Aeroplan has a great variety of special redemptions, and one of them is using Aeroplan miles for award travel on Canadian North, which can be a great value redemption using Aeroplan points. Canadian North, along with Air North and First Air serve the main trunk routes throughout the Northwest Territories and Nunavut. In fact, Canadian North recently announced intention to merge with First Air, which given the level of competition and the prices that already exist throughout the region, is a little like Air Canada merging with WestJet – there’s only one way the prices can go from here. Meanwhile, Air North primarily serves the Yukon instead of Nunavut/NWT and compete in a more indirect way.
Canadian North Aeroplan Redemption Routes
Canadian North operate from two main bases in Yellowknife, Northwest Territories and Iqaluit, Nunavut, serving their respective states. From Yellowknife, Canadian North serves the following places:
- Yellowknife – Rankin Inlet – Iqaluit
- Yellowknife – Kugluktuk – Cambridge Bay
- Yellowknife – Gjoa Haven – Kugaaruk – Taloyoak
- Yellowknife – Edmonton
- Yellowknife – Norman Wells – Inuvik
From Iqaluit, Canadian North serves the following places:
- Iqaluit – Cape Dorset
- Iqaluit – Clyde River – Pond Inlet
- Iqaluit – Hall Beach – Igloolik
- Iqaluit – Ottawa
- Iqaluit – Pangnirtung – Qikiqtarjuaq
- Iqaluit – Halifax – St John’s (seasonal)
Keep in mind for the purposes of booking travel, each one of these flights is one flight number – this will come in handy with segment and routing limits later.
Aircraft and Service
Canadian North is one of the last airlines in the world to operate the 737 Original Series – flying the Boeing 737-200 Combi. The aircraft is fitted with ice and gravel kits allowing to operate from the remote airports, and for this reason is a godsend for all sorts of spotters. In 2014, this is one of the only ways to fly the rare bird (outside of heading to the jungles of Niger or East Timor) – so for avgeeks like myself, this alone can be reason enough to head up north. Cabin service on Canadian North is a little like Singapore Airlines… only better – well almost. Abrelosojos from airliners.net has a great trip report on Canadian North’s Inuvik – Norman Wells – Yellowknife route – (for what it’s worth, he probably spends more money on flights alone in a year than all of BoardingArea combined, so I would bet he’s got a good idea of what he’s talking about).
Booking Canadian North Aeroplan Award Travel
Thankfully (and indeed, if not for the astronomically high prices!) you can redeem Aeroplan miles for travel on Canadian North. The rates are the same as a standard domestic redemption – 12,500 miles one way and 25,000 miles round trip. You can combine Canadian North flights with Air Canada flights, but cannot combine an award with any other partner on the one award. As the southern gateways for Canadian North flights are Edmonton and Ottawa respectively, the simplest strategy for booking flights on Canadian North is to simply book Air Canada to your gateway city (Edmonton for a destination via Yellowknife, or Ottawa for a destination via Iqaluit). I believe you can also stick a transborder flight if your originating city is in the US.
A “short-haul” award is even cheaper, at just 7,500 miles one way. These are awards originating:
- Northwest Territories to/from Alberta and Nunavut
- Nunavut to/from Quebec, Ontario and Northwest Territories
A corresponding one-way paid fare to the north can range anywhere between $1000 CAD to upwards of $3000 CAD for northern Nunavut. I’ve said this before, but (compared to the sticker price) that’s a killer redemption in anyone’s book.
Searching Canadian North Award Space
Canadian North award space books into the W fare bucket. You can check for award space using the FlightStats Seat Availability Tool. Award availability is generally good throughout the Northwest Territories and the main network, with availability for up to seven award seats per flight.
However on the Dash-8 routes throughout northern Nunavut (where paid fares also tend to be highest), award space is more scarce, with Canadian North releasing one award seat at most on each flight. Here, advanced booking and flexibility may be more prudent to ensure you get the award seat that you need.
You cannot book awards on Canadian North through the Aeroplan website, so you must call the Aeroplan Service Centre after you have searched award availability where the agent will be able to book the flights directly.
Acquiring Aeroplan Miles
Aeroplan miles can be transferred at a 1:1 ratio from American Express Membership Rewards Canada and USA, as well as Starwood Preferred Guest. The best credit card offers useful for Canadian North award redemptions include:
- American Express Premier Rewards Gold Card – 25,000 Membership Rewards Miles after $500 spend within the first three months
- American Express AeroPlus Gold Card – 30,000 Aeroplan miles after after $500 spend within the first three months (offer ends July 14, 2014)
Both of these cards offer a waived annual fee for the first year, and a sign up bonus equivalent to at least one round-trip flight Canadian North Aeroplan redemption, with a retail value of anywhere between $2000 and $5000, which makes it one of the best redemptions for award travel using Aeroplan miles. Other options 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.