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Aeroplan’s Domestic Partners: Canadian North, Calm Air, and Air Creebec

As the second-largest country in the world, one could spend a lifetime exploring Canada and still have a lot left to see.

From the coastal rainforests of British Columbia to the endless summer nights and pristine fjords of Canada’s north, from the rugged peaks of the Rocky Mountains to the majestic icebergs floating by the coast of Newfoundland – adventures abound for those who seek them.

Accessing remote places can be a difficult task, especially as major airlines may not cater to very remote destinations. In Canada, Air Creebec, Canadian North, and Calm Air are three airlines that serve Northern communities – and luckily, they are also Aeroplan partners.

As these airlines fly to very remote locations that cost a small fortune to travel to, you are likely to get significant value by using your Aeroplan points rather than booking a cash fare. 

Let’s have a look at the destinations served by these airlines and how to book them using Aeroplan points.

In This Post

1. Canadian North

Canadian North connects 25 communities in the Yukon, Northwest Territories, Nunavut, and Nunavik (Northern Quebec) with several territorial and provincial hubs. The Inuit-owned airline is headquartered in Kanata, Ontario (just outside of Ottawa), and its fleet consists of Boeing 737, ATR 42 turboprop, and De Havilland Dash-8 turboprop aircraft.

As depicted in the above route map from FlightConnections, passengers can access Canadian North’s flight network in Montreal, Ottawa, Toronto, Winnipeg, and Edmonton. It is possible to combine a reservation with Air Canada with a Canadian North flight, which is a valuable option for those who don’t live in any of the provincial hubs that the airline serves.

If you are a revenue passenger, you can earn Aeroplan points, but not Status Qualifying Miles, on Canadian North-operated flights. They also have an in-house loyalty program called Aurora Rewards, and interestingly, you can double-dip and earn both Aeroplan and Aurora Rewards points on paid bookings. 

Canadian North is also a redemption partner with Aeroplan. You can search for and book award space on the Aeroplan website. Or, you can search for availability one week at a time using ExpertFlyer.

As flight schedules can involve overnight stops that exceed the usual 12-hour layover rule for domestic bookings, you may have to add a stopover to make the itinerary valid.

Redemptions with Canadian North are subject to the distance bands Aeroplan Flight Reward Chart. So, the farther the fly, the more you’ll pay. 

For example, a one-way flight from Toronto to Iqaluit clocks in at 1,456 miles, placing it in the second distance band on the Within North America chart. This means that a one-way flight in economy should cost 10,000 Aeroplan points.

A search on Aeroplan confirms this, along with a modest $81 in taxes and fees.

 

The lowest cost for a cash ticket on this same flight prices out at $542.33, which after taking into account the $81 in taxes and fees, would equate to a value of around 4.6 cents per point. This is well above our current valuation of Aeroplan points at 2.1 cents per point.

Iqaluit, Nunavut
Iqaluit, Nunavut

It’s also possible to combine Air Canada or other partner airlines with Canadian North right on the Aeroplan search engine. If you’re connecting from another Canadian city that Canadian North doesn’t serve, it will show in the search results and will be subject to dynamic pricing.

If there’s not an Air Canada flight on your itinerary, the cost won’t be subject to dynamic pricing, as you’d be flying with partner airlines only.

Looking at the route map, I can see so many destinations to add to my Canadian bucket list. Grise Fiord, Canada’s northernmost civilian settlement, is located on the 76th parallel, which gets 24 hours of sunlight during the summer solstice and similar twilight during the winter solstice. 

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With the ability to combine Air Canada flights on either side of a redemption with Canadian North, it would be interesting to fly from the southernmost airport from which Air Canada operates (Windsor, Ontario) to the northernmost airport to which Canadian North operates (Grise Fiord), spanning a whopping 34 lines of parallel.

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Unfortunately, Canadian North hasn’t yet resumed service to Grice Fiord, but here’s an example from last year that shows the kind of value you can squeeze from Aeroplan points.

The price of Air Canada round-trip flights between Windsor and Ottawa was $290 for April 2021, while the then price for Canadian North round-trip flights between Ottawa and Grise Fiord was an astounding $4,609.69. 

Assuming that the cost in Aeroplan points would hover around 20,000 points plus a modest cost in taxes and fees, this would work out to be an astounding redemption value, upwards of 15 cents per point.

I’ve been eyeing up a second trip to Nepal to do some trekking, but instead, maybe I’d fly into Pangnirtung (YXP) to see Thor Peak in Auyuittuq National Park on Baffin Island. I was once regaled with an epic story of trekking and watching people base jump in this National Park, and I would love to see it with my own eyes one day soon (although I wouldn’t get anywhere close to base jumping).

2. Calm Air

Calm Air operates flights within and between Manitoba and Nunavut. The airline has hubs in Winnipeg, Thompson, and Rankin Inlet. The airline has a fleet of ATR 42 and ATR 72 turboprop aircraft, and also has access to a Canadian North Boeing 737, which it uses to fly between Winnipeg and Rankin Inlet.

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Calm Air is a redemption partner with both Aeroplan and Air Miles. Unlike with Canadian North, you cannot earn miles from paid Calm Air flights, but they do have an in-house program called Calm Rewards.

Unfortunately, Calm Air redemptions cannot be combined with any Air Canada flights, so you’ll have to do two separate redemptions if you need to get to any of the Calm Air destinations.

Calm Air handles all inquiries for Aeroplan and Air Miles redemptions. To check for award availability, you will need to look up your desired flights and then call the Calm Air contact centre to inquire about award space. In my experience, the agents are friendly and knowledgeable, with a minimal wait time.

Once you have found award space, Calm Air processes everything from their end, meaning that you won’t be subjected to the dulcet tones of Aeroplan’s hold music for once. 😉

One-way flights on all of Calm Air’s network cost 7,500 Aeroplan points plus taxes and fees. You can calculate the approximate taxes and fees by heading to Calm Air’s website, loading up your flights, and then adding all fees minus the base fare.

In the below example of a Winnipeg–Churchill dummy search, we can see that an Aeroplan redemption on the same route would cost 15,000 Aeroplan points plus around $322.02 in taxes and fees. This still offers excellent value for your Aeroplan points, working out well over 10 cents per point.

Unless you have personal or familial connections to any of Calm Air’s destinations (or if you want to take a page out of Crosscountry Canada and pick up some copper in Thompson), the most likely sweet-spot here is booking to Churchill, Manitoba.

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Suppose you live in Toronto and want to take a week-long trip to Churchill to catch a glimpse of the polar bears, kayak with beluga whales, and soak in the aurora borealis.

The current lowest price for a round-trip between Toronto and Winnipeg costs $403 with Air Canada in September, and the lowest cost for your flights between Winnipeg and Churchill is $1,484 (and these flights can go for much, much higher), for a grand total of $1,887. 

(The train between Winnipeg and Churchill, which takes almost two days each way, costs between $430–500 for an upright seat, so you decide to scrap that idea as you have a limited time-frame.)

Polar bear tour in Churchill, Manitoba
Polar bear tour in Churchill, Manitoba

You’re able to find a round-trip ticket from Toronto to Winnipeg for 20,000 Aeroplan points plus $90 in taxes and fees.

A round-trip Aeroplan redemption with Calm Air from Winnipeg to Churchill would cost an additional 15,000 Aeroplan points plus around $330 in taxes and fees. 

So, for a total cost of 35,000 Aeroplan points and $420, you are getting a very strong 4.19cpp in value. The value would be even higher if you planned your trip during peak tourist season, as the cash price of flights to/from Churchill would be much higher.

In either case, the money saved by using points can be put to good use paying for lodging, tours, and having a fulfilling once-in-a-lifetime experience.

One thing to note is that Calm Air has a different cancellation policy for Aeroplan redemption flights. If you need to cancel, you can have your miles redeposited for a fee of $78.75 per passenger. Unfortunately, the taxes and fees on the redemption are non-refundable, so you may be out a fair bit of money if your plans change.

3. Air Creebec

Air Creebec is a regional airline based in Val d’Or, Quebec. The airline serves 16 destinations in Quebec and Ontario, located mainly along the shores of James Bay. Its fleet of Hawkers and Dash-8s flies out of hubs in Timmins, Val d’Or, and Montreal. 

Air Creebec is both an earning and redemption partner with Aeroplan. Similar to Canadian North, you can combine Air Canada flights on the same redemption, but you’ll have to call Aeroplan to book, as Air Creebec’s inventory isn’t loaded on the Aeroplan search engine yet.

As all of Air Creebec’s destinations are within Quebec and Ontario, all flights within their network would measure less than 1,500 miles. This means that you’ll pay anywhere from 6,000–10,000 Aeroplan points for a one-way flight.

If you combine these flights with a connecting flight with Air Canada, you’ll be subject to dynamic pricing and to the other distance bands, depending on how far you fly.

While the destinations that Air Creebec serves may not be considered typical holiday destinations, I found plenty of inspiration on the airline’s website and the region’s tourism website.

There are plenty of outdoor-oriented adventures, immersive cultural experiences, and stays in pristine natural areas at your disposal. Sometimes, it’s nice to do a digital detox, and staying in a cabin on a remote lake would fit that bill perfectly. 

Lac Matagami, Quebec
Lac Matagami, Quebec

While I’ve yet to make a booking with Air Creebec using Aeroplan points, I recall that the taxes and fees amounted to around $150 for a round-trip flight.

Conclusion

Aeroplan’s domestic partners open up the possibility to travel to places where few people ever visit.

As with some aspirational flight redemptions, using points can save you hundreds, if not thousands, of dollars, while exposing yourself to unique cultures, breathtaking landscapes, and unforgettable adventures without getting a stamp in your passport.

If you’ve visited any of the destinations served by Canadian North, Calm Air, or Air Creebec, I encourage you to share it on the Prince of Travel Elites Facebook group, as you are likely to inspire many of your fellow Canadian Miles & Points enthusiasts.

As much as I have been spoiled by stays in five-star hotels and the champagne and caviar in First Class, I am no stranger to a more rustic adventure in my own backyard, and I’d love to hear some first-hand accounts of your experiences as I plan my own.

12 Comments
  1. Lawrence Yanover

    I did indeed use my Aeroplan points with Calm Air last year to fly to Churchill. As you said, we booked Toronto to Winnipeg and a separate itinerary to Churchill. Calm Air was very good when calling the redemption and adjusting schedules as they constantly changed. You will likely need to overnite in Winnipeg at least one way. Make sure to see Museum of Human Rights and the new Inuit Art Museum. As for Nunavut, everyone there has an Aeroplan credit card to use for the Ottawa to Iqaluit flight with Canadian North. Best use of points in Canada

  2. Bylo Selhi

    > I’ve been eyeing up a second trip to Nepal to do some trekking, but instead, maybe I’d fly into Pangnirtung (YXP) to see Thor Peak in Auyuittuq National Park on Baffin Island.

    Just so you know, once you get to Pang you’ll need to hire a boat to get to the start of a multi-day backpacking trip to get to Thor (and Asgard and oh so many other beautiful mountains) and arrange for that boat to bring you back to Pang or Qikiqtarjuaq a week or so later. You’ll also need to convince Parks Canada that you know what you’re doing in order to get a permit. And you better actually know what you’re doing up there because if you need a rescue you’ll pay $1,000s. (And no, they don’t accept AP miles.) What I’m trying to say is that Auyuittuq isn’t for casual sightseers. But if you’ve got what it takes it’s a trip you’ll never forget.

  3. SylvieR

    Thanks T.J. to put the North on the map – so to speak. One of the main reason Northerners collect Aeroplan miles is to indulge themselves with a 15,000 points travel South instead of paying the excruciating fees that Canadian North asks from their trapped customers – there is no airline competition (Iqaluit-Ottawa return used to be a staggering $2,500, which makes one wonder how it can now be as low as $850). Two things to note: Ulukhatok is in NWT; and Nunavut is currently not open to visitors unless they get the ok from the territorial government and go through a mandatory 2 weeks isolation period. That said, it is beautiful and worth keeping on your bucket list for when the travel restriction are lifted.

  4. YYC Flyer

    Thanks Ricky for the article. Is it not possible to combine an Air Canada flight from YYZ with the Calm Air redemption to Churchill?

    1. YYC Flyer

      Sorry I meant thanks TJ!

      1. T.J. YQQ

        Thanks for reading and commenting! Unfortunately, Calm Air does not allow combined bookings with Air Canada flights (Canadian North and Air Creebec do, though). If you can squeeze in a trip before October 15th to take advantage of the 50% mileage refund, you’d be getting even more value out of the booking (as long as it’s safe to fly to Churchill), especially with a short-haul reward.

  5. Alice

    Thanks Ricky for this wonderful post reminding us what we have in our own backyard. Churchill, Manitoba has been on my bucket list for two years now, I think it is time to put my points aside and plan trips to Canadian North. I had a trip to Whitehorse a few years back and loved every minute of it.

    1. Eric

      Send your thanks to TJ on this one! lol

    2. Alice

      Sorry, I meant, thank you T.J.!!!!

      1. T.J. YQQ

        Thanks for your reply! The Yukon is really high on my list of Canadian places to visit, too (especially during the summer). I hope you get to visit Churchill soon – it looks like an incredible place to visit.

  6. Peter Roszak

    Great article, this is the stuff I wish I knew a few years ago. I travelled to Churchill and paid the full revenue ticket price to see the Polar Bears during season on October, it just never occurred to me they could have been an Aeroplan partner. Hope are restrictions are lifted to Northern Manitoba by this time can visit again, that’s something as a Canadian everyone should do at least once!

    1. T.J. YQQ

      That sounds like an incredible experience. The domestic partner airlines are buried beneath the Fixed Mileage Flight Rewards table, but they are definitely a great way to get more value out of your Aeroplan miles.

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