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Which Frequent Flyer Program to use in Each Respective Regions of Canada

Often times, I am asked which airline frequent flyer program to accrue. My answer has always been the same, it depends on which region of the country that you live. Depending on which part of the country you live in, there are different airline hubs and concentrations.

That being said, for the purposes of this post, I will be listing the top airports that were factored into consideration to help determine which airlines reward programs to sign up for.

Atlantic

The major airports servicing the Atlantic provinces of Newfoundland and Labrador, New Brunswick, Nova Scotia and Prince Edward Islands include:

  • Greater Moncton International Airport
  • Halifax Stanfield International Airport
  • St. John’s International Airport

I would say the top frequent flyer programs to sign up for are:

  • Air Canada (Aeroplan)
  • Porter Airlines (VIPorter)
  • WestJet (WestJet Rewards)

Arctic

The major airports servicing the 3 territories (Northwest Territories, Nunavut and Yukon) include:

  • Erik Nielsen Whitehorse International Airport
  • Iqaluit Airport
  • Yellowknife Airport

I would say the top airlines rewards programs to sign up for are:

  • Air Canada (Aeroplan)
  • Canadian North (Aurora Rewards)

Unfortunately, not more of the airlines servicing the territories have reward programs, so the competition is wide open in this region of Canada. I am so happy to see Aurora Rewards come on board in 2014.

Fortunately, you can earn Aeroplan with co-share airlines partners that service the territories: Calm Air, Canadian North and First Air. Maybe another one of the northern airlines can team up with WestJet as well.

Eastern

The provinces of Ontario and Quebec are what would be considered Eastern Canada:

  • Billy Bishop Toronto City Airport
  • Montréal–Pierre Elliott Trudeau International Airport
  • Ottawa Macdonald–Cartier International Airport
  • Québec City Jean Lesage International Airport
  • Toronto Pearson International Airport

There are actually a lot of choices to choose from, but my top 5 suggested frequent flyer programs to sign up for are:

  • Air Canada (Aeroplan)
  • British Airways (Avios)
  • Porter Airlines (VIPorter)
  • United Airlines (MileagePlus)
  • WestJet (WestJet Rewards)

My list of suggestions above are not a restrictive list. Some people may fly very specific routes, very frequently, in which case, I would say sign up for that specific program. For example, if you fly frequently between Toronto and Hong Kong on Cathay Pacific, then you should definitely sign up for Asia Miles, even though Cathay Pacific does not have a hub at any Canadian airport.

British Airways is on the list because of the diverse ways to earn Avios as a Canadian. Any time you fly with a Oneworld alliance partner, I would just load up my Avios account. Otherwise, I would also look into American Airlines if you fly with their airline frequently.

Aeroplan is generally the most common program to sign up for, as Air Canada has hubs in Toronto and Montreal. However, if you fly several different Star Alliance partners often enough, then I would just load up on MileagePlus miles instead (especially if you fly United Airlines frequently), as it holds more value.

To cover SkyTeam, in the past, I would have recommended loading up on Delta SkyMiles. Since the discontinuation of its co-branded credit cards, I would hold off on loading up on SkyTeam miles unless you fly frequently between 2 specific destinations (as I explained in the Toronto to Hong Kong route). For example, if you flew between Montreal and Paris frequently, I would definitely sign up for Air France’s Flying Blue loyalty program.

Pacific

Pacific Canada is essentially just the province of British Columbia.

  • Kelowna International Airport
  • Vancouver International Airport
  • Victoria International Airport

I would say the top airlines frequent flyer programs to sign up for are:

  • Air Canada (Aeroplan)
  • Alaska Airlines (Mileage Plan)
  • WestJet (WestJet Rewards)

If I lived in the provinces of British Columbia or Alberta, I would sign up for the MBNA Alaska Airlines World Elite MasterCard to load up on Mileage Plan miles as they are very valuable due to the numerous partners and to take advantage of the companion fare perk with the credit card.

The same concept as I explained about Montreal and Paris flights, the same would apply to flights between Vancouver and many of the other Asian cities. For instance, if you flew between Vancouver and Taipei–Taoyuan frequently, I would definitely look into signing up for Eva Air’s Infinity MileageLands program (also a member of Star Alliance) instead of only loading up on Aeroplan only.

Prairies

This region of Canada encompasses 3 provinces: Alberta, Manitoba and Saskatchewan, which have multiple busy airports:

  • Calgary International Airport
  • Edmonton International Airport
  • Fort McMurray International Airport
  • Regina International Airport
  • Saskatoon John G. Diefenbaker International Airport
  • Winnipeg James Armstrong Richardson International Airport

The top frequent flyer program to sign upfor are:

  • Air Canada (Aeroplan)
  • Alaska Airlines (Mileage Plan)
  • WestJet (WestJet Rewards)

For frequent domestic travellers, there is no question that WestJet Rewards is probably the best program to sign up for in this region as the headquarters is in Calgary.

Conclusion

Remember that everyone’s flying habits are very unique, so there is really no one shoe fits all. The guide that I provided in this post is just to give you a general idea of what factors to consider when deciding which airline reward programs to join.

Personally, I like to have at least one frequent flyer program per airline alliance (Aeroplan for Star Alliance, Avios for Oneworld and SkyMiles for SkyTeam).

What are your top programs and why?

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Pointshogger aims to provide analysis and updates on earning loyalty reward points and maximizing the value of your points. We hope to inspire our readers to experience the joy of travel and make the most out of what they've already got!

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