Far-Flung Destinations You Can Reach with Aeroplan Points


When it comes to redeeming points for aspirational trips, we often focus on destinations in Europe and Asia, as they’re popular places for many North American travellers, and we can usually hop on a non-stop flight to get there.

While there are certainly many unique and fascinating places to visit on those continents, there are also many other destinations – such as deep into the heart of Africa or remote island nations – that you can also access on points.

In this guide, let’s take a look at some far-flung destinations that you can book using Aeroplan points.

TAP Air Portugal to Africa and Brazil

For many of us in North America, we think of TAP Air Portugal as a carrier that can connect us to many destinations in Europe. After all, the airline reliably releases award seats on its transatlantic flights to Aeroplan and other Star Alliance programs.

But apart from bridging North America and Europe, TAP also connects Portugal with the country’s former colonies in Africa, as well as Brazil. Aside from bringing in tourists, these flights ferry immigrants and expatriates, since Portugal issues special visas for citizens of the Community of Portuguese Language Countries (CPLP).

Apart from Portugal itself, Brazil, Angola, Cabo Verde, Guinea-Bissau, Equatorial Guinea, Mozambique, São Tomé and Principe, and Timor-Leste comprise the CPLP.

Mozambique belongs to the Community of Portuguese Language Countries (CPLP)

As a result, TAP Air Portugal offers flights to destinations in most of these countries, including the following:

  • Belem (BEL), Brazil
  • Bissau (OXB), Guinea-Bisseau
  • Boa Vista (BVC), Cabo Verde
  • Luanda (LAD), Angola
  • Natal (NAT), Brazil
  • Maceio (MCZ), Brazil
  • Maputo (MPM, Mozambique
  • Praia (RAI), Cabo Verde
  • São Tomé (TMS), São Tomé and Principe
  • São Vicente (VXE), Cabo Verde

Many of these flights, especially the ones bound for Africa, are pricey if paid with cash.

For example, a one-way ticket from Lisbon (LIS) to Boa Vista (BVC) in Cabo Verde can cost up to $1,000 (CAD) in economy, despite being just a four-hour flight. After all, many of these African destinations are underserved by major airlines.

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Fortunately, you can book them piecewise or as part of a complex itinerary with Aeroplan and save a small fortune.

For instance, you can easily find availability on TAP’s Lisbon (LIS)–São Tomé (TMS) flight, which clocks in at 8 hours 45 minutes. Booking it as an à la carte flight will set you back 25,000 Aeroplan points in economy or 45,000 points in business class.

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If you add a transatlantic flight from Eastern North America, including from Montreal (YUL), you’ll pay 55,000 points in economy or 90,000 points in business class. With the itinerary at 6,000+ miles, it’s near the lower limit of the 6,000–8,000 miles band of Aeroplan’s “Between North America and Atlantic zones” chart.

YUL LIS TMS

If you want to maximize the allowable miles within the same price band, you can add the fifth-freedom route between São Tomé (TMS) and Accra (ACC), also operated by TAP, so you’re seeing two African nations in a one-way stopover ticket.

Going back from Africa, you can leverage TAP’s extensive Brazil network to cross the Atlantic en route to the Americas in an unconventional way. For instance, you can connect in Lisbon and fly to Fortaleza (FOR) to enjoy its beaches, and then venture back to North America via major hubs.

United Airlines to Islands in the Pacific

When United Airlines merged with Continental Airlines and its subsidiary Continental Micronesia in 2012, the former inherited the latter two’s operations in the Pacific. This includes Continental Micronesia’s hub in Guam, an unincorporated US territory.

Today, United operates a small network in the Pacific out of its hub in Guam (GUM), supplemented by its mainland US routes out of Honolulu (HNL).

Most of United’s Guam flights are to Japan, but the airline also bridges islands in the Pacific, especially through its renowned Island Hopper route.

 

United’s Island Hopper is a direct flight between Guam and Honolulu with intermediate stops in Majuro (MAJ) and Kwajalein (KWA) in the Marshall Islands, and Kosrae (KSA), Pohnpei (PNI), and Chuuk (TKK) in Micronesia. The exact stops vary by day of week and flight number.

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A view of Chuuk, one of the stops of the United Island Hopper

It’s indeed a long (and expensive) way to go between Guam and Honolulu, but the journey in itself is a treat, as it gives you a glimpse of the smallest, least inhabited islands on earth.

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The good news is, you can book the United Island Hopper using Aeroplan points. It’s not as easy as it once was, but you’ll still see the odd pockets availability.

In many cases, the entire stretch of the Island Hopper isn’t available as a single award, so you may need to cut your trip short and continue in an alternative routing.

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For instance, you might find availability until Pohnpei (PNI), where you can stay a few days, and then you can catch a United flight to Guam or Honolulu.

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If you’re having difficulty finding award availability on the Island Hopper, you can always try booking through United MileagePlus, where availability is naturally more abundant.

Aside from the Island Hopper, United also offers other novel routes in the Pacific, such as its fifth-freedom flight between Manila (MNL) in the Philippines and Koror (ROR) in Palau.

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United is one of the only two major airlines serving Koror, and its flights from Manila and Guam are your only way to explore Palau using Aeroplan points.

Copa Airlines and Avianca to South America

Among Star Alliance carriers, Copa Airlines and Avianca don’t receive as much love from the Miles & Points community. After all, their business class products are hardly worth writing home about.

However, through their respective pan-American networks, these two carriers provide access to less popular and expensive routes in the Americas.

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Fortunately, both carriers reliably allocate seats to Aeroplan and other Star Alliance loyalty programs.

With Aeroplan, you can venture deep into the Amazon rainforest by booking a flight to Manaus (MAO) in Brazil with both Copa and Avianca. Instead of taking a longer route via São Paulo, you can fly a shorter distance for fewer points by connecting through Bogota (BOG) or Panama City (PTY).

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Meanwhile, if you wish to explore the beauty of the Galapagos archipelago, Avianca, through its local offshoot in Ecuador, flies to San Cristobal Island (SCY) and Baltra Island (GPS).

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Lastly, if you’re looking to set foot in every country in South America, Copa flies to two of the lesser-visited nations on the continent: Suriname and Guyana.

The airline flies to Georgetown (GEO) and Paramaribo (PBM) from its Panama City hub, and both routes are bookable with Aeroplan.

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If you’re flying solely between Panama City (PTY) and Paramaribo (PBO) in Suriname, you’ll pay 20,000 Aeroplan points in economy and 40,000 points in business class. 

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Just keep in mind that you’ll get better value from flights like these when booked as part of a complex Aeroplan itinerary.

Intercontinental Flights with South African Airways

After an 18-month hiatus due to restructuring, South African Airways has been slowly but surely taking back to the skies.

Recently, it has gone back to long-haul flying, relaunching the following three routes:

  • Johannesburg (JNB)–São Paulo (GRU)
  • Cape Town (CPT)–São Paulo (GRU)
  • Johannesburg (JNB) –Perth (PER)

According to the airline, its flights to Brazil were first to be relaunched in November 2023 to “facilitate numerous export and import opportunities and augment existing trade relations between the two countries.” Recall that Brazil and South Africa are members of the so-called Brazil-Russia-India-China-South Africa (BRICS) grouping.

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Brazil is part of the so-called BRICS grouping

Meanwhile, the Johannesburg to Perth route was relaunched in April 2024 to serve expats flying between the two countries and to connect family members.

The relaunch of these long-haul routes presents a rather unique opportunity for Aeroplan members – you can fly between South America and Australia entirely within the Southern Hemisphere.

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Plus, since these are non-stop flights with shorter distances, you’ll also spend fewer Aeroplan points than taking the long way around via the Middle East or Europe.

Falling under Aeroplan’s less-used “Between Pacific and South America zones” chart, a one-way ticket between São Paulo and Perth via Johannesburg costs 60,000 points in economy and 90,000 points in business class.

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By comparison, routings through Europe and Asia cost 80,000 points in economy and 140,000 points in business class.

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If you wish to start your journey from North America, you’ll pay 75,000 points in economy and 115,000 points in business class – which aren’t far off from booking the São Paulo–Johannesburg–Perth flights on their own.

That’s assuming, of course, that you find low-priced Air Canada awards or fly partner airlines, such as Copa Airlines or United Airlines.

Add 5,000 Aeroplan points, and you’ll even get to enjoy a stopover either in São Paulo or Johannesburg.

Remote Islands with Air Mauritius, Virgin Australia, and Air New Zealand

Another novel route that goes halfway across the Southern Hemisphere is Air Mauritius’s thrice-weekly flight between Mauritius (MRU) and Perth (PER).

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First operated in 1991, the route apparently sees demand from leisure travellers and international students from Australia.

You can use this route as part of a larger, more complex itinerary, too. Keep in mind that Air Mauritius also flies to four destinations in Europe, which should be easy to connect to from many cities in North America.

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For example, you can add this route to a Perth–New York redemption, perhaps by flying Perth–Mauritius–Geneva with Air Mauritius, then connecting to a flight to New York with Swiss.

Plus, you can add 5,000 Aeroplan points for an exotic stopover in the beaches of Mauritius.

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Mauritius is a beautiful place to visit

Meanwhile, aside from United Airlines, two other Aeroplan partners – Virgin Australia and Air New Zealand – also operate networks that link their respective countries to smaller island nations.

These services are a lifeline for the communities on these scarcely inhabited islands, so understandably, award availability on Aeroplan is rare, if at all available.

Among the routes Virgin Australia operates are Port Vila (VLI) in Vanuatu and Apia (APW) in Samoa, both from Brisbane (BNE).

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Virgin Australia also offers flights to Christmas Island (XCH) and Cocos/Keeling Islands (CCK), both from Perth (PER), but availability through Aeroplan is near impossible to find.

On the other hand, Air New Zealand links Auckland (AKL) with the following destinations, amongst others:

  • Alofi (IUE), Niue
  • Apia (APW), Samoa
  • Noumea (NOU), New Caledonia
  • Nuku’alofa (TBU), Tonga
  • Rarotonga Island (RAR), Cook Islands

Again, Aeroplan availability on these routes is very rare, despite Air New Zealand releasing awards on other short-haul routes quite reliably.

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Conclusion

With over 45 airline partners, there are quite a few creative and unexpected things you can do with Aeroplan if you look carefully.

In this article, we’ve highlighted a handful of far-flung destinations that might be of interest for the adventure seekers out there.

As always, finding award availability can present a bit of a challenge; however, if you keep an eye out for awards, you’ll soon find yourself in some of the most remote outposts on the planet, having paid a fraction of the price to get there.





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