Aeroplan: have a dream? Too bad.

Aeroplan miles are generally considered, in my little circle, akin to gold. We may snicker at the lowly collectors of Club Z, Airmiles and Esso Extra points, but Aeroplan miles — that’s the real stuff.

I don’t believe my friend Don the Dentist has paid for an airline ticket in 10 years: he just puts the 45 gallon drums of dental amalgam on his Aerogold Visa, and, blamo, gets enough points to fly himself and his burgeoning family to Katmandu and back. Or at least to LA.

So after years of being a casual collector of Aeroplan miles here — 500 here, 500 there — I decided to jump in with both feet, bite the $150 bullet of the yearly card fee, and get Aerogolded. Of course my purchasing is limited, mostly to the occasional fountain pen ink cartridge and the odd floppy disk, so my accumulation isn’t anywhere near that of those that buy MRI’s and Jeep CJ’s on their card. But I’m clocking in about 2000 a month these days, and my lifetime, as-yet-to-be-redeemed Aeroplan mileage total is about to hit 100,000.

So you think I would excited to be entering a “world filled with an ever-expanding array of opportunities” (says Aeroplan).

But I am not.

Aeroplan reality, at least for my travel planning habits, is far less alluring than Aeroplan dreams.

Let’s say, for example, that Oliver and I want to go to New York City next week (a modest dream, but a dream nonetheless). We want to leave on Friday, and come back on Monday.

Well, first off, there are no Aeroplan seats available for a Friday-Monday trip. The best they can offer is a Tuesday departure and Friday return. Fair enough.

The Tuesday departure is reasonable: leave Charlottetown at 4:35 in the afternoon, arrive La Guardia, via Montreal, at ten minutes to nine that night.

But the Friday return leaves New York City at 7:50 a.m., flies to Ottawa for a 9:11 a.m. arrival. Then there’s a three hour wait in Ottawa for a noon flight to Halifax. Then one is forced to overnight in Halifax, returning to Charlottetown at 8:20 a.m. the next morning. That makes it a 24 hour trip from airport to airport.

The stuff that dreams are made of?

But perhaps my plans are too soon: maybe it’s unreasonable to dream so quickly? So I check for a Friday-Monday trip in January.

For a mid-January weekend in New York, Aeroplan’s availability would have us leaving Charlottetown at 7:40 p.m., arriving in Halifax shortly after 8:00 p.m. Then — sheesh! — overnighting in Halifax and leaving Halifax for Montreal the next day at 4:00 p.m.. Final arrival in New York City is ten minutes to seven. Making it another 24 hours journey.

And that’s not all: other routings, for other dates, have us landing at JFK and leaving from Westchester County Airport, which is 27 miles from New York City.

Obviously my dreams and Air Canada’s dreams a different.

Makes me realize why Aeroplan’s competitors are so intent on advertising their “fly any time on any flight” policies.