Aeroplan’s Domestic Partners: Canadian North, Calm Air, Air Creebec, and PAL Airlines


As the second-largest country in the world, one could spend a lifetime exploring Canada and still have a lot left to see.

From the coastal rainforests of British Columbia to the endless summer nights and pristine fjords of Canada’s north, from the rugged peaks of the Rocky Mountains to the majestic icebergs floating by the coast of Newfoundland – adventures abound for those who seek them.

Accessing remote places can be a difficult task, especially as major airlines may not cater to very remote destinations. In Canada, Air Creebec, Calm Air, Canadian North, and PAL Airlines are four airlines that serve Northern and remote communities – and luckily, they’re also Aeroplan partners.

Aeroplan has previously signalled that its regional partner airlines will eventually have their own award chart, so if you have your heart set on visiting any destinations served by these airlines, it’s in your best interest to book sooner rather than later.

1. Canadian North

Canadian North connects 25 communities in the Yukon, Northwest Territories, Nunavut, and Nunavik (Northern Quebec) with several territorial and provincial hubs. The Inuit-owned airline is headquartered in Kanata, Ontario (just outside of Ottawa), and its fleet consists of Boeing 737 and ATR 42 turboprop aircraft.

As depicted in the above route map, passengers can access Canadian North’s flight network in Montreal, Ottawa, Winnipeg, and Edmonton. Last year, Canadian North also launched the Arctic Capital Express route, as well as flights to Calgary from Yellowknife.

It’s possible to combine a reservation with Air Canada with a Canadian North flight, which is a valuable option for those who don’t live in any of the provincial hubs that the airline serves.

If you’re a revenue passenger, you can earn Aeroplan points, but not Status Qualifying Miles, on Canadian North-operated flights. The airline also has an in-house loyalty program called Aurora Rewards, and interestingly, you can double-dip and earn both Aeroplan and Aurora Rewards points on paid bookings. 

Canadian North is also a redemption partner with Aeroplan. You can search for and book award space on the Aeroplan website. Or, you can search for availability one week at a time using ExpertFlyer.

As flight schedules can involve overnight stops that exceed the usual 12-hour layover rule for domestic bookings, you may have to add a stopover to make the itinerary valid.

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Redemptions with Canadian North are subject to the “Within North America” section of the Aeroplan Flight Reward Chart. However, Aeroplan has indicated that regional airlines will be subject to their own pricing chart at some point in the future, so it’s worthwhile to book sooner rather than later.

For example, a one-way flight from Ottawa to Iqaluit clocks in at 1,305 miles, placing it in the second distance band on the Within North America chart. This means that a one-way flight in economy should cost 10,000 Aeroplan points.

Within North America

A search on Aeroplan confirms this, along with a modest amount of taxes and fees.

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The lowest cost for a cash ticket on this same flight prices out at $566, which after taking into account the $87 in taxes and fees, would equate to a value of around 4.8 cents per point. This is well above our current valuation of Aeroplan points at 2.1 cents per point.

Iqaluit, Nunavut
Iqaluit, Nunavut

It’s also possible to combine Air Canada or other partner airlines with Canadian North right on the Aeroplan search engine. If you’re connecting from another Canadian city that Canadian North doesn’t serve, it will show in the search results and will be subject to dynamic pricing.

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If there’s not an Air Canada flight on your itinerary, the cost won’t be subject to dynamic pricing, as you’d be flying with partner airlines only.

There are many opportunities to explore remote destinations with Canadian North. And since cash prices for these flights are usually quite high, you can stand to get excellent value from an Aeroplan redemption. 

2. Calm Air

Calm Air operates flights within and between Manitoba and Nunavut, with hubs in Winnipeg and Rankin Inlet. The airline has a fleet of ATR 42 and ATR 72 turboprop aircraft, and also has access to a Canadian North Boeing 737, which it uses to fly between Winnipeg and Rankin Inlet.

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Calm Air is a redemption partner with both Aeroplan and AIR MILES. Unlike with Canadian North, you cannot earn miles from paid Calm Air flights; however, you can earn points through an in-house program called Calm Rewards.

Unfortunately, Calm Air redemptions cannot be combined with any Air Canada flights, so you’ll have to do two separate redemptions if you need to get to any of the Calm Air destinations.

Calm Air handles all inquiries for Aeroplan and Air Miles redemptions. To check for award availability, you’ll need to look up your desired flights and then call the Calm Air contact centre to inquire about award space. In my experience, the agents are friendly and knowledgeable, with a minimal wait time.

Once you have found award space, Calm Air processes everything from their end, meaning that you won’t be subjected to the dulcet tones of Aeroplan’s hold music for once. 😉

One-way flights on all of Calm Air’s network cost 7,500 Aeroplan points plus taxes and fees. You can calculate the approximate taxes and fees by heading to Calm Air’s website, loading up your flights, and then adding all fees minus the base fare.

In the below example of a Winnipeg–Churchill flight, we can see that an Aeroplan redemption on the same route would cost 15,000 Aeroplan points plus around $322.02 in taxes and fees. This still offers excellent value for your Aeroplan points, working out to well over 10 cents per point.

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Unless you have personal or familial connections to any of Calm Air’s destinations, the most likely sweet-spot here is booking to Churchill, Manitoba.

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Suppose you live in Toronto and want to take a week-long trip to Churchill to catch a glimpse of the polar bears, kayak with beluga whales, and soak in the aurora borealis.

A low price for a round-trip booking between Toronto and Winnipeg costs around $200 with Air Canada, and the lowest cost for your flights between Winnipeg and Churchill is $1,747 (these flights can go for much, much higher), for a grand total of $1,947. 

For context, the train between Winnipeg and Churchill, which takes almost two days each way, costs between $400–500 for an upright seat, or around $900 for a bed. 

Polar bear tour in Churchill, Manitoba
Polar bear tour in Churchill, Manitoba

A good deal for a round-trip ticket from Toronto to Winnipeg costs around 20,000 Aeroplan points plus around $95 in taxes and fees.

A round-trip Aeroplan redemption with Calm Air from Winnipeg to Churchill would cost an additional 15,000 Aeroplan points plus around $330 in taxes and fees. 

So, for a total cost of 35,000 Aeroplan points and $425, you are getting a very strong 4.3cpp in value. The value would be even higher if you planned your trip during peak tourist season, as the cash price of flights to/from Churchill would be much higher.

In either case, the money saved by using points can be put to good use paying for lodging, tours, and having a fulfilling once-in-a-lifetime experience.

One thing to note is that Calm Air has a different cancellation policy for Aeroplan redemption flights. If you need to cancel, you can have your points redeposited for a fee of $78.75 per passenger. Unfortunately, the taxes and fees on the redemption are non-refundable, so you may be out a fair bit of money if your plans change.

3. Air Creebec

Air Creebec is a regional airline based in Val d’Or, Quebec. The airline serves 16 destinations in Quebec and Ontario, located mainly along the shores of James Bay. Its fleet of Hawkers and Dash-8s flies out of hubs in Timmins, Val d’Or, and Montreal. 

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Air Creebec is both an earning and redemption partner with Aeroplan. Similar to Canadian North, you can combine Air Canada flights on the same redemption, but you’ll have to call Aeroplan to book, as Air Creebec’s inventory isn’t loaded on the Aeroplan search engine yet.

As all of Air Creebec’s destinations are within Quebec and Ontario, all flights within their network would measure less than 1,500 miles. This means that you’ll pay anywhere from 6,000–10,000 Aeroplan points for a one-way flight.

If you combine these flights with a connecting flight with Air Canada, you’ll be subject to dynamic pricing and to the other distance bands, depending on how far you fly.

While the destinations that Air Creebec serves may not be considered typical holiday destinations, you can find plenty of inspiration on the airline’s website and the region’s tourism website.

There are plenty of outdoor-oriented adventures, immersive cultural experiences, and stays in pristine natural areas at your disposal. Sometimes, it’s nice to do a digital detox, and staying in a cabin on a remote lake would fit that bill perfectly. 

Lac Matagami, Quebec
Lac Matagami, Quebec

You can expect the taxes and fees to amount to around $150 for a round-trip flight.

4. PAL Airlines

Aeroplan’s newest Canadian regional partner is PAL Airlines, a carrier based out of Newfoundland and Labrador. It serves destinations throughout the Maritimes, Ontario, and Quebec with its fleet of De Havilland Dash 8 and Beechcraft 1900D aircraft.

PAL Airlines route map

The airline serves some intriguing destinations, including Les Îles-de-la-Madeleine and Gaspé in Quebec and Goose Bay in Labrador.

From Goose Bay, you can also depart on flights with Air Borealis to remote destinations in Labrador. Air Borealis is an airline that was formed through a partnership between the Innu and Inuit of Labrador and PAL Airlines.

For example, you can fly from Quebec City to Les Îles-de-la-Madeleine for just 6,000 Aeroplan points and $88 in taxes and fees.

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PAL Airlines can also be a good option to avoid dynamic pricing with Air Canada flights.

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Again, if you stand to benefit from the fixed pricing on PAL Airlines, it’s in your best interest to book sooner rather than later. Once the regional airlines are subject to a new pricing chart, the cost could increase significantly. 

As with the other regional airline partners, there’s still good value to be found by redeeming Aeroplan points for flights with PAL Airlines. 

For example, round-trip flights between Moncton and Goose Bay price out at around $900. The same flights booked with Aeroplan points would cost 20,000 points plus $160 in taxes and fees, netting a value of around 3.7cpp.

Given the overall good value of using points to fly with Canadian regional airlines, it’s likely that the cost in points is going to increase once Aeroplan implements the new chart.

Conclusion

Aeroplan’s domestic partners open up the possibility to travel to places where few people ever visit.

As with some aspirational flight redemptions, using points can save you hundreds, if not thousands, of dollars, while exposing yourself to unique cultures, breathtaking landscapes, and unforgettable adventures without getting a stamp in your passport.

Air Canada has given advance notice that flights with Canadian regional airlines will eventually be subject to a new flight reward chart, likely later on in 2024. With this in mind, it’s important to make your redemption sooner rather than later, as the pricing is likely to go up.





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