Have you ever wondered what is going on when you encounter an error when trying to book an award using your Aeroplan miles?
In almost all cases, the culprit is two words: married segments.
I’ve outlined before, in great detail, what married segments are. For a detailed primer, click here.
> Read More: A Primer On Married Segments
Put simply, the problem with Aeroplan is that its award search engine is not aligned with its booking engine. After entering “from” and “to” and clicking search, the award search engine searches from origin to destination. So if you’re going from London to Los Angeles, it will search for all available options, including married segments partner airlines have made available.
But let’s take the example below of London to Frankfurt to Los Angeles on Lufthansa.
If you click through to purchase it, you will receive the following error message:
Why? While Lufthansa does intend to make both segments available when booked together, Aeroplan confirms availability on a per-segment basis.
That’s problematic, because if you just search for London to Frankfurt alone, you’ll notice the 6:30a flight from Heathrow to Frankfurt is not available.
That’s why the error occurred. Even though Lufthansa is happy to offer award space on that early flight as long as it is connecting to a Lufthansa longhaul, Aeroplan’s technical limitations prevent you (or an agent on the phone) from booking this.
How to Know if Space is Really There
To be clear: there are other problems with Aeroplan. Sometimes space errors out that should not error out and is not related to the married segment problem above. But the married segment issue is widespread and prevalent daily.
To avoid the disappointment of transferring in miles from American Express only to encounter an error screen, search each segment separately that you are trying to book. So in the example above, you would search LHR-FRA first, then FRA-LAX next. If both segments show up independently, you’ll be able to book them together. If not, look for another routing.
United Airlines, for example, has no trouble booking married segments when redeeming MileagePlus miles. It seems to me this is a technical limitation Aeroplan could fix if it wanted to. But this problem has been going on for years, so don’t hold your breath waiting for a patch. Just be aware of it.