Business Class to Europe 45k Miles Each Way with Aeroplan One Way Awards

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Aeroplan, the loyalty program of Air Canada, now offers one way awards to Europe for only 45k miles each way in flat bed business class with no fuel surcharges!

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This is an incredible deal that will last for bookings made through the end of 2014 for flights into late 2015!

It is extremely easy to earn Aeroplan miles, since the program is a 1:1 transfer partner of American Express Membership Rewards and SPG Starpoints. In fact, 20k Starpoints always transfer to at least 25k Aeroplan miles (and sometimes as much as 31,250 Aeroplan miles.)

How can you book a one way award to Europe for only 45k miles in a flat bed? How can you pay no fuel surcharges on the award? How can you get Aeroplan miles?

Aeroplan, which is affiliated with the Star Alliance, announced a new chart for 2014. Here are the roundtrip award prices for awards originating in the US.

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For me, the chart is a bit too expensive to most places, but there are some good values. One incredible value is that awards between the US and Europe 1 cost only 90k miles roundtrip in business class.

That’s cheaper than the price with any US-based miles. And way cheaper than the prices of the airlines that have already devalued. For instance, United wants 115k to 140k miles roundtrip to Europe in business class, starting next month. And Delta wants 125k miles roundtrip to Europe in business class for summer travel and beyond.

And even bigger news with the 2014 chart is that we can now book Aeroplan awards as one way awards for half the roundtrip price.

That means we can book a one way business class award to Europe for only 45k miles!

Europe 1 and Europe 2

In my opinion, the best value on the chart is business class between the US and Europe 1 for only 45k miles each way. (Business class to Southern South America for 47.5k miles each way is my second favorite deal.)

Europe 1 is Austria, Belgium, Denmark, France, Germany, Ireland, Italy, Netherlands, Norway, Poland, Portugal, Spain (incl. Balearic Islands; excl. Canary Islands), Sweden, Switzerland, United Kingdom.

It includes some awesome countries and extends as far as Poland, where I am dying to return.

Europe 2 is Albania, Armenia, Azerbaijan, Belarus, Bosnia, Bulgaria, Croatia, Cyprus, Czech Republic, Estonia, Finland, Georgia, Greece, Greenland, Hungary, Iceland, Latvia, Lithuania, Luxembourg, Macedonia, Malta, Moldovia, Romania, Russia (Western), Serbia and Montenegro, Slovakia, Slovenia, Turkey, Ukraine.

The US to Europe 2 is 52,500 miles each way in business class. That’s not as good of a deal, but it’s still fair value if you have Membership Rewards or Starpoints and want to go to Europe in comfort.

Fuel Surcharges

I haven’t mentioned the one huge drawback of the Aeroplan program: like most foreign programs, Aeroplan collects massive fuel surcharges on most awards.

The two big exceptions, though, are where I recommend making all your bookings.

Aeroplan does not collect fuel surcharges on any United or US Airways flights.

United and US Airways have awesome business class products. I’ve flown United BusinessFirst (as it’s confusingly named) from London to Los Angeles. Rookie Alli flew it from Buenos Aires to Newark. And I’m looking forward to flying it again for ten hours next month. I haven’t flown the US Airways Envoy product, but it is fully flat and looks great.

A fully flat bed in United BusinessFirst for 45k miles and no fuel surcharges.
A fully flat bed in United BusinessFirst for 45k miles and no fuel surcharges.

I say forget about booking Lufthansa Business Class or Swiss Business Class with Aeroplan miles. Book United or US Airways Business Class to save hundreds of dollars.

For instance, a one way from Houston to Amsterdam on a United bed is 45,000 miles + $23.

Screen Shot 2014-01-03 at 5.19.27 PMOr Philadelphia to Madrid on a US Airways bed is 45,000 miles + $24.

Screen Shot 2014-01-08 at 3.02.13 AMBy contrast, Philadelphia to Madrid on in Lufthansa Business Class would be 45,000 miles + $309.

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It’s important to note that the fuel surcharges are coming from the transatlantic flight on Lufthansa.

If you book a United or US Airways transatlantic flight with Aeroplan miles and add on a Lufthansa intra-Europe segment, you will still completely avoid fuel surcharges! That’s excellent news since adding Lufthansa intra-Europe segments opens up a whole new set of destinations in Europe.

As an example of a transatlantic flight on United plus a Lufthansa flight intra-Europe, check out this award from Houston to Frankfurt.

Screen Shot 2014-01-03 at 5.22.02 PMThe award costs 45,000 miles + $45 with the long flight on a United bed. The $45 is completely composed of government taxes.

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Do not get the idea that these intra-Europe flights don’t have fuel surcharges. They do–about $60 per segment. Check out this simple Frankfurt to Amsterdam award on Lufthansa flights. Aeroplan would charge 30k miles + $215.

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And the $215 includes $119 in fuel surcharges.

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So it’s not that Lufthansa intra-Europe segments don’t have fuel surcharges, it’s just that Aeroplan isn’t passing on those fuel surcharges to us when we combine those segments with United or US Airways transatlantic flights! Pretty cool!

This quirk allows us to book things like Chicago to Madrid with one longhaul segment on a United bed and two Lufthansa Business Class segments for 45,000 miles + $76, which is all government taxes.

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Lufthansa also has an extensive network to Europe 2, which is mostly Eastern Europe. It’s easy enough to book Chicago to Bucharest for 52,500 miles + $85 on a United bed plus Lufthansa flights.

Screen Shot 2014-01-03 at 5.27.21 PMAward Searching

You can skip the award searching by hiring the MileValue Award Booking Service. If you want to book on your own, I would start my search at united.com. Here’s how to search united.com.

The key is to find longhaul segments on United or US Airways flights. Those will be the backbone of our awards that allow us to take advantage of Aeroplan’s great miles prices while avoiding Aeroplan’s miserable fuel surcharges.

Here’s my post on how to use united.com to search for direct flights.

Any Saver award space on United flights or any space on US Airways flights that appears on united.com will be bookable with Aeroplan miles. Once you’ve found the longhaul flight you want operated by United or US Airways, head to aeroplan.com.

Search for the full award you want (including any intra-Europe segments) and select a result with the United or US Airways flight you found earlier. Book online.

Getting Aeroplan Miles

Aeroplan is a transfer partner of Starpoints and Membership Rewards.

Starpoints

You can earn Starpoints from the Starwood Preferred Guest® Credit Card from American Express and Starwood Preferred Guest® Business Credit Card from American Express.

Both cards offer 25k bonus Starpoints after spending $5k in the first six months. Meet both spending requirements and you’d have 60k Starpoints (50k bonus + 10k for spending), which transfer to 75k Aeroplan miles. Aeroplan often runs promotions in which you get a big bonus for transferring in hotel points. During the last promotion, 60k Starpoints would have become 85k Aeroplan miles.

Membership Rewards

Membership Rewards can most quickly be earned from the American Express® Premier Rewards Gold Card or The Business Gold Rewards Card from American Express OPEN.

Both cards offer huge category bonuses. I especially love the category bonuses on the Business Gold card.

  • Get 25,000 Membership Rewards® points after you spend $5,000 in purchases on the Card within the first 3 months of Card Membership
  • Built with business-sized purchasing power and fast rewards
  • 3X points on airfare purchased directly from airlines
  • 2X points on US purchases for advertising in select media, shipping, at gas stations, and made directly from select computer hardware, software, and cloud computing providers
  • Up to $100,000 in each category per year, then 1 point
  • Use points to entertain clients, reward employees, reduce travel costs, or just offset the everyday expenses of moving your business forward
  • Terms and limitations apply

Application Link: The Business Gold Rewards Card from American Express OPEN

Membership Rewards transfers are instant, and you can transfer to anyone’s account. Starpoints transfers take days to post, and names must match between Starwood and Aeroplan accounts.

Recap

Aeroplan is now offering one way awards for half the price of roundtrip awards. Many regions on the Aeroplan award chart offer fair value, and a few offer exceptional value like the US to Western Europe for 45k miles each way in business class.

Aeroplan collects huge fuel surcharges. Avod the fuel surcharges completely and pay only government taxes by book the transatlantic flights on United and US Airways flights. Aeroplan never collects fuel surcharges on United and US Airways flights.

You can even add on other Star Alliance partner flights–like Lufthansa flights–within Europe and still avoid fuel surcharges while opening up more destinations than just those served by United and US Airways.

To get in on this deal, rack up Membership Rewards and Starpoints, which are both transfer partners of Aeroplan.




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29 COMMENTS

  1. You forgot to point out you can also fly Brussels Airlines without a massive fuel surcharge. Same for Singapore on the JFK-FRA route (though good luck finding business class availability).

    • Agreed that there are more than two exceptions. There are several European airlines that don’t charge any significant fees for business class transatlantic flights through Aeroplan, in addition to US Air and United:
      Brussels
      LOT ($60)
      Swiss (if you can find it)
      Turkish
      Scandinavian
      That Singapore flight you mention

      It’s really just Air Canada, Lufthansa, and Austrian that are the “culprits”, albeit with a big chunk of the inventory. You can also google the points guy’s summary of fuel surcharges on all Aeroplan redemption partners for more detail, a good resource.

  2. Southern south america is 47.5K is only 2.5K less than 50K with United miles or am I wrong? 2.5K saved is better than 0 saved though

    • United jumps to 55k in three weeks. Plus this opens up a Membership Rewards option and a lot of people have a ton of MR.

  3. Thank you for the excellent post. 2 questions. What is considered short-haul vs long-haul on domestic routes? Also, booking lufthansa first class transatlantic is subject to the same seat availability they release to united, typically 15 days prior to flight, correct?

    • What is considered short-haul vs long-haul on domestic routes? I don’t know. The only time I used those terms in this post, you can replace “long-haul” with “transatlantic” and “short-haul” with “intra-Europe.”

      Yes, Aeroplan only gets Lufthansa First 15 days out and there are huge surcharges.

      • I think the question was referring to the Aeroplane chart you posted that breaks down domestic into short haul/long haul.

  4. Worth pointing out though that if you plan to add an intra-European leg on LH, you should be careful that the flight is actually operated on LH metal and not by their LoCo carrier Germanwings (or EW who operate for 4U). So you may want to stick to LH flights ex FRA or MUC to ensure you get the better product…

  5. Scott,
    I booked with UN miles TPA-MUC last year for travel in mid-June this year. They routed me TPA-YYZ in economy class and YYZ-MUC in business class for 50K and $6.80 in fees. Both flights are on AC. Can I still change the flights to UN/Aeroplane flights for 47.5K or will this entail change fees?

    • They are two different programs. You would have to cancel your United award, which costs $200. Then you would have to book the award with Aeroplan miles. Unfortunately YYZ-MUC must be on an Air Canada or Lufthansa plane, so you would pay big fuel surcharges.

  6. Short vs long haul. Sorry, I should’ve clarified. This refers to the aeroplan award chart, 3rd column.

  7. Never mind, found it on website. Seems like they are mainly regional flights in the provinces and adjacent states only. And only on air canada or subsidiaries.

    • Same $24 or so in taxes on the outbound. Higher on the return, but all government taxes and no fuel surcharges.

  8. The only issue seems to be if you are flying from Europe back to the US (especially out of the UK) you still get hit with large surcharges even on United flights making the fees a lot more than in the examples. I guess the point of this post is more that now you can get TO Europe without paying the fees since they now offer one way flight redemptions. Was hoping to find away around that pesky UK tax. 🙂

  9. I found a saver award 12/23/2014 on United’s website flying from IAH to LHR one way for 57,500 United miles. I then looked for this flight on the Aeroplan website and it prices at 135000 Aeroplan points, not 45000. What am I doing wrong?

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