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Aeroplan Adds Partnership with Gulf Air

Aeroplan‘s quest for global domination continues with the announcement of yet another new partner airline: Gulf Air, the national carrier of the Kingdom of Bahrain.

As of today, Gulf Air joins Aeroplan as its latest partner airline, allowing members to earn and redeem points on the Bahrain-based boutique airline.

Redeem Aeroplan Points on Gulf Air

In line with all other partner redemptions, Aeroplan redemptions on Gulf Air follows the following set of principles:

  • Gulf Air flights will be priced based on Aeroplan’s Flight Reward Chart.
  • Members will be able to book Gulf Air flights online and over the phone.
  • Gulf Air flights can be combined with flights operated by Air Canada and other international airline partners.
  • A $39 partner booking fee will apply.

The partnership is live as of today, August 24, 2021, and Gulf Air flights are now available to book on the Aeroplan search engine.

Gulf Air Destinations

Let’s take a glance through Gulf Air’s route map.

As you can see, Gulf Air’s long-haul routes stretch as far as London, Paris, Frankfurt, Málaga, and Casablanca to the west, and Bangkok, Singapore, and Manila to the east.

In addition, their published destinations include a host of other cities such as Kuala Lumpur, Nice, and Milan, which are likely casualties of the COVID-19 pandemic. As vaccines slowly proliferate around the world, Gulf Air will hopefully be able to restore their full route network.

For now, Gulf Air acts similarly to Etihad Airways in terms of providing another way for Aeroplan members to fly conveniently into the Middle East region, as well as offering easy connections into South East Asia after spending a stopover in Europe, or vice versa.

Gulf Air Award Pricing

The vast majority of Gulf Air’s routes, including all short-haul and European ones, fall into Aeroplan’s “Within Atlantic zone” chart:

Flights within the Gulf region will fall into the first range of 0–1,000 miles in distance flown, costing 7,500 or 15,000 points one-way in economy class or business class, respectively.

Flights that are a bit further into Pakistan and India will fall into the second range of 1,001–2,000 miles in distance flown, pricing out at 12,500 or 25,000 points one-way in economy class or business class, respectively.

Meanwhile, a single flight from any European destination to Bahrain will fall into the range of 2,001–4,000 miles in distance flown, and will cost 25,000 or 45,000 points one-way in economy class or business class, respectively. Personally, I think flying up to 4,000 miles (on a flight of about seven hours in duration) for 45,000 Aeroplan points is an amazing sweet spot.

Finally, flights between Bahrain and Bangkok, Singapore, or Manila fall into Aeroplan’s “Between Atlantic and Pacific zones” chart:

All three destinations are within 5,000 miles of Bahrain, so a one-way flight would cost 40,000 or 60,000 points in economy class or business class, respectively.

Combining Gulf Air with Other Airlines

If you were to combine a Gulf Air flight with another flight departing from North America, your trip would be governed by either the North America–Atlantic or North America–Pacific charts:

For example, flying from North America via, say, Frankfurt to Bahrain and then onwards to Bangkok in Gulf Air business class would cost 85,000 Aeroplan points one-way from the East Coast and 105,000 Aeroplan points from the West Coast.

Of course, we know that Aeroplan’s new “100% rule of thumb” is exceedingly flexible, so even more convoluted routings aren’t necessarily off the table – although pricing will still be in accordance to the total distance flown.

In particular, something like Japan–Europe–Bahrain with the latter leg on Gulf Air should in theory be bookable, since very similar routings on Etihad Airways are proven to be permitted. 

Other Gulf Air Redemptions

Gulf Air also flies a few interesting fifth-freedom routes, including Athens–Larnaca and Bangkok–Singapore, which will cost 7,500–8,000 Aeroplan points in economy class, or 15,000–20,000 Aeroplan points in business class, respectively. It’d certainly be quite interesting to redeem points for a short flight with some Middle Eastern flair on a South East Asia trip once the world opens up again. 

Finally, note that Gulf Air serves a very popular destination among points enthusiasts out of Bahrain: the Maldives. 

Even better, there’s ample award availability at the moment, with up to four business class seats and four economy class seats available per flight.

For those of us wishing to use our Aeroplan points for a trip to the Maldives, flying Gulf Air through Bahrain can be a very viable alternative to flying Etihad Airways through Abu Dhabi, especially since Etihad hasn’t made a lot of business class or First Class space available on their Maldives route as of late.

What’s Gulf Air’s Onboard Product Like?

Taking a look at the onboard experience, Gulf Air’s “Falcon Gold” business class cabin offers an extremely competitive hard product. Gulf Air’s fleet includes the Boeing 787 Dreamliner along with newly delivered Airbus A321neos, both of which have lie-flat seating.

Their flagship Boeing 787s offer one of my personal favourite arrangements in business class: the Apex Suite, which I’ve previously flown on Japan Airlines a few times. The cabin finishes here on Gulf Air look absolutely gorgeous.

Gulf Air 787 business class

Apex Suites are well-known for providing direct aisle access at every seat, and the window seats have an extraordinary amount of privacy and a dedicated walkway to the aisle.

Gulf Air currently flies their Boeing 787s to London, Bangkok, and Manila, with seasonal service to Málaga as well. 

Gulf Air 787 business class

Meanwhile, Gulf Air’s Airbus A321neos have lie-flat seats in a 2-2 configuration similar to Vistara, currently serving Frankfurt, Paris, and a few regional routes.

I’m a little surprised that the Paris–Frankfurt–Bahrain service doesn’t get Dreamliner treatment, so I’d probably look to connect through London or book an alternative airline with direct aisle access instead of taking the Gulf Air A321neo from these major European hubs. 

Gulf Air A321neo business class

Earn Aeroplan Points on Gulf Air

Along with redeeming points on Gulf Air, Aeroplan members can also earn points when flying on paid fares with Gulf Air, according to the following earnings chart:

Conclusion

At this point, it’s clear that Aeroplan has no plans to slow down with their new partner airline additions. As someone who uses Aeroplan as my primary program for booking long-haul premium cabin flights, the addition of yet another exciting airline partner in Gulf Air is wonderful news.

Indeed, I’ve always wanted to visit Bahrain and fly Gulf Air business class, but the airline doesn’t have many other partners through which it’s possible to book on points (Asia Miles is their only other notable airline partner), until now.

I’ll certainly been arranging a trip on Gulf Air’s impressive 787 business class product with some meaningful time spent in Bahrain as soon as I can. 

Beyond Bahrain, the Gulf Air partnership adds yet another option (one with wide-open award space, no less) for travelling to the Middle East, the Indian Subcontinent (including the Maldives), and South East Asia.

Top marks to Aeroplan for this latest airline partnership, and still, I have a feeling the best is yet to come. 

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6 Comments
  1. DenB® YTO

    Sadly can’t build any itinerary between Saudi Arabia and Canada. I guess it’s a political issue. JED-BAH-LHR (all GF) no problem. BAH-LHR-YYZ (GF, AC) no problem. JED-BAH-LHR-YYZ won’t build. Turns out GF doesn’t publish any fares between Saudi Arabia and Canada. “I wonder why”

  2. The Reverend

    I’m not seeing anything in aeroplan search. I’ve tried a few city pairs but no dice

    1. Ricky YVR

      Plenty of dates available. Try say London–Bahrain on April 23.

  3. Laurie Boutilier

    Hey Ricky, you’ve had many months to compare new Aeroplan vs old Aeroplan. Do you find the pros outweigh the cons? You mentioned flying Europe to Bahrain for 45000 points one way. I remember flying Halifax to Auckland for 120000 return. Interested to hear your thoughts on the program. Thanks

  4. Dino

    Seems like it is using the A321 for the Maldives route. Not ideal for an overnight flight.

    1. Ricky YVR

      Certainly beats recliner seats on Etihad’s A320 with nowhere near as much availability though.

Ricky Zhang

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