Sweet Spot Sunday: Add a stopover to your Aeroplan award ticket for just 5,000 points
Air Canada's stopover rules are some of the most generous in the industry. When you book flights using Air Canada Aeroplan points, you can add a stopover for only 5,000 extra points.
Best of all, it's easy to earn Air Canada Aeroplan points. The abundance of Aeroplan transfer partners (not to mention the Aeroplan® Credit Card) makes this sweet spot extremely accessible to anyone holding one of the best travel credit cards.
There are a handful of rules to note before booking your flight, though. Here's what you need to know about adding a stopover to your Aeroplan award ticket.
Why it's special
Even if you have no intention of flying on Air Canada, you should be earning Aeroplan points. Air Canada has a long list of valuable partners and offers arguably more sweet spots than many airline loyalty programs.
One of the biggest draws of the Aeroplan loyalty program is its "stopover" allowances:
- When you book a one-way flight with Aeroplan points, you can add a stopover at a different destination for just 5,000 points.
- When you book a round-trip flight with Aeroplan points, you can add a stopover on your outbound flight and another stopover on your return flight for 5,000 points each.
You can book a stopover to just about anywhere on Earth. As an example, for 115,000 points, you can book a flight from San Francisco to Abu Dhabi in the United Arab Emirates — with a stopover in Tokyo in business class. This same itinerary, when booked through most competing airline programs, costs significantly more.
There are a few restrictions to keep in mind when building stopovers with Aeroplan points:
- You can't build a stopover in Canada or the U.S.
- The distance you fly between your origin and destination in one direction must be less than double the nonstop distance.
- You cannot backtrack through the same airport, city or country when traveling in one direction.
- Your stopover cannot exceed 45 days.
Related: Complete guide to Aeroplan's stopover and routing rules
How to book this award
Let's book that flight from San Francisco to Abu Dhabi and throw in Tokyo as a stopover. You'll want to have the Air Canada award chart page open while you book your flight.
Determine your origin and destination 'zones'
Air Canada breaks the world into four "travel zones." To properly price your award, you must note the zone you're departing from and the zone your destination is in. For our example trip, our flight from San Francisco is in "North America," and our destination in Abu Dhabi is in the "Atlantic" zone.
Refer to the applicable award chart
Once you know which zones you're traveling between, find the corresponding award chart to price your flight. Below is the chart for flights between the North America and Atlantic zones. You'll be charged based on the distance you fly.
The distance of a nonstop flight from San Francisco to Abu Dhabi would be more than 8,000 miles. So, we know we'll need to pay 70,000 points in coach (plus taxes and fees) or 110,000 points in business class (plus taxes and fees) to fly on partner airlines (excluding Emirates), regardless of where we connect. However, we will need to ensure our flights don't exceed 16,316 miles, as this is double the nonstop distance between the two cities.
Check options on the Air Canada website
Searching for award seats between your origin and destination on the Air Canada website is important because you'll want to see how cheap your ticket could be after accounting for connections. After all, an itinerary with one stop can cost more than a nonstop flight if it bumps you into the next distance band.
Our flight from San Francisco to Abu Dhabi will price the same regardless of where we connect since even a direct flight between the two cities would be more than 8,000 miles. Here's an award itinerary we could book through Istanbul.
Choose a stopover and search for availability on each leg
Even though the above award itinerary includes stopping in Istanbul, you don't have to make Istanbul your stopover destination. Instead, you can add a stopover for just about anywhere. You'll simply need to ensure there are available award flights for the legs you plan to fly.
We'll search our first segment from San Francisco to Tokyo. This flight is via Seattle, with the first (short) domestic hop in economy and the long-haul flight to Japan in business class.
We'll then search our second segment from Tokyo to Abu Dhabi. Looks like we're being routed through Mumbai.
We can check the distance of the exact route we want to fly using Great Circle Mapper. Our example route would be 10,931 miles.
If needed, call Air Canada to book your flights
You can book many Aeroplan stopovers online. However, if your itinerary doesn't price online, you'll need to call to book it.
Once you've noted your flight number, dates and times, call Air Canada at 800-361-5373. As long as you can see available seats, the customer service representative should be able to see them, too. Just specify that you'd like to book a flight with a stopover. Air Canada should waive the airline's normal fee for booking via phone for stopover requests that can't be booked online.
Related: The best ways to maximize Air Canada's Aeroplan program
How to earn points for this award
Air Canada Aeroplan points are among the easiest rewards to earn in the points and miles world.
You can sign up for the Aeroplan® Credit Card and earn Aeroplan points on purchases you make with your card. You can also transfer the following points currencies to Air Canada Aeroplan:
- American Express Membership Rewards (1:1 transfer ratio).
- Bilt Rewards (1:1 transfer ratio).
- Capital One miles (1:1 transfer ratio).
- Chase Ultimate Rewards (1:1 transfer ratio).
- Marriott Bonvoy (3:1 transfer ratio, with a 5,000-point bonus given for every 60,000 points transferred).
Check out our guide to the best travel credit cards to find cards that earn the above transferrable currencies. Here are some of our favorites:
- Chase Sapphire Preferred® Card.
- Capital One Venture Rewards Credit Card.
- Capital One Venture X Rewards Credit Card.
- The Platinum Card® from American Express.
- American Express® Gold Card.
Related: Why you should do the math before booking an Aeroplan stopover
The Aeroplan loyalty program is a globe-trotter's dream. Thanks to its advantageous stopover policies, you can hopscotch around the world for significantly fewer points than most other airline programs would charge.
Even if you have zero Aeroplan points, there are plenty of transferrable rewards that transfer instantly to Aeroplan. As such, it's easy to earn enough Aeroplan points to book an award.