A Glitch to Avoid Fuel Surchages on American Express Transfer Partner Aeroplan

Yesterday I showed how to reduce fuel surcharges on British Airways awards when redeeming American miles.

Today, a new opportunity (that is likely a glitch and so will be short-lived) to redeem Aeroplan points without fuel surcharges.

There’s a glitch right now that will help you avoid paying fuel surcharges when redeeming awards with Air Canada’s Aeroplan, an especially useful program because it is an instant transfer partner of American Express.

Last year I called Aeroplan the most devalued program in North America.

First there was the gutting of their award chart on July 15, 2011. For instance, my favorite award — first class to most of Asia — went from 120,000 miles to 175,000 miles (a 46% increase in one shot). Australia awards went from 75,000 to 80,000 in coach; 100,000 to 135,000 in business (35% increase), and 140,000 to 185,000 in first (32% increase).

Then the cost of redeeming awards went up hundreds of dollars through the imposition of fuel surcharges on many of their partners effective November 2011.

And then they increased award prices again. Remember that first class Asia award that two years ago cost 120,000 miles? It now costs 210,000 miles. First class to Australia? 220,000.

They also now require hundreds of dollars per passenger in cash for upgrades.

That said there are still uses for this program. And there’s a new opportunity to avoid fuel surcharges!

  • You’re also permitted two stopovers in addition to your destination, or a stopover and an open jaw.

  • While Aeroplan adds fuel surcharges onto some partners, you do not pay fuel surcharges for bookings on Air China, Brussels Airlines, EgyptAir, Ethiopian, EVA, SAS, Singapore, Swiss, Turkish, and United, and fuel surcharges are modest (about half what you’d pay on Lufthansa) for LOT.

  • And right now they’re not adding fuel surcharges onto Asiana awards. I’m betting this is a glitch and won’t last.

American Express Membership Rewards and Starwood Starpoints transfer to Aeroplan, and Amex transfers are instantaneous. (Since Starwood transfers aren’t there’s the possibility that by the time Starpoints transfer this glitch will be fixed.)

    Asiana service

Asiana’s availability from the US to Seoul and beyond is really good, this makes Asia awards more attractive on American Express Membership Rewards (and Starwood Preferred Guest) transfer partner Asiana more attractive.

If you’re looking to use Amex points to Asia, especially in business class given pricing and without fuel surcharges, this is a good opportunity to have a look.

The Aeroplan website is really good for searching award space. Find your flights, transfer points instantly, and book.

This information won’t help out many readers, it’s not a glitch worth making a speculative booking or making an extra trip, but it’s real savings to those currently searching for award space to Asia using Amex points since most Amex partners that have meaningful availability also impose fuel surcharges on most of the partners where availability can be found.

Of course EVA and Air China (from Houston and West Coast gateways) offer good availability and can already be booked via Aeroplan without fuel surcharges.

Meanwhile another way to avoid fuel surcharges on Aeroplan is to book a ticket that doesn’t have them, and then call to change the award to the airline you want to fly after you’ve taken the outbound flight – you’ll pay the CAD$90 change fee but shouldn’t be charged the fuel surcharges that normally apply (when first booking) on the airline you want to fly.

About Gary Leff

Gary Leff is one of the foremost experts in the field of miles, points, and frequent business travel - a topic he has covered since 2002. Co-founder of frequent flyer community InsideFlyer.com, emcee of the Freddie Awards, and named one of the "World's Top Travel Experts" by Conde' Nast Traveler (2010-Present) Gary has been a guest on most major news media, profiled in several top print publications, and published broadly on the topic of consumer loyalty. More About Gary »

More articles by Gary Leff »



  1. the ticket change trick to avoid the surcharges… i thought that only works for your return trip after you have taken the outbound?
    or can it be done any time to any tikcet?

  2. “The Aeroplan website is really good for searching award space. You don’t even have to be logged in.”

    I’ve never used their site but it appears you do have to login. I just created an account so it’s not a big deal but I didn’t see a way in without it.

  3. For the ticket change trick on Aeroplan, can you change as soon as you take the first outbound flight or do you need to reach your destination?

    For example I am currently on the following:


    When can I make the change request?

    Thanks in advance!

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *