Aeroplan Booking Guide (part 2)

Now we get the idea behind MPM (maximum permitted mileage), here are some of the additional nuances to take into account when booking complex Aeroplan trips that are not from the website.

Maximum Number of Stopovers

For round trips outside the North America, you are allowed 2 stopovers (stays over 24 hours), while within NA you get 1 stopover.

For one way trips, you don’t get any stopovers at all, but you can still do layovers.

As for Layovers – you can get a maximum of 16 layovers.

Figuring out your Destination

The destination (referred to “Turnaround” in travel talk) is the furthest city from origin that you stay over 24 hours.  This is important to note because the destination determines your MPM, as well as the number of Aeroplan miles the trip costs.  Layovers do not affect the MPM or the cost of miles even if it is in another zone altogether from your destination.

Refer to the Aeroplan award chart for a full breakdown of miles and cities.

Aeroplan award chart
Aeroplan award chart

So lets say even though the real purpose of the trip is to visit HKG and I am spending 2 weeks there, if I route through SIN and spend just over a day there, Singapore becomes my destination and HKG is now just a stopover.

I will need to pay 5k more miles (SIN is in Asia2 while HKG is Asia1), but more importantly my MPM is now 13,095 instead of 10,957!  Doing so gives me more flexibility to route my flights inbound and outbound.

What some people do is find a city that is the absolutely furthest possible from your home city to get the maximum MPM to play with then plan a route to whatever cities they want to visit along the way.

Obviously some turnaround cities work better than others (eg. New Zealand/Australia which are in the middle of nowhere and you pretty much have to route through south east Asia).

No Backtracking

For a single route (inbound or outbound), you cannot fly through the same city twice.  That means you cannot fly Tokyo ->Taipei -> Bangkok-> Taipei -> Singapore, where Singapore is your destination.  We can fly out again from Singapore through Bangkok or Taipei again if we wish in the return route, however.

Certain Airlines charge “Carrier Surcharge”

Aeroplan allows you to use points to redeem any carrier in Star Alliance.  However, some airlines charge a magical surcharge fee, which is to basically make more money and to discourage people from using miles to eat up their space.

Asia has quite a few countries that regulate these charges so you will most likely encounter them flying to/from Europe, middle east and Oceania.

This is a lengthy topic so I’ll refer you to an excellent guide by PrinceOfTravel and Pointsnerd for sample routings.  Basically what it means to you is that you can either eat the cost if its reasonable, or you will have to creative with your routing and add in extra layovers in cities you never planned to visit to be able to  fly carriers that do not charge these fees.  This is where having slack MPM to play with is important.

aeroplan booking - canadiantraveltipsUntit3led
500 bucks of carrier surcharge and $300 in UK’s outdated passenger duty!

Aeroplan website does not show all available flights

Aeroplan website do not show all flights that are open for booking miles (usually it will lean towards flights that charge surcharges to encourage you to pay up).

Unless you have an Expertflyer subscription, most people use United Air’s search tool (no registration required) to search Star Alliance Availability.  I have already entered the right search parameters in the link above, simply change the city pairs and date.  For business class, sort on the “Business Saver Award” column and “First Saver Award” for first class.

Once you have a route planned out in your mind at a high level, you will need to use United’s search tool to search for flights segment by segment (city pair by city pair).  You will need to keep track of departure and arrival times to make sure you have time for whatever you want to do there, be it just a airport transfer or going into the city to explore.

If you only have a vague idea of the routing, Aeroplan website actually serves a pretty tool for me to suggest routings as you can see what potential layover cities are.

How to get from Tokyo to HK?  Maybe you can visit Beijing on the way
Or go through Nagoya and see an extra Japanese city

This may sounds like a lot of work, and it is.  However I think the reward is worth it, and to be honest, planning the trip and coming up with travel ideas is half the fun for me!

“Married” Segments or “Linked” Segments

Some segments are not searchable by themselves.  For example, the route below goes from Hong Kong to Tokyo with a nice 22 hour layover in Nagoya to explore the city.linked segments

However, if you search for the NGO-NRT leg by itself, nothing is available for the same dates!married segments

So what if you want to book the NGO-NRT leg?  The good news is that they are separately bookable – but it does a bit of work and a good rep on the phone.

Even the rep won’t be able to book or see this segment on their screen, but if you tell them it’s bookable online, he can send the flights to be manually ticketed and it should come back as successful.

Call in to Aeroplan to book complex routes

For routes not available on the website, you will need to call in to the Aeroplan call center.  Tell the agent you have a complex itinerary and feed her the date and flight numbers you have from your research before.

Unfortunately  there is a cost of $30 per ticket for bookings over the phone.  It is very hard to get these fees waived but I have seen some people pulling it off.

By now you should have all the tools you need to plan your first mini round the world trip on points.  However,there is still more you can learn, such as how to use hidden city ticketing and play around with open jaw routings.

Overwhelmed or still confused?  Let’s do an example on the next page.