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Aeroplan Mini-RTW: Strategies for Booking Before September 1 Ricky July 22, 2019

Aeroplan Mini-RTW: Strategies for Booking Before September 1

Last week, we learned that the Aeroplan Mini-RTW in its current form would be disappearing as of September 1, 2019.

On that date, the current stopover policies, which allow you to add either two stopovers or one stopover and one open-jaw on a round-trip ticket, will change to only allow one stopover or one open-jaw instead.

(For simplicity’s sake, whenever I refer to “two stopovers” under the old rules in this article, I’m also referring to the alternate possibility of having one stopover and one open-jaw. And whenever I refer to “one stopover” under the new rules, I’m also talking about the possibility of having an open-jaw instead.)

August 31, 2019 is therefore the last day to book an epic trip under the old rules. But that’s the last day to book – how far out can you actually travel? And is it possible to extend these travel dates further into the future by making changes to your Aeroplan itinerary? The answer might be more complex than you’d think.

If You Book Before September 1, Old Rules Will Apply

After learning about the upcoming rule change on September 1, one of the first questions I had was whether the new rules would apply to bookings made before that date. 

In other words, if you booked an Aeroplan Mini-RTW with two stopovers prior to September 1, and needed to make a change to it afterwards, could you still keep your two stopovers, or would you be “forced” to give one of them up when making the change?

I called Aeroplan soon after the changes were announced to clear up this question, and was told that the old stopover rules would definitely be honoured on bookings made before September. In addition, I was assured that this would be the case regardless of whether you changed the dates, destinations, routing, or class of service, and regardless of how much you changed them – as long as the ticketing date was before September 1, 2019, the two-stopover allowance would apply. 

This is encouraging, because it means that if you were to book your Aeroplan Mini-RTW on or before August 31, 2019, then you could make changes to it after that date and still remain assured of having two stopovers on the ticket.

But this is also great news for those of you who, at the moment, don’t have enough Aeroplan miles in your account to book your desired Aeroplan Mini-RTW, but were planning on earning those miles sometime later this year to book your trip.

If you’re in this position, you can “lock in” an Aeroplan Mini-RTW with two stopovers as long as you book something containing two stopovers, on or before August 31, 2019 – it doesn’t even have to be in your desired class of service! You can then make changes later on, and you’ll continue to be granted two stopovers. 

I’ll talk more about the possibilities below. First, we should also consider the question of how much you can change the travel dates if you were to make a change to your booking…

If You Make Changes Before Travel Commences…

Before these changes were announced, many of us had assumed that the Mini-RTW sweet spot was here to stay until at least June 2020, and therefore that we’d be able to book a two-stopover trip around the world until well into 2021.

Clearly, we were mistaken. But the above revelations that the old rules will still apply on pre-September bookings does raise the question: can we make a booking before September and then change the ticket in order to extend our window of travel into late 2020 and perhaps even 2021?

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The answer here rests on a subtle distinction in terms of when you make the change. 

If you make changes to the itinerary before travel commences (i.e., before the first flight on the ticket has been taken), then you cannot push the window of travel further back, because the trip must conclude within one year of your original ticketing date. 

Let’s assume you made an Aeroplan Mini-RTW booking at the last minute on August 31, 2019, for travel in summer of 2020. Come February 2020, if you wanted to change this round-the-world trip into a winter getaway that takes place during the festive season instead, you would not be able to do that: your whole trip must take place by August 31, 2020, because that’s one year from the original ticketing date.

If You Make Changes After Travel Commences…

But the rule is different for changes made after travel commences (i.e, after the first flight on the ticket has been taken). When making these types of changes, the trip must conclude within one year of the first flight on your ticket. 

This represents a bit of a mixed bag. On one hand, if you were to make a change to your two-stopover trip after travel commences, you could potentially extend your window of travel into the second half of 2020 and even 2021.

For example, imagine that you booked the trip on August 31, 2019, with the first flight taking place on May 31, 2020, and the remaining flights not scheduled until later in the year. After you take the first flight in May 2019, you call Aeroplan to change the ticket – at this point, your ticket under the old rules can be extended as far as May 31, 2021!

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But on the other hand, think carefully about what’s actually happening here. By flying the first leg of your itinerary, you’ve already “arrived” at one of your two stopovers under the old rules.

You’re therefore only left with one stopover (plus your destination), to be used up sometime before May 2021… but that’s what you’ll be able to book under the new rules anyway!

So really, there are only certain specific situations in which it might make sense to take advantage of this ability to extend your window of travel on a two-stopover Aeroplan Mini-RTW.

For example, let’s take someone who wants to book two trips. The first is a simple round-trip to Europe in July 2020, and the second is a full-blown Aeroplan Mini-RTW trip with two stopovers, including Europe as the first stopover, in May and June of 2021.

(This may seem pretty contrived, but I imagine there could be quite a few of you in this situation, especially if you’re the type of traveller who plans out their trips several years ahead.)

Here’s what this traveller could do: in August 2019, they’d book a two-stopover Aeroplan Mini-RTW trip, with the first flight (or first few flights, if there are long layovers or connections involved) going from North America to Europe in July 2020. 

They would use this as the outbound portion of their simple round-trip flight to Europe that summer. 

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The rest of the original Aeroplan Mini-RTW booking would consist of “dummy” flights, taking place before the one-year mark from the ticketing date. The traveller doesn’t intend to take these flights, but has simply chosen them as placeholders to create a valid Aeroplan ticket with the two-stopover allowance.

After our traveller takes the first flight in the July 2020, they’ll change the ticket, moving the remainder of the ticket into May and June 2021 and thereby creating the final three-quarters of their Aeroplan Mini-RTW in the summer of 2021. 

What’s the missing piece of the puzzle? The traveller still needs a return trip from Europe in July 2020, and still needs to fly out to Europe in May 2021 to link up with their Aeroplan itinerary. Well, at this point, you just book a simple round-trip between Europe and North America to take care of both objectives. It’s the principle of “nested trips” in action. 

In this example, our traveller is able to extend the current two-stopover allowance of the Aeroplan Mini-RTW into the summer of 2021, although this ability rests on the traveller’s need to take a standard round-trip flight in the summer of 2020 first. 

You can substitute Europe for Asia or any other destination as well, and you’ll arrive at a similar conclusion. As long as the destination of your earlier round-trip is the same as the first stop on your later Aeroplan Mini-RTW, you can extend your Aeroplan Mini-RTW into August 2021 at the latest.

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So What Should YOU Do?

Since the news dropped last week, I’ve received a ton of emails from people saying that the new Aeroplan rules have thrown a wrench in their plans, and asking me whether their specific situation can be resolved by booking and changing Aeroplan tickets in some kind of clever way. 

Broadly speaking, below are the various situations that you might face as a result of the impending rule changes, together with a few comments on how you might work around them:

  • You want to book a two-stopover Aeroplan Mini-RTW, but won’t have enough miles to book it before September 1, 2019.

    Thankfully, as per the first section above, all you need to do is book something with two stopovers before the deadline, and then you can make a change to your full desired trip once you’ve earned enough miles, and pay only the difference in mileage.

    If I understand Aeroplan’s terms and conditions correctly, you’ll need a minimum of 50,000 Aeroplan miles per person to “secure” your booking in this way – that’s how much it costs for a round-trip to the Northern South America region, which is the cheapest region that counts as “intercontinental” travel and therefore eligible for two stopovers instead of one.

  • You want to book a two-stopover Aeroplan Mini-RTW for travel well before August 31, 2020 (say, before or during July 2020).

    No worries here. Simply book the trip before August 31, 2019 to take advantage of the old rules.

  • You want to book a two-stopover Aeroplan Mini-RTW for travel before but close to August 31, 2020, and you worry that airlines might not have opened up the award space for August 2020 by the deadline of September 1, 2019.

    If your desired journey involves travelling in August 2020, some airlines might not have released award space for that period yet, because many airlines only release award seats at 330 days out.

    If this is the case, you may need to book something by August 31, 2019 with “placeholder” flights for one or more segments on your itinerary, and then call in later to make changes when the award space does open up.

  • You want to book a two-stopover Aeroplan Mini-RTW for travel after August 31, 2020.

    As I outlined above, you’ll need to explore the possibility of extending your travel window by taking the first flight and then making changes. This would only really make sense if you’re in a position to effectively take two trips, combining the Aeroplan Mini-RTW booking with another redemption.

    Note: For all of the above four situations, you’ll want to consider the change fees involved, which are $100 per direction per person for regular Aeroplan members and $75 per direction per person for Aeroplan Diamond members. Will these change fees be worthwhile, or would it make more sense to simply book a trip under the new rules and use low-cost flights to get around to other places?

  • You want to book a two-stopover Aeroplan Mini-RTW before the deadline, but don’t have the time to learn how to plan the trip and/or search for availability.

    Don’t worry, help is at hand. My Points Consulting service can help you plan your trip, providing you with a list of flights with available space and a valid itinerary so you can call Aeroplan to book!

Conclusion

The lifespan of the Aeroplan Mini-RTW, as we know it, is dwindling fast. If you plan on taking advantage of this amazing redemption sweet spot – one that’s given myself and many others a lifetime’s worth of travel memories – then you have 40 days to take action. In this article, I’ve outlined a few strategies for booking and changing Aeroplan tickets in certain ways to achieve certain ends, and I hope you find them helpful as you consider your travel plans ahead of the impending Aeroplan rule change. 

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26 Comments
  1. Avatar
    Daniel Jordan

    I can’t find the rules that allow for changes after the first flight to extend a trip beyond one year. Can you point me in the right direction?

  2. Avatar
    John.

    Marilena, don’t say that. Aeroplan is still and frankly will remain the best plan for Canadians. Just go with the flow.

    1. Avatar
      Marilena

      It’s not bad if you are willing to work for it, but it’s about to get a bit worse.

      Previously I have used Aeroplan for some basic North America redemptions (decent value, but nothing fantastic), and travel to Nunavut (exceptional value if you like off the beaten track destinations).

      Now I was hoping to finally try out some J class flying, and my point stash was perfectly sized for that. The availability was so sketchy though, for the places I wanted to visit, combined with some personal scheduling constraints, that I went ahead and booked Y, which still leaves me some leftover points. It was just so frustrating, it just felt like a side job.

      I have been playing the churn game on both sides of the border, which helps: I don’t get declined for cards since the issuers only see half the shenanigans I’m involved in. I certainly want to get rid of my remaining Aeroplan points soon, before they further devalue them next year.

  3. Avatar
    Tom Wong

    I spoke to an Aeroplan agent while booking a mini-RTW flight for May 2020 but I wanted to book another mini-RTW for Aug 2020 as a placeholder. She said that if I change the dates after Sept 1, 2019, the new rule applies, since the tickets have to be re-issued, and I cannot have 2 stopovers in addition to the turnaround point. She was very positive about this, so maybe Aeroplan has changed position on this policy since you last spoke to Aeroplan.

  4. Avatar
    Marilena

    I’m trying to book a trip that would include a stopover and a couple of layovers in Japan, which means domestic ANA flights. When checking ANA award space on their website (as part of their multi stop search), it shows available space, but Aeroplan agent sees no availability on the specific flights I want – for the entire month. I can see availability even on Aeroplan website – but only in conjunction with international flights that I don’t want – I want longer layover than what it offers me. Is there any way around this? What are the chances that another agent would be able to figure it out and give me a 22h layover in KIX, for example, instead of just 1h?

    1. Avatar
      Andrew

      If Aeroplan can see the flight you want attached to another flight, this is known as a married segment. When calling in to book, you can tell them that you see space on a married segment and have them override the restriction. Ie. you can have them search the entire routing so they see the flight you want and tell them you only want the short flight.

      1. Avatar
        Marilena

        Thanks, that kind of did the trick. Except now some segments that I see as being business class of Aeroplan.com don’t show up on the agent’s screen as being available. At least I have a bit of time to figure this out. Cleaning out my stash and after that, I suspect there will be no more Aeroplan for me.

  5. Avatar
    PB

    According to this FAQ page, there is a cap on change fees up to $200. If I interpret that correctly, that should be the max you pay for changes, even if you make more than 2 changes at once.

    https://www.aeroplan.com/faqhelp?id=3007

  6. Avatar
    PK

    Life saving blog post, Ricky! Quick clarifying question… if I book my mini-RTW on Aug 20, 2019 does that mean: (a.) My initial flight has to take place on / before Aug 20, 2020, or (b.) my entire trip has to conclude by Aug 20, 2020?

    Thanks in advance for your help!

    1. Avatar
      Ricky

      The latter!

  7. Avatar
    Joe blow

    Hi Ricky,
    Do you know what the rules are for the "Around the world" (not mini) tickets?
    I was shooting for a RTW business class trip, but unless I go and buy points (thankfully at $0.01+HST.. unthankfully because I had some miles expire. Sigh. I was young and foolish at the time!), I’m not going to make it. Also, timing-wise, I’m not sure when is going to make sense for me.

    These changes have put a big dent in my plans (err.. more dream/vision what have you, since there’s not much of a concrete "plan" at this point).

    Can I lock in now at 200k points for economy and upgrade to business later?
    How long would I have to complete my trip?

    1. Avatar
      Ricky

      I’m not sure whether you’d be able to upgrade to business after September 1, because RTW awards as a whole are being phased out. But if I had to guess, I’d say it would be allowed, similar to how two-stop round-trips will continue to be allowed as long as they’re ticketed before September 1.

      I imagine the rules for completing your trip would be the same: one year from your ticketing date, unless you make a change after commencing travel, in which case it’d be one year from the first flight.

  8. Avatar
    Sash

    Hi Ricky, do you think the current reward chart will still apply if my final destination does not change and I intend to push out my remaining flights after the first stop. I’m thinking of doing a mini-RTW with stops in IST, SIN, and PER. First stop at IST in April 2020, fly back home, call into aeroplan and push out the dummy SIN(stop) and PER (dest) dates from May 2020 to March 2021. Given that my final destination hasn’t changed, there should theoretically not be any additional miles withdrawn? I could foresee a risk if my final destination was say SIN and then I decide to change it to PER, which would require more miles and could be subject to the new reward chart that I assume is coming. What’s your thoughts?

    1. Avatar
      Ricky

      Yes I think you’re safe to do this. I imagine that if a new award chart is introduced, then changes made to existing bookings (ticketed before it was introduced) would still be priced at the old levels.

  9. Avatar
    Jamie

    Hi Ricky, Can you confirm If I can upgrade from Economy to Business class. I have the 90K required for Asia 2 but would like to upgrade to business before I go.

    1. Avatar
      Ricky

      Yes, you’ll be able to do that.

  10. Avatar
    Kunal S.

    Always pushing the boundaries. The adventure definitely never stops with quality content like this. Keep it coming Ricky!

  11. Avatar
    Alice

    Very detailed post Ricky! Changing flights after departure to extend beyond August 2020 is quite complex and requires detailed planning since none of us knows what and when further changes will come from AP. If there were any changes to the redemption chart, one might end up paying more points. Not sure if all the uncertainty is worth the extra stop especially since intra-Europe and Asia travel can be inexpensive. If anyone is seriously thinking about employing this method, should really consult Ricky through Points Consulting.

    1. Avatar
      Ricky

      This is the thing – it may well be easier to simply book a trip under the new rules vs. playing around with changing your trip, especially if you’re doing a "simple" Mini-RTW through Europe and Asia where you could use low-cost flights to visit multiple destinations anyway.

  12. Avatar
    John Bucher

    What a great post! I have been struggling over how to handle these changes to the MRTW and this post goes a long way to clearing up my
    mind as to the way forward. Thanks a lot Ricky but now I am sure to have more specific questions in the near future.

  13. Avatar
    Lora Pope

    Hey Ricky! First I just want to say that I am SO happy to have found your blog. I am a Toronto based travel blogger and have always been interested in point collecting, but found the information so geared towards American credit cards it wasn’t helpful. Someone told me about you at TravelCon and it is honestly the resource I have been seeking for a long time. I can’t wait to follow along and learn more.

    I am really intrigued about this Aeroplan Mini RTW (had no idea about it before), and would love to take advantage before Aug 31. Right now I have just over 50,000 Aeroplan points (hopefully more soon, I just applied for the AMEX Platinum Business Card through your referral link)! So all I can do is a flight to Northern South America region as you said. My question is about using that as a dummy placeholder. Do you know what the flexibility in changing it after is? Is it only dates/class I can change, or am I able to change the locations as well? Like could I potentially change that into a Europe trip rather than a South America trip, or does it have to be the same region?

    Thanks so much in advance for your help! I’m so stoked to discover your blog.

    1. Avatar
      Ricky

      Yes, you’ll be able to change the stops/destination/class/dates of your trip, and the old rules will be honoured as long as the ticket was created prior to September 1. You’ll just pay the mileage difference and the change fees.

  14. Avatar
    Ryan

    Hey Ricky, do you have any solid confirmation that Aeroplan is honoring the old stopover rules for any changes made to bookings before Sept 1?

    I called in last week to clarify and got conflicting answers of yes and no. This week I called again, and got answers of only no or I don’t know, but no yes….

    1. Avatar
      Ricky

      Yes, I’ve confirmed this with an Air Canada spokesperson as well.

      I imagine it’ll be YMMV through the call centre when the time comes – some agents will know to honour the old rules, while other agents will make stuff up and say it can’t be done, which isn’t too dissimilar from the current state of the Aeroplan call centre anyway.

    2. Avatar
      Florian

      I booked my trip today and was allowed 2 stopovers and a destination, although some agents seem unaware that the new rules are coming in effect on Sept. 1.

      1. Avatar
        Ryan

        Booking a 2 stop before Sept 1 seems to be no problem, but what I’m worried about is making changes to existing bookings past Sept 1.

Ricky

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