One of the best features of the Aeroplan loyalty program is the ability to book stopovers for an additional 5,000 Aeroplan points.
In taking advantage of Aeroplan stopovers, you’ll be able to add more destinations to your journey and turn one trip into multiple trips for a modest extra cost.
Let’s take a look at everything you need to know about Aeroplan’s stopover feature.
Summary of Aeroplan’s Stopover Rules
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Since the launch of the new Aeroplan program in November 2020, there have been a few ongoing changes to the stopover policy. The below information represents the current state of affairs for Aeroplan stopovers.
Stopovers cost 5,000 points
You’re allowed to add a stopover at an intermediate point on a one-way bound for an extra 5,000 Aeroplan points per passenger.
On a round-trip booking, which is essentially just two one-way bounds, you’re allowed two stopovers (one in each direction) for a total of 10,000 Aeroplan points per person.
Stopovers can’t be in Canada or the United States
Stopovers are permitted everywhere other than in Canada or the United States. Booking a stopover within Canada or the United States will result in two one-way bounds, so you’re better off just booking two one-ways to begin with.
Stopovers elsewhere in North America, such as in Mexico, Central America, or the Caribbean, are allowed.
Stopovers can be up to 45 days
Stopovers are limited to 45 days in duration. This means that for any stops between 24 hours and 45 days in length, you’ll only be charged an extra 5,000 points per person.
Any stopovers that exceed 45 days in length will be treated as a separate booking, and will be priced accordingly.
A connection must be over 24 hours in duration to count as a stopover. Connections of under 24 hours in duration are treated as layovers instead, and are not subject to an extra points surcharge.
Stopovers must be booked via the Aeroplan Contact Centre
At the moment, stopovers may only be booked over the phone with the Aeroplan Contact Centre. In the future, it will be possible to book stopovers online on the Aeroplan website.
However, as of October 1, 2021 and until this feature becomes live online, Aeroplan will waive the usual $30 phone booking fee for itineraries with a stopover.
Through our experience, booking a stopover over the phone may not always be a smooth experience. You may have to try a few times before you reach an agent who can price out the itinerary as expected.
Examples of Booking Aeroplan Stopovers
To better understand how to maximize Aeroplan stopovers, let’s take a look at a few sample routings.
Stopover on a one-way
Let’s consider a routing of Toronto–Istanbul–Singapore. If you didn’t want to stop in Istanbul for more than 24 hours, this would price out at 85,000 Aeroplan points as per the North America–Pacific award chart.
If you wanted to add a stopover of over 24 hours and less than 45 days in Istanbul, the cost would increase by 5,000 points, paying a total of 90,000 Aeroplan points for the entire journey.
If you try to book this itinerary online as a multi-city reward, the engine doesn’t recognize Istanbul as a stopover point. Instead, it prices out the itinerary at a significantly higher cost.
As you can see below, Toronto–Istanbul–Singapore with a stopover prices out at 150,000 points (70,000 points + 80,000 points for separate Toronto–Istanbul and Istanbul–Singapore awards), rather than the 90,000 Aeroplan points that it should actually cost.
Until the online stopover booking feature is rolled out, you’ll need to give the Aeroplan Contact Centre a call to complete this booking.
Two stopovers on a round-trip
Suppose that you’d like to visit Tokyo and Bangkok on a summer holiday next year. You’re flexible with routings, and consider flying via the Middle East on your outbound flight.
For your outbound flight, you hop on Etihad Airways from Toronto to Abu Dhabi, flying for 13 hours in its Dreamliner business class.
After staying in the UAE for a week or so, you then proceed onwards to Bangkok, again onboard Etihad Airways in a Dreamliner.
Booked separately, these flights would cost 145,000 Aeroplan points in business class. When booked as a one-way with a stopover, however, the cost drops down to only 90,000 points: 85,000 for the flights and 5,000 for a stopover.
Similarly, on the way back, you could fly from Bangkok to Tokyo aboard ANA Dreamliner business class, add a stopover for up to 45 days, and then continue back to Toronto via Chicago, again in ANA business class but this time on a Boeing 777.
Booking these as two one-ways would cost 120,000 Aeroplan points, while booking them as a one-way with a stopover drops the cost to 90,000 points. In total, your round-the-world routing would cost 180,000 Aeroplan points.
Further applications of adding stopovers are almost endless. Indeed, stopovers can be a great way to plan a short visit to a new city or country that you’d consider visiting in the future, giving you a taste of a new part of the world en route to your final destination.
Logistics of Booking Aeroplan Stopovers
Once you have an idea of where you’d like to go, you’ll then go through the process of making the booking.
In my experience, booking a stopover requires more work than it should. This annoyance ought to be resolved once Aeroplan activates the stopover feature on its online platform.
The best way to approach booking stopovers is to do all of the planning in advance, and then go ahead with actually booking the stopover.
Start by looking for award space on flights that you’d like to take. Make sure to calculate the distances using Great Circle Mapper, to ensure that you aren’t crossing into a farther distance band and unnecessarily spending more points.
When you find flights that work, note down the dates and the flight numbers, and begin the process of making the booking.
It’s possible to book one flight online and then call Aeroplan to add the stopover flight, or it’s also possible to book everything over the phone, as the $30 booking fee is currently waived for itineraries with stopovers.
I personally prefer the former approach, as I like to have the assurance of having at least one flight booked, and I’ve found that not all Aeroplan agents are familiar with the policy of waiving the $30 booking fee for stopovers.
After making the booking, call Aeroplan and mention that you’d like to make a change to a booking. Give them the booking reference of the flight you’ve just booked online, and say that you’d like to add another flight and make the original destination now a stopover point for 5,000 points.
Give the agent the flight number and date of your preferred flight, and the agent should be able to proceed with making the amendments to your booking. As mentioned above, sometimes you’ll have to try a few agents before the booking prices out as it should.
Once it’s all booked, you’ll be able to select your seats on all segments of the journey, and then begin looking forward to actually flying on it.
Is the Aeroplan Stopover a Good Deal?
Across airline loyalty programs, it’s fairly rare for stopovers to be permitted on a one-way booking. Other programs, such as British Airways Avios, simply cumulatively add up the distance and charge you accordingly.
A few other programs, like Alaska Mileage Plan, do allow you to add a stopover on a one-way flight for no additional charge, which is more favourable than Aeroplan’s “stopover fee” of 5,000 points.
However, it’s worth noting that Aeroplan’s flexible routing policy allows travellers to cover a lot of ground en route to their destination. This is what makes it possible to stop in Europe on the way to Asia, or stop in the Middle East on the way to Australia, all while mix-and-matching Aeroplan’s 45+ partner airlines.
Indeed, Aeroplan’s constantly expanding network of partners adds more clout to an already strong program. As we’ve seen, carriers such as Oman Air, Virgin Australia, Etihad Airways, and Vistara, amongst others, add to the extensive Star Alliance global network accessible through Aeroplan points.
Compare this to other airline programs with stopover features: Alaska Mileage Plan only lets you book one partner airline along with Alaska Airlines themselves, which limits the overall usefulness of the feature even if it’s available at no additional charge.
Aeroplan’s stopover rules permit travellers to squeeze in an extended stay on a one-way trip to most places in the world for only 5,000 extra points.
Personally, I’ve used stopovers on many Aeroplan bookings ever since the feature was first launched. I appreciate how I can visit multiple countries on one trip, without being unduly penalized for it by having to book separate itineraries.
Having to call into the Aeroplan Contact Centre is a bit cumbersome, especially when the hold times are lengthy, and we continue to wait for a more robust multi-city booking tool to be rolled out on the Aeroplan website to make it easier to book stopovers.