A few days ago I shared a great trick to remove certain fuel surcharges when using Aeroplan miles to fly from the US or Canada to Europe on Lufthansa. If you are a fairly astute reader, you would have also noticed that certain applications of the same trick can be very useful when it comes to paid fares. Thanks to the trans-atlantic metal-neutral joint venture within the Star Alliance, you can also book United flights under a Lufthansa codeshare if you are looking for a nonstop flight to/from cities other than Frankfurt or Munich. Since you guys liked the last post so much, let’s see what I’m talking about.

Since we’re talking paid fares, let’s look at economy class for the time being (which is what most mileage running is all about… unless you’re one of the lucky few heading to Seoul for $1700 in GlobalFirst). We’ve already established than an open jaw saves a few hundred in fuel surcharge compared to a normal round trip, so let’s see what this looks like in practice.

Standard round trip New York to Frankfurt on Lufthansa

Standard round trip New York to Frankfurt on Lufthansa

Let’s take a look at a “simple” open jaw first.

Open jaw New York to Frankfurt to Vancouver on Lufthansa

Open jaw New York to Frankfurt to Vancouver on Lufthansa

Not a bad saving at all, especially for the West Coast.

Now the things I talked about before – namely creating an open jaw where, on the return leg, you route via your point of origin works again for a paid fare. Suppose you wish to travel from New York to Frankfurt – the standard fare would be $950. But how about…

Open Jaw on Lufthansa routing via New York

Open Jaw on Lufthansa routing via New York

Over $250 is saved on this round trip with a simple open jaw, but this time you route back via your home city. This is a form of hidden city ticketing, where you simply throw away the last leg. I’ve also included a clever airport switch here so you can claim your bags too, if you plan to check any. So if you live in a city with more than one airport- take note!

Back when I first introduced fuel dumping on Aeroplan I talked about the difference between Aeroplan and paid fuel dumps. Paid fuel dumps have two variables – the base fare and the fuel surcharge, where Aeroplan dumps only have the surcharge variable. So what if you could simultaneously reduce both the base fare and the surcharge?

Suppose this time, I’m looking for a round trip from Chicago to Paris.

$1250 fare from Chicago to Paris flying United (Lufthansa)

$1250 fare from Chicago to Paris flying United (Lufthansa)

Fairly pricey at $1250, don’t you reckon? (Note that also the joint-venture between United and Lufthansa I talked about earlier comes into play here). Let’s put our imagination caps on for a moment and assume you’re a poor soul with no miles to burn for this trip (or there could be no award space… given the status of *A partner space right now – not that far fetched to be honest). Now, you can do the same open-jaw on Lufthansa to get the price down even more. Here goes…

It's a miracle - $800 open jaw for the same flight, but returning to Montreal via Chicago

It’s a miracle – $800 open jaw for the same flight, but returning to Montreal via Chicago

Not only has the fuel surcharge dropped by $250, but the base fare drops by another $250, for a net saving of $450. Still not a rate that I would jump for joy at, but neat improvement, you’d agree, no?

I hope you’ve enjoyed this post and can put some of these tricks to good use. Of course it’s always a better idea to have a stash of miles tucked away for these sorts of trips, so consider if you haven’t already the American Express Aeroplan Gold Card before the limited-time offer of 30,000 bonus miles expires. Thanks for your support as always, and as they say in my beloved Lufthansa FCT, “Gute Reise”!


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Bearskin Airlines is Aeroplan’s regional airline for travel within Ontario, and one of the smaller airlines within the Aeroplan “family”, so to speak. Over the past few years Bearskin Airlines have somewhat reduced their route network (previously serving Calm Air cities such as Flin Flon, as well as routes such as Kitchener to Montreal) and have consolidated into serving Ontario routes only. Nevertheless, their unique destinations served still make them worth exploring in terms of Aeroplan redemptions.

Bearskin Airlines Aeroplan Redemptions

Routes

Bearskin Airlines operate a traditional point-to-point network to eleven destinations within Ontario and Winnipeg, Manitoba.

Bearskin Airlines Route Map

Out of these destinations, Bearskin Airlines is the only airline to provide service to Dryden, Fort Frances, Kapuskasing and Kenora.

Aircraft and Service

Unlike the other northern carriers, it’s a little simpler here. Bearskin Airlines operate the Fairchild Swearingen Metroliner, a little 19 seat turboprop. Being 19 seats, Bearskin Airlines don’t have flight attendants, cabin service or bathrooms (eek! be prepared). The flight crew do all the formalities including safety briefings, and there is no cockpit door so you do get a great view of the scenery from the front and the side though… ;)

FighterPilot from airliners.net has a trip report on Bearskin Airlines from Thunder Bay to Sault Ste. Marie which should give you a good idea of what everything’s pretty much like.

Booking Bearskin Airlines Award Travel

Similar to the other smaller northern airlines, you need to call to manually request award seats on Bearskin Airlines. Considering each flight has only 19 seats, things are going to be simpler from a revenue management standpoint, so it’s no surprise you can’t book these online.

Award prices are the same as the other airlines, so that’s 7,500 miles each way throughout the whole Bearskin network, and flights are combinable with Air Canada but not any other partner. Just as a reminder, a short-haul award is valid for 7,500 miles if you are traveling out of Ontario to/from Manitoba, Quebec, Nunavut, Connecticut, Georgia, Illinois, Indiana, Maryland, Massachusetts, Michigan, Minnesota, Missouri, New Jersey, New Hampshire, New York, North Carolina, Ohio, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, Tennessee, Virginia, Washington DC and Wisconsin.

For travel to/from Fort Frances, Dryden, Kenora, Sioux Lookout and Red Lake, the best connecting city is Winnipeg, where you can add on flights on Air Canada from your originating city. Air Canada Express itself has service to Thunder Bay, Sault Ste Marie, Timmins, Sudbury and North Bay. The only “unique” Bearskin Airlines destination you cannot reach via Winnipeg is Kapuskasing. For award travel to/from Kapuskasing you will need to connect in Timmins or Sudbury and then an onwards Air Canada flight to Toronto.

Acquiring Aeroplan Miles

You can earn Aeroplan miles by flying, credit cards or transferring them from American Express Membership Rewards and Starwood Preferred Guest. Credit card offers useful for Bearskin Airlines award redemptions include:

Both of these cards have the annual fee waived for the first year. Alternative cards include the American Express Platinum Card (Canada) which comes with a 60,000 point signup bonus, as well as the Starwood Preferred Guest Card (Canada) which comes with a 10,000 point signup bonus.


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Everyone loves Lufthansa First Class – it’s the “poster boy” of travel hacking, for better or for worse. It’s easily the most accessible first class product using miles so has become almost become the default first class airline, so to speak. However with the past United MileagePlus devaluation and US Airways switching from Star Alliance to Oneworld, the opportunities to fly Lufthansa First Class is somewhat diminishing. Aeroplan always remains an option, although their fuel surcharges on Lufthansa remain a major deterrent… but there is something you can do about that.

Aeroplan Fuel Dump on Lufthansa

A round-trip from Toronto to Frankfurt in Lufthansa First Class will normally set you back $876 in fuel surcharges on both a paid or an award ticket. Hefty, isn’t it?

Over $1000 in taxes and fees - of which $876 is fuel surcharge - on Lufthansa First Class Toronto to Frankfurt

Over $1000 in taxes and fees – of which $876 is fuel surcharge – on Lufthansa First Class Toronto to Frankfurt

However, one very useful trick is that a simple open-jaw returning to the USA instead of Canada eliminates the fuel surcharge by almost half – as simple as that.

A simple open jaw reduces the fuel surcharge by almost $400 - here flying Toronto to Frankfurt to New York

A simple open jaw reduces the fuel surcharge by over $400 – here flying Toronto to Frankfurt to New York

How awesome is that? There is still a not-insignificant fuel surcharge, but given the hefty partner first class rates when using United miles and the mixed-class restriction on Avianca LifeMiles, the relative value of using Aeroplan for Lufthansa First Class redemptions is not a horrible proposition by any means.

Even More Advanced Techniques

An open-jaw is a great way to reduce fuel surcharges already, but it comes with its own costs such as positioning and possibly an overnight hotel? Wouldn’t it be great if we could reduce those additional costs? Well you can… if you route the return via your city of origin. Confused? Let’s take a look.

Since the trick works the same originating in either the US or Canada, let’s switch it around this time. We already know that flying Chicago to Frankfurt to Toronto would save over $400 on fuel surcharge compared to a simple Newark to Frankfurt round trip – but we can also route the return as Frankfurt-Chicago-Toronto. Since the fuel surcharge is the same as a nonstop, you can essentially save $400 of fuel surcharge, and end up with essentially a round trip from Chicago to Frankfurt plus a side one-way from Chicago to Toronto.

Now you can “throw away” the last leg, but Aeroplan entitles you to a stopover as well as an open jaw on an international Star Alliance itinerary. So you can end up with a round trip Lufthansa First Class award plus a free trans-border business class one way for 125,000 plus only $400 in fuel surcharges. In terms of a Lufthansa First Class award, this is the single most lucrative redemption throughout the Star Alliance network.

Note, you will need to call the Aeroplan Service Centre to book any of these advanced tricks, as the online booking engine does not support complex itineraries.

125,000 Aeroplan miles for Chicago to Frankfurt round trip in Lufthansa First Class, plus a free one way from Chicago to Vancouver, while simultaneously saving over $400 in fuel surcharges

125,000 Aeroplan miles for Chicago to Frankfurt round trip in Lufthansa First Class, plus a free one way from Chicago to Vancouver, while simultaneously saving over $400 in fuel surcharges

Acquiring Aeroplan Miles

You can accrue Aeroplan miles for Lufthansa First Class at a 1-to-1 ratio from American Express Membership Rewards or Starwood Preferred Guest. Credit cards that offer Aeroplan accrual (with first year annual fee waived) include:

Alternative cards include the American Express Platinum Card (Canada) which comes with a 60,000 point signup bonus, as well as the Starwood Preferred Guest Card (Canada) which comes with a 10,000 point signup bonus.


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I LOVE Uber. It is seriously one of the most amazing and efficent transportation options available while you travel.

As you probably already know, there is a $30 promotional credit running for new users.

Uber Free Credit

Uber Free Credit

You can sign up here, or with the code UBERCKM for $30 off your first ride.

Details:

  • Worth up to $30
  • Work anywhere in the USA
  • Good for all ride options, except uberTAXI
  • New users must sign up in the USA

As well, there’s another code you can apply to get $10 off a ride, which is 10r62014This code will take 10 USD off one trip until July 10th.

Uber Promotion

Uber Promotion

What’s great about this code is that it can also be applied to current customersso anyone who has an account can use it.


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Many readers have emailed me asking about what Canadian Credit cards to get, so I’ve decided to write a post listing all the good credit card offers. I place most credit cards worth getting in three categories – those you get for the signup bonus, those you get for great spend earnings, and those you get for the benefits. Of course, there’s quite a lot of overlap between the categories.

Given that there are very limited credit card opportunities in Canada, my personal recommendation and approach is to apply for cards where the benefits (from a signup bonus, earning potential, and other card offers) outweigh the costs to acquire the card, which is the credit pull to your score as well any potential annual fees. I talked briefly about the impact of applying for credit cards in this post.

Here’s my thoughts on the top Canadian Credit cards for this month. I think most of these cards are “must-have” at some point in time. Obviously don’t apply for all of them at once! If there are any better offers that I’ve missed, please tell me what I’ve missed via email.

I’ve divided the cards into two categories – cards which have either targeted, time-sensitive, or otherwise special offers associated with them, and other good offers.

Limited Time/Promotional Offers

These links are generally superior to application links publicly available online.

American Express AeroplanPlus Gold Card
Current Offer: Limited time offer of 30,000 bonus miles after $500 spend within three months (Ends July 14)

American Express Aeroplan Gold Card

The American Express Aeroplan Gold Card has one of the most lucrative fee-free signup bonus, and because of that, is a card worth applying for. The reasonable annual fee is waived and there is a limited-time increased signup bonus. The best current public offer is 25,000 points which will change July 14th. I’ve never seen a higher public offer historically, so if you don’t already have the card, this is one of the EASIEST ways to increase your stash of Aeroplan points. 30,000 Aeroplan miles will, for example, take you from Tokyo to Singapore and back in business class… not a bad value at all. Alternatively, it’s a one-way ticket to Europe, if you do economy class redemptions.

Scotiabank Gold American Express Card
Current Offer: Earn 30,000 bonus points with your first card purchase – worth $300 in travel

Scotiabank American Express Gold Card

Scotiabank American Express Gold Card

The Scotiabank Gold American Express Card has a new offer which started at the beginning of this month, with a 30,000 points signup bonus, which is higher than the previous public offer of 15,000 points. This is a card with earns fixed-value travel points, which means you can redeem them as a rebate on travel purchases on your card online. These 30,000 points are worth $300 in travel.

However, what’s most appealing about this credit card is the ongoing benefit of 4 points per dollar spent on certain everyday categories, such as gas and groceries. This is significantly higher than any competing card in Canada, and a huge reason to get the card if you have a high amount of spending in those categories.

As well, the travel insurance component is worth mentioning as the 25 day emergency medical is worth something if you take longer trips vs the 14-21 day travel insurance coverages of cards. For example, the American Express Platinum Card (which is usually my go-to card for travel benefits) only has 15 day coverage, so having this cards saves you the tens of dollars needed to top up your coverage for a longer trip.

Chase Marriott Rewards Preferred Visa Card
Current Offer: Earn 50,000 bonus points after first purchase

Chase Canada Marriott Visa

Chase Canada Marriott Visa

The Chase Canada Marriott Visa is the best credit card in Canada for purchase abroad as there is no foreign transaction fee. As well, this targeted offer is for 50,000 points which is available until July 31st, which is superior to the regular offer of 30,000 points. 50,000 points will get you a night at a top-tier Marriott, or a mid-tier Ritz Carlton hotel in places such as Moscow, Vienna, Osaka, Toronto, and many other places. Alternatively, Marriott points can be transferred to many airlines but that may not get you as great of a value. Generally, I’d place the value of this card as around $250-350, depending on your valuation of a hotel room free night award. Silver status may also be of value at the occasional stay with the Marriott Chain.

The annual fee is $120 but is easily offset by the complimentary free night certificate each year, making this a valuable card that is definitely worth keeping for the second year and beyond. As well, the annual fee is waived for the first year. The Terms & Conditions of the card do state that the signup bonus can only be earned once per cardholder, although there have been sporadic reports that people have gotten the cards multiple times.

Regular Offers

American Express Platinum Card

  • 60,000 bonus points after $1000 spend within 3 months
  • $200 annual credit per calendar year ($400 first year)
  • Priority Pass and more lounge access

I’ve talked about the American Express Platinum Card before here, but it’s one of the best cards to have as a travel hacker. Lounge access when flying is invaluable and the signup bonus easily offsets the first year’s annual fee. 60,000 points is generally as good as it gets for the Platinum Card, which is superior to the 50,000 point signup bonus in the publicly available offer.

MBNA Alaska Airlines MasterCard

  • 25,000 Bonus Miles upon approval
  • annual coach Companion Fare every year from $99 base fare
  • 3 miles per $1 spent on Alaska Airlines
  • $75 annual fee

The MBNA Alaska Airlines MasterCard offers 25,000 bonus miles upon signup (enough for a domestic round trip award, especially to Alaska). The $99 companion fare also comes in very handy, again especially to more expensive destination throughout the Alaska network (of which there are quite a few). Alaska miles are one of the most valuable types of airline miles and is great for first/business class redemptions on Emirates, Cathay Pacific, and other aspirational carriers.

Capital One Delta Skymiles Visa

  • 25,000 bonus Delta SkyMiles upon approval
  • 2 miles for every $1 on all purchases
  • 10,000 annual bonus miles when you spend at least $25,000
  • $120 annual fee

The Capital One Delta SkyMiles Visa is the only card in Canada that offers 2 points per dollar on general spend – even if it is SkyMiles. The bonus essentially means that you will receive 60,000 miles for $25,000 spend, or 2.4 miles per dollar. There are still some good SkyMiles redemptions to be had, especially to Asia, Australia or the Pacific.

American Express Gold Rewards Card

  • 25,000 bonus points after $500 spend within the first three months
  • Double points on eligible travel, gas stations, grocery stores and drugstores
  • Annual fee of $150 waived for the first year

The American Express Gold Rewards Card is another card that is worth signing up for, at least for the 25,000 bonus miles. The bonus categories mean it is a good card to keep if you do a large percentage of your spend in an eligible double points category. Otherwise, the SPG American Express is generally superior for everyday spend.

You may have also noticed the Canadian Credit Cards page in the header, where I will periodically update the best deals from time to time. If you have any questions regarding applicable cards to apply for, feel free to reach me by twitter or email.

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Avianca LifeMiles is offering a transfer miles bonus again for July 3 to 17, 2014. During this promotion, the cost to generate miles drops again from 3 cents per mile to 1.5 cents, which is the classic purchase rate for LifeMiles during both buy and transfer promotions. Lifemiles runs either a purchase or transfer bonus every couple of months, which last ran in May.

LifeMiles Transfer Promotion

Lifemiles Transfer Promotion Details

As it is a transfer bonus, it means that you do need to have miles in your account (or have friends, relatives, pets, pet rocks etc. that have miles in their accounts). Transferring miles will cost 1.5 cents each. They are giving you a bonus mile for every mile you’re transferring, so that means essentially you’re given the option to “purchase” miles at 1.5 cents, up to 75,000 miles per calendar year between LifeMiles accounts. Filling in the form is very straightforward and the bonus miles box automatically populates:

Lifemiles Transfer Promotion

Lifemiles Transfer Promotion

Transferring 10,000 miles costs $150, and with the promo you get 10,000 bonus miles. Transfers have to be done in blocks of 1,000 miles.

Lifemiles Transfer Promo Cost

Lifemiles Transfer Promo Cost

Would I recommend transferring miles through this promo?

Yes, if you know that you’re going to get a good value from the miles as even with a regular redemption you can get a business/first class redemption to Asia or Europe for just under $1500 one way on Star Alliance partners. They also have extra access to Lufthansa and Singapore Airlines award space. Keep in mind, through cash and points, that you can top up for an award at the time of ticketing with cash and points. You only need 50% to get the same 1.5 cent ratio to top up for the redemption.

For more information about Lifemiles, check out my post on Lifemiles Tricks and Strategy. Lifemiles purchases are processed directly with the airline, so do use cards which offer category bonuses for airline purchases. They process in USD so for Canadians use a card with no foreign transaction fee such as the Chase Marriott Visa.

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SPG Transfer Bonus Promotion to American and US Airways

Currently, American and US Airways are offering a 20% mileage bonus for miles transferred from Starwood Preferred Guest. You can transfer SPG points up to 79,999 at a time; however, the best ratio is moving blocks of 60,000 SPG points. This promotion gives you an additional 15,000 points to the 75,000 AA or US miles that you would normally receive.

Starwood-US-Airways

Starwood Transfer Bonus

If you did decide to transfer, some sweet spot awards turn even cheaper with SPG points.

Great Sweet Spot Redemptions

90,000 US Airways Miles (60,000 SPG) Round Trip Business Class Caribbean to North Asia

While the famous 90,000 US Airways award from North America to North Asia has now increased to 110,000, the price remains the same for awards originating in the Caribbean or Central America. As American offers a very extensive route network in that region, it is still a great award deal. Don’t forget you can also include a stopover. You can either stopover somewhere along the way in Asia (or Europe), or somewhere in North America. For instance, if I was originating in Toronto I could create an award from Pointe-a-Pitre to Shanghai then returning to Toronto as a stopover. This way, I only would need to position one-way for the award, and also have a free one-way to the Caribbean for future use. You can easily position to the Caribbean using Avios which can be earned through the American Express Gold Rewards Card or the American Express Platinum Card by transferring Membership Reward points to Avios. Or grab ticket on Air Transat, Sunwing, CanJet etc… if that’s your kind of thing.

American Off-Peak Awards

Somewhat less “aspirational” but American offers off-peak awards for travel in economy class. Travel to Asia is 25,000 miles (16,666 SPG points) and Europe is 20,000 miles (13,333 SPG points) each way. Of course, as you need to transfer a minimum of 20,000 SPG points for the 25% bonus, this makes more sense if you have a large number in your party. For example, if you are looking for three passengers to Europe one way, 40,000 SPG points is pretty good value, especially if you’re travelling from smaller cities.

30,000 American Miles (20,000 SPG) One Way Business Class Europe to Middle East or India

This is one of American’s award chart sweet spots, and is doubly so given Oneworld’s strong nature within the Middle East. You can redeem your American miles on Etihad, Qatar Airways, Gulf Air, El Al, Jet Airways or Royal Jordanian. One thing to note though is that because of American AAdvantage routing rules, you cannot fly SriLankan as Sri Lanka is located in “Asia 2″ instead. For example, you can fly two segments on Qatar Airways Boeing 787 in Business Class from London to Doha to Mumbai for only 20,000 SPG points.

Qatar Airways Boeing 787 Business Class for 20,000 SPG Points

What to Do withe the SPG Transfer Bonus

You can do unlimited transfers during the promotion period, which ends on July 31. While SPG points are usually valued for their extreme flexibility, occasional transfer bonuses like this don’t hurt either. For Canadians, the best way of accuring Starwood Preferred Guest points on the Starwood Preferred Guest American Express, which offers a current sign up bonus of 10,000 points after $500 spend. As a general rule, I wouldn’t speculatively transfer points over to either program despite the bonus miles, but it’s a great deal if you already have an award in mind. As well, it might also be worth transferring if you have a high balance of SPG points and a low balance of airline miles.

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Continuing my round-the-clock coverage of everything beautiful about Aeroplan, let’s move on to one of the eastern partners, Air Creebec. As their name (sort of) suggests, they are Aeroplan’s resident Quebecois carrier (at least if you want to go anywhere north of Sept-Iles). Fun fact: they are entirely owned by the Cree, one of the largest native First Nations groups in Canada… that’s got to be a little cool, at least.

Air Creebec Aeroplan Redemptions

Air Creebec Aeroplan Redemption Routes

Air Creebec operates to 16 destinations within Quebec and Ontario, mostly smaller communities along the Hudson Bay corridor.

Air Creebec Route Map

Air Creebec Route Map

There are four main “routes” operated by Air Creebec:

  • Timmins – Moosonee – Fort Albany – Kashechewan – Attawapiskat – Peawanuck
  • Montreal – Val-d’Or – Waskaganish – Chisasibi – Whapmagoostui
  • Montreal – Val-d’Or – Waskaganish – Eastmain – Wemindji – Chisasibi – Whapmagoostui
  • Montreal – Chibougamau – Nemaska – Eastmain – Wemindji – Chisasibi

As a reminder again, each flight operates under a single flight number.

Aircraft and Service

Sadly nothing fancy here in terms of aircraft, Air Creebec uses the same Dash 8 aircraft that you see doing the runs between Cleveland and Newark each day. Air Creebec also flies the Hawker-Siddeley HS-748 (along with Calm Air) but that’s for cargo only, so unless you fancy stuffing yourself in a FedEx box, sadly it’s just out of reach (worth it for true avgeeks though, right… surely? ;) )

Palmjet has written a great trip report on Air Creebec’s service from Montreal to Chisasibi to Montreal which is surely worth a read. The service as reported wasn’t perfect (but as always – and doubly so on such smaller airlines – YMMV) but for the most part (other than accessing these smaller cities) the second-best thing about short outback milk runs is the scenery on offer – from the trees, to the rivers, lakes and snow-capped peaks… it is, as they would say in Germany, erstaunlich.

Booking Air Creebec Award Travel

While revenue prices on Air Creebec might not be as high as their Nunavumiut counterparts, prices often go in excess of $1000 one way, which again makes it prime target for Aeroplan redemptions.

Aeroplan’s 7,500-mile one-way short haul awards are particularly useful here, which apply if you are traveling out of:

  • Ontario to/from within Ontario, Manitoba, Quebec, Nunavut, Connecticut, Georgia, Illinois, Indiana, Maryland, Massachusetts, Michigan, Minnesota, Missouri, New Jersey, New Hampshire, New York, North Carolina, Ohio, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, Tennessee, Virginia, Washington DC and Wisconsin
  • Quebec to/from within Quebec, New Brunswick, Newfoundland, Nova Scotia, Ontario, PEI, Nunavut, Connecticut, Georgia, Illinois, Indiana, Maryland, Massachusetts, Michigan, Minnesota, Missouri, New Jersey, New Hampshire, New York, North Carolina, Ohio, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, Tennessee, Virginia, Washington DC, Wisconsin.

So let’s take a look at what a sample award routing looks like:

Quebec City to Chisasibi via Montreal, Val-d’Or and Waskaganish for 7,500 Aeroplan miles

Meanwhile, the corresponding paid fare for a one way is $1,191:

Paid fare from Quebec City to Chisasibi flying Air Creebec

Paid fare from Quebec City to Chisasibi flying Air Creebec

At over 15 cents per mile, definitely a great value redemption to be had.

To construct an itinerary, you will first need to position yourself to one of the Air Creebec gateways – Montreal for Chibougamau, Nemaska, Waskaganish, Eastmain, Chisasibi, Wemindji and Whapmagoostui or Timmins for Moosonee, Fort Albany, Kashechewan, Attawapiskat and Peawanuck. Air Creebec awards are combinable with Air Canada, so you have a range of routes available into Montreal – though options are more limited into Timmins, where you would need to catch an Air Canada Express flight from Toronto first.

Being such a small localised airline, there is no way to search Air Creebec award space online – you must first call the Aeroplan Service Centre who will manually request the seat from Air Creebec. Old-school, but definitely worth it.

Acquiring Aeroplan Miles

Aeroplan miles are transferrable at a 1:1 ratio from American Express Membership Rewards and Starwood Preferred Guest. Credit card offers useful for Air Creebec award redemptions include:

Both of these cards offer a waived annual fee for the first year and the AeroPlus Gold Card, for example offers a sign-up bonus sufficient for two round-trip short-haul redemptions on Air Creebec – valued at almost $5,000.

Alternative cards include the American Express Platinum Card (Canada) which comes with a 60,000 point signup bonus, as well as the Starwood Preferred Guest Card (Canada) which comes with a 10,000 point signup bonus.


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It’s no secret that SkyTeam doesn’t get much love amongst us travel-hacker folk, so I thought I would take this chance to talk about the progress of KLM’s New Business Class rollout that is currently going underway. Late last year, KLM announced a new World Business Class product (if that name sounds familiar, it was also the name of Northwest’s business class, until it became BusinessElite after merging with Delta). KLM’s New World Business Class features the B/E Aerospace Diamond seats, as seen on United BusinessFirst, Air China Business Class and Aeroflot Business Class.

KLM New World Business Class

KLM New World Business Class

Tracking KLM New World Business Class

At present, there is an easy way to tell if your KLM flight will have the New World Business Class or one of the older business class seats. All routes operated by the Boeing 747-400 and Boeing 747-400 Combi will have the new fully flat business class seats. None of the other aircraft types have currently been retrofitted with the new seats and will have an older angled-flat seat.

KLM’s Boeing 747 aircraft fitted with New World Business Class currently operate routes out of Amsterdam to/from:

  • Toronto-Pearson
  • Chicago-O’Hare
  • Washington-Dulles
  • Los Angeles
  • San Francisco
  • Houston-Intercontinental
  • New York-JFK
  • Tokyo-Narita
  • Hong Kong
  • Seoul-Incheon
  • Beijing
  • Shanghai-Pudong
  • Chengdu
  • Nairobi
  • Mexico City
  • Curacao
  • St-Maarten
  • Paramaribo

If you are looking to book KLM’s new business class, look for a Boeing 747 flight to/from of the above cities. At the present, Toronto is the only Canadian route featuring the new business class – and award availability on this route (unless you are using Delta SkyMiles) is great:

Great KLM New Business Class Award Space from Toronto-Pearson to Amsterdam

Great KLM New Business Class Award Space from Toronto-Pearson to Amsterdam

You can search KLM business class award space through the Alaska Airlines website. A round trip award from North America to Europe flying KLM costs 125,000 Alaska Airlines Mileage Plan, 125,000 Flying Blue miles (plus fuel surcharges) or 80,000 Czech CSA OK Plus miles (plus fuel surcharges).


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Posted by Canadian Kilometers | One Comment

I talk about Aeroplan’s fuel surcharges a lot because they really are one of the main downsides to Aeroplan redemptions as a whole – especially if they add over $1000 to the cost of your award redemption. Most of the time, you’d want to pick airlines that don’t charge fuel surcharges, but depending on the route, that can be tough. Transatlantic flights are a good example, most of the time Star Alliance award space is scarce enough already without limiting yourself to United, Swiss and Brussels. But, one other thing to consider, which I’ve briefly talked about as well before, is the possibility of fuel dumping, or using certain strategies to reduce fuel surcharges with Aeroplan. As I mentioned before, Aeroplan fuel surcharges are calculated based on the fuel surcharge applicable to the corresponding paid fare – something which we can use to our advantage if we know how.

Mini-Introduction to Aeroplan Fuel Dumping

Fuel Dumping is mostly a concept that applies to paid fares, where in some cases the fuel surcharge can be over 80-90% of the total fare. In these situations, a simple manipulation to the flight itinerary (such as adding a throwaway flight at the end of your itinerary, choosing specific airline/carrier combinations or entering and departing out of different cities) can reduce this fuel surcharge, meaning of course you have to pay less.

The most effective paid fuel dumps are those that reduce the fuel surcharge the most while leaving the base fare as low as possible. This is what’s different when it comes to Aeroplan fuel dumps. On a paid fare, there are hundreds of fares for any given city pair that correlate with routing rules, availability, airline restrictions etc. So while a particular combination reduces the fuel surcharge applied, it can often increase the base fare (often by a very large margin) which of course makes the “fuel dump” useless. When it comes to Aeroplan however, keep in mind that the mileage requirement for each award regardless of routing, airline choice etc (provided that it’s under the maximum permitted mileage) is exactly the same. So, in essence, the only variable when it comes to finding a “fuel dump” is the fuel surcharge itself. Let’s take a look at what this means…

Examining an Aeroplan Fuel Dump

Flying Air Canada transatlantic from Canada to Tokyo whether it’s on a paid or award booking, you are charged fuel surcharge of $580 (ouch)!

$580 CAD fuel surcharge on a paid ticket flying Air Canada Vancouver to Tokyo

The same fuel surcharges applies on the equivalent Aeroplan reward ticket

If you change the routing a bit and add on an ANA segment via Hong Kong, the fuel surcharge drops to $248. Note that both overwater segments are still operated by Air Canada. If this were a paid fare, while the fuel surcharge drops, the change in routing means the base fare is increased significantly, making in a rather ineffective “fuel dump”.

Fuel surcharge is reduced to $248 CAD when routing via Hong Kong on the return, but the base fare increases instead

However, with Aeroplan, the price remains the same yet you save over $330 in fuel surcharge. Neat, huh?

 

The same fuel surcharge reduction, but unlike a paid fare, no change in award (base fare) cost.

There are hundreds of these Aeroplan fuel dumping combinations out there, some of which useful, others less useful. Of course it’s best to pick a carrier with no fuel surcharge, but in some cases that may not be possible (such as transpacific, now that Aeroplan have started charging fuel surcharges on Asiana again).

Now we know the concept behind some “fuel dumping”, as it’s called, get ready for some more fuel-surcharge savings tips in the coming days… are you excited? I know I am. ;)


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Posted by Canadian Kilometers | 3 Comments

I’ve been loving Hyatt, their benefits, and Diamond elite status ever since I started their challenge. A few months ago, however, I snagged a fantastic deal on a suite at the Fairfax, a Luxury Collection Hotel in DC. The rate was only around ~$70 a night. The room has fairly “dated” decor, but certainly it’s great for what I paid.

Suite

Bed

I wanted to mention a few things before a review (if I do manage to get there).

Staying Online is Key

I try to be online as much as I can because you never know what might happen while you’re away from your phone. For example, I unfortunately was offline when there was a significantly discounted fare on Qatar business class for just under $500 from Bangkok to Chicago. Tahsir luckily managed to book it. This deal I got from Extreme Hotel Deals, which I strongly recommend putting on your RSS.  You have to keep in mind while these are perfectly legitimate fares and rates, the companies may choose not to honour them, which is unfortunate. But if you do snag a deal like this, the accompanying adrenaline rush is very nice. These kinds of deals usually only last for a couple of hours. I’m also subscribed to the Premium Fare Deals on the FT Thread, as well as the MR and Hotel Deals FT sub-forums. You can also find me on Twitter as a lot of deals circulate in the Twitterverse as well.

On a side note, Twittering with brands online is quite useful, as for example with my stay the room wasn’t ready yet when I arrived at noon. I sent a tweet to SPG while I was at Starbucks waiting and they told me that it’d be ready in a few minutes. That was really impressive.

SPG Tweet

The other part of getting these deals are making connections. The best way to do that I’ve found is just to reach out to people and have as wide a network as you can, so deals that others in your network hear are quickly passed to you. My BBM groups (currently not accepting new applicants) as well as other private forums and groups are very useful in sharing sensitive information you might not want going public or even on Flyertalk.

It’s great when you are able to catch a significantly discount fare/rate when you travel.


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Posted by Canadian Kilometers | 2 Comments

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