Mathieu offers training on the Flight Connections tool. This tool allows you to discover airlines in order to plan your award ticket!
Despite the transition period that the Aeroplan program is currently going through, rumours are circulating about the possible return of Mini Round the World (MRW) with two stopovers in addition to the destination.
Combined with the possibility (we all hope) of once again being able to book an incredible itinerary by giving the flights to the Aeroplan agent one by one, this “news” made me want to write about the path that leads to booking of one of those famous MRW that sometimes arouse enthusiasm, sometimes envy and sometimes even anxiety among some Mileopedians!
It is with this in mind that I suggest a series of articles aimed at planning such a trip around the world, paying particular attention to the different tools at your disposal to accomplish this seemingly colossal task.
The FlightConnections tool
The first tool you absolutely need to know if you want to plan an epic trip with Aeroplan is FlightConnections, a site that allows you to know ALL the existing commercial routes in addition to searching by all sorts of parameters, including airlines or alliances.
With Aeroplan, FlightConnections is useful for finding out how to get to a location using only the flights of Star Alliance partners.
To do this, select this alliance from the drop-down menu at the top of the page.
The view you have then shows all airports served by flights on the various airlines, the vast majority of which can be booked with your Aeroplan Miles.
An advanced tool
On the map, the general rule is:
- the blue circles are connected to the most destinations
- while the yellow circles and red circles are less well served.
Beware! Since the size of the circles is determined by the total number of flights(before applying the filters), it means that an airport like St.-John’s (YYT), represented by a yellow circle, is connected to 8 other cities.
While a larger destination such as Tashkent (TAS), the capital of Uzbekistan, which is represented by a blue circle, is only connected to two places when limited to flights on Star Alliance partners.
Generally speaking, however, red dots will often be dead ends, so be aware of this when planning a MRW, because you will almost certainly have to use one of your precious stopovers (or destination) to get there without breaking Aeroplan planning rules.
Since these rules do not allow you to pass through the same airport on the same side of the destination twice, you will not be able to include a dead end in your itinerary except as a final destination.
By clicking on a circle or entering a destination in the search bar, you will see all direct flights that exist from this airport.
From there, you have two options:
- You can either click on one of the presented destinations, which will allow you to see the flight schedules and the companies that operate them;
- or, enter a second destination in the bar at the top of the screen.
In doing so, the tool will show you all direct flight options, or failing that, those requiring one or two stopovers, in ascending order of total flight time.
I can then check that I am willing to accept one (or two) stopovers instead of a direct flight.
By doing so, nearly 20 options now appear.
While examining them, I quickly realized that a stopover in New York (EWR), Chicago (ORD) or Washington (IAD) would allow me to avoid Air Canada altogether and fly only on United and/or ANA wings.
Options also exist through Europe via Brussels (BRU), Zurich (ZRH) or Istanbul (IST), allowing you to fly on the wings of Brussel Airlines, Swiss or Turkish Airlines, three airlines that do not charge surcharges!
An ideal tool for discovering flights
The second reason I use FlightConnections is the ease with which it allows me to discover new destinations that I would not have thought of otherwise.
For example, you are planning your trip around the world and would like to schedule a stopover between Bangkok and Athens, but you don’t know which one.
By entering both destinations, more than 15 results appear.
You may have been thinking about Istanbul (IST) and Cairo (CAI), two Star Alliance carrier hubs.
But had you considered Moscow (DME), served by Thai Airways, Aegean Airlines and Ethiopian?
This is the kind of information FlightConnections can bring to your planning.
Although it is not a foolproof tool, it is in my opinion a must in your planning kit when it comes time to start searching for your MRW.
|Friendly visual presentation||Often inaccurate flight schedules|
|Timeliness of searches||Occasionally, a few non-existent flights appear|
|Easy to use filters||Difficulty in presenting seasonal flights|