As some of you know, I have recently reignited my slight addiction to getting things for free or almost free or substantially reduced from market fare. Especially in regards to airfare. In my post about Travel hacking your way to budget trips out of Canada, I talked about how it would be awesome if I could get a round the world flight and travel for three to six months, and that it would be the ultimate dream!
Well, a few credit card applications and collection of points later, perhaps that dream is possible (except for the time off that is, there remains that barrier haha, but a girl can dream, can't she?)… I now have over 100,000 Aeroplan points thanks to referring a friend to the American Express Gold Aeroplan Points Card where I got 10,000 Aeroplan points on top of the 30,000 sign up bonus points for the first $500 purchased in the first three months. I also got 20,000 points signing up for the CIBC Visa Infinite Aeroplan points card as well. I had about 40,000 Aeroplan points already painstakingly collected.
That's enough for a mini-RTW (around the world) ticket through Air Canada or another Star Alliance airline company. For a full around the world ticket with Aeroplan I would need at least double those points. A Round the World ticket would cost 200,000 Aeroplan points and would allow me to have 5 stopovers and one open jaw flight, and includes one transpacific and one transatlantic crossing.
What is a Mini-RTW?
A mini-RTW ticket with Aeroplan is simply a regular reward redemption but it allows you to have two stopovers or one stopover and one open jaw ticket with your award redemption. You can also have up to 10 layovers in each city as long as you spend less than 24 hours in that city.
Flyertalk (this forum for travel addicts for those who are obsessed with airline points) has an amazingly thorough description about the Mini-RTW ticket with Aeroplan made especially for newbies (like me). For example, in the example that Flyertalk gives, for a flight to Japan from New York, you could stop over in London and Paris for a week for the same price (at no additional cost) for that flight to Japan.
Related: How to get Cheap Airfare
Boarding Area, a website geared towards Canadians who are addicted to traveling and using points, is another great resource to explain the nitty gritty of using the Aeroplan stopover advantage.
Both of these websites explain the benefits of using tools like the ANA flight award finder in order to optimize your travel and reduce the amount of fees and taxes that you have to pay.
Can't I Just Pick Any Flight?
The answer is no.
Unless you want to pay a lot of taxes and fees.
The fees and taxes that you have to pay are significant- the goal is to avoid using Air Canada flights if you can help it because this decreases the cost passed onto significantly.
For example, when I inputted a flight to Africa with a stopover in Europe, one itinerary that had a portion of the flight through Air Canada was $800 (normally this flight would cost $2400) which is still a big chunk in savings. When I choose (arbitrarily) a flight itinerary that did not have an Air Canada flight in it, the price of the ticket went down to $500.
Still a Ways to Go
I do still have a ways to go to get more Aeroplan points in order to reach an award redemption ticket with more ‘clout' (or even save another 100,000 Aeroplan points to reach the ultimate Round the World ticket with 5 stopovers. Or I could save more in order to get a business class ticket too (I have never flown on business class, do you think it's worth the extra points?).
Of course, I could just always use some of these points for one way tickets, since January 1, 2014, you can use less points for a one way ticket (which is a pretty good deal since one way tickets are notoriously more expensive than return tickets). Rewards Canada blog has a great list of the updates that Aeroplan made that began January 1, 2014.
Readers, have you ever used your Aeroplan points for a RTW or Mini-RTW ticket?