Right now 40k Starpoints plus taxes will get you a roundtrip economy class trip to Europe, 65k Starpoints will get you a roundtrip Business Class ticket, and 80k will get you a roundtrip First Class ticket.
Starpoints always transfer to dozens of airlines at a rate of 20k Starpoints to 25k miles. On top of that standard bonus, until August 24, 2015, Aeroplan is giving a bonus of up to 40k miles on transfers of hotel points to Aeroplan miles.
The normal transfer bonus on Starpoints-to-miles plus this special Aeroplan transfer bonus combine to mean you can get up to 56% more Aeroplan miles than you had Starpoints. You can redeem the Aeroplan miles on a cheap award chart on Air Canada flights or any Star Alliance carrier.
If you redeem to Western Europe on United, Swiss, Turkish, Brussels, Ethiopian, or Scandinavian flights, you’ll pay only 40k/65k/80k Starpoints in economy/Business/First with no fuel surcharges.
- How can you take maximum advantage of this promotion?
- How can you avoid the fuel surcharges?
- Where do you search? How do you search?
- Where do you book?
- How good of a deal is 40k Starpoints to Europe or 80k Starpoints in First Class?
Starpoints always transfer to dozens of airlines at a 1:1 rate. For every 20k transferred, you get 5k bonus miles. My favorite airlines transfer partners are American Airlines, Alaska Airlines, and Asiana.
Ordinarily I wouldn’t consider Air Canada’s program, Aeroplan, because Aeroplan collects fuel surcharges on most partners, though not on flights operated by:
- South African
- Air China
Aeroplan is running a compelling promotion through August 24, 2015. Transfer hotel points and get bonus Aeroplan miles. All transfers from the listed partners will be summed to determine one’s bonus threshold.
The relevant transfers for Western Europe awards with Aeroplan miles are:
- 40k Starpoints transfer to 50k Aeroplan miles + 10k bonus Aeroplan miles for 60,000 total Aeroplan miles (50% bonus). This is enough miles for a roundtrip economy award to Western Europe* from the continental US, Alaska, and Canada.
- 65k Starpoints transfer to 80k Aeroplan miles + 10k bonus Aeroplan miles for 90,000 total Aeroplan miles (38% bonus). This is enough miles for a roundtrip Business Class award to Western Europe* from the continental US, Alaska, and Canada.
- 80k Starpoints transfer to 100k Aeroplan miles + 25k bonus miles for 125,000 total Aeroplan miles (56% bonus). This is enough miles for a roundtrip First Class award to Western Europe* from the continental US, Alaska, and Canada.
*Western Europe includes the countries defined as Europe 1 on the chart, Europe 2 is more expensive.
Similar deals are available to Southern South America. Check the award chart to see how many Aeroplan miles you need.
Maximizing Aeroplan Awards
Aeroplan awards allow for two stopovers in addition to your destination.
Aeroplan collects fuel surcharges on most partners. For instance, fuel surcharges of over $500 per person per roundtrip are instituted on Lufthansa economy awards. Only fly partners listed in this article to avoid fuel surcharges.
Searching for Surcharge-Free Space
We want to book our Aeroplan award on partners on which no fuel surcharges are collected. The best place to search for space on United flights is united.com. On an advanced search, tick the box to search only United flights.
Search results–and the search calendar–will only display United flights.
To search for other surcharge-free options to Europe like Swiss, Brussels, Turkish, Scandinavian, or Ethiopian, find routes that they fly and check Nonstop Flights Only on the united.com advanced search.
Once you’ve found your surcharge-free flights, head to aeroplan.com to book them. Aeroplan will have access to all Saver United space, and all partner space that shows up on united.com. You can mix-and-match these partner flights and still have no fuel surcharges.
Booking on Aeroplan.com
Booking the award space on aeroplan.com is easy. Search the dates and cabins you found on united.com. I found award space from Washington to Brussels to Copenhagen to Washington on united.com.
Then I searched for the space on aeroplan.com.
Each flight I found was the top result for the day I searched. I pieced it together for 90,000 Aeroplan miles + $89. That would be only 65k Starpoints at current rates.
Lufthansa First Class
Many people will want to use this deal to book Lufthansa First Class. I don’t recommend that.
Asiana miles can always book Lufthansa First Class for 50,000 Asiana miles one way between the United States and Europe. That’s 40,000 SPG points every day.
With this promotion you’d need 42,500 SPG points for a one way Lufthansa First Class booking with Aeroplan miles or 80,000 SPG points for a roundtrip. That’s no better than the everyday Asiana rate.
Asiana and Aeroplan collect the same fuel surcahrges on Lufthansa flights.
Here is Lufthansa A380 First Class space from Houston to Frankfurt.
Getting the Miles
The easiest way to get Starpoints is to get the Starwood Preferred Guest® Credit Card from American Express with 25,000 bonus Starpoints after spending $3,000 in the first three months. The business version offers the same bonus, and you can get both.
Your Starpoints won’t arrive before this promotion ends, but we’ve seen similar promotions before, so you’ll have Starpoints in case this promotion returns.
It can take up to two weeks for transfers from Starwood to Aeroplan to arrive. The exact award space you want may be gone by the time your Aeroplan miles are in your account.
- Search for award space on united.com for Aeroplan partners on which Aeroplan doesn’t collect fuel surcharges.
- Open an Aeroplan account.
- Transfer the correct number of Starpoints to your Aeroplan account to book your dream award, taking into account the standard Starpoints to Aeroplan miles bonus (20k points = 25k miles) and the special limited time bonus being offered by Aeroplan until August 24.
- When the points arrive, redo your search on aeroplan.com and book.