When we’re out collecting those Aeroplan miles, it sounds great when we redeemed enough for a free flight across the world. However, this isn’t always the case. A free ticket definitely sounds like a great reward, but not if those taxes and surcharges end up costing you half a ticket if you were to purchase it.
Most Aeroplan collectors feel the need to fly Air Canada operated airlines because they associate the two together and believe that it will give them the most advantageous return. On the other hand, although conversions to other airline loyalty programs are available, most people prefer to earn miles where it is readily available. For example, it must have taken me a million years to add British Airways Avios as a loyalty program as there weren’t as many options available to earn points. Also, I had been earning Aeroplan for many years and could not step out of that comfort zone to push for other programs.
However, there is another option if you’re stuck between changing loyalty programs and do not enjoy paying such high fees for flights which are deemed free. To avoid paying those heavy fuel surcharges on Air Canada, you can book with partner Star Alliance airlines which offer low fuel surcharges. This can be done right on the Aeroplan website.
Star Alliance Airlines Offering Low Fuel Surcharges
Below you will find a list of Star Alliance airlines which have low or no fuel surcharges:
- Air China
- Brussels Airlines
- EVA Airways
- Singapore Airlines
- Turkish Airlines
- United Airlines
We can see how large the variance in pricing is when we take different airlines through the same loyalty program. Let’s take a look at a flight from Montreal, Canada to Zurich, Switzerland:
If you chose a flight operated by Air Canada, you will find that you will be paying a whopping $302.17 CAD for your taxes and surcharges. You can avoid this by directing your flights on low fuel surcharges airlines such as Swiss and United Airlines:
You can see that Swiss charges $54.65 CAD and United charges $85.95 CAD for their taxes and surcharges, while the points to redeem this flight remains the same. That is over $200 CAD difference in fees!
Air Canada is not the only airline which charge high taxes and fees. I decided to click on a flight operated by Lufthansa to find that they charge a fee higher than Air Canada: $317.55 CAD.
Low Surcharge Destination
Another way of avoiding heft surcharges are the destinations you travel to. Since Hong Kong is a low surcharge destination, you will find that the previous theory will no longer be in effect. Let’s take a look at the differences:
For the same flight from Vancouver to Hong Kong, Air Canada charges $65.71 CAD and United charges $78.21 CAD for taxes and surcharges with the same redemption miles. In this case, it would be more beneficial to book with Air Canada operated flights.
Breakdown of Fees with ITA Matrix
If you’re wondering why there is a huge difference in fees, you can use ITA Matrix for a breakdown of this:
Air Canada + Korean Air
By looking at these breakdown in fees, you can see that amongst airline surcharges there are difference. EVA Air charges $52.00, Air China charges $115.40, and the multiple airlines option with an Air Canada flight charges $170.00 in just surcharges!
The Bottom Line
It may sound like a lot of work researching the different type of airlines and flights. Sometimes when you’re on the Aeroplan website, Air Canada operated flights show up in the results while partner airlines will not show up, so it can definitely be a pain. Although it does require a bit of patience and time, if you plan ahead, this can end up saving you a lot of money as you can see from the results we got.
We all know a redemption flight ticket isn’t exactly free. By understanding which airlines offer lower fees for redeeming hard earned rewards, we can get as close to a free ticket possible.