Air Canada’s loyalty program, Aeroplan, is undoubtedly one of the best in the business.
This is largely due to the program’s commitment to the rewards table, lack of fuel surcharges, and the ability to add stopovers. You can book award tickets with Aeroplan’s vast list of partners, which includes all Star Alliance airlines and a handful of non-Alliance partners.
Air Canada added the ability to book layovers online in September 2022. While Aeroplan stopovers have been allowed since late 2020, customers have had to call to add a stopover to their itinerary, often ending up in queues for hours.
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Aeroplan only charges 5,000 points for a stopover on a one-way ticket. This can save you thousands of points on most other airline loyalty programs compared to booking individual one-way tickets or a multi-city itinerary.
I recently added a layover to my own Aeroplan booking using the new online layover tool. I did it that way.
Aeroplan Award Table
Aeroplan’s award table is valuable for short-haul economy flights and international premium cabin seats, especially on partner airlines.
Aeroplan divides the world into four regions – North America, Atlantic, Pacific and South America. In order to know exactly how many points your award ticket will cost, it is important to know which zone you are flying into and from which zone you are flying.
There are distance-based award tables for travel within and between regions. The further you fly, the more expensive your award redemption will be. You can get creative with your itinerary, but you’ll pay more points for longer itineraries.
See also: Complete Guide to Aeroplan’s Stopover and Routing Rules
First we need to talk about the rules associated with booking Aeroplan layovers.
As of this writing, you can add stopovers for both one-way and round-trip tickets. However, here are some requirements to keep in mind:
- Stopovers must last at least 24 hours and cannot exceed 45 days.
- Stopovers are not permitted in North America, regardless of destination.
- Your connecting flight must be less than twice the actual mileage of a theoretical non-stop flight.
- You cannot fly through the same airport twice with one-way tickets.
It’s also worth noting that Aeroplan allows up to six segments on a one-way ticket operated by a partner airline.
See also: Sweet Spot Sunday: Add a stopover to your Aeroplan award ticket for just 5,000 points
Why the Stopover Policy is Great
Before I show you how I booked my trip, I would like to briefly explain why Aeroplan’s stopover policy is so beneficial.
When traveling internationally, you may want to visit more than one destination. Other loyalty programs may require you to book separate one-way tickets that require more points. Being able to redeem just 5,000 extra points for a layover 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 transfer from a United flight to an Etihad flight.
See also: How to plan a free stopover on your next trip abroad
I always suggest breaking down the itinerary and finding award availability for each leg of the journey.
Let’s take an example above: Suppose you want to fly with Turkish Airlines from Chicago to Cairo with a stopover in Istanbul.
First, search for O’Hare International Airport (ORD) to Istanbul Airport (IST) award availability. Then you would search separately for a flight from IST to Cairo International Airport (CAI).
This increases your chances 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 check the program rewards table 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 table.
Because Air Canada has a distance-based award table for travel within and between regions, you must determine the physical distance of your itinerary. I like to use Great Circle Mapper for this.
The route from Chicago to Cairo via Istanbul is 6,257 miles. According to the Aeroplan award table, 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 that award ticket, it’s time to start looking for an award seat.
For this example, I first searched the Chicago to Istanbul segment. I used the search filters and narrowed my search to flights operated by Turkish Airlines:
I then searched for the Istanbul-to-Cairo segment:
Remember that booking these award tickets separately costs thousands of additional points. We don’t want that. We want to make sure we use the layover option.
To book a layover with Aeroplan, we open a new tab and start a new search. This time select the “Multiple cities/stopover” option and then “Book with points”.
Next, enter your starting and ending location and click the “Add Stopover” button. Then enter your desired stopover in the “Stopover City” field. Also, in the Stopover Duration field, indicate how long you would like to stay before proceeding to your final destination.
After searching for the flights previously discussed, we can see that the award ticket costs 95,000 points with minimal taxes and fees.
After you have selected a flight, you can now select which award ticket tier you would like to book.
You will now see an overview of the flights. Make sure the dates and flight times are correct and choose how you want to pay for your award ticket.
If you are having trouble booking your award online or prefer to book over the phone, you can call the Aeroplan Contact Center.
This is what it would look like if you booked a non-stop Chicago to Cairo award ticket. It would cost 90,000 points to travel to Cairo in Turkish Airlines business class. For just 5,000 more points you can add a few days in Istanbul to your trip.
See also: How to redeem points and miles for Turkish Airlines Business Class
Collect Aeroplan points
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 Marriott Bonvoy points at a 3:1 ratio with a 5,000 point bonus for every 60,000 Marriott points transferred.
If you’re looking to top up your Aeroplan balance, here are some fascinating welcome bonuses:
- American Express® Gold card: Earn 60,000 Membership Rewards points after spending $4,000 on purchases with your new card within the first six months of card membership.
- The American Express Platinum Card®: Earn 100,000 points after spending $6,000 on card purchases during the first six months of card membership.
- Capital One Venture X Rewards Credit Card: Earn 75,000 bonus miles when you spend $4,000 on purchases within the first three months of account opening.
- Chase Sapphire Preferred Card: Earn 60,000 bonus points after spending $4,000 on purchases in the first three months of account opening.
- Chase Sapphire Reserve: Earn 60,000 bonus points after spending $4,000 on purchases in the first three months of account opening.
In addition to the above cards, you might consider the Aeroplan® credit card. The current welcome bonus is 70,000 bonus points after spending $3,000 on card purchases in the first three months of account opening.
Related: 19 things you need to know about redeeming with the new Aeroplan
The 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 compared to other loyalty programs and is a great way to maximize your Aeroplan redemptions.