File this under “new information”, even though it’s a policy that has been in place since Aeroplan was relaunched in November 2020.
It’s been well-documented that Aeroplan allows you to book stopovers on a one-way journey for an additional 5,000 Aeroplan points. However, as was confirmed by Aeroplan’s leadership on a recent livestream with Anshul from Points, Miles & Bling, the duration of this stopover is limited to 30 days, and any proposed stopover of a longer duration would instead “break the one-way bound” and cause the itinerary to be priced as two separate awards instead.
30-Day Stopover Limit
Whereas the previous edition of Aeroplan (and indeed, most other airline loyalty programs that offer stopovers) had allowed stopovers to be as long as almost a year in duration, the current Aeroplan imposes a 30-day duration limit.
If you’d like to stop in Europe on your way to Asia, and only pay the price for a one-way journey to Asia plus 5,000 Aeroplan points for the stopover, then your time in Europe will be limited to 30 days.
To be honest, most Aeroplan members are likely to be unaffected by this. The ability to book a stopover on a one-way bound is very useful for stopping at an intermediate point for a few days or a few weeks before heading to your final destination; it’s really quite uncommon to book a stopover of more than 30 days, unless you’re planning an extended trip around the world.
For travellers who are interested in taking extensive round-the-world trips, though, the 30-day stopover limit may turn out to be a fairly significant limitation in their trip planning.
For example, if you had dreamed of taking a six-month trip spanning Asia, Australia, and Europe, then you might’ve envisioned leveraging Aeroplan’s one-way stopover rule to book stopovers in Asia and Europe en route to Australia, with two months planned on each continent.
But that won’t be possible. You’d still be able to book an extended stay in Australia, since that’s your final destination rather than a stopover, but your time in Asia and Europe would be limited to 30 days in duration.
(You might have to get a little crafty with the trip planning process. For example, if you wanted to spend the most time in Asia, you’d have to play around with the routing options to make Australia your 30-day stopover en route to a final destination in Asia instead.)
The 30-day limit on stopovers also affects the “Atlantic/Pacific arbitrage” sweet spot that we’ve previously highlighted.
On average, the Pacific zone award chart is priced a fair bit more generously than the Atlantic chart, so anyone headed to the Middle East, Indian Subcontinent, or Central Asia can often get a better deal by tacking on extra flights to East Asia or South East Asia at the end.
Let’s take the example of a member of the Indian diaspora here in Canada who’s heading back to India to visit family. If they wanted to fly in business class on a non-Air Canada partner airline, then the round-trip journey between Canada and India could easily run them at least 200,000 Aeroplan points.
However, by booking a stopover en route to a final destination of, say, Singapore, and then returning home after that, they’d only pay 175,000 Aeroplan points under the Pacific chart (as long as the distance flown in both directions is less than 11,000 miles).
With the new information about a 30-day stopover limit, however, this means that our homebound traveller can spend no more than 30 days in India if they wished to make it their stopover point.
If they wanted to spend longer in India, then the onward segment would be priced separately as another one-way bound, and the “Atlantic/Pacific arbitrage” sweet spot wouldn’t work out in their favour.
Why Is There a 30-Day Limit on Stopovers?
As Aeroplan’s leadership explained on the livestream, the 30-day limit on stopover was implemented for risk management reasons on the program’s part.
If there were no duration limit on stopovers, it’d be too easy for members to add a speculative flight at the end of their regular one-way journey many months into the future, which may cannibalize revenue on that flight.
For example, a European-based Aeroplan member could book extended stopovers at their European home airport on a series of itineraries between North America and Asia for 90,000 Aeroplan points each in business class, thus effectively unlocking multiple round-trips to both North America and Asia at 90,000 Aeroplan points per round-trip – a fraction of what they would pay if they booked everything as traditional round-trips.
Personally, I’m not too convinced that the risk here is significant. Stopovers already aren’t permitted in Canada or the US, so these types of “stopover tricks” aren’t available to Canadian- or US-based members (which I imagine makes up a great majority of Aeroplan’s member base).
Nevertheless, that’s the official explanation for the 30-day limit on stopovers: if the limit were not put in place, then the stopover allowance on a one-way bound would’ve either cost a lot more than 5,000 Aeroplan points, or would’ve been infeasible for the program at all.
Summary of Aeroplan’s Stopover Rules
As a recap of Aeroplan’s stopover rules, then:
- You’re allowed to add a stopover at an intermediate point on a one-way bound for an extra 5,000 Aeroplan points; on a round-trip, you’d be allowed two stopovers (one in each direction) for a total of 10,000 Aeroplan points
- No stopover is allowed within Canada or the United States
- Stopovers are limited to 30 days in duration
Compared to the old Aeroplan program prior to November 2020, the new program’s stopover rules are more generous in the ability to include a stopover on a one-way (whereas the old program only permitted a single stopover on a round-trip), and less generous in the “stopover fee” of 5,000 Aeroplan points, the non-Canada/US restriction, and the 30-day limit (compared to no fee, no restriction, and no limit before).
If you prefer the ability to mix-and-match a one-way Aeroplan redemption with another booking (whether paying cash or redeeming points) on the return journey, then you’ll likely favour the new program’s allowance for a stopover on a one-way. However, if you usually book round-trips with a stopover in one direction anyway, then you might’ve preferred how things were before.
Currently, stopovers must be booked over the phone. The online multi-city tool does not correctly price out one-way itineraries with a proposed stopover; instead, it treats all such itineraries as two separate one-way bounds for pricing purposes.
Also as per the recent livestream, Aeroplan hopes to introduce the ability to book one-way stopovers online by the end of 2021, with the full “custom routing” online tool (that allows members to book six one-way bounds on the same itinerary) coming in 2022.
I must admit, back when we were first exploring the details of the new Aeroplan program last year, it was something of an oversight on my part that I never even thought to inquire about whether there was a duration limit on the 5,000-point stopover on a one-way bound.
We’ve now learned that Aeroplan’s stopovers are limited to 30 days in duration, which may affect your plans if you’ve been dreaming about an elaborate multi-stop Aeroplan trip around the world in the post-pandemic days.
Most Aeroplan members will be unaffected, though, and will definitely find value in being able to add a stopover on a one-way bound of a few days or weeks’ time en route to their destination.