With the Aeroplan devaluation, I wanted to write an updated guide for the mini RTW.
October 2014 Updates: Please see updated routing rules in this post.
What is the Aeroplan Mini RTW?
The Aeroplan mini RTW is basically a regular redemption redemption using Aeroplan’s fairly generous routing rules. On roundtrip international awards, you are permitted TWO stopovers OR ONE stopover + open jaw. This means, that you can visit up to three continents on a single award. Note that you have to call in to book these (the fee is $30) – online redemptions only permit a stopover OR open jaw.
These are the relevant parts of the award chart to/from North America for an Aeroplan Mini RTW:
The award prices are listed from top to bottom in economy/business/first class. That means an award to Asia 1 is 150,000 in business class. This is the best price in my opinion given that you can actually avoid fuel surcharges on many airlines (versus first class redemptions where nearly all airlines operating first class have fuel surcharges with aeroplan). You can include Europe and South America in most of these cases (award space and routing permitting) as the award prices to those regions are significantly lower which means you can combine them.
I tend to think of this award as having one destination as the main place you wanted to vist – but you can throw in two or more destinations along the way. So instead of flying something simple such as Vancouver – Tokyo, and you can throw in Singapore and Istanbul.
Aeroplan Mini RTW Rules
As with other awards, the following rules apply to the Aeroplan Mini RTW(which can be bent for the most part):
- 10 Segment Maximum on an award: Pretty straightforward
- Open-Jaw with region: If you choose to use an open jaw (instead of a second stopover), it has to be within the following regions.
- Backtracking: You can’t fly unreasonably such as from Asia to Europe via North America, and other illogical routings.
- Routing: Your set of flights have to follow rules such as being within the MPM5 (discussed further in detail later)
The master Flyertalk thread on booked Aeroplan Mini RTW awards give examples of many routings that don’t conform to these rules – so it does serve as a reference that these rules at point have been overlooked, although it doesn’t mean that the agent you work will let you do such a routing.
Aeroplan mini RTW Routings
Once you’ve decided on potential destinations, you want to find the one that’s furthest from your origin (where you’re starting the award). That will be your “point of turnaround” and that determines permissible routings from your starting city. For example, let’s say I want to go to Istanbul, Singapore, and Taipei.
Your point of turnaround is Singapore, because that’s the furthest distance from Vancouver.
There are two main points of figuring out a legal routing with Aeroplan:
- Maximum Permitted Mileage (MPM): This is a number that airlines publish between two city pairs that is the maximum number of miles you are permitted to fly for it to be a legal routing, and is different from the actual distance between two cities. Aeroplan allows you to exceed this by 5%. This is referred to as MPM5 or 5M, and can be found with paid tools such as KVS Tool or ExpertFlyer.
This is the MPM for Vancouver – Singapore. Note that there are two sets of MPMs, which may occur with some city pairs. MPM AT refers to the MPM on a Trans-Atlantic, and MPM PA refers MPM on a Trans-Pacific routing.
- Published Routings: This is are the permitted connections that an airline allows on a paid ticket, which Aeroplan also will allow. This would be useful in situations where the maximum permitted mileage is exceeded. Again, published routings can be found on tools like KVS or ExpertFlyer, or even ITA.
This generally gets very nebulous, and your mileage may vary especially given the agent’s leeway in interpreting the routing. I’ve personally never found anything specifically that falls here when booking an award but there has been plenty of routing that are over MPM that have been ticketed.
I think a good start for beginners is to start and just do a simple search on united.com for each of the city pairs. So if I was a beginner, for my Aeroplan Mini RTW, I would search Vancouver – Sinagpore, Singapore – Istanbul, and Istanbul – Vancouver. I’d find a routing that I’d like and plug it into gcmap.com, and check whether the routing is legal. I think this should only be done if you are lazy though, because this won’t yield the best results.
What most of you should be doing is searching segment-by-segment for individual flights you want, rather than an inferior (in most cases) computer-generated set of flights that don’t take into consideration the quality of the routings (like the product and connection times).
The ANA tool (and KVS/EF) is really the best in finding specific routes that you want, but now that I’m writing this sentence I realize how important it is to know route networks well as that’s one of the keys in booking segment-by-segment. This is also a reason good award booking services are extremely valuable in booking these complex awards, if you don’t have the knowledge.
Notes on the Aeroplan Mini RTW
For some of the routings there’s no requirement that go over both options. For example, you could fly to Asia via Europe (and have a stopover), or fly via Asia both way when heading to Oceania.
Generally, I find that the Aeroplan mini-RTW awards really do limit you in the routings you can do especially if your point of turnaround is located in the southern hemisphere (like South Africa and/or Oceania), so actually it’s probably easier to throw in an avios trip or intra-region trip in the middle if you want to make it more like a real round the world trip.
A stopover is any destination where the flights in between the city are more than 24 hours. This means, availability and flight schedule permitting, you can have a few more cities where you spend 23 hours in, which is always quite fun and very miles/points-centric (in my opinion).
Certainly, Aeroplan is nowhere close to the value it provided 3.5 years ago, but given there have been so many devaluations and only more to come (especially with US Airways and American) it’s still possible to get great value from miles and points, especially when an Aeroplan mini RTW can run close to $15,000 or more in business class on a paid fare with a similar stopover in Europe and Asia (not that I’d be willing or able to pay that).
Constructing an Aeroplan Mini RTW
So for example let’s construct an Aeroplan mini RTW by using united.com to search for award space. I’m trying to reduce the learning curve as much as possible, so I’m going to pretend to be a first-timer beginner (no offense to you if you are one). AS I MENTIONED EARLIER, YOU SHOULD ONLY BE DOING THIS IF YOU JUST WANT TO USE YOUR MILES. THIS IS PURELY FOR ILLUSTRATIVE PURPOSES ONLY AND IF YOU HAVE ANY EXPERIENCE SEARCHING WITH THE ANA TOOL PLEASE DO THAT.
This is of course a VERY bad way to search if you know how to use the ANA Tool, but for those of you who don’t, please humour me for a bit.
For example, when I search each city pair, this is what I come up with:
We can now verify the MPM on our outbound, as the routing so far is YVR-ICN-TPE-SIN. This is valid as this clocks in at 8012 miles which is well under the MPM of 10033.
Again, this return is 12647 mile and under the 5M limit of 14914.
You want to ignore the mileage requirements on united.com as they don’t reflect what Aeroplan charges. So from 10 minutes of united.com searching (pretending like I am a beginner) this is what I have:
At least all the segments are in business class and this is still very good for a “first-timer”. Of course there is going to be lots of fuel surcharges since there are segments on Thai and Air Canada, but at least it gets the job done. There is approximately a 0.1% chance that I would book this as I find most of these products fairly dull.
I want to mention this one more time, because I can’t say this enough. I WOULD NEVER SEARCH LIKE THIS TO CONSTRUCT MY AWARD. I’m only using this method as a reference to make a valid Aeroplan mini RTW.
I will go over perfecting these awards with the ANA tool and other paid programs in a future post.
Earning Aeroplan Miles
Aeroplan is a transfer partner of both AMEX Membership Rewards in the US and in Canada, as well as as an SPG transfer partner. American Express Cards in the USA are probably the easiest way to get more Aeroplan points. In Canada, CIBC, TD, and AMEX issue cards which earn Aeroplan miles. These are my AMEX Canada referral links:
- AMEX Aeroplan Gold – 30k after $500 spend, First Year Annual Fee Waived
- AMEX Gold Canada – 25k MR with $500 Spend, First Year Annual Fee Waived
- AMEX Plat 60k (Canada)
- AMEX SPG – 21k after $1000 spend
I appreciate your support and that is all I will say. 🙂