I’ve written in the past about how much I like working with Air Canada Aeroplan, but an award that I booked yesterday really illustrates the power of those miles.
Their award chart is on the whole pretty good, 80,000 miles for business class from North American to nearer points in Europe and 100,000 in first. For farther destinations like Greece it’s 100,000 and 120,000. A value on some destinations, competitive for others.
South Asia — as far south as Singapore — is 120,000 miles in first class. Great value on its own, but where Aeroplan really shines is the routing rules:
- Up to 10 segments (not overly generous, but not cumbersome either)
- Transit either the Atlantic or the Pacific, or one ocean in each direction (round-the-world)
- Two stopovers — or a stopover and an open jaw — in addition to destination. United allows only one stopover or an open jaw. Continental allows one of each. Clear advantage to Aeroplan.
- Any connection less than 24 hours doesn’t count as a stopover, so you can do 23 hour 59 minute ‘connections’ .. probably because of the old song, I’m always fond of planning “One Night in Bangkok.”
- You’re allow to travel either on a published routing or to fly up to the maximum permitted miles for a given city pair plus 5%. Either way, you’re permitted to exceed a route’s permitted mileage.
With that, I helped some folks plan an anniversary trip yesterday, visiting the three cities they wanted to stsay at and giving them a couple of single night stays they wanted at all — all on preferred travel dates. That, of course, is just illustrative of the stellar first class award availability offered by Star Alliance, in this csae booking six months out.
Victoria – San Francisco, United Economy
San Francisco – Frankfurt, Lufthansa First Class
Frankfurt – Istanbul, Lufthansa Business Class
Istanbul – Bangkok, Turkish Airlines First Class
Bangkok – Singapore, Thai Airways Business Class
Singapore – Bangkok, Thai Airways Business Class
Bangkok – Shanghai, Thai Airways First Class
Shanghai – Frankfurt, Lufthansa First Class
Frankfurt- San Francisco, Lufthansa First Class
San Francisco – Victoria, United Economy
I did want to route Istanbul – Singapore via Hong Kong so that the second flight could be in United First Class instead of Thai Business but United was only offering business and the connection wasn’t as good.
But this award gets three long-haul first class segments on Lufthansa, Turkish First and Thai First, and some of the very best ground experiences out there — the First Class Terminal and the Thai Airways First Class spa, plus Turkish will provide ground transportation from Istanbul to the airport.
There are two stopovers (Istanbul, Shanghai) in addition to the destination (Singapore) and two overnight connections (Bangkok, Frankfurt).
The published “MPM” for Singapore – Victoria, Briitsh Columbia is 14,251. Five percent over that is 14,963. This return trip, per Great Circle Mapper, is 14,654. So even with Aeroplan’s generous routing rules, we had only 309 miles left!
I priced out the itinerary as a paid ticket and it was over $27,000. I wouldn’t actually pay that, but it’s still far better than a bunch of LCD toasters!
The only downside is that calls with Aeroplan often seem to take longer than they should, and this is especially true with really complicated award bookings like this one. The agent couldn’t calculate the tax, his system kept having problems, and he needed to hold to contact ticketing. We were using miles from two separate accounts for each of the two tickets, so they had to do each one separately. More time. I calculated the taxes my self on my end, so it really shouldn’t be that hard, I assume most of the time was just waiting in the queue for our agent to talk to someone in ticketing. But I was on the phone for nearly 90 minutes! But for an itinerary like this one, which should be fun for the folks flying it, it was well worth the hassle.