Aeroplan has announced its next one-of-a-kind travel partner: Rocky Mountaineer, a rail tour company based in Western Canada that offers luxury train services throughout British Columbia and Alberta.
Starting today, Aeroplan members will be able to earn points when booking Rocky Mountaineer excursions, leverage their Aeroplan Elite Status or premium Aeroplan credit card for Rocky Mountaineer upgrades, and redeem Aeroplan points towards Rocky Mountaineer gift cards.
What Is Rocky Mountaineer?
Rocky Mountaineer operates luxury rail tour services throughout the Rocky Mountains. As of now, the company offers rail excursions on four separate routes:
- First Passage to the West: Vancouver – Kamloops – Banff / Lake Louise
- Journey Through the Clouds: Vancouver – Kamloops – Jasper
- Rainforest to Gold Rush: Vancouver – Whistler – Quesnel – Jasper
- Rockies to the Red Rocks: Moab – Glenwood Springs – Denver
Each route offers several different excursion packages of varying duration, across two different classes of service: SilverLeaf and GoldLeaf.
GoldLeaf is a step above SilverLeaf in terms of quality, with a bi-level glass dome coach instead of a single-level coach, larger windows and viewing platforms, and better onboard catering.
Rocky Mountaineer’s trains only operate during the daytime, allowing you to take in the spectacular vistas of Western Canada or the American Southwest through the panoramic glass-dome coaches. All Rocky Mountaineer packages come with hotel nights included, typically at upscale to high-end hotels such as the Fairmont Vancouver or Fairmont Lake Louise.
As you can imagine, Rocky Mountaineer’s luxury rail excursions don’t come cheap. A two-day SilverLeaf journey between Vancouver and Banff or Lake Louise would run you US$1,598 per person…
…while longer packages in the GoldLeaf class of service can reach upwards of US$9,000 per person.
Earn Aeroplan Points on Rocky Mountaineer Excursions
If you’re interested in splurging on a Rocky Mountaineer getaway, Aeroplan’s new partnership now allows you to earn a sizeable chunk of Aeroplan points in exchange for your spending.
- For travel in 2021, Aeroplan members will receive 20,000 Aeroplan points for GoldLeaf bookings and 10,000 Aeroplan points for SilverLeaf bookings.
- For travel in 2022 and onwards, Aeroplan members will earn 2 Aeroplan points per dollar (CAD) spent on GoldLeaf bookings and 1 Aeroplan point per dollar (CAD) spent on SilverLeaf bookings.
The cheapest two-day SilverLeaf journey is priced at US$1,598 ($1,928) per person. Since we value Aeroplan points at 2.1 cents per point (cpp), the 10,000 Aeroplan points would be worth $210, so it’d be equivalent to getting an ~11% discount on your luxury train journey.
(The lump-sum bonuses for travel in 2021 are definitely more favourable, as you’d need to spend $10,000 on a Rocky Mountaineer excursion to exceed them with the spend-based bonuses for travel after 2021, and very few Rocky Mountaineer are priced that expensively. If the prospect of earning Aeroplan points can sway you into giving Rocky Mountaineer a try, it would be best to book a package for 2021.)
To be eligible for these points bonuses, members simply need to call Rocky Mountaineer to make their booking at 1-800-875-9149 and provide their Aeroplan number. Starting at the end of June, members will also be able to attach their Aeroplan numbers using Rocky Mountain’s online booking engine.
Furthermore, the premium Aeroplan co-branded credit cards will also offer an elevated earning rate on Rocky Mountaineer bookings of 2 Aeroplan points per dollar spent. This 2x earning rate is in place of, not in addition to, the regular earning rate for travel purchases.
By paying with a premium Aeroplan co-branded credit card, Aeroplan members can therefore earn a total of 4 Aeroplan points per dollar spent on GoldLeaf bookings and 3 Aeroplan points per dollar spent on SilverLeaf bookings, using their journeys along the rails to get closer to their next journey in the sky.
|Credit Card||Best Offer||Value|
|90,000 Aeroplan points + Buddy Pass||$2,425||Apply Now|
|90,000 Aeroplan points + Buddy Pass||$2,236||Apply Now|
|65,000 Aeroplan points + Buddy Pass||$1,422||Apply Now|
|Up to 75,000 Aeroplan points||$425||Apply Now|
Aeroplan Elite Status & Premium Credit Card Benefits with Rocky Mountaineer
In a very exciting move, Aeroplan has also introduced additional benefits for their elite members and premium credit card holders as part of the Rocky Mountaineer partnership:
- Aeroplan 25K members and above, as well as premium credit card holders, will receive a hotel room category upgrade on the first and last nights of a Rocky Mountaineer package.
- Aeroplan 50K members and above, as well as premium credit card holders, will receive a complimentary upgrade from SilverLeaf to GoldLeaf on any Rocky Mountaineer package for themselves and one other traveller on the same reservation.
Both of these benefits must be requested at the time of booking, rather than being automatically or retroactively applied. Both are currently available only on Canadian routes (excluding the Moab–Denver US route) and are limited to the 2021, 2022, and 2023 seasons for now.
The complimentary upgrade from SilverLeaf to GoldLeaf is definitely the stronger benefit here, as you’ll enjoy an elevated onboard product with a bi-level coach car, oversized windows and larger viewing platforms, and a premium gourmet menu compared to the SilverLeaf product (think Eggs Benedict instead of omelettes for breakfast).
Effectively, if you’re interested in travelling with Rocky Mountaineer and can benefit from the cost savings in the complimentary upgrade from SilverLeaf to GoldLeaf, then the $599 annual fee of a premium Aeroplan co-branded credit card can pay for itself.
Meanwhile, the hotel category upgrade is a bit less exciting:
- It’s only an upgrade to a higher room category, rather than a suite
- It’s only applicable on the first and last nights of your journey
- It’s a benefit that can be replicated quite easily through other means (for example, at Fairmont hotels, by holding Fairmont Gold Status through stock ownership or an Ibis business card)
Still, it’s great to see Aeroplan playing around with creative new benefits for their most valued Elite Status members and premium cardholders, and it’s a concept that I’d love to see expanded within the Rocky Mountaineer partnership and in future partnerships too.
Redeem Aeroplan Points on Rocky Mountaineer
Lastly, Aeroplan members also have the ability to redeem points for Rocky Mountaineer eVouchers starting at $50, or indeed to cover the entire cost of a Rocky Mountaineer package. Redemptions are handled via the RewardOps portal.
Fixed-value eVouchers can be redeemed at a value of 1.25 cents per point, which is higher than the “standard” redemption rate against other gift cards and experiences, although still not a great value at which to redeem Aeroplan points. You’d be better off saving your Aeroplan points for flights, where they can fetch a much higher value (we recommend aiming for 2.1 cents/point).
Meanwhile, redeeming Aeroplan points directly for a Rocky Mountaineer package can fetch a slightly higher value, though it’s still not ideal.
For example, a SilverLeaf Canadian Rockies Getaway Circle excursion later in 2021 can be booked for 488,000 Aeroplan points…
…which represents about 1.62cpp in value compared to the cash price of US$6,542 ($7,890).
Again, if you like luxury rail travel, you probably also like luxury flights, and you’d be better off redeeming Aeroplan points for the latter and paying cash for the former.
Aeroplan’s new partnership with Rocky Mountaineer allows members to earn and redeem points for luxury rail travel experiences, while also leveraging their engagement with the Aeroplan program for additional benefits on their Rocky Mountaineer excursions.
While the price point of a Rocky Mountaineer package might be prohibitive for many travellers, I’m sure there are some Aeroplan members who might be swayed by this partnership into trying out a scenic train trip for the first time.
I’ll admit that I wasn’t very familiar with Rocky Mountaineer prior to this new partnership, and I’m now feeling curious about the idea of a luxury rail journey through the Canadian Rockies or the Red Rocks at some point in the future.
For me, the most exciting component to this partnership is the complimentary upgrade from SilverLeaf to GoldLeaf for Aeroplan Elite Status members and premium cardholders, and I’d love to see this concept being applied to Aeroplan’s future partnerships as well.