This article is on Air Canada Aeroplan points- tips for visiting Australia and New Zealand, but for the most part you can use these tips and questions for any other frequent flyer program to get bang for your buck. As a frequent flyer myself, I have worked out how to best utilize my points – so here are my tips on using your Aeroplan points when visiting Australia and New Zealand.
1/ When using your Air Canada Aeroplan points and traveling to Australia and New Zealand you need to book early…especially if you want a direct route. Otherwise you may find yourself with multiple and unnecessary stops. If you know the dates you wish to travel, then call Aeroplan and ask them when those seats for those dates will be released.
As an example, to fly from Canada to Australia in economy class you need 80 thousand points. With 80000 points you have a choice of either 2 stopovers on your way to/from your destination, or 1 stopover and an open jaw (which means you could fly into Sydney and then out of somewhere else in Australia).
Here is an example of my next trip.
Edmonton- Vietnam (1st stopover in Vietnam)
Vietnam to Perth Australia (my destination is Perth)
Perth to Paris (my second stopover is Paris)
Paris to Edmonton (end of my ticket)
2/ You are allowed a few other sneaky stopovers and if you work it right you can actually get a full day in another country… so in the above example my Perth to Paris flight has a change of aircraft in Singapore. If I land in Singapore and book my next flight to depart with-in 24 hours of landing, then I can count that as bonus free stopover in addition to the 2 stopovers I already have included in my ticket. In the above scenario I am landing at approximately 11am and then flying out the next day at 10.30am. Now of course it needs to stay under that 24 hours and also there needs to be a frequent flyer seat still available on the next flight.
3/ Choose your airlines wisely. Did you know that when you fly with Air Canada you pay more on fuel surcharges. In my case I saved myself 400 dollars by using United Airlines (or a different carrier). United Airlines does not charge you fuel surcharges! I do not know about you, but 400 bucks will cover a few nice day tours in a city or a night’s accommodation and a great meal.
4/ You have one year from departure to utilise your full ticket. If you have the time, then you can really plan your trip well.
5/ You can change your flights as long as there are frequent flyer seats still available. There is a fee of approximately CAD 90.00 to do this and you may also have to pay for any additional taxes on your new flights. I suggest you stay on top of doing this as early as possible. Plus, of course the flight changes still need to be within the rules of the ticket.
6/ Be careful of booking Business Class… they are very sneaky… you will need 160 thousand points but this does not guarantee that every flight you are on will be in Business Class. In the above example, I could have used 160 thousand points and still flown Economy Class on my longest flights from Canada to Asia and Singapore to Paris as there was no Business Class available to be used for a point’s ticket. So it would have cost me double the amount of points to sit in economy class still. I would rather use those points for 2 economy class tickets to Australia and New Zealand. If you use the Aeroplan website then look closely at each flight leg that they show and see if it says economy or business class written underneath it. Or if you call Aeroplan then ask them to tell you what each flights class of seating actually is.
7/ If you do a booking that has multiple airline carriers, then call or ask Aeroplan for the booking reference number for each airline on your booking. You can either log into that airlines website and select/pay for your seats or call the airline directly. This is way better than having Aeroplan allocate your seats as they often cannot see into each airlines system for all seats.
8/ Do not trust that Aeroplan or any frequent flyer system will advise you of schedule changes. You need to stay on top of this so I suggest you reconfirm by calling the airline to check if any changes have happened.
9/ Remember that a Visa for Australia is required. Do not count on the Frequent Flyer Company issuing your Visa. If they ask for your passport details (all of them!), then they are probably issuing a visa for you. Also ask them how to obtain a paper copy of it. If they do not ask you for all of your passport details, then the chances are slim and you will need to organize your own Visa. As a rule of thumb just double check whether or not they have processed your visa… do not get caught out with just assuming. Remember to also check for visa requirements for any other country you may be stopping over in as well.
So there you have it folks… hopefully you got a few tips on how to work these frequent flyer points. As mentioned these really pertain to Air Canada Aeroplan but that does not mean you should not take heed and ask the same questions when using any other frequent flyer program. Of course always check with Aeroplan before going ahead as their points system likes to change quite often!
We assist our clients who are visiting Australia and New Zealand, and wish to pay for their flights with their frequent flyer points, by tailor-making their land itinerary and advising them on which flights they should be booking to use for their points tickets. We provide you with the right questions to ask and how to best utilize your points to your advantage. Some clients pay for some of their tickets for a family member and use points for the others… we also make sure they are all referenced together and advise the best way to do this.
If you are planning a trip then contact GoWalkabout Travel and we will get you all sorted 🙂