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How to Book Award Tickets Through Air Canada Aeroplan

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Aeroplan is the loyalty program of Canada’s flag carrier Air Canada … but it’s also one of the best airline loyalty programs, period – even if you never set foot on an Air Canada plane.

With straightforward (and low) award pricing and an easy-to-use site, Air Canada points can be incredibly valuable. But its biggest advantage is just how many airlines you can book using Aeroplan points: Not just fellow Star Alliance carriers like United, Lufthansa, and Turkish, but other awesome partners like Emirates and Etihad.

Better yet, Air Canada points are incredibly easy to earn because it's a transfer partner with most of the major banks. So if you've been earning credit card points with American Express, Capital One, Chase, and Bilt Rewards, you can turn them into Aeroplan points to book these flights.

With low award rates and easy-to-earn points, it makes Air Canada Aeroplan our (and many other travelers') go-to option for booking countless flights – especially when trying to redeem miles for business class. But to take advantage, you need to know the basics to actually put this airline program to use.

Read on to learn how to find – and book – flights through Air Canada Aeroplan.

Read next: How to Maximize Air Canada's Aeroplan Program


Step 1: Sign up for an Air Canada Aeroplan Account

First things first, you'll want to sign up for a free Air Canada Aeroplan frequent flyer account, if you haven't already.

Whether you're booking flights on Air Canada or a partner airline, if you're planning to transfer credit card points to book, this is a critical step to ensure your points don't get held up in limbo. Brand-new accounts (or repeatedly transferring points in quick succession) are often where we see hiccups.

Once you’ve signed up for Air Canada’s loyalty program, your Aeroplan number is easy to find underneath your profile. This is what you’ll need to complete a points transfer, regardless of which credit card program you've got points with.

Air Canada Aeroplan account 

Read next: A Few Airline Accounts You Should Sign Up for ASAP


Step 2: Confirm Award Availability … But Not With Air Canada

Booking flights with Aeroplan points on Air Canada’s website is fairly simple. But the next step can trip you up: You need to make sure that the flights you want to book are actually available when redeeming miles.

Welcome to the world of award availability. Aeroplan's cheaper award rates are great, but they don't mean anything if you can't actually book that flight. Flying economy, it's typically quite easy to find except on high-priced fares around holidays or on high-demand routes. But with business and first class redemptions, it can be much tougher.

Air Canada has a lot going for it, but its award search tool lacks an important feature: a calendar search, which gives you a full month's view of flights at once. Without that option, it's much harder to zero in on the flights you want – especially if you're booking a partner airline with your Air Canada points.

Instead, look for award availability using United's website first. Say you want to book a TAP Air Portugal lie-flat business class seat from Chicago-O'Hare (ORD) to Lisbon (LIS).

Thrifty Traveler Premium portugal business class deal 

Air Canada charges 60,000 to 70,000 Aeroplan points to book these routes from the U.S. to Lisbon.

Air Canada Aeroplan TAP Air portgual deal 

So head to United.com and search for one-way flights. Select “Book with miles” and “flexible dates” and the month you'd like to travel. Choose the exact number of passengers you want to fly – if you're looking for business class flights with a companion but only search for one passenger, these results could lead you astray.

If you're searching for business class flights, select “Business” from the drop-down menu. Then, hit “Find flights.”

United Airlines award search 

You'll see a month's worth of fares. Look for dates at 88,000 miles each way. After an increase last year, United now typically charges 88,000 miles each way for a business class ticket to Europe on a partner airline like TAP Air Portugal.

But it's not that price we care about – it's the fact that the flight is there, period. These exact same results will generally be available to book through Air Canada, too … for even fewer points.

United Airlines award search calendar 

Thrifty Tip: United's new calendar search won't update when you filter for nonstop flights. Use United's older (& better) award search tool to help you pinpoint availability on nonstop flights.

Keep in mind that this only works for Star Alliance airlines and other shared partners which you can search for on United. If you’re trying to book flights on airlines like Etihad or Emirates, you’ll need to search day by day directly on Air Canada’s site.

Copy down the dates and details of the flight you just found through United and move onto the next step.


Step 3: Search for the Flights You Want on Air Canada

Pull up Air Canada's website. Select the “Book with points Aeroplan” box and search. Enter your departure airport, and destination, and plug in the exact dates you found through United's award search.

Air Canada award search 

Once you land on the search results page, you’ll have plenty of options to narrow your search to find the flights you’re looking for. You can sort and filter by cabin, number of stops, airlines, connecting airports, and more.

Air Canada award search results page

Air Canada award search filters

Only want to see the business class fares? Choose the “More options” filter and select “Business Class only” from the dropdown. You can also choose to display the aircraft type in the search results among other filters.
Air Canada award search more filters 

Double-check that the flights you're searching for are on the airline you want.

Air Canada TAP Air Portugal award booking


Watch for Mixed Cabin Awards

If you're hoping to fly business class abroad but have to make a connection to get to your final destination, you'll want to be careful when choosing flights.

Air Canada is one of many airline programs that will let you redeem points for a “mixed cabin” reservation, like a one-stop ticket with the first segment in business class but the second in economy. But you don't get a discount for these mixed cabin redemptions – even if the vast majority of your trip is in economy, you'll still pay the full business class rate.

Luckily, Air Canada does a better job than many other airlines at highlighting these tickets. You'll want to avoid them if the words “Mixed cabin” are in red. Instead, choose a flight where “Mixed cabin” is black, like below.
Air Canada award search mixed cabin MSP-LIS 

If you hover over the “Mixed cabin” text, it will tell you what percentage of your trip will be in business class.

Air Canada award search mixed cabin business class percentage MSP-LIS 

Once you actually choose the fare, it will tell you which flight is in economy class. In this example, you'll be flying Air Canada from Minneapolis-St. Paul (MSP) to Toronto (YYZ) in economy, then fly TAP Air Portugal business class to Lisbon (LIS) for 70,000 points one-way.

Air Canada award search mixed cabin economy flight 

You can exclude these mixed cabin awards from your search altogether using the “More options” filter. But unless you're content booking a separate positioning flight before your hop across the ocean, these kinds of mixed cabin bookings are unavoidable if you're trying to depart from smaller (and even mid-sized) airports.

Air Canada award search more options filter


Step 4: Transfer Your Points & Book!

Once you've zeroed in on the flights you want, it's time for the fun part: Booking!

Air Canada TAP Air Portugal award flight biz class 

If you don't already have Air Canada Aeroplan points, you can transfer them from most of the major banks – Amex, Capital One, Chase, and Bilt – straight to your Aeroplan account. All these points transfer on a 1:1 basis, so 60,000 points with Chase or Capital One gets you all the miles you need to book that one-way business class seat to Lisbon.

Read more: Save Points When Booking Flights: Transfer Them to an Airline Partner

These transfers are typically instantaneous, so there's no need to worry about the flights you want to book disappearing … but not always. Occasionally, there will be a hangup with transferring points, leading to a delay of minutes, hours, or even days.

Just keep your fingers crossed your points go through straight away – and prepare to call your bank, Air Canada, or both if they don't.


Booking Stopovers

One aspect of using Aeroplan points stands out.

Aeroplan lets you add a stopover to your itinerary for just 5,000 additional points. You can even do it on a one-way ticket, which opens up opportunities to see additional cities on your way to or from your destination (or both).

Until recently, you had to book these stopover flights over the phone. But you can now book some stopover trips online. To do so, choose the “Multi-city/Stopover” option when searching for flights and then click the text that says “Add stopover for flight 1.”

Air Canada award search stopover JFK-DPS 

You'll then enter your stopover city and the number of days you'd like to spend in that city. For example, say you're looking to book this Thrifty Traveler Premium deal flying Singapore Airlines business class from New York City (JFK) to Bali (DPS). Aeroplan charges just 87,500 points each way.
Thrifty Traveler Premium flight deal for Southeast Asia

But it might be nice to break up the journey with a few days in Singapore (SIN) on the way, right? Aeroplan makes it incredibly easy to book such a stopover.

Air Canada award search stopover JFK-SIN-DPS 

And this is a pretty incredible value, too: Flying business class on the longest flight in the world, stop in Singapore, and then continue onward to Bali a few days later for a total of just 92,500 points in business class.

Air Canada stopover flight example


Bottom Line

Air Canada Aeroplan is one of the most valuable airline mileage programs thanks to its cheap award rates and expansive network of Star Alliance and other airline partners.

Booking award flights through Air Canada is fairly easy, but finding the best deals through Air Canada requires a little extra work.


Senior Award Deal Analyst & Reporter Peter Thornton contributed to this story

Editorial Disclaimer: Opinions expressed here are the author’s alone, not those of any bank, credit card issuer, airlines or hotel chain, and have not been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by any of these entities.

Disclaimer: The responses below are not provided or commissioned by the bank advertiser. Responses have not been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by the bank advertiser. It is not the bank advertiser’s responsibility to ensure all posts and/or questions are answered.

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