
reviews: 29
7. Re: Using Aeroplan travel miles query

Just to report back, I used 20,000 to go to Geneva on Swiss, which saved me about £170 (had to pay 80). I meant that I had a less flexible ticket, It seemed to work out a much better deal per airmile than the ticket to Vancouver.

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