How to Book Amazing First-Class Flights with Points & Miles
Once upon a time, there was a little boy who liked to travel. He flew all over the world to destinations many others only dream of.
But there was one thing that always seemed out of reach; Ultra-luxurious first-class flights on world-class airlines.
He pondered for years, wondering, “how on earth can any normal person afford to pay $10,000 dollars for a single flight like that?”
Thus began his epic quest to discover the secrets to booking first-class travel.
It wasn’t long before the little boy stumbled upon The Daily Drop, where he learned about the magic of Aeroplan.
Aeroplan is the points currency of Air Canada, but it is much more powerful than just Air Canada or travel within Canada. In fact, most people in the points and miles world will agree that it is the undisputed best points program out there.
I’m going to start off by highlighting a few major reasons why this program is so incredible:
- You can book amazing business and first-class flights
- It has the best stopover program in the business
- They have more airline partners than any other program
- It’s made in Canada, the country responsible for insulin AND Ryan Gosling… so you know it’s good.
Finally, we’ll finish off by talking about how you can rack up Aeroplan points in the first place (spoiler alert: it’s very easy).
Booking Amazing Business and First-class Flights
One of the reasons people love Aeroplan so much is the massive list of airline partners. I’ll get into the specifics in a minute, but for now, let’s highlight some of the most exciting ones.
Here are some of the flights you can book using Aeroplan points:
- Etihad first class
- Oman Air first class
- Gulf Air business class
- Lufthansa first class
- Singapore Airlines business class
As you can see, there are some pretty amazing potential flights you can book with this program.
How many points these flights will cost depends on the distance you are flying. Because Aeroplan has a partner airline award chart, you can actually calculate exactly how much your flight will cost ahead of time and know exactly how many points you’ll need in order to book certain flights.
Let’s say we want to fly from Geneva, Switzerland, to New Delhi, India, in Etihad first-class.
First, let’s calculate the total distance we’ll be flying. If we use a mapping tool like gcmap.com, we can see that the total distance (including the layover in Abu Dhabi, since all Etihad flights stop there) will be 4,483 miles.
Next, let’s look at the Aeroplan award chart. Since both countries are in the same “zone,” we will look at the following page of the award chart:
According to the chart, our flight should cost us 90,000 Aeroplan points for one person. Now let’s search for some flights in the Aeroplan app.
Oh hey, look at that. Exactly 90,000 points per person.
If you were to pay cash for the same exact flight, it would cost you over $5,000. Instead, you’re only paying about $73 USD in taxes and fees. I know It sounds crazy. But it’s as simple as that.
And the amazing benefits of Aeroplan don’t stop there.
Maybe you’re looking at that itinerary thinking, “oh man, that’s really cool. But it’s such a shame not to get to spend any time in Abu Dhabi…”
Well, that’s where Aeroplan’s stopover benefit comes into play.
Book a stopover for only 5,000 extra points
Another reason that people are so obsessed with Aeroplan is its stopover program, which allows you to add stopovers for an additional 5,000 Aeroplan points each.
Now there are some pretty complex ways you can use this benefit, but for now, let’s keep it simple.
Say you want to fly the itinerary we just looked at from Geneva to New Delhi, but want to spend a few days in Abu Dhabi on your way there.
You could book these two flights individually and manually add in a few days in Abu Dhabi. But according to the award chart, the two flights individually would cost you a total of 105,000 points.
Instead, you can book the same itinerary as one ticket for 90,000 points and add in a stopover for 5,000 additional points for a total of 95,000 points, thus saving you 10,000 points.
To make things even better, you can include up to 3 stopovers on a single itinerary, and each stopover can last up to 45 days.
Without getting too deep into the weeds, let me show you an example of an itinerary I booked just yesterday. And yes, I was jet lagged out of my mind, but what else was I supposed to do while sleep-deprived at 4am?
Anyway, in March, I’ll be flying the following route which will take me through El Salvador, Honduras, Guatemala, Costa Rica, Ecuador, Colombia, and Dominican Republic. I booked the entire thing with Aeroplan points on a single, multi-leg itinerary:
- Toronto to San Pedro Sula (with a stopover in San Salvador)
- San Pedro Sula to San José (with a Stopover in Guatemala City)
- San Jose to Medellin (with a stopover in Quito)
- Medellin to Toronto (with a 24-hour layover in Punta Cana)
Since the last leg includes a stop in the Dominican Republic for less than 24 hours, it counts as a layover rather than a stopover, so it doesn’t cost any extra points.
So, I’m saving 15,000 points by using the stopovers. To make things even better, I only have to pay one set of taxes and fees since everything is on one itinerary 👇
If anything happens on one of the legs (delay, cancellation, etc.) Aeroplan is liable to fix things since my whole trip is on one single booking code. This is why I like to book as many flights as possible on one itinerary, even if they're pretty spaced out.
So in total, I was able to book 11 flights to 7 countries for a total of 83,000 Aeroplan points. This is an example of how you can really stretch the Aeroplan award chart and stopover benefit.
Now, most of the flights in the previous example are on partner airlines like Avianca. That’s where Aeroplan’s substantial list of airline partners comes into play.
More Airline Partners than ANY other Points Program
Aeroplan’s list of partners is constantly expanding and now includes over 50 partners in total.
So what does that mean, exactly?
Many airlines let you book flights with other members of their alliance. If you want to learn more about airline alliances, check out our introductory guide to travel hacking.
But basically, British Airways lets you book flights on Iberia since they’re both part of the OneWorld alliance.
United lets you book flights on Swiss Air because they’re both Star Alliance. That’s the general gist of how it works.
Aeroplan is a little different, however.
That’s because, unlike most airlines, Aeroplan partners with tons of airlines that are not part of their alliance (Star Alliance).
For example, Etihad doesn’t belong to any airline alliance. Aside from Etihad’s own loyalty program, Aeroplan is one of the only ways you can book flights with them on points.
On my recent around-the-world trip, I used Aeroplan points to book the vast majority of my flights, which included the following airlines:
- Air Canada
- Air Serbia
- Austrian Air
- Gulf Air
- LOT Polish Airlines
- Air India
- Thai Airways
- Singapore Airlines
- ANA (All Nippon Airways)
Most of those are Star Alliance partners, but Air Serbia, Gulf Air, and Vistara are not part of the alliance but are still bookable with Aeroplan points.
The example I used earlier of my upcoming Central and South America adventure is flown almost entirely on Avianca, the biggest airline in the region, making trips to that part of the world extremely easy to book with Aeroplan points.
If you want to fly around Africa, you can book flights with Ethiopian Airlines or EgyptAir, the largest airlines on the entire continent.
Aeroplan is the only program that has numerous airline partners in every single part of the world. Wherever you want to travel, you’ll be able to book flights there on Aeroplan points.
At this point, you’re either dead asleep or chomping at the bit to book some amazing flights. If the latter describes you, fantastic. If you're dozing off...
The fact is that in order to do ANY of what we’ve discussed here today, you need to actually have some Aeroplan points.
Luckily, that’s the easy part.
How to get Aeroplan points
There are a few ways to earn Aeroplan points:
- Fly on Air Canada
- Use the Aeroplan shopping portal
- Transfer credit card points
- Exchange hockey pucks to the Canadian government at a 1:1 ratio
Today, we’re going to focus on number three above, mainly because number one won’t apply to most people, two is sub-optimal for people who already use other portals, and four is… well… not true. And that would be a terrible value anyway.
You can transfer points from American Express, Chase, Capital One, and Bilt to Aeroplan at a 1:1 ratio. That means there are well over a dozen different credit cards that can earn you Aeroplan points, some of which you may already have.
In fact, more than half of the cards on our Top Credit Cards page could earn you points that can transfer to Aeroplan directly at a 1:1 ratio.
So, next time you want to book a complex itinerary on multiple airlines, flights with stopovers, or just a nice, luxurious first-class flight on Etihad, use the steps I’ve outlined here, calculate the points you’ll need, transfer them over to Aeroplan, and book that flight.