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FAQ: The Complete Newbie Guide/FAQ to the Air Canada Aeroplan Mini-RTW

FAQ: The Complete Newbie Guide/FAQ to the Air Canada Aeroplan Mini-RTW

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Old Jun 2, 17, 10:43 am   -   Wikipost
Please read: This is a community-maintained wiki post containing the most important information from this thread. You may edit the Wiki once you have been on FT for 90 days and have made 90 posts.
 
Last edit by: jerryhung
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New List of Mini-RTW 2.0 version after Oct 29th, 2014 "enhancement" (i.e. less MPM)

FAQ: List of valid and booked mini-RTW itineraries version 2.0 (post-"enhancement&quot

INTRO

This wiki is taken from the excellent overview in the first post of this thread by FrequentFlyer9000 and is meant as a guide to the Aeroplan "Mini-RTW" for the uninformed newbie flyer. This is a no judgment zone and newbies are welcome. In this thread, the usage of scary acronyms and complicated FlyerTalk insider-speak will be minimized.

Also, this wiki is a work in progress so please provide feedback or make wiki edits if you think something warrants it.

INFO & COMMON QUESTIONS

What is the "Mini-RTW"?

The Mini-RTW is a name given to a type of reward booking using Air Canada's Aeroplan miles. It is actually not a "round-the-world" ticket at all - it is a regular award redemption. Just as you would use 75K frequent flyer miles to go to Japan on another airline, you can use 75K to do so using Aeroplan miles. The difference is that Aeroplan allows you to "stopover" in multiple cities at no extra mileage cost, making it very attractive compared to other reward travel. It should be noted that this isn't really that much better than some other airlines. For example, Delta offers one stopover + open jaw, which is only one stopover worse than Aeroplan's deal. But many of the airlines only offer one stopover and no open jaw. So there is definitely value here.

In addition to your final destination (in which you can stay for days/weeks/months), you are allowed:

•Two stopovers in other cities (stay for days/weeks/months). You are allowed to trade one of these stopovers for an open jaw (where you land in one city, but take the next flight out of another city)
•10 segments (layovers during which you spend less than 24 hours in a given city) <-- this limit may be gone as of 2014/2015

So, disregarding the additional 10 segments, an award trip for Japan could actually look like this:

NYC > Tokyo (destination - one week) > Paris (stopover - one week) > London (stopover - one week) > NYC

You basically get three times the world exploration for the price of one. If you add on the extra layovers allowed, you can turn it into:

NYC > Los Angeles (one day) > Hawaii (one day) > Tokyo (one week) > Seoul (one day) > Hong Kong (one day) > Paris (one week) > Munich (one day) > London (one week) > Washington DC (one day) > NYC

Of course, you don't have to do the above. Spending so much time in airports can be exhausting. But the option is there for you if you want it.


How many miles is this going to cost me?

See the Award Travel chart here.

From North America to "Asia 1" countries: (effective Jan 1, 2014)
•75K in Economy
•150K in Business
•210K in First

From North America to "Europe 1" countries:
•60K in Economy
•90K in Business
•125K in First

...and so on. Check the link for other combinations. Assuming you are stopping in three cities, the city in the most "expensive" redemption zone is the zone you will have to pay for. So if you are visiting two Asia1 zone cities and one Middle East city, you will pay 80K miles rather than 75K miles since that is what the Middle East trip costs (numbers assume Economy class travel).

Which miles do I need to use? Can I use miles from other Star Alliance airlines?

You need to use Aeroplan miles. You cannot use miles from other Star Alliance members, such as United, to book this mini-RTW. However, you can book flights for the mini-RTW on any airline that is in the alliance and has the desired award seating available. You technically do not have to fly any segments on Air Canada at all.

So, what's the catch? What are the restrictions?

There is no catch. However, there are some restrictions on your itinerary. This is where things get a bit more complicated.

Want to find the new MPM after 10/29/2014?
Aeroplan City Pair mileage (new pseudo-MPM) - FlyerTalk Forums

This is no longer valid after 10/29/2014
1) Your itinerary must be within 5% of the total "Maximum Permitted Mileage" (MPM) for the route from the origin to the destination. Even though you are stopping in three cities by using your two stopovers and a final destination, you can define the destination as the stop city furthest away from the origin. Although certain flyers have gotten away with telling an inattentive phone rep that their final destination / "turnaround city" is one of their layover cities to increase their MPM, this does not always work. Sticking with one of your three stop cities is a safe bet.

MPM exist so that you cannot repeatedly fly around the world 10 times on your 10 segments. There is a limit to how many miles you can fly on the reward ticket. MPM guidelines can be found by using the KVS tool or by using Expert Flyer. MPM is calculated between your origin and your destination, one-way. The trips to and from your destination are calculated separately. You are allowed to overshoot this number by 5% ("MPM5"). If you can find a bookable itinerary online that has a mileage longer than the published MPM, this is a "published routing" and can be used even if it exceeds the MPM5. In KVS, navigate to the "Reference" tab, select "MPM" from the dropdown menu, and enter your city pair. MPM information is available under the Travel Information section of ExpertFlyer. It is available to all subscribers, Basic or Premium, and there is a 5-day free trial to ExpertFlyer.com that can be used.

To see if your itinerary fits your MPM limit, you can use the site here to see your total miles traveled: www.gcmap.com. Enter your airport codes separated by dashes to see the itinerary and get the total mileage (e.g. NYC - LHR - NYC). Example here.

TO READ MORE ABOUT MPM: Read this (short) document
2) If you do elect to use an open jaw instead of one of your stopovers, you must schedule the open jaw so that it is in the same "IATA zone" as either the origin or the destination city. So if you are going from NY to Japan to Europe and back to NY, the open jaw cannot be scheduled in Europe, since it is neither the origin zone or the destination zone. The open jaw also cannot be a larger distance than any two legs you are actually flying. In case you are wondering, IATA zones are as follows:

IATA 1 - The Americas (incl. Caribbean, Hawaii)
IATA 2 - Europe as far as the Ural Mountain range, Middle East & Africa
IATA 3 - Oceania, SE Asia, Far East, Sub-Continent.

Remember that if you use your open jaw at the turnaround/destination point, you will only have one stopover to use left. So you would be able to do NYC > Singapore (destination, open jaw) // Tokyo (stop) > NYC. This has one destination, one open jaw (at turnaround point), and one stopover. However, you would not be able to do this: NYC > Madrid (stop) > Singapore (destination, open jaw) // Tokyo (stop) > NYC. Because your 2 stops + 1 open jaw would be more than the two allowed.

3) You cannot land in the same city twice in any one direction. This means that on my way from NY to, let's say, Cairo, I cannot do New York > London > Paris > London > Cairo on the way there, since I would be stopping in London twice in one direction. However, I can stop in London on the way to Cairo and then again on the way back from Cairo.

4) The actual trip needs to be "bookable". It needs to follow certain rules. I won't get into too many details, but anything completely nonsensical in terms of routing is generally not going to fly. But most routes will not fall into this category. Just something to keep in mind.


Do I have to go in the same direction for every leg of the flight?

No. As an example, you can cross the Atlantic twice or cross both the Atlantic and the Pacific once (more like a real RTW trip).


How do I book this?

Assuming you have already planned out your entire itinerary to the dot and have made sure your trip is in accordance with the above restrictions, call Aeroplan and speak with a representative. Alternatively, you can try to book online for free. However, this is not always possible with more complicated routings.


What will this cost me in real cash? How can I minimize fees?
It depends on the region you travel to and which airline you fly on. In general, the more Air Canada segments you fly the more fees/taxes you will pay. Aeroplan does not collect surcharges on non-Air Canada-operated flights. So flying Air Canada internationally will cost you extra. If you use a lot of Air Canada flights in your mini-RTW, your fees could be anywhere from $150 to $400, even sometimes creeping up above $600. Lesson is to avoid AC "metal" (airplanes) if possible.

Every trip will have a $30 cost per person for booking on the phone, regardless of the itinerary.


What are the change fees if I want to change a leg or multiple legs of the trip later?

$90 for changes after original booking. If there is an involuntary change because of flight schedules changing, there is no fee charged. Note that when you make a change, the taxes/fees associated with fuel, etc. may change. They may decrease or increase depending on the previous flight and the new flight. This is independent of the $90 rebooking fee. The $90 is flat regardless of how many of the segments you change. It is not $90 per changed segment.


How do I plan this trip out? Even finding a simple award ticket can be difficult online, let alone one with 10 segments!

Good question. It is recommended that you use either the All-Nippon Airways (ANA) website (guide on how here), the KVS tool (costs money) or ExpertFlyer (costs money), or http://FliSea.com. I personally like to use KVS, but it is not newbie-friendly. It is $20 for 2 months for the "diamond" level service, and $75 for a year. Small price to pay for saving a lot of time, if you can handle the learning curve. ANA is a good free method of finding segments and many people have had plenty of success with it; FliSea is a metasearch tool that uses all of the sites above.

The trick is to do this one segment at a time. So first find NYC > LONDON for the date you want and make sure that the award class you are looking for is available (e.g. Economy low fare). Then do the next leg: LONDON > ROME. Repeat for every segment. Write down the details of each flight, calculate the mileage using the www.gcmap.com resource, and call up Aeroplan to book.

One of our Flyertalk members has built a database with all the Mini-RTW routes that have been flown in the various threads in one simple place: http://www.turnleftat.com/mini-rtw-list/
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Old Jun 3, 17, 12:19 pm
  #1546  
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Originally Posted by Rykoshet View Post
.....I heard they had limited searching to NA flights only -- was that a false alarm?
.....

Did you see this post about half-hour ago?

http://www.flyertalk.com/forum/28397846-post92.html
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Old Jun 3, 17, 2:02 pm
  #1547  
 
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So is the 10 segment limit a YMMV situation where you would HUACA?

Or in general are agents willing to allow 10+ segments?
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Old Jun 3, 17, 5:58 pm
  #1548  
 
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Originally Posted by pentiumvi View Post
So is the 10 segment limit a YMMV situation where you would HUACA?

Or in general are agents willing to allow 10+ segments?
You can take this as a data point. I had 11 segments on my first booking. The agent didn't give me any problem about that (though I have to mention a few times regarding what I use as stopover 1, stopover 2, and point of turn-around. When I called to change my itinerary, the other agent was giving me all sorts of problem, saying I have too many segments. I HUCA and got a great agent who made changes on my itinerary without problem. It's also important to note that some segments were "forced" on me on the initial booking. I wanted to go HND to ICN, all has to go through a connection. I wanted to go HKG to ZRH, there was no direct during the LX fiasco.
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Old Jun 4, 17, 9:29 am
  #1549  
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Join Date: Jul 2012
Location: YYZ
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Posts: 82
So I've been trying to work out a route in J to go YYZ - Tokyo - Hong Kong - Hawaii - YYZ for a little bit - just wanted to share some findings:

HKG-HNL is a very difficult route - you have to stop through either NRT or GUM and availability for HKG-GUM and NRT-HNL is tough, a lot of the times it ends up being only available through HKG-NRT-GUM-HNL which kills your MPM

I then tried to open jaw from Hawaii in the folowing route:
YYZ-NRT (stop)
HND-HKG
HNL-ORD-YYZ

But turns out your open jaw must be in your DESTINATION IATA - despite me trying to protest that you can have it in your origin IATA group - the (actually quite helpful) agent tried to put it through but it was not allowed - so conclusion is that you must go through an Asia 1 city if you were to open jaw with HKG as your destination

HNL is just a difficult place to get to in general in J, UA availability doesn't seem great.

My final route will likely be something like:
YYZ-NRT (stop)
HND-HKG (destination)
HKG-BKK
BKK-TPE
TPE-SEA (stop)
SEA-YYZ

Not sure if this is valid but would get my own RT ticket in Y to HNL from SEA

alternatively I might just go this:

YYZ-NRT (stop)
HND-HKG (destination)
TPE-SEA (open jaw)
SEA-YYZ (hidden city)

Then just buy a SEA-HNL-YYZ ticket which isn't much more than an RT.

Hope this has been helpful - searching this route has been a pain because of the NRT/HND possibility out of asia but not much luck. Let me know if anyone have any suggestions otherwise hope this helps others planning a similar route.
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Old Jun 4, 17, 8:18 pm
  #1550  
 
Join Date: Jan 2013
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Ok so my itinerary is stuck in Munich!

I need to get to YYZ (going westbound) in taking as many F flights as possible.

What are my options?
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Old Jun 4, 17, 10:51 pm
  #1551  
 
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Originally Posted by Rykoshet View Post
Ok so my itinerary is stuck in Munich!

I need to get to YYZ (going westbound) in taking as many F flights as possible.

What are my options?
LH at T-14
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Old Jun 5, 17, 7:23 pm
  #1552  
 
Join Date: Jan 2014
Posts: 651
Is the below (from wiki) also true if it is after the first leg(s) of the trip have been taken?

"What are the change fees if I want to change a leg or multiple legs of the trip later?

$90 for changes after original booking. If there is an involuntary change because of flight schedules changing, there is no fee charged. Note that when you make a change, the taxes/fees associated with fuel, etc. may change. They may decrease or increase depending on the previous flight and the new flight. This is independent of the $90 rebooking fee. The $90 is flat regardless of how many of the segments you change. It is not $90 per changed segment."
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Old Jun 5, 17, 9:17 pm
  #1553  
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No, Aeroplan changed their fee structure.
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Old Jun 15, 17, 11:49 am
  #1554  
 
Join Date: Jun 2012
Posts: 8
Hi everyone, can someone help me out?
YYZ-YVR
YVR-HND (stop)
HND-KIX
KIX-HKG (destination)
HKG-ICN (stop)
GMP-TSA
TPE-LAX
LAX-YYZ

The total distance is 19,813 mi, which is less than double the MPM from YYZ-HKG.

When I called in, the agent said the routing was invalid on the way back (HKG-ICN/GMP-TSA/TPE-LAX-YYZ). Is it because ICN/GMP is not the same direction? She said it would've been fine if I dropped ICN/GMP or TPE/TSA. Or is it because there's too many intercity airports?

Would really appreciate some help.

I checked the return trip from HKG to YYZ on ITA and it was a valid route.
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Old Jun 15, 17, 11:56 am
  #1555  
 
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Originally Posted by tsangbar View Post
Hi everyone, can someone help me out?
YYZ-YVR
YVR-HND (stop)
HND-KIX
KIX-HKG (destination)
HKG-ICN (stop)
GMP-TSA
TPE-LAX
LAX-YYZ

The total distance is 19,813 mi, which is less than double the MPM from YYZ-HKG.

When I called in, the agent said the routing was invalid on the way back (HKG-ICN/GMP-TSA/TPE-LAX-YYZ). Is it because ICN/GMP is not the same direction? She said it would've been fine if I dropped ICN/GMP or TPE/TSA. Or is it because there's too many intercity airports?

Would really appreciate some help.

I checked the return trip from HKG to YYZ on ITA and it was a valid route.
HUCA?
That looks okay

(GMP/ICN, TSA/TPE) should be co-terminals though = valid
but honestly no need to do GMP-TSA if ICN-TPE works


HKG-ICN-TPE-LAX seems a bit backtracking vs. HKG-TPE-ICN-LAX

or you could visit Taiwan first (are you stopping or not?) before ICN
or visit Japan, then ICN, then HKG
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Old Jun 15, 17, 12:02 pm
  #1556  
 
Join Date: Jun 2012
Posts: 8
Originally Posted by jerryhung View Post
HUCA?
That looks okay

(GMP/ICN, TSA/TPE) should be co-terminals though = valid
but honestly no need to do GMP-TSA if ICN-TPE works


HKG-ICN-TPE-LAX seems a bit backtracking vs. HKG-TPE-ICN-LAX

or you could visit Taiwan first (are you stopping or not?) before ICN
or visit Japan, then ICN, then HKG
Thanks for the quick reply jerry! I guess I can call again. GMP-TSA is preferred since it's a direct flight on BR, rather than having connections on ICN-TPE.

The plan is to visit Japan, then HKG, and ICN. I choose TPE as a layover because I wanted to fly with BR instead of OZ from ICN. My initial itinerary was from HKG-ICN-LAX-YYZ, but that was gonna be about $450CAD in taxes per person. I was hoping that flying with BR instead of OZ would save me some change.
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Old Jun 15, 17, 12:12 pm
  #1557  
 
Join Date: Jan 2014
Location: YYZ
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You're probably over the YYZ-HKG MPM

Your return route is 11,167
http://www.gcmap.com/mapui?P=HKG-ICN...SA-TPE-LAX-YYZ

YYZ-HKG is 10,957 on this thread
Aeroplan City Pair mileage (new pseudo-MPM)

This comment you made shows your understanding of permitted mileage is not right. The rule is not that the round trip must be < 2xMPM. The rule is the mileage in each direction itself must be less than the MPM

Originally Posted by tsangbar View Post
The total distance is 19,813 mi, which is less than double the MPM from YYZ-HKG
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Old Jun 15, 17, 12:16 pm
  #1558  
 
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Posts: 8
Originally Posted by Cerenity View Post
You're probably over the YYZ-HKG MPM

Your return route is 11,167
http://www.gcmap.com/mapui?P=HKG-ICN...SA-TPE-LAX-YYZ

YYZ-HKG is 10,957 on this thread
Aeroplan City Pair mileage (new pseudo-MPM)

This comment you made shows your understanding of permitted mileage is not right. The rule is not that the round trip must be < 2xMPM. The rule is the mileage in each direction itself must be less than the MPM
Good catch on the MPM. So I guess the rule of 5% over MPM doesn't work anymore?
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Old Jun 15, 17, 12:16 pm
  #1559  
 
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Just to add, you should be able to just re-order the stops and still fly long hauls on NH and BR to save fees/surcharges

YYZ-YVR-HND
HND-ICN
ICN-TPE-HKG or ICN-HKG direct
HKG-TPE-YYZ

the surcharges for shorter inter-Asia flights on OZ should be much more tolerable than NA-Asia on OZ
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Old Jun 15, 17, 12:17 pm
  #1560  
 
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Originally Posted by tsangbar View Post
Good catch on the MPM. So I guess the rule of 5% over MPM doesn't work anymore?
I think when it switched to the new "pseudo mpm" (using terminology from that other thread), the 5% thing went away and the quoted mileages are the actual caps.
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