How Many Air Miles Do You Need For a Free Flight?

How Many Air Miles Do You Need For a Free Flight?

The Air Miles loyalty program is a great way for Canadians to earn rewards by shopping at sponsor locations and using Air Miles credit cards. Depending on how your Air Miles are set up you can earn Air Miles Cash rewards, which include free groceries, gas, and other retail vouchers. Or, you can save up your Air Miles Dream miles for a dream vacation that you’ve always wanted to take. But how many Air Miles do you need for a free flight?

The interactive mileage “map” on the Air Miles website is not very user friendly. I’ve taken that information and put it into a helpful chart so you can visualize and determine exactly how many Air Miles you need for a free flight anywhere in the world.

Air Miles Flight Rewards

This table will show you how many Air Miles Dream miles you’ll need to save up in order to book a free flight rewards.

*Note that this chart is for flights departing from Ontario and has been updated as of May 27, 2019.

Region Low Season High Season BMO Air Miles World Elite MasterCard 15% Discount
British Columbia 3,600 4,900 3,060 4,165
Alberta 2,900 3,800 2,465 3,230
Saskatchewan 2,500 2,800 2,805 3,300
Manitoba 1,600 2,000 1,360 1,700
Ontario 1,200 1,400 1,020 1,190
Quebec 1,300 1,500 1,105 1,275
Maritimes 1,700 2,200 1,445 1,870
Nunavut 4,000 5,200 3,400 4,420
Northeast U.S. 1,300 1,600 1,105 1,360
Central U.S. 1,600 2,100 1,360 1,785
Northwest U.S. 3,900 5,200 3,315 4,420
Southwest U.S. 4,300 5,500 3,655 4,675
Southeast U.S. 2,800 3,500 2,380 2,975
Caribbean 4,400 5,800 4,400 5,800
Mexico 4,400 5,800 4,400 5,800
Hawaii 7,900 10,500 6,715 8,925
Central America 5,400 7,000 5,400 7,000
South America 6,000 8,000 6,000 8,000
Western Europe 5,400 7,000 5,400 7,000
Northern Europe 6,000 8,000 6,000 8,000
Eastern Europe 6,300 8,500 6,300 8,500
Africa/Middle East 9,300 12,500 9,300 12,500
Russia/China 9,300 12,500 9,300 12,500
Australia 14,000 19,000 14,000 19,000

As you can see, it costs a lot to redeem Air Miles for flights! I like to break down the miles into dollars so that I can understand the true cost and value of the flight rewards.

Most sponsor locations offer 1 Air Miles for every $20 spent. You can also maximize your Air Miles by using an Air Miles branded credit card. Let’s say that you manage to earn 1 Air Mile for every $15 spent. Here is a breakdown of what you would have to spend in order to earn flight rewards:

  • 1,000 Air Miles = $15,000 (one short haul flight)
  • 2,500 Air Miles = $37,500 (one medium haul flight)
  • 5,000 Air Miles = $75,000 (one long range flight)
  • 10,000 Air Miles = $150,000 (dream vacation, any season)

Best Value For Air Miles Flights

Obviously it makes sense to take advantage of the discount for flying during low season. Peak season (holidays and summer) flight prices are increased upwards of 35 percent. Travellers are likely better off shopping for better rates online to take advantage of a seat sale.

I’ve talked about how I redeem Air Miles for products like free gas or grocery vouchers. For $20 in gift card rewards it costs 190 Air Miles, making each Air Mile worth approximately 10.5 cents.

If we look at a flight from Ontario to Alberta during low season, it would cost 2,900 Air Miles for a free flight. That works out to costing you $304 for the redemption. The lowest available fare that I found when searching a similar flight on Air Canada’s website was $283. It looks like Air Miles is charging a premium to redeem your miles for flight rewards.

Using BMO Air Miles World Elite MasterCard

So, if Air Miles is charging a premium for flight rewards perhaps we should look at the BMO Air Miles World Elite MasterCard which gives you a 15% discount on booking flights. Using the same flight from Ontario to Alberta we are able to reduce the mileage cost by 15%, making the flight worth $259 using your Air Miles.

If you like to collect Air Miles and travel frequently for business or leisure, using the BMO Air Miles World Elite MasterCard can make a lot of sense. There is an annual fee of $120, which is offset by a huge welcome bonus and often comes with the first year free. These benefits, plus the 15% off Air Miles mileage discount, can more than cover the cost of using the card – AND help you get more out of your Air Miles Dream reward miles.

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