Air Canada should have been a great option for using American Express Membership Rewards points on Star Alliance carriers after those points stopped transferring to Continental. (That didn’t stop me from transferring out all of my points and reccomending that you also transfer them all out to Continental before it was too late.) Instead Aeroplan has been adding fuel surcharges, making it more and more difficult to travel free.
As you can’t transfer Membership Rewards points directly to Continental, United, or USAirways (which never charge fuel surcharges on award tickets) there is no better option for transfers for Star Alliance travel than Aeroplan.
Of course there are some other options for using Membership Rewards points to Israel, but most (BA, El Al, Alitalia, Flying Blue) involve fuel surcharges besides for Delta and their poor Skyteam availability.
If you book travel on the following Star Alliance airlines with Air Canada Aeroplan miles you will be charged a fuel surcharge.
-Adria (Surcharge effective 01/25/12)
-ANA (Effective 11/30/11)
-Asiana (Effective 11/30/11)
-Austrian (Effective 11/30/11)
-bmi (Effective 11/30/11)
-LOT Polish (Effective 11/30/11)
-Lufthansa (Effective 11/09/11)
-TAP Portugal (Surcharge effective 01/25/12)
-THAI. (Effective 11/30/11)
If you book travel on the following Star Alliance airlines with Air Canada Aeroplan miles you will not be charged a fuel surcharge.
-Air New Zealand
If you are sitting on Air Canada miles book sooner rather than later as they are sure to start charging fuel surcharges on many more of those airlines in the near-future.
A DDF member asked “So what’s really the problem with Membership Rewards not transferring to Continental if they still do to Air Canada which books you (on) Continental)?
Frankly there are tons of different nuances if you book the travel with Air Canada miles instead of Continental miles. Some of those are:
-With Air Canada you are limited in which partners you can use with no fuel surcharges.
-Air Canada miles require activity every 12 months and expire after 7 years even with activity.
-Air Canada charges $90 for date changes/connecting flight changes/airline changes that are free with Continental miles.
-Air Canada charges more than half the round-trip rate if you want just a one-way award.
-You can’t redeposit Air Canada miles within 21 days of a trip without paying a double change fee.
-While coach to Israel is the same 80K, awards like business to Israel are more (135K) than Continental (120K)
-Air Canada won’t let you hold an award. You can with Continental for 3 days if you don’t have sufficient miles (or if you shift your miles to United)
-Air Canada enforces maximum permitted mileage rules that disallow creative routings on awards.
-If you have Continental elite status or credit cards you get access to various expanded award availability depending on your status and desired class of service if you use Continental miles.
Then again there is a plus side to using Aeroplan miles:
-Air Canada allows lap children for just $50-$100. Continental and all other US carriers charge 10% of the fare.
-Air Canada allows for 2 stopovers, meaning you can see 3 cities for as long as you want on one award, versus 1 stopover with Continental miles.
Continental miles can be earned via their own Continental (30K signup with a 50K bump potential) or United (30K signup with a 50K bump potential) cards or via Ultimate Rewards cards like Sapphire Preferred (50K signup for a limited time only and may be ending soon) and Ink Bold (50K signup), or Freedom (20K signup with huge quarterly incentives and checking account incentives and no annual fee)and Ink Classic (25K signup with no annual fee) via anyone’s Sapphire or Ink Bold account.
You can also book Star Alliance travel without massive fuel surcharges via USArways, albeit with less friendly policies than Continental. The Starwood Consumer and Starwood Business cards (10K-25K signup bonus on each) will give you Starpoints that convert at a 20K:25K ratio to USAirways. Starpoints can also be converted at the same favorable ratio into AA miles which is the only place you can book surcharge-free travel nonstop to Israel on El Al.