Aeroplan continues to spruce up its offerings in advance of the transition to a new program on November 8. As of today, select awards on Cathay Pacific and Cathay Dragon, as well as all awards on Brazil-based low-cost carrier GOL Airlines, will be bookable on the online search engine.
Prior to today, Cathay Pacific, Cathay Dragon, and GOL awards were only bookable over the contact centre, and even then it was often much more challenging to book these awards compared to the regular Star Alliance partners.
This is therefore very welcome news for anyone who might be interested in redeeming Aeroplan miles for travel on these airlines over the upcoming year or so, especially if they wanted to sneak in some last-minute bookings before the transition on November 8.
Redeem Aeroplan Miles on Cathay Pacific & Cathay Dragon (Select Routes)
The partnership between Air Canada and Cathay Pacific was formally launched in late 2016, although I do admit that, for whatever reason, I haven’t given it due coverage here on Prince of Travel.
(In fact, it was just today that a reader had left a comment wondering whether Cathay Pacific flights would be bookable online in the new Aeroplan program, and I had mentioned in my reply that I should cover this redemption opportunity in more detail. Funny how that works.)
Despite being in separate airline alliances, Air Canada and Cathay Pacific’s partnership gives them codeshare rights, as well as the ability to earn and redeem their respective Aeroplan and Asia Miles points currencies, on select portions of each other’s route networks.
Aeroplan members can earn and redeem points on Cathay Pacific or Cathay Dragon flights between Hong Kong and the following destinations:
- Chiang Mai, Thailand
- Phuket, Thailand
- Bangkok, Thailand
- Cebu, Philippines
- Manila, Philippines
- Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia
- Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam
- Hanoi, Vietnam
And for what it’s worth, Cathay Pacific Asia Miles members can earn and redeem points on the following Air Canada flights:
- Flights between Vancouver and Calgary, Edmonton, Kelowna, Montreal, Toronto, Victoria, Winnipeg
- Flights between Toronto and Halifax, Montreal, Ottawa, Quebec, Regina, Saskatoon, St John’s, Winnipeg
The idea here is that each airline’s members will benefit when flying with their home airline, and then connecting with their opposite number, en route to a final destination that isn’t served by their home airline.
However, there’s no actual requirement to combine Cathay Pacific or Cathay Dragon flights with Air Canada flights on the same redemption; Cathay Pacific or Cathay Dragon flights on these routes can very much be booked on their own, or combined with the other Star Alliance partners, too.
Now, that functionality has been rolled out online, and indeed, the award space in both economy class and business class is pretty easy to find:
As will be the case universally once the new program rolls out, there are no fuel surcharges on Cathay Pacific or Cathay Dragon.
Once the new Aeroplan launches on November 8, Cathay Pacific and Cathay Dragon flights on these routes will continue to be bookable online and combinable with Star Alliance and other partners on the same award.
You’ll notice that these redemptions are currently subject to the intra-Asia pricing of 20,000 or 40,000 Aeroplan points in economy or business, respectively, which isn’t the best – you’d be better off redeeming British Airways Avios on these flights instead.
However, after November 8, these will make for excellent redemptions under the new Avios-style short-haul sweet spot that we discussed yesterday. Peep some of these flight distances…
Hong Kong–Chiang Mai clocks in at exactly 999 miles, just under the 1,000-mile threshold for a 7,500-point redemption. How satisfying is that?
Or how about a Cebu–Hong Kong (stopover)–Ho Chi Minh City for 17,500 Aeroplan points including the stopover?
Alas, at this time, there’s nothing to report in terms of Air Canada and Cathay Pacific expanding their partnership beyond these select routes in South East Asia to perhaps encompass Cathay Pacific’s long-haul flights – beyond that it’s something that Air Canada is “looking at” for the long term.
Redeem Aeroplan Miles on GOL Airlines
The addition of GOL Airlines as an online booking partner is perhaps less exciting these days given the current state of affairs in Brazil. However, it certainly bodes well for the future, and adds much-needed convenience and connectivity for Aeroplan members for travelling to South America.
Indeed, when Aeroplan had introduced Azul Brazilian Airlines as a new partner last month, I had wondered if the GOL partnership would be taking a backseat instead. This development proves that I was wrong, and that Aeroplan will implement a two-pronged partnership in Brazil to compensate for Star Alliance’s relative weakness in South America going forward.
I had actually successfully booked an Aeroplan award on GOL before, as part of an Aeroplan Mini-RTW in May 2020 that eventually had to be scrapped.
However, the booking process was painstaking: not only was I unable to search for availbility online before calling in to book, but the award space that Aeroplan agents were seeing did not match up with what I saw on ExpertFlyer, either, so I had to get the agent to check each date one-by-one.
That’s why it’s such a relief to see GOL awards fully bookable online now, in both economy and business:
GOL’s online presence should make it significantly easier to string together any redemption involving the deeper South American countries, which, in the past, could only be booked by awkwardly combining fifth-freedom flights on select days of the week.
Personally, I also find the once-weekly GOL flight between Paramaribo and Belém very interesting, and will most likely look towards this redemption when it’s time to travel through the Guyanas:
As will be the case universally once the new program rolls out, there are no fuel surcharges on GOL Airlines, and their flights are fully combinable with Air Canada and other partners both now and after November 8.
Aeroplan has publicly committed in recent months to adding a wider range of redemption partners to the program, both before and after the new program’s launch on November 8.
While Cathay Pacific, Cathay Dragon, and GOL Airlines are not new partners, the added ability to book their awards online (on select routes, in the case of Cathay Pacific and Cathay Dragon) nevertheless represents a welcome step in the right direction. It also assures us that these airlines will be integrated into the new online booking engine after November 8 as well, opening the door to even more creative sweet spots under the new rules.
Until then, we’ll await to see what other new additions Aeroplan has in the pipeline.
(tip of the hat to Prince of Travel reader Alice)