Points Miles and Bling (blog) contains referral or affiliate links. The blog receives a small commission at no additional cost to you. Thank you for your continued support. Credit Card issuers are not responsible for maintaining or monitoring the accuracy of information on this website. For full details, current product information, and Terms and Conditions, click the link included.
Like many in the Points and Miles (P&M) community, I’m completely immersed in the world of travel. P&M has unlocked many special experiences for me and my family members from relaxing in peaceful airport lounges (flashbacks to pre-2022) to jetting off to destinations in lie-flat seats, to staying in luxurious properties.
When travel was simple but with unrewarding value
Before I got into P&M, I only had cashback credit cards, which gave me the option to redeem points for statement credits against travel purchases, like the Capital One Aspire Travel card. Like a good Canadian, I mainly collected Airmiles, which are passable for short haul flights, but are abysmal value for flying international. I also collected Aeroplan points occasionally, but never paid much attention to this program and simply redeemed the miles for gift cards. Horror! Hence, I took long haul flights in economy and tried to save a few bucks by redeeming my cashback rewards against my travel purchases.
P&M has not only allowed me to elevate my travel, but to also travel more frequently – it does however have its particularities and costs! You have to be open to paying annual fees and taxes on flights, which can add up pretty quickly. Being fluent in the many different points and miles currencies becomes necessary to learn how best to maximize your points to get great value! Then you have to keep current on any impending devaluations to book quickly before the coveted sweet spot vanishes into thin air.
Turkey and Greece – Summer 2022
Earlier in 2022, Marriott Bonvoy announced yet another devaluation for many of its high-end properties. I decided to book a summer trip to redeem my points to enjoy a couple of the luxurious Marriott properties before they were Bonvoyed. After going through the list of hotels slated for devaluation, I decided to redeem my Bonvoy points on the Bodrum Edition in Türkiye, since I heard so many great things about it from the P&M community. I also paired it with a trip to Domes Miramare, a Luxury Collection Resort in the island of Corfu, Greece. To further stretch out the value of these two redemptions, I redeemed for five nights at each property to get the fifth night free.
To give you an idea of the value, I booked the Bodrum Edition for 60,000/night, but since I booked a stay of five nights, it worked out to 48,000/night for a total redemption cost of 240,000 points. The redemption cost was jumping up by 30,000/night going to 90,000 points, and because of peak pricing, the hotel redemption price can be up to 100,000/night at this exquisite property. When I was looking at the cash prices, they were retailing for 1,600 €/night during my travel dates in the summer high season.
Flights to Europe
As my first stop was in Türkiye, the best way to get there from Canada was to fly on Turkish Airlines. I turned to the Aeroplan program which has many partners, including Turkish Airlines. I found a flight on Turkish on a Wednesday night from Montreal to Bodrum connecting via Istanbul. I then called Aeroplan to make changes by adding my home airport in Ottawa at the beginning of the trip for a positioning flight to Montreal.
At the time of the booking, Aeroplan allowed unlimited changes regardless of the fare class booked due to the pandemic. Since Aeroplan allows for another stopover, I added Corfu as my final destination. The route that I pieced together over the phone with an Aeroplan customer service agent ended up being YOW-YUL-IST-BJV (5-night stopover)-BJV-IST-ATH (under 24 hours layover)-CFU as destination. All six flights were in business class, with the exception of the last leg from Athens to Corfu, which ended up being in economy due to unavailability of business cabin for a total redemption cost 81,600 Aeroplan miles and $170.06 in taxes and fees.
Flight back to Canada
For the return trip, I booked a cash economy flight from Corfu to Athens on Aegean Airlines as no award availability was open. Aegean Airlines does not have direct flights to Canada and there was no award availability on other airline partners like Turkish, so I had no choice but to fly on Air Canada since I was redeeming on Aeroplan.
I wasn’t looking forward to flying Air Canada because I fly on this airline frequently enough as a Canadian. Understandably, when I have the opportunity to travel internationally, I like to experience other Airline products for a change. On the bright side, it was my opportunity to make use my of eUpgrade (eUps) credits. I booked the flights in economy latitude for a total redemption cost of 53,300 Aeroplan miles with the addition of 11 eUps and $46.20 for taxes and fees per person for the direct flight from Athens to Montreal – a decent redemption. My eUps did not clear immediately, but a month after booking the flights I received the happy news that we were confirmed in business cabin.
While I enjoyed my European beach vacation and extracted phenomenal value, upon reflection I probably would have not booked either property or even travelled to these two destinations prior to getting into Points and Miles. My urge to maximize to extract value have certainly influenced my travel habits.
PMB recommends the following cards to earn Aeroplan points (Click below for latest offers);
How have points and miles influenced your travels?
Great article Dalia!