The wordmark for Aeroplan, Air Canada's airline loyalty program
Points, Miles & Credit Cards

How to Book Award Flights Through Air Canada Aeroplan

Matt Ortile

Matt Ortile

September 6, 2023

9 min read

Table of Contents

Going has partnered with CardRatings for our coverage of credit card products. Going and CardRatings may receive a commission from card issuers. Opinions, reviews, analyses, and recommendations are the author's alone, and have not been reviewed, endorsed, or approved by any of these entities.

What is Aeroplan?

Aeroplan is the frequent flyer program of Air Canada. You can use Aeroplan miles to book award flights on Air Canada or on any of the airline’s partners—that includes other Star Alliance airlines like United and Lufthansa, as well as Air Canada’s unique non-alliance partners like Etihad or Emirates.

Of the major transferable points currencies, Chase, American Express, and Capital One points can be transferred to Aeroplan at a one-to-one (1:1) ratio. Here are guides on how to transfer points from American Express, Chase, and Capital One to airline loyalty programs.

How to book flights through Air Canada Aeroplan

Step 1: Go to Air Canada’s website and log in with your Aeroplan account number.

If you don’t have an Aeroplan account, make one by hovering over “Sign in” in the upper-right corner, and clicking “Join Aeroplan” in the drop down menu.

Step 2: Go to the flight search engine and click on the “Book with points” box.

Step 3: Enter your departure airport and your arrival airport, and pick your departure date.

Depending on your itinerary, you might have better luck finding award availability by searching for one-way flights and one seat at a time. 

Once you find available flights for your desired departure and return, you can then try booking the flights as a roundtrip—or even as a multi-city trip—on one reservation. (Write down flight numbers and other details as you come across available flights, then use that info to make your complete booking.) The same goes for the number of seats you need.

Step 4: Browse through the flight options.

In Aeroplan’s search engine, you can filter by airline, airports, number of stops, etc. If you’re looking specifically for business class or first class flights, you can select “Exclude: mixed cabin” under the “more options” drop-down menu. That way, you can filter out flight routings that are partially in economy class. 

If you can’t find a flight routing you like, or if the points costs are too high, click the “Modify” button at the top. You might try a different date, or a different departure or arrival airport.

The trick to finding award space—that is, an available plane seat bookable with points—is to be flexible. By traveling a day or two earlier or later, or flying into an airport close to your final destination, you may find more opportunities to fly in the cabin you want for the most affordable amount of points.

Step 5: Select a flight and review your options for fare types.

Once you’ve found a routing that looks good to you, the website will prompt you to choose between different fare types. 

For business class and first class flight awards booked through Aeroplan, a Flexible Reward will cost more points, but it will be exactly that: flexible. If you need to change your dates, you’ll only need to pay any fare differences in miles and taxes; if necessary, you can get a refund on the whole thing for free. The cheaper “Lowest Reward” will require a fee for changes and refunds.

On the other hand, for economy tickets, you’ll have three options. Review them closely and weigh the pros and cons of each, as well as what’s most valuable to you when you travel. Do you need the flexibility of a refundable award? Or are you committed to your date and route? As is the case with a business class or a first class award, more flexibility will cost you more points.

Step 6: Choose your fare type and finalize your booking.

When you select a fare type, you’ll be taken to a “Trip review” page, where you can choose to pay with a mix of points and cash. If you want to cover the cash portion of your award flight (the taxes and fees) with points, you can do that; if you want to save some points and pay a bit more in cash, you can do that too. This could be a helpful option if you’re a few miles away from the standard award cost in miles, or if you just want to save some miles for another day.

Then proceed with your booking as you normally would. Enter your passenger details and payment information, and make your purchase. The points you selected to pay will be deducted from your account, and you’ll get a booking confirmation email in your inbox.

Pro-tip: Pay more in fees, but less in miles. You might get better value out of it.

Aeroplan’s option to modify how much you pay in miles vs. in taxes and fees could be a way for you to get more value out of your points and miles. You just have to do a little bit of math.

Anecdotally, I once booked an Aeroplan award flight for travel on Lufthansa first class, from Athens to New York via Munich—a ticket that would have cost me $7,717 had I paid in cash. The award was originally priced at 100,000 Aeroplan points and about $150 in taxes and fees. Instead, I chose to pay 80,000 points and $395.44.

To determine which booking would be a better value, I first calculated the cents per point (CPP)—the value of a point when I use it to book a flight instead of paying for the flight in cash—in each scenario. I took the full cash price of the ticket and subtracted from it the amount I had to pay in fees for the award booking; then I divided that difference by the number of miles I had to pay. That yields a decimal, which I multiply by 100 to get a cent value.

Put more simply, here’s that math as a formula: 

Cost per point in cents = ((Cash price of the flight - the taxes and fees to be paid in cash for an award booking) / the cost in miles) x 100

So for the original award, the math looks like this:

((7717 - 150) / 100,000) x 100 = 7.57

And for the award I ultimately booked:

((7717 - 395.44) / 80,000) x 100 = 9.15

In the end, I came out ahead with a value of about nine cents per point for the booking, which is pretty amazing. Before booking, I did transfer 100,000 Amex points to Aeroplan, thinking I would redeem for the original award price, but I’m glad I mixed it up. As I write this, I have a balance of 20,000 Aeroplan points that I can’t transfer back to Amex, but I’m not worried. I’ll redeem that for another award soon enough. (Note that Aeroplan points expire after 18 months of account inactivity, but you can reset that timer by redeeming or transferring points.)

Why should I book award flights via Aeroplan?

Simply put: You can often maximize the value of your points and miles by using Aeroplan to book travel on its partner airlines like United, Lufthansa, ANA, and more.

It varies from program to program, but airlines tend to value flights on their own metal (that’s to say: on their own planes) more highly than they do flights on partner airlines. Which is why—sometimes, not always—you can increase the value you get out of your points and miles by using Aeroplan to book an award flight on one of its more than fifty airline partners.

For example, a one-way flight in economy on United from San Francisco to Honolulu, booked through United MileagePlus could cost anywhere between 25,000 miles to 41,100 miles and $5.60 in taxes and fees.

A screenshot of the United MileagePlus award search tool showing flights from San Francisco to Honolulu

That same one-way flight—let’s use United 300, departing at 2:10 PM on March 20—booked through Aeroplan costs only 12,500 miles and about US$45 in taxes and fees. That’s half of the points cost.

A screenshot of the flight award search tool on Aeroplan showing options for flights from San Francisco to Honolulu

Of course, all that doesn’t matter if you only have miles with one airline and not another. But in this example, both United miles and Aeroplan points can be transferred from Chase. So if you had 25,000 Chase Ultimate Rewards points ready to go, you could get a single one-way flight to Honolulu if you booked through United at the cost of 25,000 miles, or two one-way flights to Honolulu if you booked through Aeroplan at the cost of 12,500 points a ticket.

As always, your mileage may vary. Aeroplan prices its award flights based on distance, i.e. the farther you travel, the more points it’ll cost you. Meanwhile, United implements what’s called “dynamic award pricing,” which means that the cost in miles when booking award flights through United MileagePlus varies from day to day, route to route. (For example, at the time of writing, United flight 901 from San Francisco to London-Heathrow on March 20 costs 40,000 Aeroplan points, but only 33,400 United miles.)

What to do once you’ve booked an award ticket with Aeroplan

Now that you’ve booked—or are ready to book—an award flight via Aeroplan, check out our business and first class guides so you can know what to expect on the plane. Aeroplan partners with roughly 50 different airlines, and the bulk of those partners are through Star Alliance, to which Air Canada belongs. Here’s a look at some of those airlines:

Debating whether to book in business class or to splurge on first class? We’ll tell you the difference between business and first on most airlines in this guide.

Though finding award flights via airline loyalty programs can take some patience and practice, you’ll eventually get the hang of it. But if you want someone else to do the hard search work for you, we’ve got you covered. Sign up for an Elite membership today and we’ll alert you to the best deals on flights you can book with points and miles.

Going has partnered with CardRatings for our coverage of credit card products. Going and CardRatings may receive a commission from card issuers. Opinions, reviews, analyses, and recommendations are the author's alone, and have not been reviewed, endorsed, or approved by any of these entities.

Matt Ortile

Matt Ortile


Matt Ortile writes the Going With Points newsletter at Going. He is the author of the essay collection The Groom Will Keep His Name, a columnist at Condé Nast Traveler, and working on a novel about a flight attendant. He lives in Brooklyn.

Published September 6, 2023

Last updated December 21, 2023

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