Ever since I got myself into the miles and points game, I’ve been traveling around the world at least once a year, in business class. I book business class tickets because you get more value out of your miles, and with flat beds for long haul flights, you arrived refreshed and ready to jump into the new adventure. Also, as they say, the journey is also part of the experience. Another reason is that I can accumulate more points than time to travel, so while I could have redeemed in economy, unfortunately I did not have the luxury of time to take months off from work for multiple trips.
As mentioned in my previous posts, my favourite Aeroplan redemption is the mini around-the-world trip. It is essentially an award ticket to Asia (75,000 miles in economy, 150,000 miles in business), with 2 free stops in addition to your final destination. The 2 stops can be anywhere along the way, let it be Europe, other parts of Asia, North America, or even Middle-east such as Dubai. Below is an example on what the routing looks like, the amount of miles required would be exactly the same as of Toronto-Tokyo round trip.
Toronto – New York – Frankfurt – Beijing – Seoul – Hongkong – Taipei – Los Angeles – Toronto
You could pick 3 destinations and stay as long as you want, with a day trip to other cities on the list.
So how do you actually choose a valid routing and book it? The basic concept is very simple, you have a fixed mileage to play around with, determined by your departure city and the furthest destination. Within that allowed mileage, you can choose any routing you like, as long as the total mileage for all the segments for either outbound or inbound flights are within the limit.
Let’s go through an actual example. First step is to list out your interested destinations, and find the furthest one from your origin using the Great Circle Mapper tool. Simply plug in the airport code of your home city and the destination. In the trip above, we could guess Hongkong is the furthest, we can verify this by putting in ‘YYZ-HKG’, and the result is 7810 miles.
You can repeat this for other destinations, such as ‘YYZ-ICN’, ‘YYZ-IST’, to find out which city is the furthest. Eventually, we can confirm Hongkong is the furthest.
After finding out your furthest destination, the next step is to call Aeroplan and ask the agent for the maximum permitted mileage (MPM). Or you could also check the wiki here from Flyertalk forum. Conveniently, YYZ-HKG is listed there (I actually contributed to that one :)), and it is 10957 miles. Knowing the total distance from Toronto to Hongkong is only 7810 miles, and you have 10957 miles to play around with, this gives us a ton of options. Typically you could do one of the directions, going across Atlantic and through Europe, or going across Pacific. Of course, going through Atlantic (TATL) is obviously further, but as long as the total mileage of our outbound segment is within 10957, then we are good!
I arbitrarily picked New York, Frankfurt, Beijing, Seoul, along the way to Hongkong, knowing they are Star Alliance hubs, so we could easily get direct flights between these cities. Is this a valid route? Let’s find out. Punch ‘yyz-jfk-fra-pek-icn-hkg’ into the Great Circle Mapper, and we get 10921 miles. We barely made it under the limit! So now we can confirm our outbound is under the limit. Remember, both the outbound and inbound have to be under 10957 miles. Let’s check our return, ‘hkg-tpe-lax-yyz’, this is 9476 miles, again we are safe! Therefore we can conclude this is very likely a valid bookable trip from Aeroplan.
Notice how the inbound trip we still have almost 1500 miles to work with, this is because we are flying back through Pacific, and the distance is shorter. With this in mind, you can actually do a crazy route from Hongkong to Bangkok, Beijing, Toronto, and still be within the limit. Yes going across Pacific gives you flexibility on backtracking and taking a less logical route. This may or may not be desirable for your own situation and needs, again, I’m just presenting options so you can be more flexible if the situation allows.
Air Canada business class cabin
Once you have confirmed a valid routing, now it’s time to pick your flights. You will find eventually that longhaul business and first class tickets are the hardest to book, so you may have to revise your itinerary as necessary. To find available flights, there are several tools to use, one of my favourite is the ANA search tool. This blog has a very comprehensive guide on how to use this tool. Please check it out here.
After finding out all the available flights, I would write them down on a spreadsheet, with specific flight numbers and dates. You can then call Aeroplan call center, and feed the agent all the flights one segment at a time.
One of the easiest ways to get miles is from signup bonuses with American Express Gold Rewards card, as I have previously reviewed. As well, with an annual fee, the Platinum card will provide a 60,000 signup bonus along with a $400 travel credit, plus tons of perks, I have also reviewed. You may simultaneously hold multiple American Express cards as long as they are not the same cards. These two cards alone will give you 85,000 miles! More than enough for a round the world trip in economy.
Of course there are plenty of tips and tricks on how to maximize your experience on this type of award booking, which I’m hoping to write about in the future, so stay tuned!