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Changes to Aeroplan Stopovers: Phone Booking Fee Waived + Longer Duration of 45 Days

It’s been well-documented that Aeroplan allows you to book stopovers on a one-way journey for an additional 5,000 Aeroplan points.

Aeroplan’s leadership announced a few improvements to the stopover policy at the recent Prince of Travel Signature Event 2021: effective October 1, 2021, the $30 phone booking fee will be waived for itineraries that make use of a stopover on a one-way bound, and the maximum duration limit on stopovers will be increased from 30 days to 45 days.

Aeroplan Waives Phone Booking Fee for Stopovers

One of Aeroplan’s central features is the ability to add a stopover on a one-way journey for an additional 5,000 Aeroplan points.

For example, if you were flying Toronto–Istanbul–Singapore for 85,000 Aeroplan points, then you could add a stopover of over 24 hours in duration in Istanbul for a further 5,000 points, paying a total of 90,000 points for the entire journey.

However, stopovers cannot currently be booked online, because the multi-city search engine does not price out the journey correctly.

Instead, it simply adds the individual costs of the two segments together for a (usually) much more expensive award, instead of adding 5,000 points to the one-way bound as it should.

As you can see below, Toronto–Istanbul–Singapore with a stopover prices out at 150,000 points (70,000 points + 80,000 points for separate Toronto–Istanbul and Istanbul–Singapore awards), rather than the 90,000 Aeroplan points that it should actually cost.

Currently, stopovers can only be booked over the phone, and members therefore need to pay the standard $30 phone booking fee if they wish to book a stopover.

This has long been a point of frustration for members who wished to take advantage of what’s being advertised as a key feature of the new program. Members were essentially being penalized by a $30 phone booking fee for every stopover they wanted to book, for no reason other than IT shortcomings on the website.

Thankfully, Aeroplan has listened to member feedback and will be implementing a positive change to the policy.

Effective October 1, 2021, new bookings made through the contact centre that involve a stopover for 5,000 Aeroplan points will not incur the standard $30 phone booking fee. 

I applaud the initiative in making this very reasonable change to accommodate members who wish to take advantage of the stopover feature, and I imagine that this policy will be in place until such time that the Aeroplan search engine can indeed price out stopovers correctly.  

Aeroplan Stopover Duration Limit Increases to 45 Days

Until now, the duration of a stopover on a one-way bound was limited to 30 days. 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.

Recent member feedback to Aeroplan indicated that a longer stopover duration would be valuable for planning more extensive round-the-world trips.

In response to this feedback, Aeroplan has also revealed that the stopover duration limit will be increased to 45 days effective October 1, 2021. 

How Significant Is the Stopover Duration Limit?

Most Aeroplan members are likely to be unaffected by Aeroplan’s 45-day stopover limit.

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 45 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 45-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 45 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 45-day stopover en route to a final destination in Asia instead.)

Why Is There a Duration Limit on Stopovers?

As Aeroplan’s leadership had previously explained on a livestream with Anshul from Points, Miles & Bling, the duration limit on stopovers 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 duration 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 45 days in duration.
  • Currently, stopovers must be booked over the phone instead of online, and any booking with a stopover will not incur the standard $30 phone booking fee. 

Conclusion

It’s great to see Aeroplan listening to member feedback and making some positive changes to the policy around adding a stopover on a one-way journey for 5,000 Aeroplan points.

Effective October 1, 2021, a $30 phone booking fee will not be levied on new bookings made through the contact centre that involve a stopover.

The duration limit for stopovers will also be increased to 45 days, which may give you an easier time planning an elaborate multi-stop Aeroplan trip around the world in the post-pandemic days. 

While I imagine most Aeroplan members will be largely unaffected by the stopover duration limit, we’ll definitely find value in being able to book a stopover over the phone without being unfairly penalized due to the website’s limitations, as we continue to wait for a more robust multi-city booking tool to be rolled out on the Aeroplan website. 

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