One of the more unique partnerships that Aeroplan has established in the past few years is with its one-of-a-kind travel partner: Rocky Mountaineer.
Rocky Mountaineer is a rail tour company based in Western Canada that offers luxury train services throughout British Columbia and Alberta, as well as a route in the United States.
Through the partnership, Aeroplan members can earn points when booking Rocky Mountaineer excursions, leverage their Aeroplan Elite Status or premium Aeroplan credit card for Rocky Mountaineer upgrades, and redeem Aeroplan points towards Rocky Mountaineer gift cards or tours.
In This Post
- What Is Rocky Mountaineer?
- How to Earn Aeroplan Points on Rocky Mountaineer Excursions
- Aeroplan Elite Status & Premium Credit Card Benefits with Rocky Mountaineer
- How to Redeem Aeroplan Points on Rocky Mountaineer
What Is Rocky Mountaineer?
Rocky Mountaineer operates luxury rail tour services throughout the Rocky Mountains. As of now, the company offers rail excursions on four separate routes:
- First Passage to the West: Vancouver – Kamloops – Banff / Lake Louise
- Journey Through the Clouds: Vancouver – Kamloops – Jasper
- Rainforest to Gold Rush: Vancouver – Whistler – Quesnel – Jasper
- Rockies to the Red Rocks: Moab – Glenwood Springs – Denver
Each route offers several different excursion packages of varying duration across two different classes of service: SilverLeaf and GoldLeaf.
GoldLeaf is a step above SilverLeaf in terms of quality, with a bi-level glass dome coach instead of a single-level coach, larger windows and viewing platforms, and better onboard catering.
Rocky Mountaineer’s trains only operate during the daytime, allowing you to take in the spectacular vistas of Western Canada or the American Southwest through the panoramic glass-dome coaches.
All Rocky Mountaineer packages come with hotel nights included, typically at upscale to high-end hotels, such as the Fairmont Jasper Park Lodge or Fairmont Chateau Lake Louise.
As you can imagine, Rocky Mountaineer’s luxury rail excursions don’t come cheap. A two-day SilverLeaf journey between Vancouver and Banff or Lake Louise will run you US$1,421 ($1,867 CAD) per person, while longer packages in the GoldLeaf class of service can reach upwards of US$7,521 ($9,886 CAD) per person.
How to Earn Aeroplan Points on Rocky Mountaineer Excursions
If you’re interested in splurging on a Rocky Mountaineer getaway, Aeroplan’s partnership allows you to earn a chunk of Aeroplan points in exchange for your spending.
- For travel in 2022 and 2023, Aeroplan members will earn 2 Aeroplan points per dollar (CAD) spent on GoldLeaf bookings and 1 Aeroplan point per dollar (CAD) spent on SilverLeaf bookings.
- Aeroplan premium credit card holders can also earn up to an additional 2 Aeroplan points per dollar spent (CAD)
The cheapest two-day SilverLeaf journey is priced at US$1,240 ($1,629 CAD) per person. Since we value Aeroplan points at 2.1 cents per point (cpp), the minimum 1,629 Aeroplan points earned would be worth $34, which is a fairly standard earn rate.
Furthermore, the premium Aeroplan co-branded credit cards also offer an elevated earning rate on Rocky Mountaineer bookings of 2 Aeroplan points per dollar spent. This 2x earning rate is in place of, not in addition to, the regular earning rate for travel purchases.
By paying with a premium Aeroplan co-branded credit card, Aeroplan members can therefore earn a total of 4 Aeroplan points per dollar spent on GoldLeaf bookings and 3 Aeroplan points per dollar spent on SilverLeaf bookings, using their journeys along the rails to get closer to their next journey in the sky.
|Credit Card||Best Offer||Value|
Up to 90,000 Aeroplan points
$599 annual fee
|Up to 90,000 Aeroplan points||$1,921||Apply Now|
90,000 Aeroplan points
$599 annual fee
|90,000 Aeroplan points||$1,449||Apply Now|
115,000 Aeroplan points
$599 annual fee
|115,000 Aeroplan points||$1,278||Apply Now|
90,000 Aeroplan points
$599 annual fee
|90,000 Aeroplan points||$676||Apply Now|
To be eligible for these points bonuses, members simply need to attach their Aeroplan number when they make a booking. Bookings can be made by calling Rocky Mountaineer at 1-800-875-9149, on Rocky Mountaineer’s website, or through a travel agent.
Aeroplan Elite Status & Premium Credit Card Benefits with Rocky Mountaineer
Aeroplan has additional benefits for their elite members and premium credit card holders as part of the Rocky Mountaineer partnership:
- Aeroplan 25K members and above, as well as premium credit card holders, will receive a hotel room category upgrade on the first and last nights of a Rocky Mountaineer package.
- Aeroplan 50K members and above, as well as premium credit card holders, will receive a complimentary upgrade from SilverLeaf to GoldLeaf on any Rocky Mountaineer package for themselves and one other traveller on the same reservation.
Both of these benefits must be requested at the time of booking, rather than being automatically or retroactively applied. Both are currently available only on Canadian routes (excluding the Moab–Denver US route) for bookings made by October 30, 2023.
The complimentary upgrade from SilverLeaf to GoldLeaf is definitely the stronger benefit here, as you’ll enjoy an elevated onboard product with a bi-level coach car, oversized windows and larger viewing platforms, and a premium gourmet menu compared to the SilverLeaf product (think Eggs Benedict instead of omelettes for breakfast).
Effectively, if you’re interested in travelling with Rocky Mountaineer and can benefit from the cost savings in the complimentary upgrade from SilverLeaf to GoldLeaf, then the $599 annual fee of a premium Aeroplan co-branded credit card can pay for itself.
Meanwhile, the hotel category upgrade is a bit less exciting:
- It’s only an upgrade to a higher room category, rather than to a suite
- It’s only applicable on the first and last nights of your journey
- It’s a benefit that can be replicated quite easily through other means (for example, at Fairmont hotels, by holding Fairmont Gold Status through stock ownership or an Ibis business card)
Still, it’s great to see Aeroplan playing around with creative benefits for their most valued Elite Status members and premium cardholders. Indeed, it’s a concept that I’d love to see expanded within the Rocky Mountaineer partnership and in future partnerships too.
How to Redeem Aeroplan Points on Rocky Mountaineer
Lastly, Aeroplan members also have the ability to redeem points for Rocky Mountaineer eVouchers starting at $50, or to cover the entire cost of a Rocky Mountaineer package. Redemptions are handled via the RewardOps portal.
Fixed-value eVouchers can be redeemed at a value of 1.25 cents per point, which is higher than the “standard” redemption rate against other gift cards and experiences, although still not a great value at which you can redeem Aeroplan points.
You’d be better off saving your Aeroplan points for flights, where they can fetch a much higher value (we recommend aiming for 2.1 cents/point).
Meanwhile, redeeming Aeroplan points directly for a Rocky Mountaineer package can fetch a slightly higher value, though it’s still not ideal. You can expect to redeem points for package tours at a rate of around 1.6cpp, which is still below our target value of 2.1cpp.
Again, if you like luxury rail travel, you probably also like luxury flights, and you’d be better off redeeming Aeroplan points for the latter and paying cash for the former.
Aeroplan’s partnership with Rocky Mountaineer allows members to earn and redeem points for luxury rail travel experiences. Some members can further leverage their engagement with the Aeroplan program for additional benefits on their Rocky Mountaineer excursions.
While the price point of a Rocky Mountaineer package might be prohibitive for many travellers, I’m sure there are some Aeroplan members who might be swayed by this partnership into trying out a scenic train trip for the first time.
The most exciting component to this partnership is the complimentary upgrade from SilverLeaf to GoldLeaf for Aeroplan Elite Status members and premium cardholders, and I’d love to see this concept being applied to Aeroplan’s future partnerships as well.
Those two days trips between Vancouver and Banff or Lake Louise are one way only.
Day first – Vancouver to Kamloops, Day second – Kamloops to Lake Louise.
Day first – Vancouver to Kamloops, Day second – Kamloops to Banff.
To get back to Vancouver, you should probably double the price.
Do authorized users of the credit cards get the upgrade?
Sounds exciting, but after checking trip advisor, not going to do this anytime soon!
interesting. so if you book silverleaf and get the free upgrade to gold due to status, and travel in 2021, would you get the 20k bonus or the 10 k bonus?
10,000, since it’s based on what is booked. In the T&Cs: “Earning of Aeroplan points only applies for: i) the booked class of services and not for any upgrades provided for by Rocky Mountaineer”
If the hotel stays are booked by Rocky Mountaineer, are they eligible for points earning / upgrades / elite benefits that come with ALL?
Followed up on this – unfortunately it seems like the answer is no. ALL doesn’t offer their benefits to a member who is booked through a contracted rate (i.e., the Rocky rate). A workaround is a for a member to choose a package when booking with Rocky Mountaineer that is only the rail portion and then book their hotel stays direct with Fairmont (or any other hotel), which is supposedly a very common practice.
Intriguing development for sure! Exciting stuff.