Revisiting Aeroplan Fuel Dumping

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)!

a screen shot of a ticket

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

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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”.

a screenshot of a ticket

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?


a screenshot of a flight schedule

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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