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

Old May 30, 2013, 10:55 pm
FlyerTalk Forums Expert How-Tos and Guides
Last edit by: jerryhung
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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FAQ: The Complete Newbie Guide/FAQ to the Air Canada Aeroplan Mini-RTW

Old Oct 12, 2011, 8:39 pm
  #46  
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Join Date: Jan 2010
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Posts: 18,686
Originally Posted by LearningToFly
It happened only once, this month. I travel on an award though. I have ten segments, but only LH refused the preselection of seats.
Did you already fly the LH segment.. how was the seat assignment iye..?
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Old Oct 13, 2011, 5:43 pm
  #47  
 
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Originally Posted by Ancien Maestro
Did you already fly the LH segment.. how was the seat assignment iye..?
No I did not. It is the YUL-MUC portion of my mini RTW trip.
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Old Oct 13, 2011, 5:47 pm
  #48  
 
Join Date: Jul 2009
Location: Alberta, Canada
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Never had any problems reserving F award seats via LH either using:

Lufthansa: 1-800-56 FLY LH (1-800-563-5954)
RoninTech is offline  
Old Oct 13, 2011, 5:53 pm
  #49  
 
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Originally Posted by RoninTech
Never had any problems reserving F award seats via LH either using:

Lufthansa: 1-800-56 FLY LH (1-800-563-5954)
Thanks Ronin Tech. That's precisely the number I called to be told they had to keep half of the F seats unassigned before check-in. Puzzling.
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Old Oct 13, 2011, 7:00 pm
  #50  
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Originally Posted by LearningToFly
Thanks Ronin Tech. That's precisely the number I called to be told they had to keep half of the F seats unassigned before check-in. Puzzling.
How many times did you try?

Might be a new thing.. or maybe you got flagged or something..
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Old Oct 13, 2011, 7:15 pm
  #51  
 
Join Date: Jan 2004
Location: YUL
Posts: 957
Originally Posted by RoninTech
Never had any problems reserving F award seats via LH either using:

Lufthansa: 1-800-56 FLY LH (1-800-563-5954)
Originally Posted by Ancien Maestro
How many times did you try?

Might be a new thing.. or maybe you got flagged or something..
Okay. I finally got ashamed and just called back, thanks to you and Ronin Tech. I got a nicer agent and had seat 1K (I was so surprised, I should have asked 2K but...).
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Old Oct 13, 2011, 7:23 pm
  #52  
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Originally Posted by LearningToFly
Okay. I finally got ashamed and just called back, thanks to you and Ronin Tech. I got a nicer agent and had seat 1K (I was so surprised, I should have asked 2K but...).
^

Sometimes agents on the other end, just don't know what is exactly going on.. Glad it worked out..
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Old Oct 13, 2011, 8:37 pm
  #53  
 
Join Date: Jul 2009
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AM, I'm getting goosebumps! Only 36 more to go!!
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Old Oct 13, 2011, 11:42 pm
  #54  
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Originally Posted by RoninTech
AM, I'm getting goosebumps! Only 36 more to go!!
You ever attend the LAHPOA AGMs? I'm the 6'5" chinese guy..

Honestly.. these are just mere numbers.. but will be an honor to take on a title.. which of course could change on a dime based on what the TalkBoard decides.. Nothing in life will remain guaranteed..
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Old Oct 14, 2011, 8:06 am
  #55  
 
Join Date: Jul 2009
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Originally Posted by Ancien Maestro
You ever attend the LAHPOA AGMs? I'm the 6'5" chinese guy..
Hell no, not my scene. Congrats on your title.
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Old Oct 15, 2011, 1:23 am
  #56  
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Originally Posted by RoninTech
Hell no, not my scene. Congrats on your title.
The AGM was pretty peaceful.. considering that there was major fallout from the previous BOD..

Worth the price of admission.. but I can see why most residences just want to stay out of the trough..
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Old Oct 25, 2011, 2:37 pm
  #57  
gba
 
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When booking one of these awards, does the open jaw "segment" count as a segment for purposes of the 10 segment limit?

That is: is YYZ-YVR//SEA-YYZ count as 2 segments or 3?

I know that open jaw segments sometimes count as a "coupon" for ticketing purposes
gba is offline  
Old Feb 24, 2012, 11:13 pm
  #58  
 
Join Date: Nov 2008
Posts: 61
Can anyone clarify the open jaw and stop over rule for me? I called Aeroplan earlier today to try and book:

YYZ-LAX(stop) then open jaw SFO-HKG(turnaround)-YYZ. The guy said this wasn't allowed without trying to book it. Is that true? He said open jaw has to be at turnaround.

Aeroplan is closed now so can't check with a second agent.
goob3r is offline  
Old Feb 25, 2012, 12:13 am
  #59  
 
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Originally Posted by goob3r
YYZ-LAX(stop) then open jaw SFO-HKG(turnaround)-YYZ. The guy said this wasn't allowed without trying to book it. Is that true? He said open jaw has to be at turnaround.

The open jaw must occur at the origin, or the turn around. Therefore your itinerary is not valid.
beep88 is offline  
Old Feb 25, 2012, 9:55 am
  #60  
 
Join Date: Nov 2008
Posts: 61
Originally Posted by beep88
The open jaw must occur at the origin, or the turn around. Therefore your itinerary is not valid.
I think that's how it used to be? Because I thought that too, and so did the CSR. I called again this morning and was able to book it with a different CSR so it seems valid. My understanding is that it has to be in the same IATA zone.
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