Sweet Spots of the New Aeroplan Program
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Air Canada relaunched its rewards program in 2020. Although it retained the Aeroplan name, quite a few aspects of the program changed. One of these changes is the number of points required for award flights on Air Canada and its partners.
While this transition closed the door on old Aeroplan sweet spots — specific routes and seats that offered uncommonly good deals for award travel — it opened up a whole new set of great deals. Here’s a quick overview of the recently revamped Aeroplan program, followed by a dive into some of the best booking strategies to maximize the value of your points.
How to get Aeroplan points
You can earn Aeroplan points by flying Air Canada or one of Aeroplan's 46 airline partners. On the ground, you can earn points through car rental partners, major hotel loyalty programs, Air Canada credit cards, and other travel and shopping partners.
The easiest way to amass Aeroplan points is by signing up for the Aeroplan® Credit Card. This Chase-issued credit card is currently offering new cardholders the following welcome bonus: Earn 50,000 points after you spend $3,000 on purchases in the first three months your account is open.
After that, cardholders will earn three points per dollar spent at Air Canada, grocery stores and restaurants (including takeout and eligible delivery services) and one point per dollar on everything else. Plus, you can earn 500 bonus points for every $2,000 spent in a calendar month — up to 1,500 bonus points per month.
Alternatively, you can build up your Aeroplan balance by moving points from transferable point programs to Aeroplan. Aeroplan is currently a transfer partner of the following programs:
American Express Membership Rewards: 1:1 transfer ratio.
Capital One Miles: 1:1 transfer ratio.
Marriott Bonvoy: 3:1 transfer ratio with a 5,000 point bonus for every 60,000 Marriott points transferred.
Chase Ultimate Rewards®: 1:1 transfer ratio for eligible cardholders.
Basics of the new Aeroplan Rewards program
The number of Aeroplan points you need for a flight is based on the distance you fly. It costs more to fly longer flights than shorter flights, but the exact award rate depends on which zone of four that you’re traveling to and from.
Aeroplan’s chart shows how many points you need for a flight within North America. The distance, the class of service and whether the flight is operated by Air Canada or one of its partners all factor into the cost.
Economy award flights start at 6,000 points each way and top out at 25,000 points one way, depending on the distance you plan to fly. Business class awards start at 15,000 points and climb to no more than 70,000 points each way. Premium economy awards are available on Air Canada flights only and range from 10,000 to 45,000 points one way.
» Learn more: What you need to know about the new Aeroplan program
For flights on partner airlines, the number of points needed is set at a fixed rate. Air Canada pledges to make every seat on all of its flights available for redemptions, which is why there’s a range of pricing for awards on Air Canada flights.
The North America chart leads us to our first Aeroplan sweet spot.
Fly within North America from 6,000 points each way
For just 6,000 Aeroplan points, you can fly in economy class on Air Canada or its partners up to 500 miles in distance.
Five hundred miles might not sound very far. But there are plenty of ways this sweet spot can come in handy. This 500-mile range includes award flights on Aeroplan’s partner United Airlines on routes like:
Chicago to Nashville, Tenn., Memphis, Tenn., Knoxville, Tenn., and Minneapolis-St. Paul.
Newark, N.J., to Raleigh-Durham, N.C., Toronto, Pittsburgh, Buffalo, N.Y., and Bangor, Maine.
Denver to Oklahoma City, Okla., Wichita, Kans., Lubbock, Texas, and Billings, Mont.
San Francisco to Los Angeles, Las Vegas, San Diego, Eugene, Ore., and Reno, Nev.
Houston to Lubbock, Texas, Memphis, Tenn., Tulsa, Okla., Fayetteville, N.C., Oklahoma City, Okla., and New Orleans.
This 500-mile range also includes the route between New York-LaGuardia and Toronto — one of the busiest international routes in the world.
Fly to Hawaii from 12,500 points each way
Unlike most airline programs, Aeroplan doesn’t consider Hawaii part of a different region than the contiguous U.S. That means a route under 2,750 miles will cost 12,500 - 17,500 Aeroplan points anywhere in North America — including Hawaii.
That’s just enough miles to include flights between the West Coast and Hawaii. So, for as few as 12,500 Aeroplan points, you can book United or Air Canada flights from:
Los Angeles to Honolulu, Maui, Kauai and Kona.
San Francisco to Honolulu, Maui, Kauai and Kona.
Vancouver to Honolulu and Maui.
You aren’t limited to nonstop flights. Aeroplan uses the “actual distance flown between origin and destination” to calculate the points required. So you can book a connecting itinerary for just 12,500 Aeroplan points if the total distance flown is under 2,750 miles.
Fly to Hawaii in business class from 25,000 points each way
It’s not only economy class awards to Hawaii that can be a great deal. You can fly between the West Coast and Hawaii for as few as 25,000 Aeroplan points each way in business class, as long as you keep the route under 2,750 miles.
However, business class award availability to Hawaii can be hard to find and it might cost as much as 60,000 Aeroplan miles. Use the United calendar award search tool to browse a couple of months of availability at a time.
Start on this search page. Enter your route, select "My dates are flexible," then enter a date in the month you want to travel. Once you click search, you'll be prompted to log in. We don't recommend logging in if you have United Premier elite status or a United co-brand credit card. These members get extra award availability when redeeming United miles. But, since you're trying to book with Aeroplan points, you don't want this extra availability to show.
If you can find availability, Aeroplan’s rate of 25,000 points for these flights is incredible.
Fly to Europe in business class from 60,000 points each way
Europe, Africa, the Middle East and India are all included in the Atlantic award zone. Award flights between North America and the Atlantic zone that are under 4,000 miles in distance cost as little as:
35,000 points in economy.
50,000 points in premium economy (valid on Air Canada flights only).
60,000 points in business class.
90,000 points in first class.
Of those options, business class is the clear sweet spot. As long as you can keep the combined flight distance to under 4,000 miles, you can book a business class award flight to Europe for as little as 60,000 Aeroplan points.
That covers United flights from Newark to at least 20 destinations in Europe:
Or you can fly on United flights from Washington-Dulles to at least seven destinations in Europe:
You could also book an award flight on one of Air Canada’s many Star Alliance partners in Europe including Austrian Airlines, Brussels Airlines, LOT Polish Airlines, Lufthansa, Scandinavian Airlines, SWISS, TAP Air Portugal and more. Or, you can book on Aeroplan's non-alliance partners, including AerLingus, Air Serbia and Eurowings.
A key aspect of the new Aeroplan program is the elimination of cash surcharges. This is a huge deal considering many European airlines charge a substantial amount for carrier-imposed fees. Under the old program, Aeroplan would charge members for these fees. But not anymore.
Hop through Europe from 12,500 points for two destinations
Once you get to Europe, you probably don’t want to see just one city. You can use Aeroplan’s "within Atlantic zone" award chart for award flights intra-Europe:
Aeroplan charges 7,500 points for a one-way award under 1,000 miles or 12,500 points for award flights between 1,000 and 2,000 miles.
Say you use the 60,000-point sweet spot to fly to Edinburgh, Scotland. You can then fly from Edinburgh to Munich for just 7,500 points.
But there’s more: The new Aeroplan stopover rules allow you to add a destination along the way for just 5,000 additional points. That means you can see two additional destinations in Europe for 12,500 points as long as you can keep the flight under 1,000 miles.
So for 12,500 Aeroplan points, you can book:
London to Brussels (stopover) to Rome.
Barcelona to Paris (stopover) to Frankfurt.
Paris to Vienna (stopover) to Berlin.
You can build quite the European trip by combining the Aeroplan sweet spot for business class flights to Europe and the sweet spot to see two additional destinations in Europe for 12,500 additional points.
Make sure to check cash prices for the intra-Europe flights. It might be cheap enough to pay for the flights outright rather than booking with Aeroplan points.
The bottom line
These sweet spots only scratch the surface of what you can do with the Aeroplan rewards program. Think about your own travel plans and run some test searches to see if using Aeroplan miles will get you the best deal.
You’ll get the cheapest rates on shorter flights. If you’re flying a longer route, see if you can maximize your trip by building in an extra stop for 5,000 additional points using Aeroplan’s stopover rules.
How to maximize your rewards
You want a travel credit card that prioritizes what’s important to you. Here are our picks for the best travel credit cards of 2023, including those best for:
Flexibility, point transfers and a large bonus: Chase Sapphire Preferred® Card
No annual fee: Bank of America® Travel Rewards credit card
Flat-rate travel rewards: Capital One Venture Rewards Credit Card
Bonus travel rewards and high-end perks: Chase Sapphire Reserve®
Luxury perks: The Platinum Card® from American Express
Business travelers: Ink Business Preferred® Credit Card