Aeroplan Adds Etihad As A Partner. Here Are The Sweet Spots.
In airline news this week, Aeroplan adds Etihad as a flight partner. This means you can credit miles from Etihad cash tickets to Aeroplan or vice versa. It also means you can redeem miles from one to fly on the other. With all new partnerships, there are sweet spots to be discovered. Here’s the information about this new partnership and the sweet spots in Air Canada’s Aeroplan award chart for redemptions on Etihad Airways.
The Air Canada-Etihad Partnership
Air Canada announced the new partnership on June 3. According to the terms of the press release:
- Aeroplan miles earned from flights on Etihad Airways do NOT count towards Air Canada Altitude status.
- Star Alliance Gold and Silver benefits are not extended by Etihad Airways.
Given that Etihad Airways is a non-alliance partner, the miles you earn from Etihad flights and credit to Air Canada’s Aeroplan program will not help you earn status with them. Also, if you do have status with Air Canada or any other Star Alliance partner, Etihad will not honor that status for upgrades, etc. (The same applies to oneworld status when using American Airlines miles to fly on Etihad)
It’s also worth noting that the opposite holds true: you can redeem Etihad Guest miles for flights on Air Canada. However, the real question on everyone’s mind is how to fly Etihad Airways and its renowned product, so let’s see what sweet spots there are in the Aeroplan award chart for this.
Aeroplan Award Chart Sweet Spots For Etihad Flights
Specifically looking at flying on Etihad Airways, what are the sweet spots in the Aeroplan program? Etihad is based in Abu Dhabi AUH airport in the United Arab Emirates. For Aeroplan, that’s in the Middle East & North Africa region. Everything we care about is based on that part of their award chart, which is here.
Canada & Continental USA to Abu Dhabi
Etihad runs 5 direct flights to AUH from this region. They include Los Angeles LAX, Chicago ORD, Toronto YYZ, Washington D.C. IAD, and New York JFK. Here are the Aeroplan one-way mileage requirements for these flights:
- Economy: 40,000 miles
- Premium economy: 67,500 miles
- Business: 82,500 miles
- First class: 115,000 miles
If we compare rates to the American Airlines partnership, American Airlines charges fewer miles for business class and the same amount of points for first class or economy. Now that we’ve got a basis for comparison, let’s look for the sweet spots.
Economy Sweet Spot – Australia
The best economy sweet spot for the Aeroplan-Etihad partnership is transiting through Abu Dhabi and continuing to Australia. Etihad flies direct from AUH to Sydney, Melbourne, and Brisbane in Australia. You can book this for only 45,000 miles one-way in economy. For only 5,000 extra miles, you can continue to Australia!
Business Class Sweet Spot – Sub-Saharan Africa
There is a great sweet spot for business class flights on Etihad using the Aeroplan chart. You could pay 82,500 miles to go to Abu Dhabi, but you can SAVE miles by continuing on to another destination.
For only 75,000 miles one way, you can fly business class on Etihad from the U.S / Canada to Abu Dhabi and then continue onwards. Take their direct flights to Sudan, Nigeria, Kenya, South Africa and Seychelles.
First Class Sweet Spots – Lots of Them!
There are some insane sweet spots in the Aeroplan award chart if we want to fly on Etihad’s First Class Apartments. Etihad flies this product from JFK to Abu Dhabi. From Abu Dhabi, they also fly the Apartments on their A380 flights to London, Paris, Sydney, and Seoul. For other routes, their first class product is a seat, not the apartment option. Here are 3 first class sweet spots where you actually need LESS miles than just flying to Abu Dhabi.
Fly from JFK to Abu Dhabi and then continue on Etihad flights to India, Maldives, Nepal, Pakistan or Sri Lanka. If you fly to just Abu Dhabi and get off the plane, you’ll spend 115,000 miles in first class. You’ll spend only 105,000 miles one way to continue to the Indian Subcontinent region. You save 10,000 miles!
Again, this region becomes a sweet spot. For the same 105,000 miles we just mentioned, take a one-way flight all the way from North America to Abu Dhabi and then to Sub-Saharan Africa. Save 10,000 miles by adding a flight.
Why pay 115,000 miles to fly Etihad’s famous Apartment to Abu Dhabi when you can fly it all the way to Sydney, Australia for only 110,000 miles? This is a huge sweet spot for first class redemptions on Etihad using the Aeroplan chart. You’ll get 2 flights of 13 hours each in luxury and save 5,000 miles along the way.
Cheapest Flights From Abu Dhabi
Speaking strictly in terms of the lowest mileage requirements, what are the cheap flights? Here are the lowest points requirements from Abu Dhabi to fly on Etihad Airways in each class:
- Economy: Indian Subcontinent – 15,000 miles / Middle East & North Africa – 17,500 miles each way
- Business class: Indian Subcontinent – 30,000 miles / Middle East + all regions of Africa – 40,000 miles each way
- First class: Indian Subcontinent + Middle East & North Africa + Europe zone 2 – 55,000 miles each way
Stopovers & Open Jaws With Aeroplan
The real value that comes as Aeroplan adds Etihad as a partner is with Aeroplan’s stopover policies and open jaw bookings. “Open jaw” is a booking where you fly to city A but fly back from city B. Imagine that you flew to London, took the train to Paris, and flew home from Paris. That’s an open jaw flight booking. A stopover is stopping for more than 24 hours in some city in the middle along the way to the city you’re actually flying to.
Aeroplan’s award ticket terms specifically state that open jaw & stopover bookings are permitted if you’re not booking a one-way trip.
26. Stopovers are not permitted on one-way flight rewards.
27. Stopovers and/or open jaws are not permitted on flight rewards with Calm Air.
28. On round trip rewards, 1 stopover or 1 open Jaw is permitted in addition to the point of turnaround.
28.1 Intracontinental Travel*: For travel within the same continent, stopovers are not permitted. One open jaw is permitted.
This means that if your travel involves 2 continents, you can either make a stopover OR an open jaw booking. With Etihad, we can get a free stopover in Abu Dhabi without using any extra miles. You could fly to one city in a region then fly home from another city in that region or have a stopover in Abu Dhabi. And you can do all of that without using any extra points.
Unfortunately, to book these complex itineraries, you’ll have to call Aeroplan at 1-800-361-5373. You will be charged a $30 phone booking fee, but I think you’re saving much more than that in the long run.
Earning Aeroplan Miles
Air Canada’s Aeroplan miles can be earned in 2 ways. For those living in Canada, they have Aeroplan credit cards from TD Bank. For the rest of us, we can transfer miles to Aeroplan in the following ways:
- American Express Membership Rewards: 1:1 transfer
- Barclays Arrival Miles: 1.7:1 transfer
- Capital One Miles: 2:1.5 transfer
- Marriott Bonvoy: 3:1 transfer (plus 5,000 bonus for every 20,000 transferred)
Fees & Surcharges on Aeroplan Redemptions
In most cases, Aeroplan adds “carrier-imposed fees” to their award bookings. A great way around this is to fly via countries which limit or prohibit these extra fees. Then, you’re paying only the mandatory government and airport taxes. With Etihad, the taxes are much lower than some of Aeroplan’s other partners. FYI, for flights not involving travel to the U.S. or Canada, I typically have to call Aeroplan to pay the taxes over the phone. The website gives me an error on those bookings.
More partners are great for our hobby. As Air Canada’s Aeroplan adds Etihad as a partner, you can earn and redeem miles between the 2 programs. Remember that these won’t count for any elite status benefits, but you can earn miles and redeem them for award flights.
We looked at some great sweet spots for economy, business, and first class flights. We talked about saving miles by flying further into these sweet spot regions and also what cities Etihad flies to in some of those. Lastly, we talked about maximizing value by using Aeroplan’s stopover and open jaw booking policies. I’m pumped about these redemption options. What’s your favorite?