Best Use For Bilt Rewards
In this part of my epic journey, we really drill down on nerdy, avgeek stuff. I booked a multi-city Aeroplan award with Bilt Rewards I received as part of our Bilt Rewards giveaway at the ToP DFW Meetup (it should be noted that Bilt was a sponsor of the meet up but this is not a sponsored post). I tried to look at the best use for Bilt Rewards that I could and what worked best for my trip. Hopefully this gives you some inspiration for your own Bilt stash, that is if you didn't transfer them all to Flying Blue already!
Before we get to all of those juicy details, remember you can read Part One and Part Two of my trip to see how I visited 4 continents in 6 days. At the conclusion of Part Two, I was touring Egypt, after visiting London, São Paulo, and Doha. As awesome as the first week is, this is only the beginning. This is where the fun truly begins!
Landing On Multi-City Aeroplan Awards
You may be wondering, what are multi-city Aeroplan awards? And why did I pick this as the best use for Bilt Rewards on my trip?
Aeroplan is the loyalty program of Air Canada. A part of Star Alliance, Aeroplan is a favorite among seasoned award travelers for its generous award chart and award routing rules. Unlike many other loyalty programs, Aeroplan has a zone-based award chart, rather than a distance-based award chart. This means that the world is divided into “zones” and you are charged a fixed price when traveling inside a zone or from one zone to another.
Unlike distance-based award charts, this zone-based chart gives you lots of leeway in your routing. In fact, Aeroplan clearly states on its website what is and is not allowed on these awards. Once you drill down the details, this is what emerges:
- You can add a stopover to a one-way award for 5,000 additional miles (a stopover is defined as a stop in any city that is neither your origin city nor your final destination city that lasts longer than 24 hours)
- A stopover can last up to 45 days
- You can fly a total of 6 flight segments on a one-way award
- Layovers have a maximum duration of under 24 hours
- Direction of travel does not matter
- “Circuitous routings” are allowed, so long as the total distance is not more than DOUBLE the non-stop distance on your one-way routing
With these extremely generous guidelines, my takeaways are that I can fly double the distance of a non-stop flight, in any direction I want, up to 6 flight segments, with 4 layovers up to 24 hours and a stopover up to 45 days. Let's go have some fun!
Constructing an Aeroplan Award with Bilt Rewards
From the outset, I knew that my Aeroplan award booked with Bilt Rewards is an Atlantic to North America routing. I left off in Cairo, Egypt in Part 2 of this series and I must get home to the USA. Again, with the zone-based award chart, this is a trip from the Atlantic zone to the North America zone.
So where to begin? The world is my oyster, right? First, remember that the maximum distance on a multi-city award is DOUBLE the nonstop distance between origin and destination. Based on a nonstop between Cairo and Dulles (my preferred international airport), I cannot exceed a flight distance of 11,684 miles. Keep it under that mileage, 6 flights or less, and layovers of 24 hours or less, and it works!
Ultimately, my goals for this trip are to:
- Fly some awesome cabins;
- Stretch the multi-city award rules to the absolute maximum;
- Show how extremely generous the Aeroplan routing rules really are; and
- Bring attention to the insane value of multi-city Aeroplan awards booked with transferrable currencies, like Bilt Rewards.
I think this trip covers each of these 4 goals quite well! I am anxious to hear everyone's feedback.
Best Use For Bilt Rewards: Booking My Multi-City Aeroplan Award
I start my trip in Africa. My final destination is North America to the west. So I quickly decided that one thing I should confirm is that direction of travel did not matter. So I started zig-zagging. Yes, there were frustrations along the way. There were hours and hours on the phone to confirm flights and to finalize the payment. But in the end, I followed the award routing rules and the agent ticketed my trip exactly as the rules allowed. So here we go. Here is my itinerary:
- Flight #1 Cairo to Abu Dhabi on EgyptAir
- Layover #1 in Abu Dhabi: 10 hours, 40 minutes
- Flight #2 Abu Dhabi to Manchester, England on Etihad
- Stopover #1 in Manchester: 33 hours, 35 minutes
- Flight #3 Manchester to Copenhagen, Denmark on SAS
- Layover #2 in Copenhagen: 22 hours
- Flight #4 Copenhagen to Vienna, Austria on Austrian
- Layover #3 in Vienna: 13 hours, 10 minutes
- Flight #5 Vienna to Brussels on Brussels Airline
- Layover #4 in Brussels 18 hours, 50 minutes
- Flight #6 Brussels to Washington, D.C. on United
So why this particular itinerary? If you look closely, it has everything. It covers 10,645 miles, only 1,000 or so under our maximum mileage. Three of the 6 flights are backtracking and heading east, while the other 3 head west towards the final destination. I cover 4 continents: Africa, Asia, Europe, and North America. I stretched layovers all the way up to 22 hours and I am flying four new airlines. Lastly, I fly everything from regional jets to a 787 and a 777. I'll cross the Atlantic in Polaris business class, my favorite domestic business seat and try Etihad business on its Dreamliner.
From the North America-Atlantic zone chart above, my flight itinerary of 10,645 miles is 110,000 miles in business class. Since I added a stopover in Manchester, England, the total cost is 115,000 miles. Taxes and fees for the 6 flights were just a touch over $440. All-in-all, I am incredibly happy with this booking. For this itinerary, it pieced together with no issues and exactly the way the award routing rules claimed. In total, the telephone agent had all 6 flights ticketed in under 25 minutes on the phone. Due to a credit card processing glitch, however, I had to call back multiple times over 16 hours to get the tickets issued.
I can't wait for this part of the trip. My intinerary takes me to Abu Dhabi, Manchester, and Copenhagen for the first time. I also revisit Vienna and Brussels and, hopefully, bring back Sarah a few goodies from Cantillon. I plan to have a bit of fun at each stop and might, just might, catch a Premier League game while in England! After a whirlwind final portion of the trip, I know I will be ready for home!
Previous & Upcoming Articles For This Trip
We will be back next week for part 3 of my journey. Here is a reminder of everything that will be coming down the pipeline for this series. Plus a bunch of reviews and trip reports in the near future:
- Part One:
- Part Two:
- Part Three:
- Burning 100,000 Bilt Rewards Points Hopping All Around The Middle East & Europe, Plus Getting Home
- Part Four:
- Tours, Activites, Hotels & Everything In-between
Best Use For Bilt Rewards: ToP Thoughts
Yes, this trip is exhausting. But this trip is also amazing! I can't wait to fly all of these airlines and premium cabins. I will visit 4 continents and 5 cities on this multi-city one-way Aeroplan award booked with Bilt Rewards. Adding a stopover for 5,000 miles lets me relax for more than 24 hours in Manchester, England. In all, this almost 11,000 mile itinerary and stopover was only 115,000 Aeroplan miles and $440.
If this trip teaches you anything, please know the insane value of multi-city Aeroplan awards and Aeroplan's zone-based award chart. If you think outside the box and plan more than an A to B flight, you can unlock incredible value AND see multiple places on the same award. The only thing that is better than a vacation is having a 2nd vacation while on vacation! Learn to search and book multi-city awards and you the world is your oyster.
Have you booked a multi-city Aeroplan award? Do you have any questions about Aeroplan awards? Come over to our Facebook group and let us know!