With a new Aeroplan program coming that explicitly prohibits backtracking, I made one final odd but strategic redemption. This redemption demonstrates why I love Aeroplan (despite our troubles) and why I am officially crazy.
My Beautifully Convoluted Final Aeroplan Redemption
Last Friday Aeroplan shut down for the weekend. When it re-opens, hopefully sometime today, a new program will launch. While the new program has many exciting new perks (check out my full analysis here), it also incorporates distance-based pricing into its new award charts. That doesn’t bode well for people like me who would never fly nonstop when they could make four stops instead.
Live and Let’s Fly is a travel blog that focuses on airline news and tracks developments in the world of miles and points. But at the heart of this blog is trip reports. Over the years I’ve visited nearly 140 countries and I intend to visit them all at some point. Writing about my flights and hotels when I travel provides a foundation of credibility for me to opine on new products and compare carrier offerings. In short, I view actually experiencing airline products as essential to reviewing them.
With that in mind, I set out to book a “review” trip for the second half of 2021. In the era of coronavirus, my travel has been severely limited since March. With many international borders closed, travel has been difficult. Furthermore, many carriers have dramatically scaled back soft product offerings. If this is only done on a temporary basis, such reviews would have a very limited shelf-life.
How I Booked
To book my review trips, I usually start with one flight or product. In this case, it was ANA’s new 777-300ER business class, dubbed “The Room.” That configuration reliably operates between Tokyo and both Frankfurt and London.
Everything was built around that flight. I simply wanted to try that product and try as many other new products with it as a I could.
So I set to work.
Aeroplan used a maximum permitted mileage (MPM) system to validate routings. Backtracking and transversing multiple regions was permitted as long as the sum total of your flights was under the MPM.
MPMs from the East Coast to South Asia tend to be the most generous, so I started with that.
It has been years since I traveled on EgyptAir, which has since introduced a new business class seat aboard its Boeing 787-9. I figured that would be a suitable transatlantic flight and it would be fun to transit Cairo (CAI) again. The 787-9 operates out of Washington (IAD), New York (JFK), and Toronto (YYZ). Award space was plentiful on EgyptAir, and I was quickly able to find an IAD-CAI-FRA-HND routing that worked.
The trouble with that, however, was that the MPM from Washington (IAD) to Tokyo (HND) was greatly exceeded by routing via Cairo and Frankfurt. So to make it work, I had to add more flights. First, I added a connection from Tokyo to Jakarta (CGK), since the MPM for Indonesia is so much higher than for Japan.
That still left me just about 100 miles over the MPM limit.
I ended up adding a flight from Orlando (MCO) to Washington. Adding that extra segment brought me just under the limit. How close? The Aeroplan MPM from MCO-CGK is (was) 17,872 miles. My routing ended up being 17,832 miles.
Here it is:
- Orlando to Washington – United Airlines A320
- Washington to Cairo – EgyptAir 787-9
- Cairo to Frankfurt – EgyptAir 737-800
- Frankfurt to Tokyo – ANA 777-300ER
- Tokyo to Jakarta – ANA 787-9
Price: 77,500 miles in business class and about $100 in taxes/fees.
I baked in “mini-stopovers” (long layovers, but less than 24 hours) into each city, not so much to see the cities as much to prepare for inventible schedule changes over the next year.
While I have no idea what 2021 will look like, news of a successful vaccine trial earlier today has buoyed my hopes that I will actually be able to take this trip. These are the sorts of trips I prefer not to travel solo on, but several of the flights had only one award seat in business class. In any case, stay tuned…eventually…for what I hope will be a monumental review trip.
image: Great Circle Mapper / Karl Swartz