Aeroplan Mini-RTW: A New Generation of Complex Trips Ricky August 12, 2020

Aeroplan Mini-RTW: A New Generation of Complex Trips

Prince of Travel is your home for learning about the brand-new Aeroplan loyalty program. We’ll be rolling out a comprehensive series of posts and videos guiding you through everything you need to know about the new Aeroplan. Check back frequently this week and subscribe to our newsletter to stay informed.

 

Air Canada leadership is reading every word of feedback from Aeroplan members to mould the program in preparation for launch. Click here to submit your feedback.

 

Update (August 13): I’ve made some corrections and additions to this post since its initial publication. See here for details.

The “Aeroplan Mini-RTW” – an unofficial name referring to the practice of leveraging Aeroplan’s generous stopover and routing policies to book epic once-in-a-lifetime trips – has been one of the best award redemption sweet spots across all the land for as long as I can remember.

Prior to a reduction in the stopover policy last September, the ability to add two free stopovers to a round-trip flight with Aeroplan was something that had captured so many travellers’ imaginations, so easily.

Throw in the ability to book long layovers of up to 24 hours and customize your routing to fly some of the world’s best premium products, and it’s no wonder the Aeroplan Mini-RTW has represented the “golden ticket” for so many Aeroplan members over the years.

In the buildup to the launch of the new Aeroplan, it was publicly hinted that the ability to add two stopovers on a round-trip flight would return in some form. And now that the official details on the new program have been confirmed, we know with certainty that the Aeroplan Mini-RTW won’t be going away, but will simply live on in a renewed form.

The goal of this article is twofold: to share with you my understanding of the generous – but rather complex – fare combination logic and routing rules of the new Aeroplan, and to share some of my initial thoughts and ideas as to what the best Mini-RTW-style redemptions in the new program might look like.

My hope is that this article will act as a seed for everyone in the community to delve into the maps and charts and experiment with pricing out some complex trips of their own, so that we can update our Complete Guide to the Aeroplan Mini-RTW with our findings by the time the new program launches.

(We’ll be getting very deep into the weeds of booking complex round-the-world trips in this article. If that doesn’t sound interesting to you, and you’d rather stick to simple one-ways and round-trips like a sane person, then by all means skip this one.)

In This Post

The New Aeroplan Mini-RTW – Examples

To begin, let’s price out a few different Mini-RTW-style itineraries using the new Flight Reward Chart to get an idea of which types of trips might be increasing or decreasing in price.

To keep things sufficiently aspirational, let’s focus on the business class pricing in our analysis. We’ll also exclude Air Canada’s dynamic pricing to keep things simple, assuming that travel takes place entirely on partner airlines or “saver”-level Air Canada flights.

And since Air Canada had made such a big deal about “bringing back the second stopover” while they were teasing us about the new program, let’s focus on recreating the trips that we would’ve been able to book under the original Aeroplan Mini-RTW: either two stopovers or one stopover and one open-jaw, in addition to the destination.

Alas, just like when we were looking at simple one-way itineraries, the sheer scale of the changes in the new Flight Reward Chart makes it very difficult to compare head-to-head against the old chart. Therefore, I think the easiest way to proceed would simply be to walk through a bunch of sample trips and figure out how each of them will be changing.

Before we get started, I recommend first absorbing our in-depth analysis on the new Aeroplan flight rewards.

In particular, make sure you’re familiar with the following facts:

  • The new Aeroplan program prices itineraries based on “one-way bounds”.
  • One stopover of extended duration (outside of Canada and the US) is permitted on a one-way bound for a “fee” of 5,000 Aeroplan points.
  • Open-jaws can only take place between one-way bounds, not within one-way bounds.
  • You will still be able to customize your routing between any two given points, including scheduling layovers of up to 24 hours.
  • Each Aeroplan ticket can have a maximum of 12 segments if an Air Canada flight is included, and 16 segments if only partner flights are included.

 

Example 1: A Tour of the Asia-Pacific

  • Vancouver–Tokyo (layover) on ANA
  • Tokyo–Hong Kong (stopover) on ANA
  • Hong Kong–Bangkok (layover) on Thai Airways
  • Bangkok–Singapore (layover) on Singapore Airlines
  • Singapore–Perth (destination; open-jaw) on Singapore Airlines
  • Brisbane–Vancouver on Air Canada

(Depending on whether long layovers suit your travel style or not, you can assume the layovers are either long layovers or convenient short connections – the cost breakdown is the same.)

Under the original Aeroplan Mini-RTW, this is a round-trip from North America to Australia with a stopover and an open-jaw, pricing at 160,000 Aeroplan miles in business class.

In the new Aeroplan, the first five flights will comprise a single one-way bound under the “Between North America and Pacific zone” chart. Since the total flown distance is 10,858 miles, this will cost 85,000 Aeroplan points in business class, plus 5,000 points for the stopover, for a total of 90,000 Aeroplan points.

Then, the Brisbane–Vancouver flight will form another one-way bound under the “Between North America and Pacific zone” chart. Since this flight’s distance is 7,351 miles, this will cost 75,000 Aeroplan points in business class.

In total, we’ll pay 165,000 Aeroplan points – 5,000 points or 3% more than the old price, plus the $39 partner booking fee.


 

Example 2: A Classic Mini-RTW

  • Toronto–Lisbon (layover) on TAP Air Portugal
  • Lisbon–Rome (stopover) on TAP Air Portugal
  • Rome–Istanbul (layover) on Turkish Airlines
  • Istanbul–Bangkok (destination) on Turkish Airlines
  • Bangkok–Seoul (stopover) on Thai Airways
  • Seoul–New York (layover) on Asiana Airlines
  • New York–Toronto on Air Canada

The route through Europe and Asia, in either the westbound or eastbound direction, is widely regarded as the “classic” Aeroplan Mini-RTW routing. It brings you to some of the world’s most famous tourist attractions, allows you to fly on some of Star Alliance’s best airlines, and gives you the satisfaction of having completed a true round-the-world journey.

Under the original Aeroplan Mini-RTW, this is a round-trip from North America to Asia 2 with two stopovers, pricing at 155,000 Aeroplan miles in business class.

In the new Aeroplan, the outbound flights to Bangkok will comprise a single one-way bound, while the return flights would comprise a second one-way bound. Both would be priced under the “Between North America and Pacific zone” chart, and since the respective total flown distances are 10,249 and 9,525 miles, both one-way bounds would cost 85,000 Aeroplan points each.

Add 10,000 Aeroplan points for the two stopovers, and we arrive at a total price of 180,000 Aeroplan points – 25,000 points or 16% more than the old price, plus the $39 partner booking fee.


 

Example 3: Suboptimal Subcontinent

  • Toronto–Lisbon (layover) on TAP Air Portugal
  • Lisbon–Rome (stopover) on TAP Air Portugal
  • Rome–Istanbul (layover) on Turkish Airlines
  • Istanbul–Mumbai (destination) on Turkish Airlines
  • Mumbai–Seoul (stopover) on Asiana Airlines
  • Seoul–New York (layover) on Asiana Airlines
  • New York–Toronto on Air Canada

This Mini-RTW is exactly the same as in Example 2, but Mumbai is set as the destination instead of Bangkok. However, as we’ll see, the pricing is drastically different.

Under the original Aeroplan Mini-RTW, this is a round-trip from North America to Indian Subcontinent with two stopovers, pricing at 150,000 Aeroplan miles in business class.

In the new Aeroplan, the outbound flights to Mumbai will comprise a single one-way bound, while the return flights would comprise a second one-way bound. Both would be priced under the “Between North America and Atlantic zone” chart, and since the respective total flown distances are 8,583 and 10,699 miles, both one-way bounds would cost 100,000 Aeroplan points each.

Add 10,000 Aeroplan points for the two stopovers, and we arrive at a total price of 210,000 Aeroplan points – 60,000 points or 40% more than the old price, plus the $39 partner booking fee.


 

Example 4: North & South Atlantic

  • Montreal–London (stopover) on Air Canada
  • London–Johannesburg (destination) on South African Airways
  • Johannesburg–São Paulo (stopover) on South African Airways
  • São Paulo–Montreal on Air Canada

(For the purposes of this example, let’s assume that South African Airways will make their way out of administration and restore their full route network at some point in the future.)

The ability to cross the North Atlantic in one direction and the South Atlantic in the other, while visiting Europe, South Africa, and South America all in one trip, has always been one of the Aeroplan Mini-RTW possibilities that I find the most intriguing.

Under the original Aeroplan Mini-RTW, this is a round-trip from North America to East, West, and South Africa with two stopovers, pricing at 150,000 Aeroplan miles in business class.

In the new Aeroplan, the outbound flights to Johannesburg will comprise a single one-way bound, while the return flights would comprise a second one-way bound. Both would be priced under the “Between North America and Atlantic zone” chart, and since the respective total flown distances are 8,870 and 9,673 miles, both one-way bounds would cost 100,000 Aeroplan points each.

Add 10,000 Aeroplan points for the two stopovers, and we arrive at a total price of 210,000 Aeroplan points – 60,000 points or 40% more than the old price, plus the $39 partner booking fee.


 

Example 5: The Long Way to Perth

  • Montreal–Cancún (layover) on Air Canada
  • Cancún–Istanbul (layover) on Turkish Airlines
  • Istanbul–Nur-Sultan (stopover) on Turkish Airlines
  • Nur-Sultan–Beijing (layover) on Air China
  • Beijing–Shanghai (layover) on Air China
  • Shanghai–Singapore (layover) on Singapore Airlines
  • Singapore–Perth (destination) on Singapore Airlines
  • Perth–Tokyo (layover) on ANA
  • Tokyo–Seoul (layover) on Asiana Airlines
  • Seoul–Taipei (layover) on Thai Airways
  • Taipei–Vienna (stopover) on EVA Air
  • Vienna–Geneva (layover) on Austrian Airlines
  • Geneva–Montreal on Air Canada

This is a trip that I had actually booked and taken in November 2019. As you can imagine, it got very tiring very quickly, but was extremely rewarding nonetheless.

Under the original Aeroplan Mini-RTW, this is a round-trip from North America to Australia with stopovers, pricing at 160,000 Aeroplan miles in business class.

In the new Aeroplan, tickets involving Air Canada flights can only have a maximum of 12 segments, so this would need to be booked as two separate tickets.

Within the first ticket, each one-way bound can only have a maximum of six segments. The outbound flights until Singapore will comprise a single one-way bound. After that, Singapore–Perth will form a second one-way bound.

The return flights would be optimally booked as its own one-way bound on a separate ticket. 

The first and last one-way bounds would be priced under the “Between North America and Pacific zone” chart, and since the respective total flown distances are 15,773 and 16,381 miles, both one-way bounds would cost 105,000 Aeroplan points each.

The Singapore–Perth bound in the first ticket would be priced under the “Within Pacific zone” chart, and since the distance is 2,421 miles, it would cost 45,000 Aeroplan points.

Add 10,000 Aeroplan points for the two stopovers, and we arrive at a total price of 265,000 Aeroplan points – 105,000 points or 66% more than the old price, plus two sets of the $39 partner booking fee, since there are two tickets involved.


 

Example 6: A Brand-New Three-Stop Combination

  • Toronto–Vancouver (layover) on Air Canada
  • Vancouver–Melbourne (stopover) on Air Canada
  • Melbourne–Singapore (destination) on Singapore Airlines
  • Singapore–Johannesburg (stopover) on Singapore Airlines
  • Johannesburg–Frankfurt (layover) on Lufthansa
  • Frankfurt–Toronto on Air Canada

Finally, here’s an example of an Aeroplan Mini-RTW that would not have been possible under the old rules, but is possible now. 

Under the original Aeroplan Mini-RTW, the proposed trio of extended stops (Melbourne, Singapore, and Johannesburg) would not have been a valid combination departing out of Toronto. Melbourne would’ve counted as the “destination” as the farthest point, and the return routing via Singapore and Johannesburg would’ve exceeded the MPM for Toronto–Melbourne. 

However, because the new Aeroplan uses one-way bound logic, the outbound flights to Singapore will comprise a single one-way bound, while the return flights would comprise a second one-way bound.  Both would be priced under the “Between North America and Pacific zone” chart, and since the respective total flown distances are 14,020 and 14,714 miles, both one-way bounds would cost 105,000 Aeroplan points each.

Add 10,000 Aeroplan points for the two stopovers, and we arrive at a total price of 220,000 Aeroplan points. Expensive, yes, but cheaper than the four individually-priced segments that this would be booked as under the current Aeroplan rules. 


The New Aeroplan Mini-RTW – Analysis

Having gone through these examples, what lessons can we learn about the future of the Aeroplan Mini-RTW under the new program?

It’s clear that Aeroplan Mini-RTW prices will be going up across the board. This is not a surprise at all, considering our previous analysis that the new Flight Reward Chart will generally raise the award costs between North America and international destinations.

There were a few exceptions to this, but only when a given direct flight distance fell just under a certain distance threshold on the chart (such as the Brisbane–Vancouver flight in Example 1). However, Aeroplan Mini-RTWs are all about maximizing your travel, so it’s relatively unlikely that you’ll benefit from any of these “just under the threshold” sweet spots while flying a Mini-RTW.

Next, we can see that Mini-RTW pricing in the new program will be much more sensitive to the destination you choose, compared to before.

Examples 2 and 3 are exactly the same, except Bangkok has been swapped with Mumbai. These two cities are not that far apart geographically, but going to Mumbai ends up being 30,000 Aeroplan points more expensive than going to Bangkok.

Why? It’s all because of the differences between the North America–Atlantic and North America–Pacific charts. If you run the numbers on these two charts relative to each other, you’ll see that the Pacific chart is significantly more generous in terms of how much distance you can fly for a given number of Aeroplan points.

(Look at the Atlantic chart’s maximum distance band: anything over 8,000+ miles, and you’ll have to shell out 100,000 Aeroplan points. In comparison, the Pacific chart allows you to fly up to 11,000 miles and still pay only 85,000 Aeroplan points.)

In fact, after studying all the charts in detail, I would say that this particular cell on the North America–Pacific chart – the distance band of 7,501–11,000 miles in business class – is the single best “sweet spot” in terms of booking a complex Mini-RTW trip without paying an over-exorbitant amount of points.

11,000 miles will let you route via Europe on your way to Asia, or via Asia on your way to Australia. If you can keep both directions of travel under 11,000 flown miles, you’d pay 180,000 Aeroplan points for a trip with two stopovers – which isn’t too unreasonable of an increase compared to the previous pricing of 155,000 or 160,000 Aeroplan miles.

Unfortunately, if you want to book a Mini-RTW to Africa, the Middle East, or India (as seen in Example 4), you’re likely looking at a steeper increase in price, due to the fact that the North America–Atlantic chart is relatively less generous with its distance allowances.

Finally, despite the overall bad news with the price increases, there are two major silver linings:

  • Routings that were previously not bookable on a single award will now be possible, as seen in Example 6. 
  • There will be no fuel surcharges on any Aeroplan redemptions, meaning that you no longer have to restrict yourself to the so-called “surcharge-free” airlines, and your range of feasible options has been greatly expanded to include the previously prohibitive Air Canada, Lufthansa, and Austrian Airlines’s route networks.

Overall, we can safely say that Aeroplan’s two-stopover or three-stop trips are alive and well in the new program, as was promised.

However, we’ll almost certainly need to pay more points to book an Aeroplan Mini-RTW compared to before, and the range of possible price points will also be far greater, as the price will now vary a lot more depending on our chosen destination and routing.

Advanced: Combining Up to Six One-Way Bounds

Are we done here? Not even close. We’re only just starting to scratch the surface when it comes to booking complex trips with the new Aeroplan.

Under the old Aeroplan, there was a maximum of two directions: you could book either a one-way (A–B, say, Montreal–Sydney) or a round-trip (A–B–A, or Montreal–Sydney–Montreal).

Even if you were to add a stopover along the way (A–B–C–A, or Montreal–Sydney–Tokyo–Montreal), technically this is still only a round-trip with two “directions” of travel (Montreal–Sydney is one direction, Sydney–Tokyo–Montreal is the other).

So far, our analysis has focused on these round-trip bookings (or, in the new Aeroplan’s language, bookings that consist of only two one-way bounds).

In reality, however, the new Aeroplan will allow you to have up to six “one-way bounds” or “directions” on the same ticket. The format would be A–B–C–D–E–F–A, or Montreal–London–Istanbul–Bangkok–Sydney–Tokyo–Montreal, to take a nice round-the-world example.

And within each of these one-way bounds, you’re allowed to add a stopover for 5,000 Aeroplan points, meaning that your number of extended stops can technically reach a maximum of 11.

So let’s allow our imagination to run wild: Montreal–Newark–London; London–Athens–Istanbul; Istanbul–Dubai–Bangkok; Bangkok–Singapore–Sydney; Sydney–Beijing–Tokyo; Tokyo–Chicago–Montreal. You’re able to stop for an extended period in all of those places. You can count these up to make sure that there are six one-way bounds, or directions of travel, in total.

We can even go one step further and add open-jaws into the mix! Consider this itinerary: Montreal–Newark–London; Paris–Athens–Kos; Istanbul–Dubai–Bangkok; Bangkok–Singapore–Perth; Sydney–Beijing–Osaka; Tokyo–Chicago–Montreal.

With open-jaws between several of the one-way bounds, you’ll be able to visit an additional four cities on your epic round-the-world trip, all while “connecting the dots” between your quartet of open-jaws with the Eurostar, the ferry across the Aegean Sea, the Indian Pacific train across Australia, and the Shinkansen, respectively.

(You might be wondering: couldn’t we add an open-jaw at the Bangkok breakpoint, too? The answer is no, because as a result of how airline ticketing works, open-jaws actually count as a segment towards the maximum of 16 segments on a single ticket, and we’ve already reached that 16-segment limit with the example given.)

Of course, this all sounds a little too good to be true. So what’s the catch?

Well, the catch is that each of the six one-way bounds will be priced individually, and the costs for the total journey will therefore add up very quickly.

Let’s run the numbers on our most extreme example above, assuming fixed partner prices and the lower bound for Air Canada’s dynamic prices (this is also a good chance to double-check my numbers and improve your understanding of the new charts):

  • Montreal–Newark–London: 35,000 points in economy or 60,000 points in business
  • Paris–Athens–Kos: 12,500 points in economy or 25,000 points in business
  • Istanbul–Dubai–Bangkok: 40,000 points in economy or 60,000 points in business
  • Bangkok–Singapore–Perth: 25,000 points in economy or 45,000 points in business
  • Sydney–Beijing–Osaka: 37,500 points in economy or 60,000 points in business
  • Tokyo–Chicago–Montreal: 45,000 points in economy o 75,000 points in business

Adding it all up, the entire redemption would cost a staggering 195,000 Aeroplan points in economy or 325,000 Aeroplan points in business class – plus 30,000 points for adding six stopovers, for a total of 225,000 Aeroplan points in economy or 355,000 Aeroplan points in business.

(One thing to note is that you are allowed to combine one-way bounds in different classes of service on the same ticket. In this example, if you mostly wanted to fly in business class, but were happy to fly Paris–Athens–Kos in economy, you could choose to book only that one-way bound in economy and save some miles as a result.)

As we can see, the new Aeroplan program provides you with ample flexibility for booking crazy round-the-world trips – you’ll just have to pay for it.

Don’t get me wrong, 355,000 Aeroplan points is incredible value for a business class round-the-world trip that lets you visit 15 different places, but it’ll certainly take a fair bit of work to rack up those 355,000 points in the first place.

One final note: this is where the true power of Aeroplan Super Elites’ Priority Rewards really comes in to play.

If you’re a Super Elite who can redeem Priority Rewards on worldwide business class tickets, or if you can convince a Super Elite friend to spare you a Priority Rewards voucher, then you’d be able to book this entire single award for a staggering 50% off: only 177,500 Aeroplan points! That sounds like a killer deal all of a sudden, doesn’t it? 

Very Advanced: How Are One-Way Bounds Determined?

Before we conclude, I wanted to further explore the logic behind where a one-way bound “breaks” and a new one-way bound begins.

(This is the advanced stuff within the advanced stuff, so if you don’t care, just skip it. However, I know the hardcore loyalty geeks out there will want a full understanding of how things work, in order to plan complex trips to their hearts’ content – so here we go. Pour yourselves a strong drink for this one.)

For context, let’s first consider the question how Aeroplan members will actually book these complex trips in practice.

The Custom Itinerary feature will be available only through the contact centre upon launch, but will be rolled out online in 2021, allowing members to input their full complex routing segment-by-segment along with their desired travel dates and classes of service.

Then, after the entire itinerary has been inputted, the system applies the “one-way bound logic” to the entire proposed itinerary to divide it up into appropriate one-way bounds. The system then calculates the price of each one-way bound individually (just like we did above) and adds it all up to arrive at the total points price.

So, what does that “one-way bound logic” actually look like?

Starting from the origin, the logic analyzes the entire trip segment-by-segment. After every segment, any of the following criteria, listed in order of priority, will mark the “breaking” of the one-way bound and the beginning of a new bound:

  1. A second stopover (or a first stopover within Canada/US)
  2. An open-jaw
  3. Backtracking to the same airport or country after already passing through
  4. Circuitous routing
    1. As a general rule of thumb, “circuitous routing” refers to flying 100% more than the direct distance between two points. However, there are also further rules on allowable transit regions, which prohibit routings such as YYZ–LIS–GRU and LAX–NRT–FRA. We’re seeking additional clarity on these “allowable transit” rules.
  5. Reaching a maximum of six segments
  6. On a round-trip or multi-city itinerary (of the format A–B–A, A–B–C–A, etc.), arriving at a point of turnaround (B, C, etc.)

Frankly, this is mind-numbingly complex stuff. Just like above, I think the easiest way to understand what’s going on is through a series of examples.


 

Example 1: Bound Breaks with Second Stopover

  • January 1: Toronto–Lisbon
  • January 5: Lisbon–Paris
  • January 12: Paris–Toronto

This one’s pretty straightforward. None of the bound-breaking criteria is triggered upon reaching Lisbon. Upon reaching Paris, the logic recognizes that there is a second stopover (a stay of extended duration), so the bound breaks due to Criteria #1.

The second bound is simply the Paris–Toronto return segment.

This trip will be priced on the basis of two one-way bounds: Toronto–Lisbon–Paris and Paris–Toronto.

(The pricing of this sample trip, as well as all the sample trips below, is left as an exercise to the reader.)


 

Example 2: Bound Breaks with Open-Jaw

  • February 1: Montreal–Frankfurt
  • February 4: Munich–Istanbul
  • February 9: Istanbul–Montreal

Upon flying into Frankfurt and flying out of Munich, the bound breaks due to Criteria #2.

The next bound starts at Munich and goes to Istanbul, where it doesn’t break. Upon reaching Montreal, the journey concludes. Munich–Istanbul–Montreal was not determined to be circuitous, as it’s only 63% above the direct distance between Munich and Montreal.

This trip will be priced on the basis of two one-way bounds: Montreal–Frankfurt and Munich–Istanbul–Montreal.


 

Example 3: Bound Breaks with Circuitous Routing

  • March 1: Montreal–Frankfurt
  • March 4: Munich–Abu Dhabi
  • March 12: Abu Dhabi–New York
  • March 12: New York–Montreal

Using the same logic as above, the first bound breaks at Frankfurt and the second bound begins from Munich to Abu Dhabi.

Upon adding the Abu Dhabi–New York flight, this routing now becomes “circuitous” due to Criteria #4 above, because Munich–Abu Dhabi–New York is 140.5% above the direct distance between Munich and New York.

The second bound therefore must break in Abu Dhabi, and the third bound goes from Abu Dhabi to New York (for a layover) and then to Montreal.

This trip will be priced on the basis of three one-way bounds: Montreal–Frankfurt, Munich–Abu Dhabi, and Abu Dhabi–New York–Montreal. It’ll definitely be more expensive than if a trip priced with only two one-way bounds. 


 

Example 4: Bound Breaks with 6-Segment Limit

  • April 1: Vancouver–Tokyo
  • April 2: Tokyo–Seoul
  • April 3: Seoul–Beijing
  • April 4: Beijing–Hong Kong
  • April 10: Hong Kong–Bangkok
  • April 11: Bangkok–Ho Chi Minh City
  • April 12: Ho Chi Minh City–Singapore
  • April 13: Singapore–Perth

This traveller wants to do a bunch of long layovers, plus one stopover in Hong Kong, on their way to Perth.

The logic doesn’t run into any trouble in Tokyo, Seoul, or Beijing. In Hong Kong, we have a stopover, but it’s only the first stopover of the bound, so we’re still good. Bangkok is fine, too.

But then we get to Ho Chi Minh City, and Criteria #5 is triggered: we’ve already had six segments on this one-way bound. The bound therefore breaks in Ho Chi Minh City, and the remaining flights via Singapore form the second bound.

This trip will be priced on the basis of two one-way bounds: Vancouver–Ho Chi Minh City and Ho Chi Minh City–Perth. Sorry folks, you won’t be able to do 16-segment one-way runs with 15 long layovers anymore!


Conclusion

The good news: the three-stop Aeroplan Mini-RTW will be reborn under the new Aeroplan program.

The bad news: we’ll have to pay more Aeroplan points compared to before to book these amazing trips – mostly in the range of 180,000–200,000 points, compared to 150,000–160,000 miles before – and there will be greater variability in the pricing depending on our chosen destination, stopovers, and routings.

However, especially with fuel surcharges being eliminated, I would still expect complex trips like the Aeroplan Mini-RTW to remain one of the most outstanding sweet spots of the new Aeroplan program, despite the incremental number of points required. 

Meanwhile, for those of us who’d like to squeeze in even more flights and stops along our round-the-world trips, we’ll need to familiarize ourselves with the “one-way bound logic” that underpins complex customized redemptions in the new Aeroplan.

Yes, we might get a few migraines from trying to understand the rules, but I’m sure it’ll all be worthwhile when we’re sipping our champagne on the journey to a maximum of 11 different extended stops or 15 different cites including open-jaws.

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79 Comments
  1. Avatar
    Alex

    Thanks for all the examples Ricky – informative as usual.
    Is YYZ-IST (short layover)-KIV going to cost 70k points in bus (falls into the 4000-6000 miles N. America-Atlantic)? Or the new system will break it into two separate tickets: YYZ-IST + IST-KIV (and thus charge me 70k points + 7.5k points = total 77.5k points)? If that rout uses more than one partner airline – will I be charged twice the $39 fee or only once?
    Also – am I correct to understand that there is NO circuitous routing here: cai-ist (short layover)-kiv (stopover)-waw (short layover)-lis (short layover)-yyz (destination); yyz-cai
    Thanks.

    1. Ricky
      Ricky

      The former: 70k points in business. You’ll only pay one $39 partner fee per ticket.

      Yes, looks correct to me.

      1. Avatar
        Alex

        So, to stretch it in a best way in the new Aeroplan – I will pay only 150k points+ $39 for this redemption in business? cai-ist (short layover)-kiv (stop)-waw (short layover)-lis (stop)-yyz (destination); yyz-cai (140000 points + 10000 points for two stops + $39 fee)?
        Thanks

        1. Ricky
          Ricky

          You can’t have two stopovers on the one-way bound between Cairo and Toronto. If you do that, it’ll be priced as a Cairo–Lisbon one-way, followed by a Lisbon–Toronto one-way, followed by a Toronto–Cairo one-way.

          Best to do the Moldova stopover in one direction and the Lisbon stopover in the other.

          1. Avatar
            Alex

            You are absolutely right – will have one stop on each leg (thus having two non-circuitous routings):
            cai-ist (short layover)-kiv (stop)-waw (short layover)-yyz (destination); yyz-lis (stop)-cai
            All that in business for 150000 Aeroplan points + $39 partner fee + taxes – it is a steal deal!!
            Thanks!

  2. Avatar
    Atul

    Hi Ricky, I am planning to book before Nov 8,2020 a MIni RTW trip for next year form Sep 16 to Oct 3. The below is the itinerary:
    YYZ – EWR
    EWR-IST
    IST-AMM
    AMM-CAI
    CAI-DXB
    DXB-BKK
    BKK-SIN
    SIN-SYD( stop over of 1 week to see New Zealand)
    SYD-SIN
    SIN-KUL
    KUL-IST
    IST-YYZ
    Can you please confirm that the route is valid and it is doable and within the allowable mileage.Any suggestion regarding the timing of booking would be appreciated, Thanks

    1. Ricky
      Ricky

      Looks fine to me. You can actually add one more stopover somewhere, since SYD is just your destination.

  3. Avatar
    Jim M

    Ricky, is PE bookable on partner airlines which offer it? I believe LH have PE and so does CX (now bookable online). Is it possible to book them in PE with or without an AC leg? I am Altitude 75k so my Priority Reward would work on those.

    1. Ricky
      Ricky

      My understanding is that premium economy on partners isn’t bookable at the moment and won’t be bookable upon launch either (hence its absence from the award chart). I’ll follow up to see if there’s a view/timeline to make them bookable eventually.

  4. Avatar
    CR

    Does the priority rewards voucher need to be redeemed through the super elite’s AC account to get the 50% off biz worldwide? or once I’m ‘gifted’ that priority rewards voucher, I can redeem it for 50% off biz worldwide through my account?

    1. Ricky
      Ricky

      It would always be sitting in the Super Elite’s account and would need to be redeemed with the Super Elite member’s points. There’s no official way to “gift” vouchers as far as I know.

  5. Avatar
    ssss

    For those of us, who even a strong drink doesn’t help, can you please clarify “100% general rule” means? How are you adding an out-of-the-way stopover not as a destination? Can you clarify how Aeroplan calculates mileage and how that factors into all this? I am finally ready to jump inot the mind-numbing awards, or maybe not. 🙂

  6. Avatar
    Richard

    I see that you’ve made an update to state,
    “Each Aeroplan ticket can have a maximum of 12 segments if an Air Canada flight is included, and 16 segments if only partner flights are included.”

    and then your example of:

    Example 5: The Long Way to Perth
    -This is 13 segments that include Air Canada flights (YUL-CUN and GVA-YUL)

    Advanced: Combining Up to Six One-Way Bounds you have 16 segments.
    -Within these 16 segments, you have Air Canada flights (YUL-YYT and YVR-YUL)

    I’m assuming that these examples are no longer valid because they include an Air Canada flight and are more than 12 segments?

    1. Ricky
      Ricky

      Richard, you are correct. I’ve tweaked the examples so that the itineraries with more than 12 segments can be pure-partner ones. Thanks for helping me along as we navigate the learning process together. 🙂

  7. Avatar
    Bobbie

    Ok…. after reading all these new Aeroplan updates, my brain started to hurt around the “very advanced” section of this article. What I am most interested in is finding out the best way to rebook the mini RTW I had to cancel. Originally booked under the 2 stop, my trip looked like this : YYZ-WAW-IST-MLE(stop)-SIN-DPS(stop)-TPE-YYZ
    My questions are these:
    1) I plan to rebook this for next Sept. Would it be wise to do so before Nov 8?
    2) If I waited til after, the “cheaper” (points-wise) way to do it would be 2 one-way itineraries that look like this?: (this is my ideal route) YYZ-IST-MLE (stop)-SIN (10972 mi & 85000+ 5000 AP) and SIN-DPS-TPE-YYZ (10916 mi & 85000+5000 AP) total of 180 000 AP (which is 25 000 more than originally)

    1. Ricky
      Ricky

      Did you follow my advice and have a strong drink in hand? 😉

      You’re correct about #2. The interesting thing about the new Atlantic/Pacific charts is that an Atlantic stopover + a Pacific destination is often cheaper than the Atlantic destination on its own. 180,000 Aeroplan points is generally the “baseline” for the “new” Aeroplan Mini-RTW so you’re doing well to stick to it. However, as Alice said, if you can find the space before November 8 and are content with having two stops instead of three, I’d recommend booking before to save 25,000 miles/points.

      1. Avatar
        CR

        Would this NA-Pacific 3rd band under 11000 ‘sweet spot’ primarily for east coast residents? any example for something just under 11k from YVR? It seems like only Australia would be a suitable destination just under 11k?

        1. Ricky
          Ricky

          YVR-LHR-IST-BKK works, but only just.

          1. Avatar
            CR

            Satisfyingly close! Nice find

            Hard to find any other routes though

    2. Avatar
      Alice

      If you are able to find the routes and flights you want before November 8, I see no reason why you shouldn’t book it. Only if you make any voluntary changes after November 8 will you be subject to the new rules. So you could save 25k if you don’t plan to make any changes.

  8. Ricky
    Ricky

    Update for folks. I’ve made some corrections and additions to this article:

    – Aeroplan tickets are limited to 12 segments if an Air Canada flight is involved and 16 segments on partner-only itineraries.
    – Even on round-trips, a one-way bound is limited to 6 segments. My initial understanding that round-trips can have one-way bounds with more than 6 segments was incorrect. This means that any partner-only ticket with more than 12 segments is automatically treated as a minimum of 3 bounds. This also means that my “Example #6” under Aeroplan Mini-RTWs gets significantly more expensive.
    – In addition to the “100% general rule”, there are some restrictions on logical allowable transit regions, which prohibit one-way bounds such as YYZ-LIS-GRU and LAX-NRT-FRA. I’m working on getting additional clarity on these allowable transit rules.

    1. Avatar
      Martin

      Any update on logical routing rules? Is it related to crossing certain IATA zones etc..

    2. Avatar
      Alice

      Thanks for following up Ricky! On the LAX-NRT-FRA, if it was a round trip, would that routing be allowed then?

      1. Ricky
        Ricky

        No, because the bound would still break due to circuitous routing in both directions (as the transit zone isn’t deemed logical). It’d be four bounds.

        1. Avatar
          CR

          LAX-NRT-FRA is 11,286 miles, just under 100% (94.4%) more miles than LAX-FRA direct. Shouldn’t this be allowed?

          1. Ricky
            Ricky

            No, see the above-mentioned restrictions on allowable logical transit zones.

  9. Avatar
    Adam Cummings

    Ricky, based on your understanding on the “6 one way bound” per reward, in theory could you book 3 return trips on one reward from the same city example YYZ-LAX-YYZ-SFO-YYZ-YVR-YYZ (understanding it would be 6X whatever fare class you choose). This could make the 50% vouchers very valuable, especially for J.

    1. Ricky
      Ricky

      Responded to your comment below, Adam.

  10. Avatar
    Fred Goertzen

    Re: Criteria 5 (restated below) and your example 4). So any return trip is not bound by the six segments rule?

    Reaching a maximum of six segments
    * Exception: On round-trip or multi-city itineraries (of the formats A–B–A, A–B–C–A, etc.), bounds will break at points of turnaround (B, C, etc.) regardless of the number of segments

    1. Ricky
      Ricky

      Yes, it’s my understanding that a return-trip can have 8 segments in one bound and another 8 in another bound.

  11. Avatar
    Louis Foy

    In the first Example 6, souldn’t the Melbourne–Singapore segment be identified as (destination) instead of (stopover) ?

    1. Ricky
      Ricky

      Yes, it should. Thanks for catching that.

  12. Avatar
    Mer

    Just trying to extend/incorporate your example #3 and #6. Would you be charged 100k or 85k if the routing was this:

    YYZ – IST – MLE (stop) – SIN – SGN (destination)

    Allowable for 1 way?

    1. Ricky
      Ricky

      85k. One of the few “creative” methods around. 😉

      1. Avatar
        Kay

        YYZ-IST: 5,091 mi
        IST-MLE: 3,764 mi
        MLE-SIN: 2,113 mi
        SIN-SGN: 675 mi
        Total: 11,644 mi

        This costs 105k and the stopover is 5k so I thought 110k. No?

        1. Ricky
          Ricky

          Actually, yes. I missed the SGN endpoint at first – if this ended in SIN, it’d be 85k and a 5k savings compared to ending in MLE.

          1. Avatar
            Mer

            Thanks for the correction! Stopping in SIN just falls below 11,000. Sweet! This is interesting! In the past, it would be difficult to make this kind of routing. Paying more, but at least it is allowable.

  13. Avatar
    bingo

    It’s unfortunate, but complex mTRW that truly stretch the limits, which were previously possible, are now more expensive (20%+, and reasonable to expect a 40% markup). Sure, no YQ, but in some cases, the YQ fees were negligible, or even worth the cost given the complex itinerary, and the return on points (10%+ in certain cases)

    I personally got a lot of value out of the no/low YQ partner airlines and MPM limits; certainly a lot more value than the current program would afford. I suppose good things simply don’t last forever, sadly.

    Now, to find a Super Elite who is not looking to use their vouchers…

    Also, you’ve mixed up Munich and Frankfurt in this paragraph:

    “This trip will be priced on the basis of three one-way bounds: Montreal–Munich, Frankfurt–Abu Dhabi, and Abu Dhabi–New York–Montreal. It’ll definitely be more expensive than if a trip priced with only two one-way bounds.”

    1. Avatar
      Adam

      If were able to book 6 one way bounds (essentially 3 returns) on one reward, should be lots of SE who have left over vouchers (I will be one)

  14. Avatar
    Thananon Nontula

    going from Tokyo to Sao Paulo, can I have a stopover in Canada/US?
    i.e. HND-YVR (stopover)-EWR-GRU

    1. Ricky
      Ricky

      No stopovers are permitted in Canada and the US.

  15. Avatar
    Adam Cummings

    The bounds approach seems interesting for maximizing 50% J redemption as SE, currently I am booking CMB-AUH-YYZ (100K) could I tag on YYZ-LHR at future date for another (70K) as its not a stop but another “bound” ?

    1. Ricky
      Ricky

      Yes, I believe this would be possible. Combining multiple bounds on the same
      ticket to use 1 Priority Rewards voucher will be a great way to maximize for those who are willing to put in the effort.

      1. Avatar
        Adam

        In theory could you book 3 return trips (6 bounds) example YYZ-LAX-YYZ-SFO-YYZ-YVR-YYZ as an example using 1 50% off voucher but paying 6 “one way bounds” if the logic is correct on how this will work

        1. Ricky
          Ricky

          I have followed up on this. Unfortunately, when an itinerary returns to point of origin, additional bounds may not be added to the same reward. This makes sense, to be honest.

          However, I suppose this opens the door to stuff like YYZ-SFO-YUL-LAX-EWR-SFO-YYZ. I’m gonna suggest we give this a go ourselves when the time comes. 🙂

          1. Avatar
            Adam

            Now you have me thinking YYZ-CDG-YUL-FRA-YOW-LHR-YYZ (may still get some pretty great value out of those 50% J redemption’s or 50% Y and burn those ecredits that are always expiring !! I am actually a big fan of the new program, 50% vouchers and ablility to book into upgradeable fares in economy are great changes for myself.

          2. Avatar
            Adam

            Thanks for the response, completely makes sense ! Wishful thinking. Amazing recaps BTW

            1. Avatar
              Adam

              Also may be something if your you book on homebound portion if its just point of origin (example YYZ) HKG-YYZ-LHR-YYZ-CDG-YYZ, suspect there would be some sort of rule against this as well though.

  16. Avatar
    Mark

    Great job, Ricky!!!

    Under this section – Advanced: Combining Up to Six One-Way Bounds

    You have mistakenly added Istanbul 3 times:

    “So let’s allow our imagination to run wild: Montreal–St. John’s–London; London–Athens–Istanbul; Istanbul–Dubai–Bangkok; Istanbul–Singapore–Sydney;”

    The 3rd “Istanbul” should be “Bangkok”.

    1. Ricky
      Ricky

      Yessir!

  17. Avatar
    Nicolas

    looking to get a one way from eastern canada to tokyo.
    YYZ-YVR-NRT on a single ticket would be (6758 miles) 75,000 pts

    But if i get two one way tickets, it would be:
    YYZ-YVR (2085 miles) 12,500 pts
    YVR-NRT (4674 miles) 55,000 pts
    for a total of 67,500 pts, an economy of 7,500 pts. Am I right?

    1. Ricky
      Ricky

      Only if you’re happy flying the YYZ-YVR in economy (for 12,500 points). If you want it in business, it’d be 25,000 points, negating the overall savings.

      For any one-way bound consisting of mixed cabins, there may be possibilities to split the booking and pay less. We’ll explore “creative stuff” like this in a future post (maybe next week).

      1. Avatar
        Nicolas

        Oops you’re right, thats thr economy pts…

  18. Avatar
    litokid

    *cracks knuckles* Time to experiment. This isn’t actually that bad – I think the 100% rule is SIMPLER than MPM in some ways…

    Ricky, one of the ways to book old mRTWs was booking the wanted flights (even if in economy), then upgrading the class of service if/when seats became available. That incurred no change fees, since it wasn’t a change to the itinerary.

    Do you know if booking prior to Nov 8, then upping the class after Nov 8, would trigger a recalculation using the new rules?

    1. Ricky
      Ricky

      Response from AC: A change to class of service on a Legacy reward will involve a repricing under the new Flight Rewards construct.

  19. Avatar
    Kyle

    Hypothetically speaking could you stopover in europe on your one way to South America for 60k in J?

    Something like YVR – LIS (stop)- EZE(dest)? Get a discounted trans Atlantic + a flight to South America?

    1. Avatar
      Yyzbarista

      No. This breaks the underlying IATA zone rules.

  20. Avatar
    Shaun

    The zones make things complicated for mRTW from the West Coast. The N America – Pacific chart has the more generous categories but the western Pacific cities like BKK are a LONG way from YVR. As a result you need to take VERY direct routing via the Atlantic zone to stay in the 11,000 mile category. BKK-IST-YVR works but anything other than *really* direct through Europe is difficult to stay under 11k miles with a mRTW with Pacific zone destination.
    I’m thinking of using eastern Atlantic zone destinations and just going with the 8k+ category – the top category in Atlantic costs 5k less than the top Pacific one.. It’s 15k more each way that Pacific zone <11k but then you can be much freer in your routing. I'm looking at YVR-TPE-BKK-DPS(stop)-SIN-DAC(destination) then DAC-IST-ATH(stop)-CAI-FRA-YVR which I believe should be 105k for each way. Lots to think on!

  21. Avatar
    Chris

    Just trying to get my head around the circuitous rule.
    As an example:
    The distance between SGN-YVR is 7317
    So would something like SGN-NRT-SIN-TPE-YVR (14014) be acceptable as its about 96% of the total?)

    And I’m guessing 105K points?

    1. Ricky
      Ricky

      As per my understanding, no.

      A bound will break if it is circuitous at any point in the journey. In your example, SGN-NRT-SIN is obviously circuitous, so the bound would break at NRT. For the same reason, it should break at SIN too (because NRT-SIN-TPE would be circuitous). This would be three one-way bounds.

  22. Avatar
    Nicholas

    Superb article.

    What about the One-and-half trick?(May 2nd 2017 post)
    Will it still be valid?
    Will this be considered a 2 bound travel?

    1. Ricky
      Ricky

      Stopovers are no longer permitted in Canada/US, even if the overall itinerary is outside of Canada/US, so the trick is essentially dead unless you live outside of Canada/US.

      1. Avatar
        C

        So not only the north american redemptions do not include a stopover in Canada/US, all of the redemptions cannot have a stopover in Canada/US (or North America region)? Then nested trips are gone….

        1. Ricky
          Ricky

          Canada/US only. Stopovers are still allowed in Mexico, Central America, and the Caribbean.

          1. Avatar
            C

            So DPS-TPE-LAX-CUN(stop)-LIS(destination) presumably works for 105k (Pacific-Atlantic)? At no point it exceeds 100%

  23. Avatar
    Alice

    Ricky, in the last scenario, I think you meant Ho Chi Minh, not Hanoi, but we get it 😉

    If I understand the new rules correctly:

    yyz-waw-ist-sez(stop)-add-sin-dps(dest), can be changed to this:
    yyz-add-sez(stop)-ist-dps(dest).

    I do like the flexibility of within 200% of distance. Open up so many routings.

    1. Ricky
      Ricky

      My confusion over Vietnamese cities should be all fixed now. 🙂

      I don’t think YYZ-ADD-SEZ-IST-DPS will count as a single one-way bound – the logic works iteratively with every segment, so when logic reaches YYZ-ADD-SEZ-IST, the bound will break at SEZ, as this is a circuitous routing that’s 140% the direct distance (YYZ-IST 5,091, YYZ-ADD-SEZ-IST 12,227).

      That’s how I understand it.

      1. Avatar
        Alice

        Oh, they won’t calculate the origin-destination as YYZ-DPS (9866) because yyz-add-sez-ist-dps is 89.1%. Is it because I am stopping/routing through Atlantic region to get to the Pacific region? Hmm, there are going to be a lot of drawing boards.

        1. Ricky
          Ricky

          You’re free to stop in Atlantic on your way to Pacific – it’s because of the circuitous routing that causes the bound to break.

          For example, YYZ-IST-SEZ-ADD-SIN-DPS would be a valid one-way bound, because at no point in the middle does the routing become circuitous.

          1. Avatar
            C

            Using your example above (SGN-NRT-SIN-TPE-YVR),

            IST-ADD is 2307mi and IST-SEZ-ADD is 5072mi (120% more) – wouldn’t this break the bound in SEZ, resulting in 2 one-way bounds? i.e., YYZ-IST-SEZ and SEZ-ADD-SIN-DPS?

            1. Avatar
              Alice

              You should be using YYZ, not IST to calculate. So it is, YYZ-IST, then YYZ-IST-SEZ against YYZ-SEZ, then YYZ-IST-SEZ-ADD against YYZ-ADD, then YYZ-IST-SEZ-ADD-SIN against YYZ-SIN, and finally the entire journey against YYZ-DPS.

              1. Ricky
                Ricky

                This is exactly my understanding. The logic checks each segment one-by-one to see if the bound breaks. If the routing from the bound’s beginning becomes circuitous at any point, the bound breaks at the previous stop.

                1. Avatar
                  Josh

                  What if the routing from the middle of the bound becomes circuitous? For example, take A-B-C-D: A-B-C must be less than double the mileage of A-C, and A-B-C-D likewise for A-D. But does B-C-D need to pass the test for B-D?

                  1. Avatar
                    Alice

                    No. The journey only calculates from the bound beginning, so always A only.

          2. Avatar
            Alice

            Thank you Ricky! I get it now! It is not just calculating A-C, you need to continuous confirm that A-B1-B2-B3-C continues to be circuitous. Wow, this is advance stuff.

  24. Avatar
    Bob

    Has it been confirmed that the 50% offs will work with partner itineraries.

    Hopefully it will only be with AC itineraries and leave availability on the good airlines for the rest of us!

    1. Ricky
      Ricky

      The 50% off Priority Rewards can be redeemed on any award, including partners.

  25. Avatar
    C

    I don’t think Asiana flies ICN-ORD anymore, they axed that route last year…

    In example 4, isn’t SGN Ho Chi Minh? Hanoi is a different city in the north I think

    1. Ricky
      Ricky

      Both good catches, thank you. Corrected it to ICN-JFK. Hanoi is indeed a different city, so that’s corrected too.

Ricky

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