Have Points, Will Travel: How We Booked a Business Class Flight to Turkey Using Air Canada Miles
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In the latest episode of “Have Points, Will Travel,” Ian Agrimis flies Turkish Airlines business class to Cappadocia (via Istanbul) in his quest to answer the question: How high can you get with Air Canada Aeroplan miles?
WATCH EPISODE 4 HERE:
Today, we're going to take a closer look at how he booked his flight. (Spoiler alert: You don't actually need to fly Air Canada to earn all the miles you need for this redemption.)
1. Earn Air Canada Aeroplan Miles
Just starting out in the realm of travel rewards? No problem. Aeroplan miles are among the easiest miles to earn. You can earn all, or almost all, of the 57,500 points you need for this ticket just by signing up for certain credit cards, meeting their spend requirements and then transferring points to the Air Canada loyalty program. For this specific redemption, Ian transferred points from American Express Membership Rewards, though he could have also transferred them from Capital One or Marriott Bonvoy.
A quick way to rack up Amex points is through The Platinum Card® from American Express. As a new card holder, you'll get 100,000 points (worth $2,000 based on our valuations) after you use your new card to make $6,000 in purchases in your first six months of card membership. Those points can be transferred to Aeroplan at a 1:1 ratio, so you'll have more than enough miles for a one-way business class ticket. Plus, the card will give you 5 points per dollar spent on airfare purchased directly from airlines or Amex Travel and on hotels booked through Amex Travel, and one point per dollar on everything else. The card has a $695 annual fee (See rates & fees), but that’s offset by benefits like airport lounge access, up to $200 in annual Uber Cash ($15 in Uber credits for U.S. rides each month plus a bonus $20 in December) and up to $100 statement at Saks Fifth Avenue (enrollment required for select benefits) as well as many other perks.
If it's Capital One miles you're after, you could pick up the Capital One Venture Rewards Credit Card and earn 50,000 miles by spending $3,000 in purchases within the first three months. The card has a $95 fee, but it's waived the first year and there's a Global Entry or TSA PreCheck application fee credit up to $100 that helps offset it. The card offers an incredible 10x mile earning rate at Hotels.com (when using your card and booking via Hotels.com through Jan. 31, 2020) and 2x miles on everything else. Just note that unlike Amex, Capital One transfers to Aeroplan at a 2:1.5 (4:3) ratio.
2. Search for Award Availability
The next step of the process is to head to Aeroplan’s website and sign in to your account, or create one if you don’t already have one. Under the “Book Travel” tab click “Flights,” type in your origin and destination, dates, select “Business/First” and hit “Search.” The closest airport to Cappadocia is Nevşehir Kapadokya Airport (NAV), but you'll need to pick a flight with a layover in Istanbul (IST) if you want to fly Turkish Airlines.
You'll find the most availability when booking at the last minute or at least five months in advance. Aeroplan's website has a handy "Flexible Dates" feature that allows you to search a week’s worth of results for your route. If you still don't find availability for dates that work for you, you can get an ExpertFlyer subscription and set alerts to be notified when award space opens up.
3. Transfer Your Points
If you're transferring from Amex, sign in to your online account, go to the “Rewards” page, click “Transfer Points” and then “View All.” From there, click Aeroplan, enter the number of points you want to transfer and hit “Confirm & Transfer Points.” Amex transfers to Aeroplan at a 1:1 ratio and must be in increments of 1,000 points so you'd need to transfer 58,000 Amex points for this redemption.
The process is pretty similar if transferring from Capital One. Sign in to your online account, click "Rewards Miles" under your rewards miles total, click the "Transfer Miles" button next to where it says Aeroplan, confirm your frequent flyer number and then enter the number of miles you want to transfer. Do not hit the “Complete Transfer” until you verify you're transferring the correct amount of miles as Capital One defaults to transferring all of your available miles. Capital One transfers to Aeroplan 4:3 ratio and in increments of 100 miles (1,000-mile minimum) so you'd need to transfer 76,700 Capital One miles for this redemption.
Transfers are irreversible so you'll only want to transfer your points once you've confirmed award space for the flight you want. Based on our tests, both Amex and Capital One points transfer to Aeroplan instantly, while Marriott Bonvoy points take around four days.
4. Book Your Flight
The final and most exciting step of the process is to book your flight. Once you’ve refreshed the Aeroplan site and your points have posted (note that you might need to log out and then log back in), repeat everything we did in Step 2, but this time hit “Book” next to the flight you want. Aeroplan doesn’t pass on any fuel surcharges for Turkish Airlines awards, so your out-of-pocket cost should be less than $10 in taxes and fees. You’ll want to use a card like the Chase Sapphire Preferred Card or Chase Sapphire Reserve to pay for the cash outlay on your ticket, so that you’re covered by the the cards’ excellent travel protections.
That's it! Follow the steps discussed above and you’ll find out how high you can get with 57,500 Air Canada Aeroplan miles in no time.
Check back next month for a new episode of “Have Points, Will Travel,” where Ian will give us another lesson on booking premium cabin flights using points and miles. And if you haven't yet, be sure to subscribe to our YouTube channel for more points and miles-related video content.
For rates and fees of the Amex Platinum Card, click here.