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Right now 40k Starpoints plus taxes will get you a roundtrip economy class trip to Europe, 65k Starpoints will get you a roundtrip Business Class ticket, and 80k will get you a roundtrip First Class ticket.
Starpoints always transfer to dozens of airlines at a rate of 20k Starpoints to 25k miles. On top of that standard bonus, until April 27, 2015, Aeroplan is giving a bonus of up to 25k miles on transfers of hotel points to Aeroplan miles.
These transfer bonuses combine to mean you can get up to 56% more Aeroplan miles than you had Starpoints, which you can redeem on a cheap award chart on Air Canada flights or any Star Alliance carrier.
If you redeem to Western Europe on Swiss and United flights, you’ll pay only 40k/65k/80k Starpoints in economy/business/first with no fuel surcharges.
Luckily I have Starpoints from getting the Starwood Preferred Guest® Credit Card from American Express and business version a few years back.
- How can you take maximum advantage of this promotion?
- How can you avoid the fuel surcharges?
- Where do you search? How do you search?
- Where do you book?
- How good of a deal is 40k Starpoints to Europe or 80k Starpoints in First Class?
Starpoints always transfer to dozens of airlines at a 1:1 rate. For every 20k transferred, you get 5k bonus miles. My favorite airlines transfer partners are American Airlines and Alaska Airlines.
Ordinarily I wouldn’t consider Air Canada’s program, Aeroplan, because Aeroplan collects fuel surcharges on most partners, though not on United, Copa, Avianca, Swiss, and Turkish flight.
But Aeroplan is running a compelling promotion through April 27, 2015. Transfer hotel points and get bonus Aeroplan miles. All transfers from the listed partners will be summed to determine one’s bonus threshold.
The relevant transfers for Western Europe awards with Aeroplan miles are:
- 40k Starpoints transfer to 50k Aeroplan miles + 10k bonus Aeroplan miles for 60,000 total Aeroplan miles (50% bonus). This is enough miles for a roundtrip economy award to Western Europe* from the continental US, Alaska, and Canada.
- 65k Starpoints transfer to 80k Aeroplan miles + 10k bonus Aeroplan miles for 90,000 total Aeroplan miles (38% bonus). This is enough miles for a roundtrip business class award to Western Europe* from the continental US, Alaska, and Canada.
- 80k Starpoints transfer to 100k Aeroplan miles + 25k bonus miles for 125,000 total Aeroplan miles (56% bonus). This is enough miles for a roundtrip first class award to Western Europe* from the continental US, Alaska, and Canada.
*Western Europe includes the countries defined as Europe 1 on the chart, Europe 2 is more expensive.
Similar deals are available to Southern South America. Check the award chart to see how many Aeroplan miles you need.
Maximizing Aeroplan Awards
Aeroplan awards allow for two stopovers in addition to your destination.
Aeroplan collects fuel surcharges on most partners. For instance, fuel surcharges of over $500 per person per roundtrip are instituted on Lufthansa economy awards. Two partners on which no fuel surcharges are collected are United and Swiss flights.
Searching for United and Swiss Space
We want to book our Aeroplan award with United and Swiss space to avoid fuel surcharges. The best place to search for space on United flights is united.com. On an advanced search, tick the box to search only United flights.
Search results–and the search calendar–will only display United flights.
To search for only Swiss flights, find routes that Swiss flies and check Nonstop Flights Only on the united.com advanced search.
Once you’ve found your United or US Airways flights, head to aeroplan.com to book them. Aeroplan will have access to all Saver United space, and all Swiss space that shows up on united.com. You can mix-and-match Swiss and United flights and still have no fuel surcharges.
Booking on Aeroplan.com
Booking the award space on aeroplan.com is easy. Search the dates and cabins you found on united.com. I found award space from Newark to Brussels to Zurich to Newark on united.com.
Getting the Miles
The easiest way to get Starpoints is to get the Starwood Preferred Guest® Credit Card from American Express with 25,000 bonus Starpoints after spending $5k in the first six months.
Your Starpoints won’t arrive before this promotion ends, but we’ve seen similar promotions before, so you’ll have Starpoints in case this promotion returns.
It can take up to two weeks for transfers from Starwood to Aeroplan to arrive. The exact award space you want may be gone by the time your Aeroplan miles are in your account.
- Search for award space on united.com for Aeroplan partners on which Aeroplan doesn’t collect fuel surcharges.
- Open an Aeroplan account.
- Transfer the correct number of Starpoints to your Aeroplan account to book your dream award, taking into account the standard Starpoints to Aeroplan miles bonus (20k points = 25k miles) and the special limited time bonus being offered by Aeroplan until April 27.
- When the points arrive, redo your search on aeroplan.com and book.