Beginner’s guide to traveling the world with points and miles (part 3)

It’s quite easy today to earn tons of travel reward points and miles with credit cards, online shopping portals (like the Aeroplan eStore) and online surveys. But the point of collecting all those points (pun intended 😉 ) is not to hoard them but rather redeem them for vacations or trips. So, it’s always a good idea to earn and burn — to earn points and then redeem them before they expire or there’s a program devaluation.

So, are there any tips and tricks to redeeming those points and miles?

The answer is YES and in the following article I will discuss some of the tips and strategies to use when redeeming Aeroplan miles. The next article (part 4) will discuss how to redeem Marriott Bonvoy points since I have previously mentioned them in this series.

Before moving on to this section, make sure you’ve read  Part 1 about the first steps to traveling the world with points and miles and Part 2 about boosting your points earning potential with credit cards.

9) Redeem Aeroplan miles

Here are some basic tips about how to best redeem your Aeroplan miles.

Book tickets for anyone

You can book flight tickets in anyone’s name (spouse, child, etc.) from your Aeroplan account but you’ll have to pay a fee (rate of 2 cents/mile) to transfer miles to another account.

Understand the difference between fixed mileage and market fare rewards

 When it comes to booking flights with Aeroplan, there are 2 options presented.

Book Aeroplan flights with fixed mileage or market fare rewards

The first is fixed mileage flight rewards where the number of miles required for a flight is constant and based on the Aeroplan award chart. This is quite advantageous for expensive last minute or high season flights when redeeming miles gives much better value than paying cash. But the disadvantage of fixed mileage is that these rewards are limited and they can be booked up quite rapidly.

As a reminder, here’s a brief summary of Aeroplan’s award chart round-trip from Canada below.

Aeroplan miles (round trip) from Canada to:EconomyBusiness
Short haul (neighbouring province or state)
– Canada & Continental USA
Long haul – Canada & Continental USA25,00050,000
Caribbean & Central America40,00060,000
Northern South America50,00075,000
Southern South America60,000110,000
Europe 1 (e.g., UK, France, Spain)60,000110,000
Europe 2 (e.g., Poland, Greece, Turkey)75,000115,000
Asia 1 (e.g., China, Japan, South Korea)75,000150,000
Asia 2 (e.g.,Thailand, Vietnam, Singapore)90,000155,000
Middle East & North Africa80,000165,000
Indian Subcontinent100,000150,000
East, West & South Africa100,000150,000
Australia, New Zealand & South Pacific90,000160,000

The second is market fare flight rewards where the number of miles is variable and fluctuates based on the market price of the ticket. The benefit of market fare rewards is they provide more availability with different routes, travel times and departures. Generally, they will require more miles but sometimes they will be a bit cheaper than fixed mileage. 

Book early

Aeroplan releases award seats about 355 days before the flight. Remember that there could be lots of people looking for the same award space as you (notably for intercontinental business class). So, it’s best to book early to have more options and to avoid disappointment.

Book flights with Air Canada or other Star Alliance partners

Star Alliance airline members

Aeroplan is the associated reward program with Air Canada so naturally it’s easy to redeem for a flight with them. Air Canada is part of Star Alliance, a global alliance of 28 airlines. So it’s possible to redeem your Aeroplan miles with Air Canada’s Star Alliance partners like United, Lufthansa, Swiss and Singapore Airlines to name a few.

Avoid carrier surcharges

All Aeroplan flight redemptions have taxes and fees. But what’s important to know is that Air Canada and some Star Alliance partners include an additional fee called a fuel or carrier-imposed surcharge (YQ) when redeeming your miles.

For example, let’s look at this one way flight between Toronto (YYZ) and Barcelona (BCN). There’s a direct flight with Air Canada with $334.16 in fees.

$334.16 in fees with Air Canada

But upon closer inspection of the fees, notice how there’s a $280 fee in carrier surcharges!!! Ouch 🙁

$280 carrier surcharge with Air Canada

We also see about the same amount of fees and $265 in carrier surcharge to redeem this flight with Lufthansa.

$265 in carrier surcharges with Lufthansa

So it’s important to note that the following airlines include expensive carrier surcharges on their flights:

  • Air Canada
  • Austrian Airlines
  • Lufthansa

Here are the airlines that have moderate carrier surcharges:

  • Asiana Airlines
  • ANA (All Nippon Airways)
  • LOT Polish Airways
  • THAI Airways

But if we look at other airlines flying between Toronto and Barcelona, it’s possible to drastically reduce the amount of fees and surcharges to pay.

By choosing TAP Air Portugal, there’s only $73.46 in taxes and fees to pay and there’s no carrier surcharges.

Only $73.46 to pay for this flight with TAP Air Portugal 🙂
No carrier surcharges with TAP Air Portugal!!

There’s also another option of flying with United to Barcelona and paying $84.16 in fees with no carrier surcharges. The price is higher than TAP because of the extra USA airport taxes and fees.

$84.16 to pay with United and no carrier surcharge

Therefore, it’s best to redeem your Aeroplan miles with airlines that don’t levy surcharges. This list includes: Aegean, Air China, Air India, Air New Zeland, Avianca, Brussels Airlines, Copa Airlines, Croatia Airlines, EgyptAir, Ethiopian, Eva Air, SAS, Shenzhen Airlines, Singapore Airlines, South African Airways, Swiss, TAP Air Portugal, Turkish and United.

Know the countries with no carrier surcharges

Also, there are some countries around the world that regulate carrier surcharges or ban them outright making it much more appealing to book reward flights leaving their territory.

Countries with no carrier surcharges

This list of countries includes: Australia, Brazil, Hong Kong, Japan, New Zealand, Philippines, Taiwan and Vietnam. Remember that there aren’t surcharges on flights departing the country but there may be some on the incoming flight.


Learning the basics of how to redeem Aeroplan miles for flights is an important step when planning your dream vacation or trip. To recap some of the tips presented in this article:

  • Book early for the best availability
  • Know the difference between fixed mileage and market fare awards
  • Book flights with Star Alliance partners with little or no carrier surcharges
  • Consider departing from countries with no carrier surcharges

Stay tuned for the next part of this beginner’s series to learn about how to redeem Marriott Bonvoy points for hotel stays. 

Leave a Reply

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

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.