Following the addition of Etihad Airways and Azul Brazilian Airlines as new airline partners this summer, as well as the ability to book select Cathay Pacific and GOL awards online, Aeroplan is nowhere near finished as it works to elevate itself in advance of the new program launch on November 8.
Today, Aeroplan has announced its latest international partner airline: India-based Vistara, an airline founded in 2013 as a joint venture between Singapore Airlines and Indian holding company Tata Sons.
The addition of Vistara will provide Aeroplan members with a host of new travel opportunities both before and after November 8, which we shall cover here.
Redeem Aeroplan Miles on Vistara
Similar to Etihad and Azul, Aeroplan’s new partnership with Vistara follows all of the principles set out by the upcoming new loyalty program:
- Vistara flights will be subject to Aeroplan’s Fixed Mileage Flight Reward chart, available here, prior to November 8. They will be subject to Aeroplan’s new Flight Reward Chart, available here, after November 8.
- Members will be able to book Vistara flights online at Aeroplan.com as well as via the contact centre.
- Vistara flights can be combined with flights operated by Air Canada and our other international partners.
- Fuel surcharges will not apply on Vistara operated flights.
Vistara’s flights have already been loaded into the Aeroplan online search engine, so you’re free to go ahead and book.
Before we talk about the mileage prices, let’s look over the Vistara route network. As a very young airline, Vistara’s current network is mostly limited to domestic India routes, although it does operate useful regional routes to connect to Dubai, Bangkok, and Singapore at the moment.
If we look at Vistara’s published route map, we see that they have a “bilateral air bubble corridor” going on to London Heathrow, and indeed, the airlines plans to launch temporary flights between New Delhi and London Heathrow as of this month and until September using their newly-delivered Boeing 787 Dreamliners.
In the long run, once the pandemic has cooled down, London Heathrow will certainly be a key fixture in Vistara’s long-haul route network, and the airline has also indicated it plans to serve Paris and Frankfurt next as well.
What is Vistara’s Dreamliner business class product like, you might ask? Well, as a joint venture under the care of Singapore Airlines, it should be no surprise that Vistara has chosen the exact same Stelia Opal business class seats that Singapore Airlines uses on their 787-10s (which also happens to be the same as the Turkish Airlines 787 and A350 business class seat).
I’ve enjoyed this seat type every time I’ve travelled on it, and find it to be an excellent choice of seating for long-haul flights that are not too long, which certainly fit the bill for Vistara’s network out of India.Vistara’s domestic business class product is also looking to change the game, with lie-flat beds on their new Airbus A321neos, a first in India.
Overall, Vistara’s high-quality product contrasts sharply against thee all-around shoddy reputation of some of its domestic peers (*cough* widely-respected Star Alliance member Air India), and should give Aeroplan members who regularly travel to India a welcome new option.
Vistara Awards to Book Before November 8
As we think about the redemption possibilities on Vistara, we may as well separate our discussion into “awards you should book before November 8” and “awards you should book after November 8”, depending on whether the pricing is more favourable in the old or new programs.
The awards that are more favourable under the current program are rather limited. One example might be London–New Delhi–Singapore, which would cost you:
- 40,000 or 75,000 Aeroplan miles one-way in economy and business, respectively, before November 8
- 50,000 or 80,000 Aeroplan points one-way in economy and business, respectively, after November 8
Another example would be something like Dubai–Mumbai–New Delhi–Kathmandu, which would cost you:
- 22,500 or 40,000 Aeroplan miles one-way in economy and business, respectively, before November 8
- 25,000 or 45,000 Aeroplan points one-way in economy and business, respectively, after November 8
I suppose another scenario would be if you wanted to combine Vistara on an Aeroplan Mini-RTW under the current award prices (which are more favourable than the new program’s).
If that’s the case, then you’ll absolutely want to make your booking before November 8, and indeed, I myself am considering booking one last hurrah with the Aeroplan Mini-RTW that we know and love, while throwing a couple of new partners – Etihad Airways and Vistara – in there to spice things up.
Vistara Awards to Book After November 8
Besides these select few instances, most awards on Vistara would be more favourable under thee new program. Why? Well, because Vistara’s route network is tightly concentrated around India, and the new program is generally more favourable to short-haul and medium-haul travel around the world.
Indeed, hopping around India on Vistara will become one of the prime examples of the new “Avios-style” short-haul sweet spot that we had covered in last week’s article.
Remember, India is the Atlantic zone, so awards like New Delhi–Udaipur–Mumbai will cost as little as 7,500 points one-way, or 12,500 points if you decide to throw in a stopover in the middle.
If we allow the second distance band of up to 2,000 flown miles, the possibilities expand even further. Want to string together West Bengal, the Andaman Islands, and Tamil Nadu in the same trip, all for 17,500 Aeroplan points with a stopover? No problem.
And if Vistara launches their routes to London, Paris, and Frankfurt in the long run, then the Frankfurt–New Delhi route would clock in under 4,000 flown miles, which prices it at an attractive 25,000 or 45,000 Aeroplan points one-way in economy or business, respectively.
Personally, it’s been a longstanding dream of mine to spend about a month travelling across India and the surrounding Subcontinent extensively, so I’m extremely pleased to have these redemption opportunities available when the time comes.
Furthermore, I believe the true power of the Vistara partnership lies in the fact that Vistara is a young airline whose route network can only grow from here. Indeed, after their European expansion is settled, I’d love to see them launch flights to places like East Asia or the Maldives next to add to the connectivity in the region even further.
Also, we should touch upon the “Atlantic/Pacific arbitrage” sweet spot here as well. What do you know? Looks like we’ve gotten ourselves a new airline that can bring us to the “7,500–11,000 miles” distance band of the North America–Pacific chart. 😉
So if you’re headed to Delhi or Mumbai, and the distances work out, then you’ll have the very straightforward option of making Delhi or Mumbai your stopover instead of your destination, and then “continuing on” to Bangkok or Singapore instead to save yourself some points.
Earn Aeroplan Miles on Vistara
Finally, as part of the new partnership, Air Canada and Vistara’s frequent flyer members can now earn points for travelling on flights operated by each other.
The earning chart is as follows. Remember that even though the new Aeroplan will move towards a revenue-based earning structure, that only applies on Air Canada flights, and not partner-issued tickets.
However, note that the new partnership stops short of offering reciprocal benefits for each airline’s elite members. Indeed, Aeroplan miles earned on Vistara flights do not count toward Air Canada Altitude status or the future Aeroplan Elite Status, while Star Alliance Gold and Silver benefits are not extended by Vistara.
The work continues to breathe new life into Aeroplan in advance of its upcoming transformation. India’s newest full-service airline, Vistara, has joined as a new partner, bringing the best of Indian aviation into Aeroplan members’ pool of redemption possibilities and promising to boost connectivity throughout the Indian Subcontinent region as it expands its operations over the coming years.
I myself am delighted at this announcement, and I’ll most certainly make use of it when I take an extended trip through India and the surrounding countries one day.
The only question on my mind now: what could possibly be next in this constant drip-feeding of news that we’re getting from Aeroplan in the lead-up to November 8?