How to Book Aeroplan to Iqaluit

How to Book Aeroplan to Iqaluit

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This is part two of Gustavo’s Guide to Aeroplan about how to book Aeroplan to Iqaluit. Make sure you read part one!

You may be wondering: What is the point of collecting all those Aeroplan miles (see my first post on earning Aeroplan points) if Air Canada does not fly to Nunavut (at least, not anymore)? Well, it just so happens that the carriers that serve Nunavut from “southern” Canada have partnership agreements with Air Canada and Aeroplan. These are what I call “Scheduled Northern Carriers”, and for flights to and from Iqaluit (the focus of this post), they are Canadian North and First Air. Read on to find out just how to book Aeroplan reward tickets to and from Iqaluit, without losing your mind (and your money!).

Northern Carriers

canadian northNorthern airlines like Canadian North often fly with hybrid configurations allowing for the plane to carry both cargo and passengers.

Canadian North has a strong presence in the Eastern (Qikiqtaaluk/Baffin) and Western (Kitikmeot) regions of Nunavut, and because if its general absence in the Kivalliq Region, Calm Air and Canadian North have codeshares throughout their networks. Canadian North also flies from Yellowknife, Edmonton, and Ottawa.

First Air is the largest airline serving the North, flying from Yellowknife, Edmonton, Winnipeg, Ottawa, and Montreal to all three Nunavut Regions.

Flight Schedules

Now that you know which major airlines operate in the North, and where they leave from, it is important to know what the flight schedules so that you know what to ask for when you call Aeroplan. As an example, if you are departing from Ottawa your options are:

Daily: First Air and Canadian North fly to Iqaluit departing just after 9AM.

If you are departing from Montreal, your options are:

Mondays, Wednesdays, and Fridays: First Air flies to Iqaluit (stopover in Kuujjuaq) departing at 10AM.

Likewise, you should know the return schedules so you can book your way back. From Iqaluit to Ottawa, your options are:

Daily: First Air and Canadian North depart Iqaluit for Ottawa around 1PM.

For more information, both airlines have flight schedules online: click here for First Air and here for Canadian North.

Booking Aeroplan Tickets to Iqaluit

Each flight listed above only has only two Aeroplan seats available, so you should be booking things well in advance because availability is clearly very limited. The key is planning ahead.

Now let’s get down to the details. The first thing you have to know is that since Air Canada does not fly to Iqaluit, you cannot book award tickets online. This means that you will have to call Aeroplan to book your ticket. This will cost you $30 plus tax based on where you live, payable only if you manage to secure a seat. You won’t be charged if you call and there’s no availability.

The second thing is that when you book Northern flights, you must book a round trip. If you only need one leg, just pick a random return date to complete your ticket – you don’t have to use it.

Third, there are additional costs to the Aeroplan fee: miles and airport fees. Departing from Ottawa or Montreal will cost you 15,000 Aeroplan points plus respective airport taxes. A round-trip from Ottawa or Montreal will cost about $70 in total including the Aeroplan booking fee (e.g. my last flight booked in December 2013 on First Air to Ottawa cost me 15,000 miles + $31.50 booking fee + $37.56 in other taxes). You may use miles to connect to Montreal and Ottawa from wherever you are, but it will cost you more. For example, leaving from Toronto and going through Ottawa or Montreal will increase your mileage cost to 25,000, and airport fees will likely change as well since Pearson (YYZ) is expensive.

When you are ready to book, call Aeroplan at 1-800-361-5373. Once you get to an agent, let them know that you want to book a flight to or from Iqaluit. This is when the “negotiations” begin.

Canadian North is the only airline that is integrated with Aeroplan’s booking system, so they can search a range of dates quite easily. I recommend trying to book Aeroplan tickets with Canadian North first, because they’re easier to deal with since the agent can view an availability calendar right away.

Booking with First Air is a little more difficult. With First Air, you will have to request an incoming and outgoing date via the Aeroplan agent, who will forward your request to First Air. To find out if your requested dates are available, you will need to call Aeroplan again after about 48 hours with a reference number. First Air will reply “confirmed” or “not available” for each leg of the trip. I’ve often been told that, for example, my outbound date is good, but my inbound isn’t. You just have to have patience and keep trying.

Regardless of the airline, once you find seats, it will take Aeroplan 48 hours to issue an actual ticket. These will be emailed to you when ready so make sure your email address is correct in the Aeroplan system.

Pro-Tips

Yes, this is a little complicated and the whole process can be very frustrating. That being said, I have booked dozens of Aeroplan flights out of Iqaluit, and along the way, have learned a few key things. Here are a few tips to help you make the most of booking Aeroplan reward tickets:

  1. If an Aeroplan agent doesn’t seem familiar with the process of booking reward tickets on northern airlines, hang up and call back. Having a pro agent who understands the system, and what you can and cannot do, is key to a smooth, easy transaction.
  2. Be flexible with your dates. Have a calendar open in front of you so you can quickly suggest another day if your first choice is booked.
  3. Most importantly, call well in advance. Both airlines will allow you to book Aeroplan flights about 355 days in advance. So, for example, for flights out of Iqaluit around Christmas (peak season), I would recommend calling Aeroplan by mid-February. It may seem like a hassle to book vacation flights so far ahead of time, but it’s worth it to save around $2000 per person.

I hope this helps your planning a little bit, and please do leave some comments and feedback on the above in case I missed anything or if there are any mistakes.

Happy travels! Don’t forget your parka.

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gusto dogs

As an avid traveller and long-term resident of the North, Gustavo Oliveira is always looking for ways to travel more, for less. The Brazilian native currently lives in Yellowknife, Northwest Territories, where he is trying to apply his frugal frequent flyer status as successfully as he did in Iqaluit. To contact Gustavo directly, send him an email. Or, you can check him out on Instagram or via his blog, Nunavuting, for photos and stories of life in the Canadian Arctic.

14 Comments on “How to Book Aeroplan to Iqaluit

  • Great articles! Couple notes… Up to 4 seats can be booked on CDN North flights if you book early enough. 10 months to the day is the furthest out I have ever been able to book a ticket. If you can establish a rapport with your Aeroplan agent, they will sometimes be willing to call FA reservations who are able to see what dates are available. Aeroplan points have kept our family flying for years.

    Reply
    • You can book almost a full year in advance, I don’t remember how far you can go exactly, but it’s like 11 months in advance or something. Calling 7F has worked for me, although I’ve encountered an increasing amount of reluctancy on 7F’s part to be telling me or Aeroplan agents the dates available, and Aeroplan agents have refused to call 7F many times.

      Reply
  • Great post, bud.

    Adding to what Tony said…..

    Getting an Aeroplan agent to call First Air is the key to success. While they will usually tell you that “it’s not their policy to call,” you can scoff and ask to talk to a supervisor. This usually works most times for me. Alternatively, you can keep giving them dates to input until they finally break down and call.

    Reply
  • Pingback: Getting to Iqaluit - Finding True North

  • Great post! What about getting to other communities in Nunavut, say Pangnirtung or the like? Is it still 15,000 Aeroplan points if you’re flying from Ottawa or Montreal, or does that increase?

    Thanks!

    Reply
    • Flights past Iqaluit are long haul from Ontario, so 25,000 points. Still well worth it.

      Since you can not book online, if you complain you get your $30 phone reservation fee back. On one hand you are saving a lot of $$$ with Aeroplan, but still annoying to pay the $30 since it would be so much easier online. It takes soo many phone calls.

      Also, if you are booking for more than one person, you need to demand unique booking references. This way, if one person gets the date you want, the other person can change one of the legs to the next flight. If on the same reference, both tickets need to be reissued to change one, and that means you will often loose your flight.

      Calm Air also accepts miles

      Reply
      • Denis Thibeault

        I’ve used points to fly within Nunavut and the process is much the same. Community flights tend to be easier to arrange as they are much less sought after. Don’t cut your call to close because you never know. Both Pond Inlet and Igloolik cost me 15K points per round trip from Iqaluit. Great way to see the territory.

        Reply
  • Pingback: Aeroplan to Iqaluit: Choosing the Right Card

  • Denis Thibeault

    Another Pro Tip is that the Aeroplan Call Centre operates on Vancouver time so we’ve got until midnight (9pm PST) most days from the eastern time zone.

    Reply
  • How do I contact Gustavo?
    His e-mail link does not seem to work, neither does his blog.
    Thanks! I am traveling to Iqaluit in December and have a few questions.

    Reply
  • Thank you so much for this informative post! I’d read on other threads that Aeroplan couldn’t be used to fly to Iqaluit so I was ecstatic to find out otherwise. Just booked tickets there today!

    Reply

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