Keep in mind that Calgary is the fourth largest city in Canada at over 1 million people, which is larger than the entire province of Newfoundland, which I wrote about last time. Therefore, I may not be able to cover every single best option possible, but I will do my best to cover as much as possible. Other suggestions and personal experiences are greatly appreciated, which you can share in the comment section below!
Calgary has an International Airport (YYC) that is the fourth busiest in Canada, with over 15 million passengers in 2016. Therefore, they do have some decent direct flight reward redemption options, as listed below.
Due to Air Canada’s dominance in Canada, there are only two airline options for Star Alliance fans.
- Air Canada (including Express and Rouge): Castlegar, Cranbrook, Edmonton, Fort McMurray, Frankfurt, Grande Prairie, Houston–Intercontinental, Kamloops, Kelowna, Las Vegas, Lethbridge, London–Heathrow, Los Angeles, Medicine Hat, Montréal–Trudeau, Nanaimo, Newark, Ottawa, Portland (OR), Red Deer, Regina, San Francisco, Saskatoon, Tokyo–Narita, Toronto-Pearson, Vancouver, Victoria, Winnipeg, Yellowknife
- Air Canada (seasonal): Cancún, Halifax, Kahului, Puerto Vallarta, Phoenix-Sky Harbor, Seattle/Tacoma, Vancouver
- United Airlines (including Express): Chicago–O’Hare, Denver, Houston–Intercontinental, San Francisco
If you have miles with any Star Alliance member, you can redeem them for Air Canada or United Airlines flights. As you can see, there are numerous direct flight options to choose from. But if you want to keep your taxes and fuel surcharges low, you better stick with United Airlines.
There are currently only two direct flight options with Oneworld partners.
- American Eagle: Dallas/Fort Worth
- British Airways: London–Heathrow
Be careful with the high taxes and fuel surcharges with British Airways. As it stands, American Airlines is the only realistic reward redemption option. Come on YYC, you can do better than that!
Funny enough, SkyTeam offers that most airline diversity between the 3 major airline alliances at YYC.
- Aeroméxico: Mexico City (begins June 1, 2017)
- Delta Air Lines (including Connection and seasonal flight): Minneapolis/St. Paul, Salt Lake City, Seattle/Tacoma
- KLM: Amsterdam
Between Oneworld and SkyTeam, maybe we will eventually see some additional flights to Asia? I think that would make sense!
You may already know that WestJet is headquartered in Calgary, so it only makes sense that they are probably the most prominent airline at the airport. Having at least one Alaska Airlines flight is a nice touch methinks.
- Alaska Airlines: Seattle/Tacoma
- WestJet (including Encore): Abbotsford, Brandon, Cancún, Comox, Edmonton, Fort McMurray, Fort St. John, Grande Prairie, Halifax, Hamilton (ON), Houston–Intercontinental, Kamloops, Kelowna, Kitchener/Waterloo, Las Vegas, London–Gatwick, London (ON), Los Angeles, Montréal–Trudeau, Nanaimo, Nashville (begins May 4, 2017), New York–JFK, Orlando, Ottawa, Palm Springs, Penticton, Phoenix–Sky Harbor, Puerto Vallarta, Regina, San Diego, San José del Cabo, Saskatoon, Toronto–Pearson, Vancouver, Victoria, Winnipeg, Yellowknife
- WestJet (seasonal): Chicago–O’Hare, Dallas/Fort Worth, Fort Lauderdale, Honolulu, Huatulco, Ixtapa–Zihuatanejo, Kahului, Liberia (CR), Loreto, Manzanillo, Mazatlán, Nassau, Phoenix/Mesa, San Francisco, St. John’s, Varadero, Windsor
Now that Best Western fluctuates its reward redemption a fair bit, depending on high versus low season, you will want to target low season reward redemptions only. Otherwise, you are better off choosing another program instead.
After Hilton was hit with a major devaluation a few years back, I find that their free hotel nights are quite expensive. The cheapest option is a Hampton Inn far from the city centre. The most expensive option is a Hilton Garden Inn in downtown. Everything else falls somewhere in between, which I find very expensive if it is not a luxury hotel.
- Hampton Inn & Suites by Hilton Airdrie – 16,000 points per night
- Hilton Garden Inn Calgary Downtown – 39,000 points per night
The Hyatt Regency in Calgary is decent option. They are a category 3 hotel, which costs 12,000 per night, for a standard room.
With IHG Rewards, I would wait for a Pointsbreak promotion, which costs 5,000 points per night. In terms of luxury hotels, they do not currently have anything above a regular Holiday Inn.
Marriott Rewards offers one of its rare low category hotels in Calgary, so if you only really need an overnight and want to save up your points, you have a sweet option by the airport. Otherwise, you have several Category 4 and 5 hotels to choose from, ranging from 15,000 – 25,000 points per night.
- Residence Inn Calgary Airport (Category 3) – 10,000 points per night
SPG has several hotels to choose from, of which I think that all of them are fair reward redemptions with a wide range of choices. I ranked the hotels based on the lowest to highest category.
- Aloft Calgary University (Category 3) – 7,000 Starpoints per night
- Four Points By Sheraton Calgary Airport (Category 3) – 7,000 Starpoints per night
- Sheraton Cavalier Calgary Hotel (Category 4) – 10,000 Starpoints per night
- Four Points By Sheraton Hotel & Suites Calgary West (Category 4) – 10,000 Starpoints per night
- Element Calgary Airport (SPG Category 4) – Probably 10,000 Starpoints per night (opening May 11, 2017)
- The Westin Calgary (Category 5) – 12,000 Starpoints per night
- Sheraton Suites Calgary Eau Claire (Category 5) – 12,000 Starpoints per night
If location was not an issue, you have reasonable category 3 hotels to choose from. If you want to go a little more upscale, there are Category 5 choices at 12,000 Starpoints per night, which is not breaking the bank, considering that you may find nights for well over $400 CAD per night total.
Pretty much all of Wyndham’s choices are 15,000 points per night.
So there you have it! If you want to visit Calgary on miles and points, you have several options to consider. Enjoy your visit!
Feel free to let me know what more I could have included in the post, as well as other parts of Canada that you would like me to cover. Big cities like Toronto, Vacouver and Montreal may be a bit much to cover on its own (too many reward options to consider), I could potentially break it down and focus on something more specific about them. Other places in the country I can probably cover a much vaster region as they may not have many reward redemption options anyway.