Air Canada Aeroplan is one of the most versatile frequent flyer programs in the world. So even if you have no plans to fly on Air Canada, it could still be worth collecting Aeroplan Points.
Thanks to Air Canada’s Star Alliance partnership, points earned (or bought) in its Aeroplan program can be used on thousands of flights worldwide. This includes non-stop services between Australia and Bangkok on Thai Airways and Japan on ANA. You can also add stopovers on most tickets for just 5,000 more points!
Here’s a look at the basics of buying Aeroplan points, including one example of how you can save over $2,000 on the cost of flying Business Class to Bangkok.
How do I buy Aeroplan Points?
All you need is a free account with Aeroplan to get started (sign-up here). Then head to the Aeroplan ‘Buy Points’ page when you’re ready to make a purchase. You can buy points at any time, though obviously, you’ll get more value out of buying points when there is a promotion.
At full price, points start from CA$35 for 1,000 points. That’s 3.5 cents CAD each, which is quite high. With a promotion (such as 110% bonus points), we can see the cost per point go as low as 1.67 cents each – more than half the price.
You can usually buy up to 250,000 points a year, but that is often increased to 500,000 points during a promotion. It’s possible to end up with more than one million Aeroplan Points if you purchase the full amount during a 100% bonus (or higher) promotion.
What can I do with Aeroplan Points?
In a nutshell, you can use Aeroplan Points to book travel on Air Canada, Virgin Australia and Star Alliance partner airlines including Singapore Airlines, Air New Zealand, ANA, Thai Airways and more.
You also have access to some niche partners such as Air Mauritius (flying from Perth) and Bamboo Airways (flying from Melbourne to Ho Chi Minh City), as well as Emirates.
Here are the points needed for partner airline routes in Economy and Business (excludes Air Canada and Emirates):
|Fly using Aeroplan Points (one-way)||Points for Economy Class||Points for Business Class||Taxes, fees and charges (estimate)|
|Sydney to Tokyo (Haneda)||25,000 points||45,000 points||CA$122|
|Melbourne to Bangkok||25,000 points||45,000 points||CA$117|
|Melbourne to Ho Chi Minh City||25,000 points||45,000 points||CA$120|
|Perth to Mauritius||40,000 points||60,000 points||CA$117|
|Sydney to Los Angeles||60,000 points||87,500 points||CA$173|
|Brisbane to New York (via LAX)||60,000 points||87,500 points||CA$187|
|Sydney to London (via AUH)||65,000 points||110,000 points||CA$137|
All points and costs above are for direct flights — it could be more (or the same) if you transit through other cities, depending on the total distance. And remember that the amount payable in taxes, fees and charges may also vary with different flights factored in.
Aeroplan doesn’t pass on fuel or carrier surcharges, which is excellent news (particularly with Emirates)! However, you will need to pay a CA$39 partner award booking fee, which is quite reasonable in the grand scheme of things.
Why is flying to South East Asia such a great deal when buying Aeroplan Points?
We hear you ask: why buy Aeroplan Points to book a flight, rather than just buying a ticket the ‘normal’ way?
In short, it’s because you could pay only half as much for the same itinerary. Or to view it another way, this trick could see you taking two return trips for about the same price as you’d pay for a single journey.
Let’s look at a return Business Class journey between Melbourne and Bangkok. Buy a ticket the traditional way, on a comparable semi-flexible Business Class fare, and you’re looking at AU$4,538 return per person. We’ve searched for two passengers in 2024.
But when you buy Aeroplan Points with a bonus attached, things look very different. You’ll only need 180,000 points and CA$326 in total. Here are the sums based on a single return trip (for the purpose of this exercise, we’re assuming it’s an easy 100% bonus).
- Buy 180,000 Aeroplan Points for CA$3,150. That’s 100,000 base Aeroplan Points, plus a 100% bonus (90,000 Aeroplan Points) for a total of 180,000.
- Book your return Thai Airways flights using all of those Aeroplan Points.
- Cover the taxes, fees and charges on that Aeroplan booking, which add up to CA$326.
- The total cost is CA$3,476 for two return Business Class tickets, including buying Points and flight taxes. Based on exchange rates at the time of writing, that’s equivalent to about AU$3,882 in total, or A$1,941 per person in Business Class return! On a per-person, per-flight basis, that’s only AU$971.
That’s almost 57% off the commercial cost of buying the same seats on the same flights.
How do I book flights using Aeroplan Points?
Once you’ve purchased your Aeroplan Points and they appear in your account, your journey starts at the Air Canada website. Key in the route you’d like to fly, and your travel dates. Be sure to toggle the ‘Cash/Points’ selector over to Points. For this example, we’ll look at one of Aeroplan’s newest partners, Bamboo Airways.
Here’s what to look out for on the results page. You’ll see a large ’45K’ for the Melbourne-Ho Chi Minh route in the Business Class column where a Business Class reward seat is available. You can also double-check that you’re booking a non-stop flight with Bamboo Airways by glancing across to the ‘flight results’ column.
Continue the process until you’ve selected your return flight, and complete the booking.
If you can’t find flights on your preferred travel dates, try some alternatives. Or consider taking a connecting flight – but this may require more Aeroplan Points.
That’s why it’s always a good idea to check that reward seats are available on your preferred flights and dates before buying Aeroplan Points. Nobody wants to spend thousands of dollars on points, only to discover they can’t spend them how they’d hoped!
How to add a stopover for 5,000 Aeroplan Points
Want to holiday in two destinations while just paying one fare? Aeroplan’s stopover feature is right up your alley. For just 5,000 points more, per person, you can stop at certain destinations for up to 45 days, before continuing on.
For example, if you want to fly Bamboo Airways to Bangkok but have a stopover in Ho Chi Minh City first, set up your search via the ‘Multi-city/Stopover’ option as below. If there is availability on all legs, then the flights will show up.
As it usually costs 45,000 points to fly from Australia to South East Asia in Business, you’ll only need to pay 5,000 points on top to enjoy a stopover. That’s a bargain! The Ho Chi Minh City-Bangkok leg usually costs 20,000 points in Business on its own, so you’re saving 15,000 points per person by booking a stopover.
Aeroplan is quite flexible – you may be able to combine different airlines into one ticket and still pay the same, regional pricing. The one exception is Emirates, which sits in its own award table. See the Aeroplan Flight Reward Table [PDF] for more information.
Air Canada’s Aeroplan program is surprisingly useful for Australian travellers. Thanks to its Star Alliance membership and separate partnership with an amazing collection of partner airlines, there are plenty of savvy options for buying and spending Aeroplan Points. These include Emirates, Etihad, Singapore Airlines, Air Mauritius, ANA, Thai Airways, Bamboo Airways, United and much more.
But again, our standard caveats apply. We don’t suggest you buy points speculatively – only buy if there’s an immediate booking you want to make using those points. And don’t forget to check for reward seat availability on the Air Canada website before buying points!