Ultimate Guide to Air Canada Aeroplan Miles: Part 5 – How to Avoid Fuel Surcharges and Save Money!
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While Air Canada Aeroplan can take you on amazing trips, they also charge a lot of money for fuel surcharges on many airlines. These fees can exceed $1,000!
However, there are ways to minimize or avoid fuel surcharges entirely!
I’ll share how you can reduce fuel surcharges on Air Canada Aeroplan tickets to get the most value from your miles.
Ultimate Guide to Air Canada Aeroplan Miles Series Index
- Part 1 – Introduction
- Part 2 – Step-By-Step Guide to Opening an Account
- Part 3 – Step-By-Step Guide to Booking Award Seats Online
- Part 4 – Mini Round-the-World Tickets and Routing Rules
- Part 5 – How to Avoid Fuel Surcharges and Save Money!
- Part 6 – Change and Cancellation Fees Explained
- Part 7 – Advanced Tips and Tricks
- Part 8 – How to Transfer Starwood and American Express Points
Fuel Surcharges Explained
Many airlines include something called a Fuel Surcharge or Carrier Surcharge (YQ or YR) when you buy a ticket. This charge can be low, or sometimes more than the cost of your fare! The cost of fuel surcharges isn’t actually tied to the cost of fuel. Fuel surcharges are a tool used by airlines to quickly change the cost of a ticket.
Most US-based frequent flyer programs do NOT add fuel surcharges to award tickets (like United Airlines), but many foreign programs do. Air Canada Aeroplan charges fuel surcharges on some, but not all airlines. These fuel surcharges can be incredibly expensive.
For example, a round-trip award ticket in Business Class on Air Canada from New York to London via Toronto costs more than 1,200 Canadian dollars (~$964)! That’s in addition to the 110,000 miles required for the flight!
While Air Canada Aeroplan add fuel surcharges to award tickets on many airlines, including Air Canada, there are no fuel surcharges on the following airlines:
- Air China
- Air India
- Air New Zealand
- Brussels Airlines
- Croatia Airlines
- EVA Airlines
- Egypt Air
- Juneao Airlines
- Shenzhen Airlines
- Singapore Airlines
- South African Airways
- Turkish Airlines
- United Airlines
And the following have low or limited fuel surcharges:
- Cathay Pacific / Cathay Dragon
- LOT Polish
- Thai Airways
Note: For flights on Cathay Pacific / Dragon, fuel surcharges are only assessed if airlines other than Cathay Pacific / Dragon are on the same ticket.
For example, after opening a free Aeroplan account online and searching for award seats, you may find 2 different options between Toronto and Zurich. The first option is on Lufthansa, an airlines that has high fuel surcharges. The second option is on United Airlines, which has no fuel surcharges.
Air Canada Aeroplan wants ~658 Canadian dollars (~$527) for a simple round-trip award ticket in coach from Toronto to Zurich. That’s a terrible deal!
But if you travel on United Airlines instead, which has no fuel surcharges, it’s only ~155 Canadian dollars (~$123) which is more than 1/4 the cost of flying with Lufthansa!
So when you plan a trip using Air Canada Aeroplan, you should try to find award seats on airlines that have no or limited fuel surcharges so you get the best possible deal.
Finding Award Seats
If you don’t like what you find on Air Canada Aeroplan’s website, you can also use the United Airlines award search engine to find the seats you want. You are looking for award seats from the following columns:
- “Economy (lowest)“
- “Business Saver Award“
- “First Saver Award“
If you are searching for available coach seats, make sure to click on “Details” and see that it says “Economy (X).” If it says anything other than “X,” you won’t be able to book those seats with Air Canada Aeroplan. For Business Class or First Class, you are looking for “I” and “O” respectively.
Once you’ve found appropriate award seats and verified that it’s a legal route, you can call Air Canada Aeroplan at 800-361-5373 and give them your flight details to book.
Other Tricks to Lower Costs
There are some places that have laws that restrict or ban fuel surcharges. For these locations, you can fly an airline with high fuel surcharges but pay limited costs. For example, if you fly to Tokyo on Air Canada, you do not pay high fuel surcharges. This is because Japan limits fuel surcharges.
Places that restrict or ban fuel surcharges include:
- Hong Kong
- South Korea
You can sometimes lower your costs by booking your ticket as 2 one-way tickets instead of a round-trip ticket. Because fuel surcharges are calculated based on how much they would cost had you purchased your ticket, they vary based on whether the ticket is one-way or round-trip.
In some cases, but not all, fuel surcharges are lower when flights are booked separately. Keep in mind that you can’t take advantage of stopovers or open-jaws when booking one-way tickets.
Airlines That Charge Fuel Surcharges
If you can, try to avoid flying on airlines that have high fuel surcharges. With Air Canada Aeroplan, these airlines are:
- Air Canada
- TAP Portugal
If you fly on airlines with low or no fuel surcharges or are flying to countries that restrict or ban fuel surcharges, you should expect to pay very little for your award ticket.
Earning Air Canada Aeroplan Miles
It’s easy to earn Air Canada Aeroplan miles by instantly converting American Express Membership Rewards points at a 1:1 ratio. You can earn American Express Membership Rewards points with these cards:
You can also convert Marriott points at a 3:1 ratio. For every 60,000 points you convert, you’ll get a 5,000 Air Canada Aeroplan mile bonus. So 60,000 Marriott points converts into 25,000 Air Canada Aeroplan miles.
You can earn Marriott points with cards like:
- Marriott Bonvoy Boundless™ Credit Card
- Marriott Bonvoy Business™ American Express® Card
Air Canada Aeroplan miles are excellent for award travel. However, many of their partner airlines include high fuel surcharges on award tickets.
But if you redeem Air Canada Aeroplan miles for award flights on partner airlines with low or no fuel surcharges, or to/from countries that restrict or ban fuel surcharges, you can avoid paying a ton in fees.
In the next post I’ll dig deeper into Air Canada Aeroplan’s complex change and refund policies.
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