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Even after (another) recent devaluation, Air Canada’s Aeroplan program remains one of the best options for booking award flights to Europe in Lufthansa’s fantastic first-class cabin — award flights will run you 70,000 miles (plus surcharges) each way, vs. 110,000 miles (without surcharges) when booking via United MileagePlus.
You can transfer points instantly from Amex’s Membership Rewards program, including those earned with cards like Amex Platinum and Premier Rewards Gold — and if you own a small business, it can be very easy to rack up tons of MR points quickly, putting Lufthansa first-class awards very much within reach.
Unfortunately, there’s one major catch when booking Lufthansa flights with Aeroplan: You’ll be responsible for paying hundreds of dollars in fuel surcharges in each direction. As of this week, Aeroplan has a solution to offer, however. You can simply redeem extra Aeroplan miles to cover the taxes and fuel surcharges, making your award booking truly free. Sounds pretty great, huh?
I did a sample booking to see exactly how many miles you’ll need to offset taxes and fees, and the result is pretty shocking. Aeroplan lets you redeem these extra miles at a rate of 1 mile for every 0.85 cents. That sounds pretty bad, until you realize that it’s 0.85 Canadian cents, which is currently equal to just 0.67 cents in USD. Ouch!
So in the example above, you’d need to redeem an extra 68,270 Aeroplan miles to offset $456 in taxes and fuel surcharges — that’s basically double the 70,000-mile award. Meanwhile, TPG values Aeroplan miles at 1.5 cents each (and Amex points at 1.9 cents each), making this one of the worst redemptions ever. Unless you have millions of Amex points that you can’t use (or give away), there’s no reason to take Aeroplan up on this new “offer.”
Know before you go.
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