Searching for award availability can be a time-consuming process. The first step is to plan your routes and know which routes to be searching for, before you boot up the search engine.
If you're planning a complex trip, search for your trip segment-by-segment until you locate award space on each flight, then call Aeroplan to book it with a phone agent.
The ExpertFlyer or United.com search engines might be a little easier to work with, but you should always verify what you find on Aeroplan to make sure that it can be booked by Aeroplan agents.
Given any city pair, Aeroplan will show you a few available flights between the two cities, but not all. Sometimes, you’ll be shown a list of results that all consist of expensive fuel surcharges. Other times the search engine will respond to your business class query with a list of worthless mixed-cabin results that have business class on a short flight and economy class on a long flight.
The solution is to search segment-by-segment and piece together your trip manually, then call the Aeroplan contact centre and book it with a phone agent.
For example, let’s say that a search from Vancouver (YVR) to Delhi (DEL) turns up a list of unsatisfactory results with high fuel surcharges. You can break down the route into any of the below combinations, all of which have little to no fuel surcharges:
Vancouver to Beijing (PEK) to Delhi, on Air China
Vancouver to Tokyo (HND/NRT) to Delhi, on ANA
Vancouver to Newark (EWR) to Delhi, on United
You’d then search for each of these segment-by-segment to see if you find any availability that works for you. So, using the One-Way search option, you’d search for YVR–PEK and PEK–DEL, YVR–HND and NRT–DEL, etc.
If you find award space that lines up, perfect! You’re ready to call in and book. Otherwise, you can try taking an extra connection and breaking things down even further:
Vancouver to Newark to Zurich (ZRH) to Delhi, on United and Swiss
Vancouver to Toronto (YYZ) to Istanbul (IST) to Delhi, on Air Canada and Turkish Airlines
Vancouver to Taipei (TPE) to Hong Kong (HKG) to Delhi, on EVA Air and Air India
How do you know which airlines fly where? It’s a matter of learning the Star Alliance route network. Read this article for more detail on that.
More on Searching for Aeroplan Awards
The Aeroplan search engine can be clunky sometimes, so you can also use other search engines that also have access to Star Alliance availability information. One example is United.com, which has a useful calendar search feature:
You can also use a paid service called ExpertFlyer, which has a five-day free trial that you can take advantage of.
Read more: How to Use ExpertFlyer Like a Pro
No matter which search engine you use, you’ll want to check on the Aeroplan search engine to verify that Aeroplan can see the same award space. Most of the time the availability will be the same among the major search engines, but occasionally there are situations in which United can see an available flight but Aeroplan can’t, or vice versa.
Last updated 17 November 2018. Any questions? Contact me.