Reader Question: Around The World Award In Business/First For Two Using Aeroplan Miles? (Very Difficult!)

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A LoyaltyLobby reader sent me an email about Aeroplan around the world awards that he would like to book for two in business or first class for late 2018.

Reader Question Air Canada Aeroplan

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You can access Aeroplan’s page for awards here.

Here’s the email from the reader:

I have been a member of Aeroplan (and a loyal customer and frequent flyer of Air Canada) for many years. I have been waiting for an opportunity to take advantage of the points I have collected for something special for my wife and I. We want to reward ourselves and kick off our retirement with first class around the world awards using Star Alliance partners. I decided to start doing some planning based on us starting our dream trip November of 2018 and found the Aeroplan site useless in trying to understand how to go about this; so, I called Aeroplan (I hold Diamond status with them) directly and didn’t come away from that exchange feeling any better. I should point out that what I am about to elaborate is a consistent experience I have had with Aeroplanrecently in trying to redeem for rewards travel.

  • Aeroplan advertises (if I can use that word) how many points are required to redeem for award travel in the various classes of service including business and first
  • Furthermore, supposedly the points can be redeemed for travel on any Star Alliance partner
  • Any time I have looked at the web site to try and book anything I have very rarely seen anything available with anyone other than Air Canada
  • Trying to book in the higher levels of service (business or first class) is even more scarce even in Air Canada Executive First and the number of points required rarely match the award chart
  • If I look at the United web site, I see far more opportunities for award travel in the higher classes of service; although, here it is also extremely difficult to find seats available with other Star Alliance partners (for example Lufthansa, Singapore Airlines, ANA)
  • So, it has become evident an around the world first class award does not truly exist because as an Aeroplan member I would never have access to those seats

Does this not then constitute false advertising? What is the point of the Star Alliance if member airlines are not treated equally? Why publish something that cannot be delivered??

The award search engine on Aeroplan’s website is not the best. Theoretically what shows up on United’s and LifeMiles’ websites should be bookable in general using Aeroplan miles as well.

The reader should keep in mind that the relationship with the Air Canada and Aeroplan is going to change in 2020 and Aeroplan is likely going to lose access to those Star Alliance awards. Reader should have hundreds of thousands of Aeroplan miles sitting on his accounts if he is planning a trip like this for two.

Here are the issues that I see as a problematic:

– It will be extremely difficult if not impossible to find first class award availability for two. Most of the Star Alliance airline don’t even have first class cabin any more.

– Award availability nowadays can open up anytime. It used to be in the past that it was best far out. Nowadays the awards are often available very close to the departure date especially for first class.

– Aeroplan collect fuel surcharges for some airlines. You may end up paying a lot in YQs.

If I would do this for two, I would forget the first class and try to do it for business OR accept the fact that only some flights (perhaps Thai Airways that tends to have good first class award availability) will be in first.

The around the world award allows FIVE stopovers. You would need to plan where you would like to have them and then try to find the flights to accommodate those countries/cities.

Familiarize yourself with the Star Alliance hubs and long-haul flights that are perhaps not the most popular (means better award availability). Good map helps and the Star Alliance website.

Another option is to actually PAY for around the world ticket. I am currently traveling on a one issued in Egypt last year (read more here) when there were some currency fluctuations. These allow up to 16 segments and as many stopovers. Availability won’t be an issue (married segment sometimes is). Haven’t checked the current pricing but you were able to find them at starting around perhaps 6K USD/EUR for RTW in business.

There are also award booking services that would charge few hundred dollars for booking complicated award such as the one the reader is after. Could be an option.

Conclusion

The reader absolutely need to offload the Aeroplan miles before the partnership with Air Canada and Aeroplan changes in 2020. You can likely still use Aeroplan miles for Air Canada flights after that date but access to partner flights is gone for sure.

I have done two around the world awards (when they were still available) using American Airlines miles (were fantastic value) and once using promotional United Airlines award (when they were killing Independence Air). These were great way to see number of place. You need great flexibility, however, and it takes hours of research to find the availability and then to book them.

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  • Joe

    He NOW is searching for travel in NOVEMBER 2018? Really??

    come on, this is b***s**t
    Have u ever been able to book either paid or award tickets more than 360 days out?

    • SeattleGuy

      Most airlines do not release any seats until 330-331 days in advance. And as the article states, the is no longer the case these days. I have booked my FC & BC seats on the day they’re released, but more often than not, the primo routing does not open up for months in my experience.

  • Malcolm

    John, you obviously have a competent travel agent. Perhaps he/she could be of service to the OP?

    • Brock Marshal

      OP needs to hire someone who knows the plan. The advice given above is not exactly correct nor is it fleshed out or even helpful for the OP to get what he needs. I have done this many times and it is a challenge but it’s doable.

      OP I think is demanding things that don’t exist. F tickets out of Toronto for instance, do not exist as far as I know. You can fly F out of Montreal on a very limited basis (LX is now fully blocked by the carrier) or Vancouver. This is not Aeroplan’s fault, this is a Star Alliance failure where carriers are reserving seats for their own customers on their own aircraft exclusively.

      Other bits like “you may pay YQ” are more helpful if the OP was told how to avoid the YQ.

      Also this site is under the impression that you need a *A Around The World fare to go around the world, which you don’t.

      RTW in F is hard to get due to limited seats, limited carriers, and blocking. OP demands two of something very hard to get on the dates he wants to the cities he wants or else “it’s false advertising.” OP has no experience and is one of the typical disasters where people start making conclusions without any clue of how the system works.

      “But what do you mean I can’t book a ticket to the moon, we first went to the moon in the 1960s! This is a fiasco!”

      Well, Whine Wednesdays are for OP I guess.

      RTW-F is achievable but OP came to the wrong place for answers. This website is useful to get loyalty announcements from all programs in one place. For sophisticated help you need people with direct experience on these programs.

  • Brock Marshal

    1. you don’t need to book a RTW ticket to go around the world, you need a bit more sophisticated knowledge of the Aeroplan system than what this website is going to give you … the five stopovers are overkill and you can probably just do a normal award booking.

    2. the poster doesn’t say where he’s flying from… Swiss many years ago blocked all F rewards to everyone in other programs, Lufthansa blocked all F rewards more than 2 weeks out, and this leaves only Thai, ANA, and Asiana offhand that have F rewards available to other programs on a normal basis. None of them fly to Canada other than Vancouver and though Swiss and Lufthansa do, they are all part of the corporate scam to share revenue over the atlantic, leaving Air Canada with a monopoly out of Toronto.

    So if you want an around the world entirely in first class for a Canadian your best bet is to fly to New York, Chicago or Los Angeles on a paid ticket and start your trip there. Otherwise suck up the to and from Canada legs in business class and book F on the rest.

    As for availability, this poster doesn’t say when he’s looking at. If he’s planning for 18 months out and he’s looking at 2 months out for his availability search, of course he won’t see anything.

    Lastly, wanting TWO of a hard to book itinerary (F around the world) to the exact cities of his choice on the days he wants, otherwise ITS FALSE ADVERTISING welcome to the world of unrealistic expectations.

    If you book 10 months out you can probably get 2 tickets on ANA from JFK to Tokyo, and Tokyo to Frankfurt. You won’t be able to get Frankfurt to anywhere because Lufthansa blocks F as mentioned. You could get one ticket on Thai or maybe two if you are lucky from Tokyo to Bangkok and then Bangkok to Frankfurt or Paris or Munich.

    But you won’t get to pick your day.

    I think the question asker has had the luxury of paid tickets for a long time and is demanding that point tickets have the same flexibility and availability and that’s not how the game works. If he wants to use his points well he needs to study well and this website is not the source material to find out how to book these tickets correctly.

    There are also smart ways around the YQ.

    This website is where you come if you want to read a blogger whining about passengers putting their feet up or something silly like this. “Remember, you can always email us for help”, 90% of the time you won’t get an answer, the other 10% of the time your question is used for a nearly useless non-answer answer blog post like this one. It’s just click farming.

    If you have this kind of sophisticated question you need to go to the right community where there are FAQs on this kind of thing and people who have booked them. I have gone around the world many times in F on Aeroplan and I never used a *A RTW fare or points booking to do so. It is challenging but it is possible. Going RTW in J is simple.

  • Pontus Dahlstrom

    I had the same experience couple of years ago trying to book a world around award ticket for two in business class using Lufthansa miles. This was for the winter time mainly in the southern hemisphere, where Star alliance is not very strong, but still exist. I tried to book around one year in advance to be sure to get seats, but NO.positive result.

    Many segments could be booked (South African, Singapore, Air New Zealand, TAM being at that time Star Alliance member and Lufthansa of course), but the airlines in North America were the worst ones and put a total stop to our plans. Almost no seats available even around 11-12 months before departure. United was worst. Their non-availability policy blocked totally our plan so I gave it up. Have since used my Lufthansa miles on return business class flights on their own metal and especially with the 50% point discounts being able to big extent visit the same countries and cities as we would have done during the world around trip.

    Agree fully that it is totally false advertising from any Star Alliance airline to advertise WA tickets, as in very few cases you really can get the awards in business class. The airlines do not release them and the ticket can be issued only if all segments can be booked at the same time.