Best Value Aeroplan Award

Old Mar 31, 01, 8:28 am
  #1  
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Best Value Aeroplan Award

Good value has many measures, so it might be interesting to ask everyone to post what they feel represents the best value award to be found in Aeroplan. Obviously it depends where you wish to travel, and in what degree of luxury you wish to make the trip. Plus how many people are going with you, if any. As has been pointed out many times before, one of the drawbacks Aeroplan has over the old Canadian Plus program is the lack of multi-STAR partner awards. This means one must, for some destinations in most of Africa and even parts of Asia, cash in two separate awards. Compared to the old awards on oneworld, these can be 50% or more expensive. Particularly because BA awards were available at a considerable savings over similar destinations on LH, the only comparable carrier with a truly global route structure in the STAR Alliance. [Even when UA adds it HKG-DEL-LHR flights starting tomorrow, it will not have the depth of reach LH offers, in part based on its colonial heritage of serving the far flung German trade centres of the 19th century. In this, it shares a curious heritage with BA, KL and Sabena, and to a lesser extent with Iberia.]

In my view, the best value award in the Aeroplan program is currently offered by ANA, and was noted a few months ago by one of FlyerTalk's Toronto-based round-the-world fare experts. She noted that between NAmerica and India, the trip in First Class could be done for an award of 130K. It was via TKO, and one had to leave from one of the carrier's NAmerican gateways. No connecting AC flights went with the award, so even this would require a second award on AC or UA to reach LAX, JFK or SFO. This means either an AC short haul award in J for 25K, or a long haul for 40K, depending upon where one is based.

Next best would be UA's similar award in First Class to India for 160K. Benefit here is that AC connector flights to the nearest UA gateway can be part of the award. So if you live more than a short-haul connection from ANA, this is the better option after tomorrow when UA actually restarts flying to DEL.

This compares with the same destination on LH, which require two separate awards: one to get from Canada to FRA, the other to get to either Africa or India. In First Class, this comes to 100K plus 140K, or 240K!

Of course, later this year when AC starts flying to India again, that award would likely be 100K in ExecFirst. That would compare with 110K [+ conncetions] on ANA, 100K on UA, and 185K on LH. Thai awards are out of the ballpark completely, so I have not mentioned them. Nor Singapore Airlines, which are equally high and require separate costly awards from Bangkok and Singapore respectively.

[And of course, CX has been offering Canadian members of AAdvantage a real discount on economy awards, the best deal being a mere 37,500 for returns to either India or South Africa, via HKG. But one must make ones own way to the CX gateway city.]

So, what are you best awards?
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Old Mar 31, 01, 8:50 am
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I thank you for the information, as I will be going to India within the next 12 monhts, with my family.

Some added comments:

1) If AC starts in Vancouver to New Delhi service in October, then Executive First Class (from Vancouver) plus the intraCanadian flights (from me from Ottawa) would be 100,000 Aeroplan miles.

2) I can take a flight from Ottawa to La Guardia on AC (for a minimal fee, on the Challenger jet), and then go on to New Delhi via ANA.

(I thought there was an ANA service to Tokyo from Vancouver, at least codeshared with AC?).

How is the business or first class of ANA compare with the other good airlines -eg Singapore, Thai, Swissair, Virgin etc?

3)On Aeroplan awards, going internationally on Star Alliance airlines, which airlines do not offer connecting AC flights to their North American gateways, besides ANA?

4)The advantage with UA is that one can obtain combined AC/UA awards - from Ottawa I can go to London on AC via Ottawa, or Toronto, or Montreal. If I go via Ottawa - then only 2 flights (similar to going via Vancouver on AC from this Oct).

A corollary question to your question is what is the best (business class or first class) around the world award with Air Canada's Star Alliance partners?
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Old Mar 31, 01, 8:58 am
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Shareholder, sorry for the repeat comment on AC, except to say that AC's Executive First is a hybrid between business and first class.

Two other comments:

1) I saw in the web site that UA first class to Asia from North America is 120K, not 160K (unless India is considered separately from the rest of Asia?).

2)Which of the Star Alliance members have;

1) sleeper beds on first or business class?
2) individual video systems (including video games) at each first/business class seat?
3)individual (free) internet access at each first/business class seats?
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Old Mar 31, 01, 9:58 am
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India is not considered Asia for awards on UA, it is a separate category. [Asia in airline terms has come to mean the Pacific rim countries, and not the Indian subcontinent.] I believe the new round-the-world UA1 service will be using their First Suites. You would only be able to use connecting AC flights on a UA award on a transborder flight to get to a UA gateway, not do it through LHR. Or even to a Canadian city from which UA or UAExpress flies, like YYZ or YVR.

You can, at present, only combine two STAR carriers on some awards. AC to get you to the other carrier's nearest NAmerican gateway. Otherwise there are no combined multi-carrier awards as found in oneworld. And codeshare flights are often ineligible for awards. Varig, Air New Zealand and UA are the only two STAR carriers I can find that permit AC connecting flights as a part of an award. Not sure about new entrants like Austrian/Lauda. And I don't believe Aeroplan has an around-the-world award anymore. [There may be one offered on UA now that this new service has started up.]

While I don't want to start a storm of protests, I would have to say AC's business class service [ExecutiveFirst] is just that. While they like to say it is a hybrid of First and Business, with the changes being brought by carriers like BA, UA, CX, AF and others offering a true First Class [i.e. full sleeper seats in self-contained spaces] and even many who are introducing similar, albeit less elaborate sleepers in Business, AC's front cabin is only enhanced in having a bit more leg room, though this varies by aircraft type and has little consistency. In flight service certainly is in the ordinary Business Class category, as are the amenities. For that, it is a very good Business Class product, but in need of an upgrading to keep competitive.

Only UA has the full sleeper units in First Class. Haven't a clue about inflight entertainment systems on STAR carriers. Nobody as yet has internet connection from the seat unless you want to hook your computer into the pay phone system. AC's is still a prototype experiment and only on domestic-configuration 767s.
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Old Mar 31, 01, 10:31 am
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India usually is seperate from Asia in most airlines award charts. Asia usually refers to the countries in East Asia.

Taken from UA's website the award travel mileage requirements for travel to India from US and Canada are:

Saver Awards:
80,000 Economy
110,000 Business
130,000 First

Shareholder: You mentioned 160K for a first class trip to India. I was wondering if that was a Standard Award mileage rather than the Saver Award mileage.
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Old Mar 31, 01, 11:18 am
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What is the difference between a Standard and Saver Mileage Award?

However, those awards refer to UA mileage awards.

To question Shareholder and bLuJaay further, what is the Aeroplan mileage required for first class to India on UA. I just looked at the AC web site - the Aeroplan section just deals with Asia, and only the Pacific Rim countries. It does not say the mileage required for India. The UA web site presumably says 160K? to go first class to India - however, the Aeroplan mileage requirements do not necessarily have to be identical to the UA mileage requirements for the same itinerary on UA?
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Old Mar 31, 01, 11:27 am
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FlyerGoldIII:

The difference between the saver award from the standard award is that the saver usually has blackout periods as well as can only be used during a certain time of the year. I think it's usually between (Nov-Apr) with parts of December and January usually blacked out.

For a First Class ticket on United on a Saver award would cost you 130,000 Aeroplan miles. Im not sure about the Standard award though.
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Old Mar 31, 01, 12:27 pm
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The long-haul North American award can be quite valuable if it includes segments on First Air in the north. First Air flights are usually very expensive.

This summer I am flying Miami to Yellowknife. Total miles: 3550 each way (same as Toronto-London). Cost of a restricted seat sale ticket in economy: $1150. Aeroplan points required: 25,000, or the same as Miami to Toronto.

The award would be even more valuable if I were flying to some place like Inuvik or Resolute.
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Old Mar 31, 01, 12:31 pm
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You are correct to note the current UA Mileage Plus award chart gives 130K as the number of points for a Saver award to India in First Class. Because AC has not posted this new award on its current UA chart, I went to the one used two years ago when UA still flew to India. That's where I got my figure of 160K. If AC adopts the new UA levels -- since most of the other awards are identical, this is highly likely -- then bLujaay is correct. All AC awards on UA are Saver ones, since they are at the lower level and more restricted. UA reserves the higher cost, limited blackout awards for its own Mileage Plus members.
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Old Mar 31, 01, 1:30 pm
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This means one must, for some destinations in most of Africa and even parts of Asia, cash in two separate awards.
It's worse than that. Even into Europe, unless you are flying to a Star Alliance carrier's home country, you're still going to require 2 tickets and pay the exhorbitant points. Istanbul and Athens are just two examples. (And sometimes even into the carrier's home country will still require 2 awards.)
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Old Mar 31, 01, 4:46 pm
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My first choice would by a UA or NZ First to Australia or AC Executive First to Australia. Only 100k-125k miles and great comfort to a wonderful country!
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Old Mar 31, 01, 5:25 pm
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I agree with BB that premium class to Australia is good value (almost 24 hours from YYZ and usually $10000 or more). While I have a suspicion that AC ExecFirst (100000 points) beats both UA Biz (100000, though interestingly UA only charges their MP members 90 000) and ANZ biz (again 100000), the thought of waking up in the middle of the flight in HNL doesn't sound so good. I would rather just sleep from SFO or LAX to SYD, and would thus use 120 000 points for UA, or 130 000 for ANZ, both in First. However, because you can combine award travel on UA or ANZ and AC, it would be nice, for 100000 points, to fly AC one-way, stopping over in HNL, and then ANZ or UA back via LAX or SFO.

On another note, UA within Asia is good value (20K/30K/40K) as you can do expensive routings, like SIN-PEK via NRT, for only 40K in First. I did something similar a couple of years ago and flew international first for a distance as long as BOS-LHR, with a stopover in Japan, and only used 40K. (UA was selling the same routing for more than 7000 CAD.)
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Old Mar 31, 01, 5:50 pm
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I didn't think you could combine going UA one way and AC the other. Something change?
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Old Mar 31, 01, 5:55 pm
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The other thing I like about the AC award as an Aeroplan SE member, you can change the dates of travel without much hassle. On UA or NZ, make sure you like your dates once you leave--no changes.
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Old Mar 31, 01, 8:33 pm
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My vote is HNL as I start in YHZ and get Exec. First service from/to YYZ for 60K points.
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