Is Aeroplan Lowering Fuel Surcharges?

Update: Looks like most of the “IT issues” have been fixed now, with Swiss, SAS, ANA, and Thai flights back on the system. Only LOT remains offline for now.

It seems to be quite a tempestuous time over at Aeroplan in the wake of their agreement with the Air Canada-led consortium being finalized in late August. All sorts of changes have been happening, and while most of them have been very consumer-unfriendly, a few are worth pointing out that might work out in your favour.

Aeroplan’s “IT Issues”

If you’ve tried to book any awards on Aeroplan in the past week or so, you might have noticed that some airlines’ flights are missing from the system altogether. Indeed, it’s been another round of Aeroplan’s infamous “IT issues”, in which a host of carriers can’t be booked because apparently Aeroplan has trouble communicating with them.

Quite suspiciously, the affected airlines are all ones that don’t have fuel surcharges, like Swiss, SAS, or ANA. Brussels Airlines and Thai flights seem to be on-and-off intermittently, whereas LOT Polish Airlines has been blocked since at least June.

When you search Aeroplan, any routes operated by these airlines simply won’t appear, even if there’s space available. Even more infuriatingly, if Aeroplan can’t find enough Air Canada or Lufthansa flights to fill up the search results, you’ll be faced with this screen – the Availability Calendar clearly KNOWS that there are flights available on the affected airlines, and yet none are being shown. 

Not only are these flights unavailable via the search engine, but you can’t book them over the phone either. To add insult to injury, most Aeroplan phone agents will insist that there’s simply no availability on the flights even though you can clearly see them on ExpertFlyer or the search engine. You usually need to escalate to a supervisor in order for them to even acknowledge the existence of these issues, and even then, there’s no timeline on when they will be fixed. 

This situation makes a mockery of the supposed ability of Aeroplan members to redeem their miles on Air Canada and Star Alliance partners, given that around 20% of the partners are blocked off. It’s especially problematic for those looking to redeem their miles to Europe, since a large portion of the affected airlines are surcharge-free European airlines.

However, there seems to be a bit of a silver lining at the moment that might be helpful to you if you’re looking to fly to Europe – namely, at some point over the past few days, fuel surcharges seem to have gone down on Air Canada, Lufthansa, Austrian Airlines, and TAP Portugal.

Air Canada / Lufthansa / Austrian: Lower Fuel Surcharges for Economy

In the past, the fuel surcharges on these three airlines have always been soul-crushing – around $500 for a one-way journey – no matter which class of service you’re flying.

This meant that if you wanted to redeem 60,000 Aeroplan miles for a roundtrip to Europe in economy class on one of these airlines, you might be on the hook for almost $1,000 in fuel surcharges. To put it simply, redeeming your points like that destroys their value, and you might as well have never earned them in the first place.

Now, it seems that the fuel surcharges for economy class flights have been lowered to $270 per direction, meaning you can expect to pay around $500 in surcharges for a roundtrip booking.

That’s still not a great value, mind you, but it’s better than before, and there might be times when it’ll make sense to absorb this surcharge. For example, if you’re trying to maximize the value of your points by booking an Aeroplan Mini-RTW, and just can’t find any surcharge-free flights for the European segment, then paying $270 in surcharges might still be worthwhile to secure the rest of your itinerary around the world.

In the meantime, the fuel surcharges on business class flights remain as ridiculous as before, and you should still take every measure to avoid them if you can:

TAP Portugal: No Fuel Surcharges Across the Board

Here’s where you might be able to score quite a sweet deal. TAP Portugal has always levied fuel surcharges in the past, and it’s therefore been one of the airlines that you’re supposed to avoid. However, it seems that’s changed recently, with TAP surcharges levying no fuel surcharges in both economy class and business class.

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You can therefore fly transatlantic on TAP for about $100 all-in. They have a direct flight to Toronto on which they’re now operating Airbus A330s with lie-flat seats (it used to be angled-flat until recently), an excellent Portuguese wine menu onboard, good connectivity throughout Western Europe, and decent award availability as well.


Moreover, Lisbon is a fantastic city to enjoy a stopover, and even a long layover is enough time to drop by the original Pastéis de Belem for some delicious egg tarts!

If you can’t find space on the Toronto flight, look for their Boston, New York JFK, Newark (to both Lisbon and Porto), or Miami services. West Coast travellers can also make use of their San Francisco route, launching in 2019.

Those of you planning creative routings can now employ TAP in your trip planning as well, since they fly some pretty intriguing routes to Brazil and Africa.

Now I’m not certain whether the rule regarding TAP fuel surcharges has permanently changed (airlines like United, Swiss, Turkish, etc. have fuel surcharges on their regular fares, they just don’t get passed on when redeeming award tickets, so perhaps TAP has been added to this collection of airlines), or whether this is just a temporary glitch, and the fuel surcharges might return at some point.

I’d therefore advise firming up any plans relatively soon, just in case it’s the latter scenario. After all, we’ve seen TAP’s fuel surcharge get glitchy in the past – when the Toronto route was first announced, there was a brief period of time when no fuel surcharges were being levied on it.


At the moment, I’m not a happy Aeroplan member at all, since there are several bookings I need to make that are rendered impossible due to airlines like Swiss, SAS, and LOT being blocked. There’s no timeline as to when these “issues” will be fixed, so we’re essentially at the mercy of Aeroplan to deliver a resolution before the award space gets snapped up.

In the meantime, however, it’s looking like the fuel surcharges on Air Canada, Lufthansa, and Austrian economy class tickets have been lowered, while those on TAP Portugal have been virtually eliminated across the board. If you’re looking to cross the Atlantic using your Aeroplan miles, these changes may just have opened up a few additional options for you.

(tip of the hat to /u/thepointsoftravel on Reddit)

  1. Randy

    Hi Ricky,

    Been following your blog awhile and thanks for all the great information.

    Just wondering do you think there’s been many glitches in the Aeroplan search engine. I have been trying to look up for flight from Vancouver to Tokyo and none of the ANA flight is showing up even when I try very slow season.

    1. Ricky YVR

      Looks like ANA/Swiss/SAS are back on the system now.

    2. Ricky YVR

      Yes, Aeroplan’s been having lots of IT issues lately that have caused airlines like Swiss, SAS, ANA, and Thai to be pulled from the system. There’s no timeline on when they’ll be back.

  2. Timbo2

    Looks like more "technical issues" have surface. Two days ago I checked daily flights from LIS-YYZ for the period August 10-17/19 and noted flight availability on all but one day, all with very little is surcharges. I rechecked tonight and not one seat showing in business or economy, not ever a TAP flight noted, flying anywhere. How can these flights be accessed. How does aeroplan get away with this nonsense ? It’s insulting.


    1. Ricky YVR

      I see TAP flights back on the system now.

  3. Kyle

    I hadn’t realized that about TAP. Thanks for sharing. Now if only their business class product was any good…

  4. Kevin

    Looking for next summer from YYZ to LIS and I do not see any availability past June 19, 2019. Is that because there is no availability or is it too early?

  5. Andrew

    Looks like things are messed up once again. Tried the YYZ-LIS search on the same dates. Calendar shows availability but the search returns none. I’m not sure that Aeroplan’s lowering of taxes and fees were by design. Likely just a bi-product of their continues "technical issues". Too bad. Got really excited to see that there was availability to LIS with no YQ. As always though, thanks for the heads up, Ricky!

    1. Ricky YVR

      I still see the flights showing as available, on both the app and website. Are you looking for more than 1 passenger by any chance? The Jan 3 flight seems to have only one business class seat available, though there’s other dates out there with more space. You can always use an ExpertFlyer free trial to corroborate what the search engine’s showing.

      1. Andrew

        Ah yes that was it. Looking for two people. I’ll keep on looking. Thanks again

  6. Jian

    When you use airports in Canada, there will be 50 CAD per one-way, which makes award tickets less valuable, compared to airports in USA.

    1. Ricky YVR

      That’s basically the result of higher Canadian airport taxes and fees, which is unavoidable and has to be paid on any award ticket if you live in Canada.

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