When it comes to maximizing the value of your points, it is important to know what flights are offered at your local airport. But first, you need to determine what type of spender and traveller you are. Are you a frequent traveller who has their flights paid? Are you a once a year traveller for your vacation? Do you only look for cheap flights and do not care about collecting points? Do you want to bank all your points into one frequent flyer program?
I’m the diversification type. I like to have options by being part of more than one frequent flyer program and to take advantage of airline alliances. When it comes to the top 4 airports in Canada are Toronto (YYZ), Vancouver (YVR), Calgary (YYC) and Montréal (YUL), they all offer a wide variety of flights that cover all the major airline alliances. So it is pretty easy to get the flight that you want. For this post, I use examples from medium and smaller airports to explain how to take advantage of different offers.
Below is a list of airports along with popular flights to keep in mind:
- Air Canada: Montréal-Trudeau, Ottawa, Toronto-Pearson, Vancouver
- Air North: Whitehorse
- American Airlines: Dallas/Fort Worth (begins April 2, 2014)
- Delta Air Lines: Minneapolis/St. Paul (begins June 5, 2014)
- United Airlines: Houston-Intercontinental, Newark
- United Express: Chicago-O’Hare, Denver
- United Express: San Francisco
- WestJet: (Mutiple choices)
- Air Canada: Calgary, Edmonton, Frankfurt, London–Heathrow, Montréal–Trudeau, Toronto–Pearson, Vancouver
- Air Canada Express: Boston, Montréal–Trudeau, New York–LaGuardia, Toronto–Pearson, Washington–National
- Air North: Whitehorse, Yellowknife
- Delta Connection: Detroit
- Porter Airlines: Halifax, Moncton, Toronto–Billy Bishop
- United Express: Chicago–O’Hare, Newark, Washington–Dulles
- US Airways Express: Charlotte, Philadelphia
- WestJet: Calgary, Toronto–Pearson, Winnipeg
- Air Canada: London-Heathrow, Montréal-Trudeau, Toronto-Pearson
- Air Canada Express: Boston
- Delta Connection: New York-LaGuardia
- Porter Airlines: Montréal-Trudeau, Ottawa, St. John’s, Toronto-Billy Bishop
- United Express: Newark, Chicago-O’Hare
- US Airways Express: Philadelphia
- WestJet: Calgary, St. John’s, Toronto-Pearson
- Air Canada Montréal-Trudeau, Toronto-Pearson, Vancouver
- Delta Connection: Minneapolis/St. Paul
- United Express: Chicago-O’Hare, Denver
- WestJet: Calgary, Edmonton, Las Vegas, Montréal-Trudeau, Ottawa, Thunder Bay (ends June 26, 2014), Toronto-Pearson, Vancouver
For international travelers, keep in mind the following:
- Star Alliance – Air Canada, United Airlines, U.S. Airways (ending March 30, 2014)
- Oneworld – American Airlines, U.S. Airways (beginning March 31, 2014)
- SkyTeam – Delta Airlines
As you can see from the 4 airports listed above, only Edmonton has been servicing a Oneworld member (American Airlines) until March 31, 2014 when U.S. Airways joins Oneworld alliance. So if you live near an airport that doesn’t have a Oneworld member, it would not make too much sense to bank points with those airlines. U.S. Airways merging with American Airlines is really a game changer for two reasons. First of all, you will not longer be able to use your Aeroplan points on U.S. Airways flights and because American Airlines points have become more valuable to Canadians.
The benefit of having an alliance partner in one of the airports is so that you can earn and use points on all the partnered airlines. Be sure to read up on our post on Airline Alliances.
If you are more of a domestic traveller, airline alliances will not make as much sense. If you insist on flying business class, then Air Canada is pretty much the only option. But if you are open to economy travel, then I would consider Air North, Porter and WestJet, as they are all great alternatives. I would be comparing their prices against each other to see who gives you the better deal. For Aeroplan, VIPorter and WestJet Rewards, keep in mind the expiring policies to let your points expire.
Know your airport, know your options and have a safe trip!