Aeroplan is the frequent flyer program of Air Canada. The program was revamped in 2020 and, since then, has received good marks from the points and miles community. While Aeroplan might not offer the lowest prices, they still publish award charts and have a large number of airline partners.
Based on our recent travels, I didn’t need to book flights on Air Canada or with any of Aeroplan’s partners until now. That’s because I need to book a positioning flight from Siem Reap to Singapore on Singapore Airlines. The 828-mile trip falls within the lowest mileage band for flights within the Pacific zone.
Economy seats are available and a search on Point.me shows that I can transfer points from American Express, Capital One, or Chase.
Aeroplan is also a transfer partner for Bilt Rewards and Marriott Bonvoy, so you have your choice of transferrable points to use for this flight.
Before transferring points, I went to the Aeroplan website to check if I could book the flight. This was when the plan started to fall apart.
Siem Reap (REP) airport is not listed on the Aeroplan website.
You’ll occasionally run into this problem when booking a flight with a partner airline. The only solution is to pick up and phone and call the program.
I looked up the Aeroplan phone number and gave them a call. The system informed me that they had too many people on hold and to call back at another time. OK then. This setback allowed me to look more into Aeroplan, and I found that this award would cost more than I thought it would.
Firstly, there are $30 in Cambodian taxes on the award ticket, which I’ll have to pay no matter which program I use.
Then there’s a 39 CAD fee that Aeroplan charges for booking flights with partner airlines.
Finally, Aeroplan charges a 30 CAD fee for booking flights through their call center. Several sources say that they don’t waive the fee, even if you’re unable to book online.
The next best option is paying 13,500 points plus $30 to Singapore KrisFlyer. It means paying 5,500 more miles, but I’d save $52. Since we’ll need two tickets, double everything.
I decided it was worth paying the extra fees to save 11,000 points, so I called Aeroplan and put the phone on speaker while I worked. It took about 30 minutes on hold to get a representative, which, for Aeroplan, isn’t bad.
The representative I spoke with was wonderful. It took a while for her to understand my problem and she said it was strange that REP didn’t show up on the website. She found the SQ flight I wanted, confirmed that there was award space available and asked if I would be transferring points to my Aeroplan account to book the tickets since there was a zero balance.
I said that’s what I wanted to do, so she asked me to wait until she processed the reservation and it ticketed before I transferred the points. It took a few minutes for her to take care of things, so I took the time to log into our Capital One account and set up the transfer. She confirmed that the award would cost 8,000 points plus 78.10 CAD. Once she saw that everything looked good, I hit the transfer button.
The points showed up almost instantly in my account. She saw the transfer and proceeded to get our information and payment for the taxes and fees. It took around 15 minutes to complete booking the tickets.
It wasn’t all that long ago that if you wanted to book an award with a partner airline, you had to call to make the reservation. Airline systems have come a long way in a short time to allow real-time searches of award inventory among most partners and the ability to book a ticket online.
Reviewing the ticket, we were only charged 78.10 CAD. That’s broken down into 39 CAD for Aeroplan’s partner charge and 39.10 CAD for taxes (approx. $30). This means they didn’t tack on the extra 30 CAD to book over the phone, which is nice since I couldn’t find the airport on their website.
My first experience with Aeroplan is a positive one. Sure, I wish that their website listed every airport that all of their partners use. Since I had to call, it wasn’t fun to sit on hold for a representative (or be told that they’re too busy and call back later.) However, the phone rep was highly knowledgeable, easily looking up a flight on Singapore Airlines, realizing that I wanted to confirm the award before transferring points and leading me through the process.
If only all calls to airline programs went this well.
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Intra-Asia flights are very inexpensive. Why waste miles on a flight that can be purchased for $100-200? I save my miles for expensive tickets.
If you have enough miles to pay for your expensive tickets, why not use the extra to same money on the inexpensive ones?
Odd but really good to know. Thanks for the pointers. You’ll love Siem Reap.
I have not been charged a phone booking fee — just taxes and the 39 CAD partner booking fee — even when booking between airports that do show up online (though I’ve only booked tickets that couldn’t be booked online because of the way I customized routings). I did run into a couple of instances where Aeroplan didn’t see the airport code I was looking for — good to know that they might be able to book them over the phone!