TPG Reader Hall of Fame: $50,000 flights around the world for 320,000 miles

Jan 24, 2020

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Today’s TPG Reader Hall of Fame story comes to us courtesy of Nicholas, a Canadian reader who used some phenomenal points and miles skills to book his parents a trip around the world in business class. Taking advantage of Air Canada Aeroplan’s routing rules, he managed a whopping 17 flights for his parents, which took them from the Great Wall to the Taj Mahal to a bucket-list African safari.

All in, their journey lasted 45 days and took them through 17 countries — now that’s one whirlwind of a trip! Let’s see how he did it.

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Image courtesy of Nicholas Richard.
(Photo courtesy of Nicholas Richard.)

As Canadian readers, Nicholas and his family don’t have access to the same cards U.S. residents do. While this unfortunately means that some of the best travel rewards cards out there are out of their reach (like the Chase Sapphire Reserve), they are still able to apply for the Canadian versions of some cards, like certain American Express cards.

While the fees are typically higher and the perks are different on Canadian cards, some American Express Membership Rewards cards in Canada have similar U.S counterparts. In either program, you can transfer your Amex points to Aeroplan at a 1:1 ratio. Here are the U.S.-equivalent cards to the Canadian ones Nicholas used:

Related: Choosing the best American Express credit card for you

With the welcome bonuses achieved from his cards, daily spend and work travel, Nicholas and his parents managed to save up the 320,000 points needed for their round-the-world trek.

So how exactly did Nicholas manage all those flights with just 320k miles? He got creative with Aeroplan’s routing rules, as he states on his own blog: “Well, I’m allowed two stopovers in addition to my destination. I booked the flights round trip to Perth with stopovers in Colombo and Johannesburg.  My flights to Perth needed to be less than the MPM (maximum permitted mileage) of 18,057 miles. On the way to Perth, my flights (YYZ-YUL-ZRH-PEK-DEL-CMB-SIN-PER) amounted to 17,002 miles. And the trip home (PER-JNB-GRU-GIG-PTY-YYZ) was 15,681. Furthermore, when searching for flights you must remember that layovers must be less than 24 hours.”

NOTE: Air Canada has since changed its award ticket rules, including reducing the number of stopovers allowed to one and eliminating fixed-price round-the-world tickets.

So he maximized layover times to end up with day-long stops in Beijing (PEK), Delhi (DEL), Singapore (SIN), Sao Paulo (GRU), Rio de Janeiro (GIG) and Panama City (PTY), while allowing for a longer breaks in Colombo (CMB, eight days), Perth (PER, 14 days) and Johannesburg (JNB, four days).

Uluru, in the Australian outback. Image courtesy of Nicholas Richard.
Uluru, in the Australian outback. (Photo courtesy of Nicholas Richard.)

Here are all the flights his parents ended up on, as well as the cash it would have cost them out of pocket:

Flights City Class of service Cash cost Points used Comments
Flight Toronto to Montreal to Zurich to Beijing Business $6,000 320,000 American Express MR (transferred to Air Canada Aeroplan) and Aeroplan miles
Flight Beijing to Delhi Business $12,700
Flight Delhi to Colombo Business $880
Flight Colombo to Singapore to Perth Business $2,400
Flight Perth to Johannesburg Business $6,200
Flight Johannesburgh to Sao Paulo Business $4,000
Flight Sao Paulo to Rio de Janeiro to Panama City to Toronto Business $18,000
Totals $50,180 320,000

Great job Nicholas, and I’m sure your parents were thrilled!

Featured photo by Freder/Getty Images.

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