Air Canada’s Aeroplan loyalty program is undoubtedly one of the best in the industry.
This is largely because of the program’s commitment to the award chart, lack of fuel surcharges and ability to add stopovers. You can book award tickets with Aeroplan’s huge list of partners, which includes all Star Alliance airlines and a handful of non-alliance partners.
Air Canada added the ability to book stopovers online in September 2022. While Aeroplan stopovers had been allowed since the end of 2020, customers had to call to add a stopover to their itinerary, which often took hours on hold.
Aeroplan charges just 5,000 points for a stopover on a one-way ticket. This can save you thousands of points compared to booking individual one-way tickets or a multicity itinerary with most other airline loyalty programs.
I recently booked added a stopover to my own Aeroplan booking using its new online stopover tool. Here’s how I did it.
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Aeroplan award chart
Aeroplan’s award chart is valuable for short-haul economy flights and international premium-cabin seats, particularly on partner airlines.
Aeroplan breaks up the world into four regions — North America, Atlantic, Pacific and South America. To know exactly how many points your award ticket will cost, it’s important to know what zone you’re flying to and from.
For travel within and between regions, there are distance-based award charts. The farther you fly, the more expensive your award redemption will be. You can get creative with your routing, but you will pay more points for longer itineraries.
First, we need to talk about the rules associated with booking Aeroplan stopovers.
As of writing, you can add stopovers on both one-way and round-trip tickets. However, here are a few requirements to keep in mind:
Stopovers must be at least 24 hours and cannot exceed 45 days.
Stopovers aren’t allowed in North America, regardless of the destination.
Your connecting flight must be less than double the physical mileage of a theoretical nonstop flight.
You cannot fly through the same airport twice on one-way tickets.
Also, it is worth noting that Aeroplan permits up to six segments on a one-way ticket operated by a partner airline.
Why the stopover policy is great
Before I show you how I booked my trip, I want to briefly discuss why Aeroplan’s stopover policy is so beneficial.
When traveling internationally, you may want to visit more than one destination. With other loyalty programs, you may be left booking separate one-way tickets which require more points. Being able to redeem just 5,000 additional points for a stopover is a game-changer.
Here are some examples of how the stopover policy can be useful:
Turkish Airlines business class from Chicago to Cairo with a stopover in Istanbul.
Etihad Airways business class from New York to Karachi, Pakistan, with a stopover in Abu Dhabi, United Arab Emirates.
ANA business class from Los Angeles to Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam, with a stopover in Tokyo.
Swiss business class from Washington to Johannesburg with a stopover in Zurich.
Lufthansa business class from Boston to Nairobi, Kenya, with a stopover in Frankfurt.
Of course, you don’t have to fly business class to book stopovers. You can also mix partner airlines on a single itinerary; for example, you can connect from a United flight to an Etihad flight.
You can leverage Aeroplan to book stopovers on most flights, even on partners. ZACH GRIFF/THE POINTS GUY
I always suggest breaking down the itinerary and finding award availability for each leg of the journey.
Let’s use an example above: Say you want to go from Chicago to Cairo with a stopover in Istanbul on Turkish Airlines.
You would want to first search for award availability from O’Hare International Airport (ORD) to Istanbul Airport (IST). Then, you would search separately for a flight from IST to Cairo International Airport (CAI).
Doing this will increase your odds of finding flights with award availability around the dates you want to travel. You want to make sure you write down some important information like the flight numbers and times.
Then, look at the program’s award chart to find the exact number of points required to book your flights. In this case, we are looking for the “Between North America and Atlantic zones” award chart.
Since Air Canada has a distance-based award chart for travel within and between regions, you’ll need to find the physical distance of your itinerary. I like to use Great Circle Mapper for this.
Chicago to Cairo via Istanbul covers 6,257 miles. Based on the Aeroplan award chart, this costs 95,000 Aeroplan points: 90,000 points for the total distance of the flight plus 5,000 points for the stopover.
Now that you know how many points you need to book this award ticket, it’s time to look for award space.
For this example, I first searched the Chicago-to-Istanbul segment. I used the search filters and narrowed down my search to flights operated by Turkish Airlines:
I then looked for the Istanbul-to-Cairo segment:
You want to remember that booking these award tickets separately costs thousands of additional points. That’s not what we want to do. We want to make sure we are taking advantage of the stopover option.
To book an Aeroplan stopover, let’s open a new tab and start a new search. This time, you’ll want to select the “Multi-city/Stopover” option and then select “Book with points.”
Next, enter your origin and destination and click the “Add stopover” button. Then, enter your desired stopover in the “Stopover city” box. Also, add how long you want to stay before continuing to your final destination in the “Length of stopover” field.
After looking for the flights discussed earlier, we can see that the award ticket will cost 95,000 points with minimal taxes and fees.
After selecting a flight, you can now choose what tier of reward ticket you want to book.
Now, you will see an overview of the flights. Make sure the dates and flight times look correct and select how you will pay for your award ticket.
If you have any issues booking your award online or if you prefer booking by phone, you can call the Aeroplan contact center.
Here is what it would look like if you were booking an award ticket from Chicago to Cairo without a stopover. It would cost 90,000 points to get to Cairo in Turkish Airlines business class. For just 5,000 more points, you can add a few days in Istanbul to your trip.
Earning Aeroplan points
EHSAN HAQUE/THE POINTS GUY
If you don’t have Aeroplan points, you can easily earn them by transferring points at a 1:1 ratio from American Express Membership Rewards, Bilt Rewards, Capital One and Chase Ultimate Rewards. You can also transfer points from Marriott Bonvoy at a 3:1 ratio with a 5,000-point bonus for every 60,000 Marriott points you transfer.
If you are looking to add up to your Aeroplan balance, here are some intriguing welcome bonuses:
American Express® Gold Card: Earn 60,000 Membership Rewards points after you spend $4,000 on purchases with your new card within the first six months of cardmembership.
The Platinum Card® from American Express: Earn 100,000 points after you spend $6,000 on purchases on the card in the first six months of cardmembership.
Capital One Venture X Rewards Credit Card: Earn 75,000 bonus miles when you spend $4,000 on purchases in the first three months from account opening.
Chase Sapphire Preferred Card: Earn 60,000 bonus points after you spend $4,000 on purchases in the first three months from account opening.
Chase Sapphire Reserve: Earn 60,000 bonus points after you spend $4,000 on purchases in the first three months from account opening.
In addition to the cards above, you might consider the Aeroplan® Credit Card. The current welcome bonus is 70,000 bonus points after you spend $3,000 on purchases with the card in the first three months of account opening.
Next time you book an Aeroplan award ticket, remember that you can add a second destination for just 5,000 points.
This can save you thousands of points when compared to other loyalty programs and is a great way to maximize your Aeroplan redemptions.