Aeroplan’s Mini-RTW – Part 4 – Airlines with No Fuel Surcharge – Asia

Aeroplan’s Mini-RTW – Part 4 – Airlines with No Fuel Surcharge – Asia
This entry is part 4 of 4 in the series Aeroplan's Mini-RTW

As we continue on with the mini-RTW redemption series, we will take a look at airlines that can get you to Asia without fuel surcharge.  This list has expanded in the past couple of years due to some countries making it illegal to charge fuel or carrier surcharges, which is fantastic.

Structure

I, like many of you, would rather have as few connections as possible to get to your final destination, so I will be focusing on the finding the best possible route to Europe through each major Canadian city.

In terms of which airline you should fly, it’s going to come down to personal preference and availability.  If you are lucky enough to have a choice of no YQ airlines to fly to Asia, I would encourage you to watch a few YouTube reviews on the airline to see if it’s right for you.

I won’t be going into depth about Fuel/Carrier Surcharge (YQ) but if you want some more background, please refer to my previous post on the subject.

I will go through each major Canadian city and provide some options to get to Asia.  I’m not claiming that this is a complete list but I’ll try to give you some solid options and hopefully, you can extrapolate from there.

I will also refer to cities using their IATA code so if you don’t know them, I would encourage you to learn them but until you do, you can refer to the IATA city and airline lookup tool.

Key Airlines to Asia

The following are key airlines that do not charge fuel surcharge, their IATA code (in brackets) and the cities in North America that they have a direct flight to with Canadian cities bolded.  If the airline does not charge a fuel/carrier surcharge but does not fly direct to North America, they are not included in this list.

I should note that while Air China (CA) is listed below, they have proven to be almost impossible to book due to very limited availability.  Keep this in mind if you are looking to use them to get to Asia.

Air-China-Logo-Large

 

 

  • Vancouver (YVR)
  • Montreal (YUL)
  • San Francisco (SFO)
  • San Jose (SJC)
  • Los Angeles (LAX)

ANA_All_Nippon_Airways_logo_logotype_emblem

 

 

  • Vancouver (YVR)
  • Seattle (SEA)
  • San Francisco (SFO)
  • San Jose (SJC)
  • Los Angeles (LAX)
  • Houston (IAH)
  • Chicago (ORD)
  • Washington, DC (IAD)
  • New York (JFK)
  • Honolulu (HNL)

EVA_Air_logo_logotype

 

 

  • Vancouver (YVR)
  • Toronto (YYZ)
  • Seattle (SEA)
  • San Francisco (SFO)
  • Los Angeles (LAX)
  • Houston (IAH)
  • Chicago (ORD)
  • New York (JFK)

Singapore_Airlines_Logo.svg

 

 

 

  • San Francisco (SFO)
  • Los Angeles (LAX)
  • Houston (IAH)
  • New York (JFK)

1280px-United_Airlines_Logo.svg

 

 

  • San Francisco (SFO)
  • Los Angeles (LAX)
  • Denver (DEN)
  • Chicago (ORD)
  • Houston (IAH)
  • Washington (IAD)
  • New York (EWR)

Canadian City Suggested Routings

Like the Europe routings we explored in Part 3, we will look at all the Canadian city suggested routings starting in the west and working east.  I again apologize in advance if I didn’t include your city but hopefully, you’ll start to understand how to think about the problem and look for routes that work for you.

As before, you can connect through the Canadian hubs to Asia such as Vancouver but you will have to fly Air Canada and that means fuel surcharge.

Air Canada charges a LOT of fuel/carrier surcharge on their reward flights with one exception … flights to countries that have made it illegal to collect fuel surcharge.  In Asia, that includes Japan, so in this post, you may see Air Canada sprinkled in but keep in mind that this is the exception, not the rule.  Also, keep in mind that this could change at any time.

Once you get to Asia, finding flights that can get to your chosen city in that region is pretty easy, so our primary concern is getting across the Pacific Ocean.

Vancouver (YVR)

If Toronto and Montreal were the European gateways, Vancouver most definitely serves as the Canadian gateway to Asia.  If you live in Vancouver and want to go to Asia, you live in the perfect city as you are likely to be able to find a direct flight to a major hub in Asia.  In the unlikely event that you cannot find availability through Vancouver, you can always connect to a United hub like San Francisco, which will give you the option of 12 different Asian hubs to fly to.

Air Canada (AC)
YVR-NRT

Air China (CA)
YVR-PEK

ANA (NH)
YVR-HND

EVA Airlines (BR)
YVR-TPE

United Airlines (UA)
YVR-SFO-HND/NRT/KIX/ICN/PEK/XIY/CTU/PVG/HGH/TPE/HKG/SIN
YVR-LAX-NRT/PVG
YVR-DEN-NRT
YVR-IAH-NRT
YVR-ORD-NRT/PEK/PVG/HKG

Calgary (YYC)

Unfortunately, your choices are limited in Calgary but as I had mentioned earlier in the post, Japan provides a safe haven for YQ free flights and with a direct flight from Calgary to Tokyo (NRT) on Air Canada, it’s probably the easiest way to get across the Pacific.  Add to the fact that the route is serviced by Air Canada’s new 787 Dreamliner, it starts to become a very good option.  If you can’t find availability, you could always route through a United hub to get across the ocean.

Air Canada (AC)
YYC-NRT

United (UA)
YYC-SFO-HND/NRT/KIX/ICN/PEK/XIY/CTU/PVG/HGH/TPE/HKG/SIN
YYCDEN-NRT
YYC-IAH-NRT
YYC-ORD-NRT/PEK/PVG/HKG

Edmonton (YEG)

Edmonton features absolutely no international flights with Star Alliance so you are forced to connect.  The best options are to connect with United through either Denver or Houston to Tokyo or through Vancouver but again, if you connect through Vancouver, you will fly with Air Canada, which will have fuel/carrier surcharge.

United (UA)
YEG-IAH-NRT
YEGDEN-NRT

Air Canada (AC) and EVA Airlines (BR)
YQR-YVR-TPE

Air Canada (AC) and Air China (CA)
YEG-YVR-PEK

Air Canada (AC) and ANA (NH)
YEG-YVR-HND

Regina (YQR)

Regina is another Canadian city that simply isn’t serviced with direct international flights or even direct flights to the US.  If you live in Regina, you are forced to fly Air Canada before your onward connection.

Air Canada (AC) and EVA Airlines (BR)
YQR-YYZ-TPE
YQR-YVR-TPE

Air Canada (AC) and Air China(CA)
YQR-YVR-PEK
YQR-YUL-PEK

Air Canada (AC) and ANA (NH)
YQR-YVR-HND

Winnipeg (YWG)

Winnipeg is very similar to Edmonton and Regina in that there are no direct international flights from the city.  You are forced to connect through a US city to Tokyo (NRT) or through Vancouver or Toronto.  That connection would be with Air Canada and would thus attract YQ.

United (UA)
YWGDEN-NRT
YWG-ORD-NRT

Air Canada (AC) and EVA Airlines (BR)
YWG-YYZ-TPE
YWG-YVR-TPE

Air Canada (AC) and Air China (CA)
YWG-YUL-PEK
YWG-YVR-PEK

Air Canada (AC) and ANA (NH)
YWG-YVR-HND

Toronto (YYZ)

Hazah!  Finally, Toronto gets the short end of the straw on award redemptions.  For most award flights, Toronto is the place to be but for flights to Asia, they are quite limited if you want to fly YQ free.

Air Canada (AC)
YYZ-NRT

EVA Airlines (BR)
YYZ-TPE

United Airlines (UA)
YYZ-DEN-NRT
YYZ-ORD-NRT/PEK/PVG/HKG
YYZ-IAH-NRT
YYZ-IAD-NRT/PEK
YYZ-EWR-NRT/PEK/PVG/HKG

Air Canada (AC) and Air China (CA)
YYZ-YUL-PEK

Ottawa (YOW)

While Ottawa does not have any direct flights to Asia, it is well located so you can get there with one connection on United.  You could also try connecting through Toronto if you want to fly EVA Airlines or Montreal for Air China.

United Airlines (UA)
YOW-ORD-NRT/PEK/PVG/HKG
YOW-IAD-NRT/PEK
YOW-EWR-NRT/PEK/PVG/HKG

Air Canada (AC) and EVA Airlines (BR)
YOW-YYZ-TPE

Air Canada (AC) and Air China (CA)
YOW-YUL-PEK

Montreal (YUL)

Montreal has one direct flight to Asia on non-YQ carrier Air China, so if you don’t mind flying with that airline, you can get there fairly easily.  You also have the option to connect to Asia through a United hub in the US.

Air China (CA)
YUL-PEK

United Airlines (UA)
YUL-ORD-NRT/PEK/PVG/HKG
YUL-IAD-NRT/PEK
YUL-EWR-NRT/PEK/PVG/HKG

Halifax (YHZ)

With Halifax, your options are limite to a connection in either Toronto (YYZ) or New York (EWR)

Air Canada (AC) and EVA Airlines (BR)
YHZ-YYZ-TPE

United Airlines (UA)
YHZ-EWR-NRT/PEK/PVG/HKG

St John’s (YYT)

Little choice is the theme of the day for St John’s.  If you live in St John’s you probably know there are no direct flights internationally except for London with Air Canada so you are forced to connect to either Toronto or Montreal to get to Asia.

Air Canada (AC)
YYT-YYZ-NRT

Air Canada (AC) and EVA Airlines (BR)
YYT-YYZ-TPE

Air Canada (AC) and Air China (CA)
YYT-YUL-PEK

Conclusion

Like travel to Europe on a mini-RTW, Asia has many options, especially if you consider that fuel/carrier surcharges are currently illegal in Japan.  This opens up a world of possible routes even from cities that typically do not have direct routes to Asia, like Calgary.

Now that you have seen how to get to Europe and Asia on non-YQ airlines, hopefully, you can see how you can leverage this information to build your own mini-RTW.

I don’t think I will do a post on trips to Africa or Australia on non-YQ airlines as you would typically have to route through Europe or Asia respectively since there are very few direct routes to those continents.  If I get a lot of comments asking for it, perhaps I can write a supplement to the series later on.

Next Up

Next up, we will build a mini-RTW from scratch so if you have an idea of where you would like to go on a mini-RTW, leave a comment below and I’ll see if I can figure something out for you.  If you are interested, leave your three cities, your dates of travel, how many passengers and the class of service you are after.

Series Navigation<< Aeroplan’s Mini-RTW – Part 3 – Airlines with No Fuel Surcharge – Europe

Also published on Medium.

29 Comments
  1. Thanks for all this. As for a RTW, here is a suggestion:

    Toronto to any European city on airline without fuel charges (stopover) to Japan (destination) to Vancouver or San Francisco (stopover) to Toronto

  2. Sorry, let’s try 3 passengers, business class. Any dates that you think might work.

  3. Hmm, how about somewhere in Eastern Europe and South-east Asia?

  4. Just starting to search flight routes for two in business, starting around December 14-15, I had it going something like this yyz-yvr (stop one or two days, family visit)-syd (destination, five days)-per-joh-dur (stop, eight day)-joh-iad-yyz . Of course your thoughts much appreciated. Still having a hard time with A/C and permitted mileage.

  5. I’m having a hard time looking for flights in business for 3 adults and 1 infant under 2. Would appreciate your help with hit. My travel dates are flexible – anytime between beginning of Nov 2016 to end of Mar 2017. These are the destinations Toronto –> Bangkokg –> Singapore –> Hong Kong –> Toronto. I’m flexible with going to Bangkokg or Singapore first, but would like to end my trip with Hong Kong. Preferably, I’d like to stay in for 5 days in Bangkok and Singapore and around 1 month in Hong Kong.

  6. I’m looking to book a mini-RTW in mid-December 2017 in Economy class:

    1) YYZ (Toronto, Canada) -> CTS (Sapporo, Japan – stopover)
    2) CTS -> TPE (Taipei, Taiwan – stopover)
    3) TPE -> HKG (destination)
    4) HKG -> YYZ (returning early January 2018)

    I believe this is doable, but I think I need to connect through Tokyo (NRT or HND, just connect, not a planned stopover) to get to CTS, and I’m hoping this doesn’t break any rules about direction of flight path / stopping in same city twice, etc.

    Any idea if this will work? Also, I hear HKG is now no-YQ as a destination?

    Appreciate your thoughts!

    1. Hi Kagami,

      This looks to be a legal routing and should garner you a ticket with very low YQ. Both Japan and Hong Kong are non-YQ countries … now it’s just a matter of finding availability.

      CTS is not serviced with direct flights from North America so you will have to find another hub to get to first … likely NRT or HND.

      Good luck and let me know how it goes!

      Cheers
      Jayce

  7. Hey, I’m looking to do a RTW next year with my family, I’m only 50k points short of the 300k total that I will need for 3 economy tickets.
    Initially my thought is to have South Africa as my destination, since I’m based in Vancouver that would give me the longest MPM. I was hoping to have a stopover in Europe, Destination in South Africa and the other stopover in Asia.

    Do you think this is doable? I have been playing around with the MPMs and it seems ok. Do you have any flights/routes to suggest?

    Thanks.

    1. Hi Marcel,

      According to the FlyerTalk thread on MPM (https://www.flyertalk.com/forum/air-canada-aeroplan/1624770-aeroplan-city-pair-mileage-new-pseudo-mpm.html), the MPM for YVR-JNB is 16,362, which is a LOT to play with.

      With that MPM, you could pretty much do any destination in Europe on your way to JNB and again on the way back, almost any Asian city. I just tossed in a logical route of YVR-YUL-IST-JNB in GCMap and it was 11,717, well below the MPM.

      On the way back, I tried, JNB-HKG-YVR and it came out to 13,024, again, well below the 16,362 MPM.

      Truthfully, I think you could get away with almost anything and be within the MPM. Now all you have to do is find availability. Cheers

      Jayce

  8. Hi Jayce, to do the mini RTW, do you have to call Aeroplane? I can only seem to do two cities from on-line booking. thanks, Lisa

    1. Hi Lisa,

      I have always had to call for a mini-RTW. The online system typically can’t handle the request because it’s too complicated, though I have heard stories that if it is simple enough, the multi-city option may be able to get it done. Cheers

      Jayce

  9. Hi! Thanks for your help!
    I’m wondering if it’s possible to go from Vancouver –> Osaka —> any city in Italy –> Vancouver.
    We’ll be doing some traveling around Osaka and Italy, so whichever major city in Italy will work for us.

    Thanks so much!

    1. Hi Jnne,

      I do not believe that that would be a legal routing. Trips to Europe from North America typically would have to route over the Atlantic. If you go over the Pacific, it most likely violates the Maximum Permitted Mileage (MPM). Hope that helps.

      Cheers
      Jayce

  10. Hi Jayce, really thankful for your website! Appreciate you sharing your passion with everyone! I have 50K Aeroplan points and 150K MR points and want to get your advice on going to Nairobi (NBO) from YVR. Unfortunately, there aren’t many good guides to get to Africa. Also, I’m trying to make a pit stop in Montreal, and fly business class. This is what i got so far:

    Wednesday February 7 YVR to MTL AC 300 Direct
    Friday February 9 MTL to NBO Swiss LX87 Swiss LX296 ZUR transfer
    Monday February 26 NBO to YVR TK 608 TK17 TK8694 IST YYZ YVR route

    I haven’t called in to check if these seats are available yet, but they do show up in Aeroplan’s system when I do one way search. Do you think this is the most optimal route? Would appreciate your feedback, thanks!

    1. Hi Greg,

      That’s quite an exciting trip you have there and congratulations on being able to collect enough points to do it!

      As far as your question goes, yes, your routing looks like it is the best available option if you want to save money by not flying airlines that charge a fuel surcharge (YQ).

      You really have two options especially given that you want to stop in Montreal:

      YVR-YUL-ZRH-NBO
      YVR-YUL-IST-NBO

      The difference between the two is the airline you would fly from Montreal. You either would fly Swiss (LX) if you want to connect in Zurich or Turkish (TK) if you want to fly via Istanbul. I have done Turkish Business Class and the food is fantastic. Haven’t done Swiss yet but I have heard great things. Either way, I don’t think you can go wrong … it’s just a matter of finding availability.

      And yes, if you see availability online for each segment, you will be able to piece them together as one flight but it will have to be done with a phone agent. Hope that helps.

      Cheers
      Jayce

  11. Hi Jayce,

    First, thanks for a great article and website!
    I wonder if the following routing would be allowed using aeroplan miles:

    SYD-YVR-LHR one way in Business and how best to find it?

    Dont mind additonal layovers if neccesary, my goal is to get from SYD to LHR with a 23 hr layover in YVR.

    Thanks in advance!

    1. Hi Chris,

      Thanks for your kind comments.

      The route that you are considering, SYD-YVR-LHR has a Maximum Permitted Milage of 17,421, meaning that you can take any route to get you to your destination as long as you are under that distance. I plugged in SYD-YVR-LHR into GCMaps and it came back as 12,481, meaning your route is valid.

      In terms of finding availability, the only way you can do it is to look for SYD-YVR and YVR-LHR on Air Canada. The reason for this is that the only airlines that can fly between Australia and Canada are Australian and Canadian carriers. There are no Australian Star Alliance partners. Same goes for YVR-LHR except it’s British carriers and Canadian carriers. With the fact that you are looking for an award flight with Air Canada, you would go through the traditional method of searching as outlined in my How To Find Award Availability series but your search would be for AC only.

      Two big problems with your routing. It is with Air Canada meaning there will be HIGH fuel surcharges and you fly into LHR, which has the highest airport taxes in the world. This means your award flight will not only cost you miles but also a large amount of taxes. I would garner a guess of $1200 – $1500 (pure speculation). You will also likely find it difficult to find SYD-YVR due to demand and limited award space so if you are set on it, try BNE-YVR instead as you are more likely to find space.

      Personally, I would suggest you route through Europe on a non-YQ carrier if cost is a concern. Hope that helps.

      Cheers
      Jayce

  12. Hello! Thanks for the valuable information. I am trying to plan a miniRTW trip to New Zealand with stops in Fiji and/or the Cook Islands and/or Tahiti. I am having difficulty. We are wanting to travel January through April in 2019 in Premium Economy. Any help you can give us would be appreciated.. Many thanks!

    1. Hi Liz,

      Finding flight availability on Air New Zealand is difficult, especially considering that you are looking to travel during high season for the South Pacific. The only route that would likely work for you is LAX-RAR-AKL with a stop in RAR. Try using ExpertFlyer or Award.Flights to search across many months to see when there is availability. Based on what I have seen for availability, you may need to find the availability from LAX-RAR and then build your trip completely around that as it is often difficult to find those flights. Hope that helps. Cheers

      Jayce

  13. Hello Jayce, very informative blog about mini-rtw. Very thankful for you doing this and will be visiting your blog more frequent. I am trying to plan a mini rtw trip some time near the end of 2018 for my family of 4 and would like some advice on which specific routes I should travel in order to maximize our trip.

    The plan is to visit Bali (DPS) for 3-4 days, Singapore-Malaysia (SIN) for another 3-4 days and then to Ho Chi Minh city (SGN) for about 2 weeks and then back to Toronto (YYZ). So far from my research and searching on Aeroplan, I don’t think there will be a problem, but I was wondering if I am able to add in another destination such as Sydney (SYD) to the trip and whether or not this is even possible? I know we are allowed 2 stops as you’ve mentioned, but any possible way?

    Also planning to travel with EVA Air, Air China & Singapore Airlines mostly.

    Thanks again for your help.

    1. Hi John,

      Unfortunately, there is no way to add an additional stop on the mini-RTW trip. You can however add a layover of up to 23:59 so if you are able to make it work with the scheduled flights, you can at least spend a day in the city. If you want to add more time, it’s going to be an additional redemption. My suggestion for you is to potentially purchase a cheap return inter-Asia flight with a low-cost carrier like Scoot or JetStar from any of the cities you are staying in. For example, your routing might be:

      YYZ-IST-SGN (STOP)
      SGN-SIN (STOP)
      SIN-DPS-SIN (Revenue Ticket)
      SIN-SYD (DESTINATION)
      SYD-YVR-YYZ

      Hope that helps. Cheers
      Jayce

      1. Thanks so much Jayce for the recommended routes.

        A few question, what does revenue ticket refer to?

        As for STOP, those are stops where I can stay more than 24 hours correct?

        By the look of this, I would have to sacrifice Bali if I want to do Sydney or vice versa.

      2. Just to add, if I decide to just do Bali fr 3 days, then Singapore & Malaysia for 3-4 days, then Ho Chi Minh City for 2 weeks, all in J, what would be the best route with lowest scam charges?

        Thanks

  14. Hi Jayce,

    I am leaving this late, but I am looking to book a mini-RTW with Aeroplan in August 2018 with the following itinerary – YOW- NRT-HKG-ICN-YOW. There is a 24 hr layover in TPE between NRT and HKG. Approx 5 nights in each destination. Would you have any advice or suggest any other routings that would be either be more efficient or have less fees.

    It is around $300 per ticket and I am looking to book for 3 people.

    Tks,

    Howard

  15. Hi there, thanks for the write up on how to do the mini-RTW trips and avoid YQ. I’m a bit confused on when you said that it is illegal to charge YQ when travelling to Japan. I notice that the flights with Air Canada to Japan still have higher fees than other airlines. Why is that?

  16. Hi Pointsnerd,

    I noticed one of the rules of the mini-RTW is to hit two continents… Does that mean I am unable to do a mini-RTW of just Europe? I’m planning two tickets to Europe 1 both in business class and want to hit Munich, London, and Paris as stopovers (think Munich would be destination?) and have an up to 24hr layover in Amsterdam, Zurich, and maybe Brussels? I am able to to start/end in either YOW, YUL, or YYZ. I noticed in Lisa’s redemption in the Redeem Awards series, she was going to Milan and open-jaw to Geneva and fly back to YUL/YOW. On the way back, she could have connected through Istanbul. In that case, would Instanbul count as the destination? My issue is that I am trying to avoid connecting through Istanbul as I am worried if Istanbul counts as the destination, I am only able to have 2 stopovers (can’t hit Munich, London, and Paris). Also, using the star alliance map, there doesn’t seem to any easy way to hit London. Could I possibly do YUL-ZRH-MUC-LHR-AMS-CDG-BRU-IAD-YUL? I am also open to connecting through IST or ZRH again as I know those are major hubs for getting back to Eastern Canada easily… but I’m not sure of the rules of going through the same city twice in a routing (ZRH) or if I hit IST (will it be destination?)..

    Also, the in Part 1, hitting two continents… my plan was to only hit Europe..would this still count as mini-RTW and qualify for up to 2 stopovers and 1 destination?

  17. Thank you for the posts, great information! My brother and I are planning a mini-RTW for the last week of October, with the following criteria:

    – booking Economy, routing needs to have availability for both of us to travel together
    – goal is to circle the globe, hitting all 6 inhabited continents, and squeeze in as many stops as possible (especially new countries, even if they’re just airport stops), so the more stops the better
    – many of the destinations are flexible, the only firm ones are Dubai/Hong Kong/Adelaide (they can be a stopover or longer <24hr layover)
    – fit everything within 7-8 days (starting October 21st)

    Any suggestions on potential roadblocks, or recommendations on how to best coordinate? I've pieced together what looks like a series of available flights/stops (with the caveat that it appears we can get to Adelaide, but can't easily get out – so it might require an open jaw to hop between Adelaide and Sydney, in which case we can hop a short flight on our own):

    YOW-FRA-IST-ADD-DXB-BKK-HKG-TPE-SIN-ADL / SYD-IAH-BOG-UIO-PTY-ORD-YOW

    An alternative (that might be better in terms of MPM) might be something like:

    YOW-FRA-IST-CAI-DXB-BKK-HKG-SIN-ADL / SYD-LAX-SAL-UIO-PTY-ORD-YOW

    Does this look valid (MPM for Adelaide appears to be 16844 from YOW)? Any likely problems with the open jaw, or other shuffling needed to stay within the various restrictions? Are we even going around in the right direction (the routing above went east because it allowed a routing into Adelaide, which I couldn't seem to find going west)?

    Any suggestions/tips would be greatly appreciated!

  18. Hi Colin
    After reading your post I felt exhausted to the extent of needing sleep!
    While I admire your plans, do you not think that one week is a little short to actually enjoy your trip?
    Probably you are considerably younger than me, ( as most points fans seem to be) but would you consider stretching things out a little to get more quality into your travel.
    I am actually putting together a mini round the world also but I am doing it in two parts.
    One will be NA to Europe then add an open jaw so that the next part will be Aust to NA and home.
    There will be a few months in between and I will return from Europe and get back to Aust. using other points systems.ie Avios from Europe to NA and Alaska from NA to Aust. then pick up the mini round the world.
    OK , I am semi retired and can do this. But 7 days ?………….wow!

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