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Aeroplan Star Alliance Award Taxes and Fees Overview – Taxes and Fees Roundup

by on March 25, 2013 · 17 comments

in Aeroplan, star alliance

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This is the fourth and final installment of my series on calculating the cost of various Star Alliance awards using Aeroplan miles. In Part 1 of my series, I priced out awards on Air Canada, United, Lufthansa, Brussels Air, Singapore Airlines, Air New Zealand, ANA and South African Airways. In Part 2, I looked at some other popular Star Alliance carriers including: Air China, Asiana, EgyptAir, LOT Polish Airlines, SAS, Swiss, TAM, Thai Airways, Turkish Airlines and US Airways (for now). In Part 3 I examined the rest of the 27 Star Alliance partners including: Adria Airways, Aegean, Austrian, Avianca/Taca, Copa Croatia, Shenzhen and TAP.

There are lots more ways to use Aeroplan miles than just on Air Canada.

There are lots more ways to use Aeroplan miles than just on Air Canada.

I chose to focus on Aeroplan because it is a transfer partner of American Express Membership Rewards as well Starwood Preferred Guest, for which you get a 5,000-mile bonus when transferring points in increments of 20,000. Aeroplan has some very flexible routing rules so you can build in stopovers and take advantage of some very well-priced awards. Its engine for searching for Star Alliance availability is also very useful.

Now it’s time to put it all together in one place with a handy guide to help you estimate how much you should put aside for taxes and fees when using Air Canada Aeroplan miles to book awards on the airline’s Star Alliance partners. I’ve estimated the taxes and fees on each carrier based on the long- and short-haul award itineraries in business and economy that I found for the other parts of the series. So have a look and use this general guide to help you determine which carrier might be your best option for the itinerary you want to book. Before transferring points, should always price out your itinerary since these prices can change anytime, but feel free to bookmark this page and use it as a resource when deciding whether Aeroplan makes the most sense for you award. We will do this same exercise with ANA and Singapore and are in the process of putting together the methodology to choose with Star Alliance Amex transfer partner makes the most sense for different regions of the world.

AIRLINE DOMESTIC/SHORT-HAUL INTERNATIONAL/LONG-HAUL
Adria Airlines Economy: $100-$200
Business: $100-$200
Economy: $100-$200
Business: $100-$200
Aegean Economy: Under $100
Business: Under $100
Economy: Under $100
Business: Under $100
Air Canada Economy: Under $200
Business: Under $200
Economy: $300-$700
Business: $400-$1,000
Air China Economy: Under $50
Business: Under $50
Economy: Under $100
Business: Under $100
Air New Zealand Economy: $100-$200
Business: $100-$200
Economy: $100-$200
Business: $100-$200
All Nippon Airlines ANA Economy: Around $200
Business: Around $200
Economy: $100-$700
Business: $500-$800
Asiana Economy: $100-$200
Business: $100-$200
Economy: $300-$500
Business: $300-$500
Austrian Economy: Under $100
Business: Under $100
Economy: $300-$500
Business: $300-$500
Avianca Economy: Under $50
Business: Under $50
Economy: $100-$200
Business: $100-$200
Brussels Airlines Economy: Under $100
Business: Under $200
Economy: Under $100
Business: Under $100
Copa Economy: Under $100
Business: Under $100
Economy: Under $150
Business: Under $150
Croatia Airlines Economy: Under $100
Business: Under $100
N/A
EgyptAir Economy: Under $100
Business: Under $200
Economy: Under $100
Business: Under $100
Ethiopian Airlines Economy: Under $100
Business: N/A
Economy: Under $100
Business: Under $100
LOT Polish Airlines Economy: Under $100
Business: Under $100
Economy: Under $200
Business: Under $200
Lufthansa Economy: $100-$300
Business: $100-$300
Economy: $400-$700
Business: $600-$1,000
Scandinavian Airlines SAS Economy: Under $100
Business: Under $100
Economy: Under $100
Business: Under $100
Shenzhen Airlines Economy: Under $20
Business: Under $20
Economy: N/A
Business: N/A
Singapore Airlines Economy: Under $100
Business: Under $100
Economy: Under $100
Business: $100-$200
South African Airways Economy: Under $100
Business: Under $100
Economy: $100-$200
Business: $100-$200
Swiss Economy: Under $100
Business: Under $100
Economy: Around $100
Business: Around $100
TACA Economy: Under $100
Business: Under $100
Economy: Under $100
Business: Under $100
TAM Economy: Around $100
Business: Around $120
Economy: Around $100
Business: Around $100
TAP Economy: Around $100
Business: Around $100
Economy: Around $500
Business: Around $500
Thai Airways Economy: $100-$200
Business: $100-$200
Economy: $300-$500
Business: $300-$600
Turkish Airlines Economy: Under $100
Business: Under $100
Economy: Under $100
Business: Under $100
United Economy: Under $25
Business: Under $25
Economy: Under $200
Business: Under $200
US Airways Economy: Under $20
Business: Under $20
Economy: $100-$200
Business: $100-$300

For me the major takeaways from all this are:

-Pick your carrier carefully: What was most interesting to me was that depending on which carrier you used miles to book on similar routes from North America to Asia or Europe, you could pay about $100 in taxes and fees, or $1,000 on taxes and fees, which is just mind-boggling. Obviously part of your plans will depend on which carriers fly to destinations you need to get to as well as award availability, but if you’re just looking to get from North America to Europe, I’d suggest looking at carriers like Brussels Airlines and Swiss, which Aeroplan only charges you around $100 for on award tickets rather than carriers like Air Canada, Lufthansa and TAP, where the prices go up astronomically to nearly $1,000 per ticket in some cases. The same is true in Asia. Aeroplan will charge you hundreds of dollars to fly ANA to Japan, but if you can book another airline like Singapore or Asiana, you could be saving hundreds of dollars per ticket.

Take Brussels Airlines to Europe instead of Lufthansa and save hundreds on fees.

Take Brussels Airlines to Europe instead of Lufthansa and save hundreds on fees.

-Look at all your class options: The other striking feature to me was just how similar taxes and fees were on many tickets no matter if you were flying economy or a premium class of service, and not just on domestic or regional short-hauls. For example, the taxes and fees to fly LOT from North America to Europe were the exact same at $198.10 to fly in either economy or business class and Brussels Airlines was just about $95 whether you were flying economy or business, but that business class ticket was only 30,000 more miles. In my opinion, it would definitely be worth it to use a few more miles and get that extra service and a nicer product because you’re paying the same amount in fees. Although the mileage required was a lot more substantial, taxes and fees on transoceanic ANA and South African flights were also almost at parity for either business or economy, so if you’ve got the miles to spare, you might as well use them since you’ll be spending the same amount of  money anyway.

Why take economy when Swiss business class will only cost you 30k more miles and nothing more in taxes and fees?

Why take economy when Swiss business class will only cost you 30k more miles and nothing more in taxes and fees?

Hopefully this guide will help you make informed decisions about booking Aeroplan awards and the options you have for getting where you need to go without overpaying on taxes and fees.

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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  • EricTheNerd

    Awesome job! Can’t wait for the ANA version, though I’m not holding out much hope for low fees on any carrier aside from US/UA

  • http://www.facebook.com/jim.strong.3158 Jim Strong

    Thanks for all this leg work – very informative!

  • Diamond Vargas

    This really is a huge value-add post, legwork, and analysis. Great work. Also very much looking forward to the ANA and Singapore versions, which I’m imagining will require a lot more phonecalls…

  • Mikey

    Great work! What’s your valuation of Aeroplan plan based on these new findings?

  • http://twitter.com/stiffem Bob

    good value add

  • Hans

    This is immensely useful! Thanks!

  • Thrifty Tourist

    We may now need a taxes and fees overview for Emirates as well with them announcing today that they are introducing fuel surcharges on all reward flights starting March 31, 2013. Still trying to figure out if Japan Air and Alaska Air will also charge these surcharges on Emirates redemptions…

  • BobChi

    Great job. My policy remains to never put points into a “fuel surcharge happy” program, except for BA Avios, since I do find lots of value in their short-haul redemptions. I think in evaluation of reward program currencies, the above-normal added surcharges could be accounted for directly as part of the mileage cost. For example, instead of saying a particular redemption costs 50k miles plus a $500 fuel surcharge, just call it a 100k redemption and make comparisons on that basis. The “fuel surcharge” functions as a way to make the reward charts look a lot better than they really are.

  • pssteve

    Great job. Now if we can just cross reference it with which airlines have the best availability and on which routes we will have the Holy Grail!

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  • Meg

    Interesting results. I don’t like paying a penny more than I need to, but my experience is that when checking out reward availability, I also consider the convenience of the routing, departure and connection times, and the other partner airline(s) I will be flying. When travelling in business class, not all airlines are equal and these are relatively small amounts of money to spend. Yes, I would like to go back to the day when a reward ticket was a “free” ticket, with no extra charges. When we could make changes to our itinerary without charge. Unhappily those days are gone. There is a certain cost of living in the great white north that relates to the populations, the distances, and also the value of our expectations. (I am sure if we did not have to pay for universal medicare, our beer would be 5cents cheaper!)
    The reason we collect points is because we expect to benefit from them, and sometimes benefit greatly. I am probably an anomaly in that I collect points and use them as a splurge and indulge myself. I’ve been very happy to be able to use “flexible routing rules” to my advantage, and I like the way the Star Alliance membership works. I cross my fingers that it won’t change.(for the worse)

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  • Liam Walshe

    Brussels Airlines = FANTASTIC! Plus, it seems I class availability isn’t so hard to come by.

    Even if you can’t find an onward flight to where you need to go on points, the location of Brussels is fantastic! It is right in-between London, Paris, and Amsterdam, so getting around by train from here is very easy.

  • Logoman

    I paid the outrageous fuel surcharges that Air Canada levies when I bought the tickets that I used to collect the aeroplan miles. Now pay again when I redeem them? Typical Air Canada gouging

  • Charles Tam

    Hey TPG, this is a great article! I think it would make a great resource given the changes to *A, namely TAM & EVA. Any chance you could update it for 2014/2015?

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