Air Canada has been on a huge international expansion lately, fuelled by their new Boeing 787 aircraft. The Boeing 787 has fantastic fuel efficiency, opening many new markets. Air Canada has now received 29 out of the 37 Boeing 787’s they’ve ordered, and have been adding routes at a very remarkable rate. In September 2016, they launched six new routes to three different continents. Last November, they launched two new non-stop routes to Frankfurt and London Gatwick from Vancouver.
Furthermore, Air Canada announced last week two new non-stop flights from Vancouver to Paris and Zurich, as well as increased service on Vancouver – Melbourne, Vancouver – Delhi, and Vancouver – London Heathrow. Flight inventory has been loaded for these flights, with good award availability on some of these flights. The Paris and Zurich routes will both be operated by the smaller Boeing 787-8 aircraft, with 20 seats in business class with a reverse herringbone configuration.
This is great news for folks on the west coast who dislike having to connect on the east coast (New York, Chicago, Toronto, Montreal, etc.) to get to Europe. I find east-coast transatlantic flights to be too short to get a good night’s rest, so I’m especially happy with these flights being added. Air Canada will now operate 25 weekly flights from Vancouver to Europe during Summer 2018.
Air Canada 787 Business Class
Paris will be a 4x weekly service. It is scheduled beginning June 8, 2018, as follows:
- AC806 YVR 1330 – CDG 0815 +1
- AC807 CDG 0955 – YVR 1050
Zurich is 3x weekly, slated to start June 7, 2018.
- AC802 YVR 1225 – ZRH 0750 +1
- AC803 ZRH 0930 – YVR 1050
Currently, the only airlines that operate Paris non-stop are Air Transat and Air France. To Zurich, only Edelweiss Air (a subsidiary of Swiss) flies non-stop. There are very few options that allow redemptions on these airlines. Now that there is Air Canada service, this opens additional Aeroplan redemption opportunities. With the new Frankfurt and Zurich flights on Air Canada, you can now get a one-stop itinerary to dozens of destinations in Africa, the Middle East, and Eastern Europe. Previous options non-stop from Vancouver with Star Alliance was to London, or to Munich/Frankfurt on Lufthansa. All of these routes had very little award availability, and Lufthansa business class lags behind the industry.
The Paris flight has excellent award availability. Out of the 22 days the flight is operated next July, 18 dates have at least one award seat in business class. This is similar with the return from Paris. Several days a month also have at least four seats available for a redemption.The Zurich flight does not seem to have any availability currently, although that will change as the revenue management department decides to release more seats.
My strategy now for collecting Aeroplan miles is to utilize American Express cards. This is because they have the option to transfer to Aeroplan, but other partners as well depending on how things go. These four charge cards earn Membership Rewards points, transferrable to Aeroplan:
- American Express Business Platinum Card: Get up to 75,000 Membership Rewards Points!
- American Express Business Gold Card: Get up to 40,000 Membership Rewards Points!
- American Express Platinum Card: Get up to 60,000 Membership Reward Points!
- American Express Gold Rewards Card: Get up to 30,000 Membership Rewards Points!
All cards currently have increased bonus offers which may change any time. AMEX has also just improved their application eligibility requirements, making it easier for many people to obtain a card. You can also earn Aeroplan miles with the TD and CIBC co-branded Visas.
A redemption with Aeroplan will cost 55,000 miles to Europe 1, one-way in business class. Keep in mind that Aeroplan redemptions on Air Canada do have fuel surcharges. Taxes and fees start at $402 (487 CAD) from Vancouver to Europe, with a $440 fuel surcharge component. This is slightly lower for the return leg, but still significant. To avoid this, you can always select a carrier without fuel surcharges – however, it will require a connection.
These flights are a good option for those travelling with seniors or children where connecting is a much larger issue than taxes. It’s also a great option when redeeming points that do not have fuel surcharges, like Lifemiles or United MileagePlan. For this route, you can also use 63,000 Lifemiles or 70,000 United miles. The total taxes will be less than $100, although these miles are harder to acquire in Canada. The fuel surcharge is also waived with redemptions from a Super Elite account.