Tips to Maximize Aeroplan - “Home Stopovers” for Free Flights

Tips to Maximize Aeroplan - “Home Stopovers” for Free Flights

As most of you know, Aeroplan generously allows up to two stopovers in addition to the destination on a roundtrip ticket between two continents. What makes Aeroplan’s stopover policy even more rewarding is that the stopover cities and destination can be in different regions as long as you stay within the Maximum Permitted Mileage (MPM).

On a single Aeroplan ticket you could fly Vancouver-Tokyo-Istanbul-Tel Aviv-Frankfurt-Vancouver and select your stopovers in Tokyo (Asia) and Frankfurt (Europe) with your destination in Tel Aviv (Middle East).

With these liberal routing rules the points community has uncovered the mini-RTW ticket sweet spot which Jayce has written an extensive four part series on.

The Struggle is Real

A lot of people ask me how many mini-RTW trips I have flown and my answer is surprisingly zero. With a limited number of vacation days per year, my wife and I prefer to take 3-4 intercontinental trips staggered throughout the year than to take 1-2 mini-RTW trips. We also have immediate family around the world to visit and sometimes it is difficult to even break away with one stopover on a trip.

The negligence towards free stopovers has caused me to wake up in cold sweats… until I discovered the…

Home Stopover [hohm stop-oh-ver]

Noun. A stopover at your home airport; a stopover strategically placed to save miles on award tickets and unlock free one-way flights. Term made up by Chao, probably.

Here is what you’ll need to set up a simple home stopover.

  • Two trips; first one intracontinental (within the continent), second one intercontinental (between two continents)
  • A home airport with at least two routes that you can fly in and out of
  • Basic geography; your general direction from N. America is west to Asia and east to Europe, limit “backtracking” on your route (traveling in a backwards direction)

Example

I am planning two trips. My first trip is from Vancouver to Toronto (intracontinental). My second trip is from Vancouver to Taipei (intercontinental). During my trips I do not have time nor interest to visit any other cities.

Booking Scenario 1: Without Home Stopover

Ticket 1: YVR-YYZ (destination); YYZ-YVR

Ticket 2: YVR-TPE (destination); TPE-YVR

Booking Scenario 2: With Home Stopovers

Ticket 1: YVR-YYZ

Ticket 2: YYZ-YVR (stopover); YVR-TPE (destination); TPE-YVR (stopover); YVR-YYZ (free ticket)

In Scenario 2, Ticket 1 is a one-way to Toronto instead of a roundtrip. Ticket 2 originates in Toronto instead of Vancouver, has two home stopovers in Vancouver, and has an extra one-way ticket from Vancouver to Toronto to end where the ticket began.

Free One-Way Ticket Options

  1. Don’t use the ticket
  2. Use the ticket – fly to Toronto
  3. Use the ticket – fly to another city that connects to Toronto and throw away the last flight to Toronto

Say instead of visiting Toronto again, I take option 3 and choose to visit Montreal. I would book the free Vancouver to Toronto one-way ticket with a connection in Montreal so I can leave and finish my trip in Montreal.

Benefits of Home Stopovers

Booking Scenario 1 & 2 present the same itinerary to Toronto and Taipei but Scenario 2 with the home stopovers charges 12,500 miles less for Economy and 25,000 miles less for Business. Scenario 2 also presents the option of an extra one-way ticket which if you plan on flying it, you would be saving another 12,500/25,000 miles.

By simply merging your trip within North America and trip to Asia, your savings can easily total 25,000/50,000 miles.

Your Home Stopover

The example above was from my hometown of Vancouver but the value is the same from any West Coast city (Victoria, Calgary, Edmonton, etc). You will fly to an East Coast city on Ticket 1 and then you will start your journey to a city in Asia on Ticket 2.

Now if you are based in the East Coast, the value of home stopovers can captured if you flip the directions of the tickets and your intercontinental trip is to Europe instead of Asia.

Lastly, if you are based in the central provinces, you should be able to take advantage of home stopovers when travelling to both regions mentioned above. Just make sure you are routing west to Asia and east to Europe!

Funding Your Travel

To earn a sizable sum of Aeroplan quickly, AMEX Membership Rewards is the way to go. You can sign up for the cards below (all links go to PointsNerd’s review of the cards):

Conclusion

The next time you find yourself with one or two stopovers to spare from an Aeroplan ticket, you should consider leveraging the “home stopover” tip. Putting free stopovers at your home airport can save you up to 25,000 Aeroplan in economy and 50,000 in business. For a family of four, the savings from the free flights will can easily add up to six figures in miles!

Stay tuned for a follow up post where I cover Aeroplan pointers including how to extend the length of stopovers. Let me know if you have used “home stopovers” before!

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