Big Business Class Discounts On American Flights With This Little-Known Travel Hack

Here's the skinny on getting business bang for buck.

Big Business Class Discounts On American Flights With This Little-Known Travel Hack

Image: Cayman Compass

Air Canada’s Aeroplan isn’t the first frequent flyer scheme most Australians would consider joining, but when you see their business class discounts you’ll realise it’s time to rethink that…

The program is free to join, easy to use, and offers long-haul travellers easy access to massive travel savings across all cabin classes on partner airlines. As frequent flyer programs go, this is one of the best. If you’re not au fait with the merits of Aeroplan for Australian travellers, here’s the skinny…

Air Canada, a perfectly pleasant if unremarkable airline, is one of 26 Star Alliance members. Handily, Air Canada also partners with 27 other airlines, including Virgin Australia, offering Aeroplan members a range of points earning and redemption opportunities.

Many airlines have extensive partnership networks and are members of alliances. Qantas is a member of Oneworld and Virgin Australia, while not a member of any alliance, has a short but high-quality list of partner airlines. What sets Aeroplan apart?

RELATED: Cathay Pacific Announce ‘Aria’ Business Class Upgrade

Aeroplan’s Business-Class Redemption Rates

Aeroplan’s value lies in its relatively low redemption rates for long-haul premium travel on partner airlines, particularly for travel originating or terminating in the Asia Pacific region.

Unlike many other airlines that use dynamic pricing for redemptions, Aeroplan still uses static redemption pricing based on distance across the zones you are flying in or between. The icing on the cake is that the fees and taxes on Aeroplan partner redemptions are extremely reasonable.

Air Canada divides the world into four zones: North America (which includes Central America), South America, the Atlantic (which includes Greenland, Europe, the western half of Russia, South Asia, Central Asia, the Middle East and Africa), and the Pacific (which includes the eastern half of Russia, all of China, North and South East Asia, Australasia, and everything through to the dateline).

On the Melbourne-Singapore route, a distance of around 3,800 miles, a Qantas Classic Rewards redemption is 68,400 plus fees and taxes. Singapore Airlines Business Saver redemptions are 68,500 plus fees and taxes. Aeroplan charges 45,000 points plus fees and taxes.

Within Pacific Zone

0 – 1,000 Partner airlines 8,000 pts 20,000 pts 25,000 pts 
1,001 – 2,000 Partner airlines 12,500 pts 30,000 pts 50,000 pts 
2,001 – 5,000 Partner airlines 25,000 pts 45,000 pts 60,000 pts 
5,001 – 7,000 Partner airlines 37,500 pts 60,000 pts 80,000 pts 
7,001 + Partner airlines 55,000 pts 90,000 pts 130,000 pts 
Source: Air Canada

The Aeroplan redemption rate stays the same while seats remain available, even when many competitors use dynamic pricing to increase the redemption price of seats on a flight as availability dwindles.

On the Brisbane-Amsterdam route — which falls into the 7001-plus-miles band for travel between the Pacific and Europe zones — the flat Aeroplan business class redemption rate on a partner airline is 110,000 plus fees and taxes. This compares to 130,500 points plus fees and taxes for a Singapore Airlines Business Saver redemption and 164,500 points plus fees and taxes for a Qantas Class Rewards business redemption.

While the best value is in premium cabins, Air Canada’s Aeroplan program consistently charges fewer points than competitors on long-haul flights. It also has flat redemption pricing across a multitude of partner airlines and doesn’t gouge you on fees and taxes. These are big pluses for the program.

AirCanada’s B787 Business Class. Image: NerdWallet

When Buying Points For Business Class Makes Sense

For Australians, the biggest issue with Aeroplan is that it is far harder to earn points with them than Qantas or Virgin Australia. Naturally, Air Canada partners with American Express, and you can transfer your Membership Rewards points to AeroPlan. However, another key value Aeroplan proposition is buying points when their bonus point sales are on (as they often are).

Not everybody is on board with buying points, and that’s fair enough. But stick with this paragraph. During a bonus points sale, an Aeroplan member can legitimately acquire points for as low as AUD14.70 per 1000. It would cost around AUD661 to buy the 45,000 points required to fly between Melbourne and Singapore. The fees and taxes on that sector are AUD161, so a mere AUD882.50 all in. 

The next best thing about going to Singapore, after the business class discounts? Their world-beating airport. Image: Changi Airport

If you want to head up to Singapore for New Year’s Eve, a one-way cash business class fare on Singapore Airlines on this route on the last day of 2024 currently costs over AUD3000. Buying enough Aeroplan points to redeem a business class on the same day costs 26% of that amount.

Similar savings extend right across the network of Aeroplan partner redemptions, flying on quality carriers that can get you almost anywhere and giving passengers willing to do the legwork an extremely cost-effective way to fly business class (or first class). It also opens up round-the-world flights at prices no travel agent will give you.

Aeroplan is very user-friendly as frequent flyer programs go, but normal caveats apply. Don’t log on expecting availability tomorrow. Be open to trying partner airlines you may not have flown on before, and if you’re willing to buy points, only buy them when the sales are on and you have a use for them.

But if you’re the type of person who sorts trips six months out, likes flying up the front, and thinks outside the box, then Aeroplan may be the perfect frequent flyer program for you…