My Most Epic Aeroplan Mini-RTW Trip and How I Booked it

With Air Canada’s re-acquisition of Aeroplan, changes were inevitable. This was expected. Changes before the program shifted owners, however, was not. On September 1st, 2019 one allowable stopover was removed, effectively killing the Aeroplan Mini-RTW travel hack I have come to love.

With this announcement came a flood of bookings before the change kicked in. I helped a few people book their trips through a service I offer and it got me thinking about my own travels. I had no intentions of booking one last Aeroplan Mini-RTW trip as I just had a helluva trip to India, Sri Lanka, and the Maldives. Still, this could be the last time I can stretch my points to the limit. With that, I booked myself possibly the most ridiculous around the world trip yet.

Save the best for last? Here’s a break down on my last Aeroplan Mini-RTW trip and how I booked it.

Establishing Criteria

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Anytime I book a multi-stop Aeroplan trip (or any big trip for that matter) I always have some sort of goal in mind. In the past this has been going to the Sochi Winter Olympics, Riding a luxury train in India, or capitalizing on an error fare to Africa. Each time I booked these events first and built my trip around them. I find this to be a great motivator. It gets you past daydreaming about travel and actually travelling.

In this case, I was booking flights on an awards program that is about to be devalued so I wanted to make the most of my points while I can. With that in mind, I started with some high-level criteria. I wanted to:

  • Maximize stops and layovers
  • Maximize distance travelled
  • Visit new countries
  • Fly new (and new to me) business class products

Simple enough right?

Building the Itinerary

Based on my high-level criteria I began breaking it down to specifics. Specifically…

Fly New Business Class Products

I decided to tackle this list backwards as I knew I wanted to fly EVA Air business class for the first time. Also, Turkish Air has released new 787 business-class products and was keen to check it out. I had flown Turkish air short-haul and loved it. Plus I am always looking for an excuse to get back to Turkey as well as the amazing Turkish Air lounge.

Visit New Countries

Deciding on flying EVA made the next point easy as I have long wanted to visit Taipei. Also, I could get to Oman on Turkish Air, another country on my list, and possibly Georgia!

Maximizing Distance

Utilizing Great Circle Mapper and this nifty hack on how to calculate the maximize allowable distance from YVR, I got to work. After some digging, I found a maximum permitted mileage of over 16,000 with Johannesburg as my destination. Looks like This Life in Trips is headed back to South Africa!

Maximize Stops

AEROPLAN MIN-RTW Booking

With my destinations as Johannesburg and stops in Oman and Taipei, I started peicing it all together. After stumbling on a South African flight between Sao Paulo and Johannesburg I became fixated on making that route work. As cool as it seemed to make my way down through South America and across to Africa, if I wanted to visit Istanbul again (and I did) it was just over the allowable mileage. Pair that with only one flight a week between the two continents and this dream died…for now.

Outbound

The extra time I took to try and make this route work was not lost. The first portion of the trip had hop through Central America with layovers in San Salvador, Panama City (hello Panama Canal!) and Bogotá – all new countries to me. Check, check, and check.

AEROPLAN MIN-RTW Booking

After trying to we find my way back to Houston or Washington to connect on a brand new Turkish Air 787 I came across a direct flight from Bogotá to Istanbul. From there I was trying to get to Georgia however all flights are in and out of Istanbul on Star Alliance. This isn’t’ allowed unless it is on your inbound and outbound flights. With that, I opted to set my first stopover as Istanbul and side trip to Georgia.

From there I booked my way south with a long layover in Nairobi then on to my destination of Johannesburg.

Inbound

AEROPLAN MIN-RTW Booking

From Joburg, I was able to book a night in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia (another new country) on Ethiopian Airlines (another new airline). From there I could’ve gone direct to Oman but a flight to Dubai was more appealing. Although I have been to Dubai before, I did not visit on a business class ticket. This routing gets me enough time to check out the Star Alliance lounge at DXB before my one hour flight to Muscat, my final stopover city.

Flights out of Oman we’re limited and as hard as I tried to get to Singapore for another flight on Singapore Airlines, I settled on Thai Air to Bangkok. Again, another new business class product for me.

    Compare prices on Business Class flights with Skyscanner

 

After a day there I am on an EVA Air flight to Taipei. As I burned a stopover on Istanbul this visit is just under 24-hours before catching my economy flight on EVA back to Vancouver. This is the only leg with no business class availability but because I am not travelling till next year, I have some time to watch for a seat to open up. Once that happens all I have to do is call in and get the upgrade for free.

Booking This Epic Trip

AEROPLAN MIN-RTW Booking

With all flights confirmed to have Aeroplan availability and within MPM I confidently called in to book. Sadly, I didn’t get too far.

The agent I spoke to was having a hard time with my route and kept asking me “and then back to Vancouver? “despite repeatedly telling her I had 13 segments the book.

When the flights kept timing out on her she said it was not possible to book the itinerary. I let her know that this was not my first rodeo and wanted to get this booked before the changes kicked in the following day. To that, she replied “what changes?“

This was a red flag so I kindly said I would call back in the hopes of getting a better agent. I have run into this a few times but was nervous as now my window was closing and I was leaving this complex booking to the very last minute.

Thankfully, the next agent I spoke with was a rockstar. It still took an hour and a half on the phone but was well worth it in the end. 13 business class flights around the world touching 5 continents all for just $270 in taxes and fees. 🤯

Crazy right? I did the rough math and these 13 flights in business class would cost over $15,000 if I booked straight up!

Oh, Aeroplan Mini-RTW, you will be missed.

Room to Change

Although I don’t see altering this route much, I do have the option. Any flights booked before the September 1st deadline have the option to change under the old rules. As of right now, I plan to take side trips to Georgia from Istanbul and maybe Kazakhstan, then Victoria Falls and Cape Town from Johannesburg. On the way back I may see about adding another stop in Singapore or Manila but I will have to be careful not to burn myself out. Although business class certainly helps right?

What’s Next for Aeroplan Bookings

So there you have it, my last epic kick at the Aeroplan Mini-RTW trip. Although I am sad to see this go, Aeroplan still offers incredible value for business class trips. You can still have two stops and I can still help you save thousands on taxes and fees. Email me before you book!

So that all said, I am quickly topping up my account for my next great trip. I will be sharing a post soon on how in just a few months since booking this trip, I will have  accumulated enough points to book it again. Stay tuned!


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