The Aeroplan Mini Round The World
November 5th, 2018
So we’ve briefly looked at Aeroplan and how to go about booking award flights using miles. I say briefly because in reality, we’ve only really scratched the surface – there is so much more to Aeroplan and we’ll take a look at that today.
The real bread and butter of the Aeroplan program is the infamous and often coveted Mini-Round-The-World redemption or Mini-RTW for short.
What exactly is a Mini-Round-The-World and Where Did it Come From?
A little background info first – each Airline Alliance (Star Alliance, OneWorld, SkyTeam) offers a special ticket that can be booked with points or cash and they are called “Round-The-World” tickets. These tickets allow you to literally travel around the globe on multiple airline partners, touching down in many cities along the way. Let’s take a look at Aeroplan’s Around-The-World Reward.
- Economy Class – 200,000 Aeroplan Miles
- Premium Economy Class – 250,000 Aeroplan Miles
- Business Class – 300,000 Aeroplan Miles
- First Class – 400,000 Aeroplan Miles
- A maximum of five stopovers and one open jaw are permitted per reward on allowable routings
- A maximum of one stopover is permitted in any one city
- Travel must commence from and return to the same country, and return cannot go beyond the point of origin
- Must include one transatlantic and one transpacific crossing
As you can see from the specs above, the reward is quite generous, allowing you to stopover in 5 cities in addition to multiple layovers in between as well (up to a maximum of 16 segments total). That said, this award is also extremely cost prohibitive to the average point collector and even the seasoned ones as well. Case in point, for just an economy around the world ticket you’d be looking at dishing out 200,000 Aeroplan Miles per person or if paying cash, around $3,000.
Enter the “Mini-Round-The-World”.
As I mentioned in my previous Introduction to Aeroplan post, Aeroplan’s generous stopover policies allow you to book up to 2 stopovers in addition to your destination or point of turnaround for a total of 3 stops. Mix that with an abundance of layovers and you’ve just created you’re own offspring or Mini-Round-The-World redemption for a fraction of the points of a true Round the World ticket.
Why is this so great? Well, because this redemption allows you to visit up to 3 places for the price of 1.
Let’s go over some definitions and rules shall we?
Origin: Where your trip begins
Destination: Point of turn around or the farthest location from your origin
Layover: a stop in a city which is less than or equal to 24 hours
Stopover: a stop in a city which is greater than 24 hours
MPM: Maximum Permitted Mileage is the maximum distance you are allowed to fly between your origin and destination.
Open-Jaw: A break in your itinerary in which you fly into one location and then out of another.
- The cost of this trip (in Aeroplan Miles) will depend on your origin and destination. You can find out how much you will be charged by looking at the Aeroplan Reward Chart
- You are allowed up to 2 stopovers or 1 stopover + 1 open-jaw for transcontinental itineraries.
- You are allowed to add as many layovers along the way so long as the whole trip is 16 segments or less. (For example, 2 stopovers + your destination + 13 layovers = 16 segments)
- Routing through the same city twice is only allowed if you do so on either side of your origin-destination.
- Your itinerary must be below the MPM “Maximum Permitted Mileage” between your origin and destination.
Clear as mud right?
Let’s take a closer look by working through an example.
Joe in Toronto is planning a trip and wants to check out Brussels, Amsterdam as well as Zurich. He wants to spend 5+/- days in each location.
Before Joe gets started with his planning, he first has to figure out which of the above 3 cities will be considered his destination. Looking at a map of Europe, it may or may not be obvious which city is considered the destination or furthest point from Toronto.
The best tool for confirming this and a tool that I pretty much use daily in some form or another is Great Circle Mapper. So, which is considered the destination?
YYZ-BRU / YYZ-AMS / YYZ-ZRH
According to Great Circle Mapper, Zurich is the farthest from Toronto and is considered the destination or point of turnaround for this trip. If we look back to Rule 1 above, our origin is Toronto (YYZ) and our destination is Zurich (ZRH) and according to the Aeroplan Reward Chart, this trip will cost 110,000 Miles for Business Class.
Stopovers and Layovers
Rule 2 + 3 states that on transcontinental trips you are allowed 2 stopovers or 1 stopover + 1 open jaw as well as multiple layovers so long as the entire trip is under 16 segments total.
In Joe’s example, the other two locations – Amsterdam and Brussels could be considered stopovers or he could split them up and use one of them as an open jaw. For our purposes, we’ll keep them as stopovers. He can also incorporate many layovers along the way as well which we’ll see below.
Keep in mind that the stopovers in Amsterdam and Brussels, can be placed anywhere along the way, both before or after Zurich or even one on either side.
We already know how to search for award space and avoid airlines who charge carrier surcharges so let’s construct a possible routing.
|1. Air Portugal / TP262 / Toronto To Lisbon / June 7 / 23:55 – 11:50+1|
|2. Air Portugal / TP644 / Lisbon to Brussels / June 8 / 15:55 – 19:35|
|3. Swiss / LX787 / Brussels to Zurich / June 13 / 09:55 – 11:15|
|4. Swiss / LX728 / Zurich to Amsterdam / June 18 / 12:30 – 14:10|
|5. Air Portugal / TP259 / Amsterdam to Lisbon / June 22 / 13:45 – 15:50|
|6. Air Portugal / TP259 / Lisbon to Toronto / June 22 / 18:35 – 21:35|
Let’s see how Joe made out with his routing. He’s done his best to avoid flying with airlines that charge fuel/carrier surcharges, he’s incorporated a few layovers along the way and is well within the 16 segment max. Looking at the miles flown between origin and destination, we can see that he is well within the MPM of YYZ-ZHR city pair. (More on MPM below) He’s also flown through Lisbon twice which is okay since it’s on either side of his destination. He chose this so he could utilize Air Portugals lower fees.
In reality, Joe could have pieced together a trip which incorporated longer layovers which would give him enough time to venture into and explore the city a bit more. By doing so, this would give Joe a great feel for the city and help decide whether or not he’d like to return at some other point in his future travels.
Rule 2 also tells us that we can substitute a stopover for an open jaw so long as the open jaw is adjacent to your destination. In other words, your destination has to be one point of the open jaw – either where the open jaw starts or ends.
Let’s look at a valid and invalid open jaw for Joe’s trip:
- Joe would be able to fly into Zurich, take a train to Brussels, and then carry on the trip from there to Amsterdam.
- Joe would not be able to fly into Zurich, then fly to Brussels, and finally take a train to Amsterdam, before flying back to Toronto.
This second example wouldn’t work because Zurich is considered our destination and the open jaw has to either start or end in Zurich like it does in our first example.
Maximum Permitted Mileage
Let’s take a look at Rule 5 which talks about the MPM of our itinerary. In a nutshell, the MPM dictates how much flying you can do between your origin and destination and it’s designed to eliminate obscure routings such as flying from Canada to South America via Europe.
Aeroplan has basically given you a flying allowance and has said, “Hey, we understand that direct/non-stop flights aren’t always possible and you’ll likely have to take some layovers along the way. Because of that, we’re going to give you xx,xxx amount of miles to work with to piece together a routing that will get you to and from your destination.”
It’s a rather unclear or cloudy rule because there is no logical MPM calculation or formula (to us travelers anyway). But basically, each origin-destination pairing will have its own unique MPM value and your overall routing must fall below that distance. Generally speaking, the farther apart your origin and destination are, the greater the MPM and the more flying you can do.
In our example above, the MPM for Toronto to Zurich is 6873 miles and if you add up the distance between the segments flown from Toronto to Zurich as well as Zurich to Toronto, you’ll see we are well below that. For a fairly comprehensive list of MPM values for city pairs, check out this thread over at FlyerTalk.
I know what you’re thinking – “wow!” I agree, that was a lot of information and hopefully a good introduction of what the Aeroplan Mini-rtw is all about.
Many would agree that this is by far the best use of your miles and allows you to extract some amazing value, especially when you’re flying in business or first class.
Admittedly there is more to know about the Mini-rtw like to how book these behemoths and how to stretch your miles into some incredible journeys all of which we’ll address in future posts.
If you have any questions about the Mini-RTW, contact me or leave a comment below.