One of the best redemption opportunities is the mini-round-the-world (mini-RTW) option that Aeroplan has. Note that these redemptions are not the same as Aeroplan around-the-world option, which allows five stopovers. The mini-RTW allows two stopovers, like one stop in Asia, and another in Europe. The mini-RTW is not an official program, so if you ask an Aeroplan agent about it they’ll probably say it doesn’t exist.
When you book a mini-RTW, you will pay the highest redemption cost of the ticket, but be able to stop in another continent. For example, say I want to go to Beijing and Paris in Business class. I will pay 150,000 Aeroplan miles (Asia 1 redemption) to get to Beijing, but on my return I can route through Paris, and stop there as long as I want. In essence, I’m getting a Europe and an Asian award for the price of an Asian award. Since I would be circumnavigating the globe, it’s a RTW trip.
Here are the relevant award costs that you’ll be looking at when redeeming for a mini-RTW:
Canada & Continental USA:
|Asia 1||Asia 2||Middle East & North Africa||Indian Subcontinent||East, West, and South Africa||Oceania|
Note that if even one segment is in a premium cabin, the entire cost of the trip will fall within that premium cabin’s award cost.
You can do a mini-RTW between any of the above regions, and then onward to Europe (or you can do North America – Europe – Region – North America). If you visit Barcelona in economy, and then go to Sydney is Business class, you will pay 160,000 miles (Oceania Business redemption). You could even do Canada-Asia-South Africa-Canada, in which case you would pay the South African redemption cost, but get Asia included “for free.”
You are allowed up to 10 segments, that is, your entire itinerary cannot be composed of more than 10 flights. Between any of these flights, you are allowed to layover for a maximum of 23:59H. In theory, you could do a day trip to up to eight cities, and a real visit (a stopover) in two cities.
When you book your itinerary, you cannot backtrack. For example, you couldn’t fly Canada-Europe (stop)-Asia-Europe-Asia(stop)-Canada.
The most significant trouble you might encounter when booking an itinerary is something called the MPM5 rule. MPM is Maximum Permitted Mileage. There is a published MPM between any two cities. That is, there is a published number of miles that you’re allowed to travel to get between point A and point B. If you exceed the MPM value, Aeroplan will not let you book it. There are two exceptions: (1) the ‘5’ in MPM5 means that you’re allowed to exceed the MPM value by 5%, and; (2) if the route you’re trying to book is published by the airline, it’s valid even if it exceeds MPM5. To find out whether there’s a published route, try looking on the carrier’s website (for example, say you wanted to fly between Bangkok BKK – Budapest BUD on Thai. Let’s pretend your routing exceeds the MPM5 to get you to BUD, but if you search on Thai’s website for that routing and find it as a paid ticket, it would be a published routing and would be OK.)
Here are some examples of MPM5 values:
The largest MPM5 value I know about is going to Perth PER (Australia). From Toronto YYZ, the MPM5 value is 14472, and from Halifax YHZ it’s 15356. That’s a lot of miles to play around with, and you can come up with some pretty crazy routings to get there (ex. YYZ-SFO-BKK-AKL-SIN-PER).
Some city pairs have very low MPM5 values, like YOW-LHR:
The MPM5 between YOW-LHR is only 4205 miles, which leaves you little wiggle room to get there. You would either have to go direct, or 1 layover to get there. You couldn’t, for example, do YOW-YYZ-FRA-ZRH-LHR (5452 miles) because that’d exceed the MPM5 value, and no airline publishes that as a valid routing.
Note that when calculating whether you fit within the MPM5 rule, calculate it based on Point A to Point B, not the entire MPM5 value of your mini-RTW. For example, if you were booking YYZ – YVR – SYD – PER (stop) – SIN – SVO – OTP (stop) – LHR – YYZ, you would ask yourself: (1) what is the MPM5 value between YYZ-PER? (2) What is the MPM5 value between PER and OTP? (3) What is the MPM5 value between OTP-YYZ? You would not ask something like: what is the MPM5 value between YYZ-PER, and then have the entire mini-RTW fit within that value. Base the MPM5 calculations between the point of departure and your stopover, or stopover to stopover.
To find out what the MPM5 value of a city pair is, call Aeroplan and ask, or use paid services like Expertflyer or KVS. To figure out if a routing exceeds MPM5, you can use this service to discover the total mileage of your route, and compare it with the MPM5 value.
When searching/booking a mini-RTW, your best bet is to individually search for flights, and then piece them together over the phone (you will pay a $35 telephone booking fee per passenger). The Aeroplan site can handle extremely simple mini-RTW bookings through the multi-city engine, but anything more complicated will require a phone call. You can search for flights either on Aeroplan, or your best bet is to search them on united.com.
Remember to always try and lower your Aeroplan award fees by booking with carriers that have no or little YQ!
So, here’s an example of a very simplified mini-RTW in business class:
Here, I will be seeing Bangkok and Bucharest, in business class, all for 150,000 miles, which is the cost of a round-trip to Asia 1… in essence, the trip to Bucharest is free!
I’ve provided you with enough information to book this yourself, but if you want to learn more, or to see examples of itineraries that do and don’t work, visit the Flyertalk page on the program.