What are those extra charges on my “free” Aeroplan ticket you ask? Let’s consider the following itinerary, Toronto – London – Frankfurt – Toronto. A super simple trip adding London as a stopover on the way to Frankfurt
While this only requires 90,000 miles, there is also a huge amount of $1188.76 per person! Below is the breakdown of the fees
Clearly, one of the biggest charge here is the “Carrier Surcharge”, while we cannot avoid other airport and passenger charges, the carrier surcharge is one thing we can work on!
First thing you should try to do is to use carriers that do not collect Carrier Surcharge, please see my page here for the full list. Two examples for European destinations would be Turkish and Swiss. Both are excellent choices, with comfy lie-flat bed, award-winning meal selections and services, totally blows Air Canada out of the water. Both of these carriers offer direct flight from Toronto, Montreal, Boston and New York to Istanbul and Zurich. Below is a very simple trip going from Monteal to Istanbul, then to Zurich, then back.
Notice the difference? The total charges is now suddenly 10 times less! $120 for taking Turkish and Swiss versus $1188 for taking Air Canada and Lufthansa!
Another interesting way to reduce this charge is picking the right destination city. For example, HongKong regulates fuel surcharge and imposes a maximum allowed amount. Therefore all flights to and from HongKong will have significantly reduced charge. The carrier surcharge is calculated according to your destination city (the furthest point from your origin). We can leverage this by adding HK to your existing route to reduce the cost.
For example, a round trip from Toronto to Tokyo will have $228 in Carrier Surcharge if you fly Air Canada or All Nippon Airways. However, if you try to do Toronto to Tokyo to Hongkong, then back to Toronto, the Carrier Surcharge will drop to $116 as follows.
Adding a stopover is free, and you may add up to 2 stopovers in addition to your destination, effectively giving you 3 stops for the price of 1 redemption ticket!
In conclusion, to avoid high fees associated with your free ticket, always try to fly the airlines that do not levy a fuel surcharge. When this is not possible, play around with your destination city to see how it affects the carrier surcharge. Always feel free to contact me if you are looking for tips and tricks to minimize your costs!