4 Stopovers with ANA = Dream Trip!

Screen Shot 2013-09-09 at 3.19.00 PMPeople don’t like learning “new” airline programs, but ANA has one of some the most generous award chart prices, generous stopover rules, generous routing rules… and yet, it’s hardly talked about. The miles are also easy to collect. So may I suggest that it’s at least worth learning the basics?

Let me start by saying that you get 4 stopovers. Have I got your attention? Well, I’ve come to find out that they say “4 stopovers” and really mean 4 stops. It’s really 1 destination and 3 stopovers. Or they could say 4 destinations.

Semantics! Who cares?

The point is that you get 4 stops that can be as long as you want.

ANA Reward Chart

Next, I want to point out that ANA is a transfer of Amex Membership Rewards. Transfers at a 1:1 ratio. This is pretty prime if only for the reasoning that there aren’t a lot of good transfer options anyways. So one good Amex bonus should fund one of these dream trips we’re about to discuss.

Third, the award chart is awesome. Not awesome for all routes, heck, not even good for some long hauls. But for some routes, it’s incredible.

So let’s get to it.

I’ll go over more rules later, but here are some key ones:

  • you do get open-jaws but you have to return to the same country
  • roundtrips (no oneways)
  • The price is based on butt-in-the-seat miles flown, not just to the destination and back

The problem

ANA tickets are expensive. Fees can add up quickly. Why?

1) Fuel surcharges.

Of course you can choose to fly a few routes that don’t have fuel surcharges. US Airways and Air New Zealand are examples of airlines that don’t have fuel surcharges. Also, the North American airlines in general don’t pass on fuel surcharges domestically or to latin america/the caribbean.

Further more, apparently Air Canada, as well as United to Europe doesn’t charge fuel surcharges. When you search on ANA the fees are just really low, despite ITA showing fuel surcharges. I won’t correct them though.

2) Airport taxes. This may seem like an obvious thing or something every ticket has to deal with. Well yes and no.

Let’s say you have to stopover in four European cities that each charge $100 in airport taxes. This will definitely add up to a higher than normal fee.

Airport taxes in the US are minimal, $2.50 – $5. However, if you are curious about other places you can search ITA, or even United.com award searches which break that down for you.

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Case and point, I tested booking a ticket from Vienna to Cairo with stops on the way in Warsaw, Istanbul and Amman and the ticket came out 22,000 points and nearly $600. 22,000 points for that is incredible. I mean awesome. $600 is terrible. I could buy a revenue ticket for $800 as it turns out.

For this reason I’ll try to only use airlines mentioned above as being without fuel surcharges.

Routing and Finding

This may sound crazy to some but I hate ANA’s search engine. It’s the most anti-user-friendly site. Maybe the Japanese site is great, I wouldn’t know. But it makes Avianca’s site feel like Southwest. So I find I’m quicker using other sites when just getting my ideas out. Final stages, sure, or just call.

Anywho, there are three things you need.

1) Star Alliance route map.

2) The Greater Circle Mapper – since it’s a distance based pricing.

3) A site to check availability. ANA, Aeroplan, United, whatever… this is just brainstorming.

Where should we start from?

Little Rock… It’s in the middle. Little Rock to the Caribbean?

“Great. Is this going to be another Caribbean Hopper post?”

I mean… it’s a great use. But, we’ll do other examples.

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Options from Little Rock

Well the route map is telling me the first connection south is Houston. I could do that or route through Charlotte too.

Now I’m clicking Houston on the route map and looking at my options. And highlighted by the darker circles, you can see there are a lot of options.

Options from Houston

Options from Houston

One thing I’ll mention is that because we’re trying to see four places, I’m not going to choose a dead end location. Meaning, I want a destination, like Cancun, which can continue you on to Panama or whatever.

So I’m kind of interested in Puerto Vallarta because I have a mistake fare coming up. $18/night for a club room. (Hey anyone want to use my Oct 12-19th date? Reach out to me on Twitter or Facebook! Otherwise I’m canceling that date as I can’t make it.) However, when I search the route map from Puerto Vallarta, your going to see the only Star Alliance routes are back towards the US.

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Whatever. Point is that you can piece together a trip just like I’m doing. First to Houston. Then to Cancun. Then to Bogota. Make sense?

But all the while you can plug the airport code (which the route map will give you on the side) into the circle mapper. And understand that you get four stops. I’m not going to stop in Houston, instead it’s just a layover. Under 24 hours is a layover, anything more, for as long as you want is a stopover.

While layovers don’t count towards your stops, they do count toward your mileage flown, which is in turn your price. So I’m trying to make things as direct and as simple as I can. Well, as short as I can.

So here’s what I came up with: Via Houston, Cancun, Bogota, to Punta Cana, via Charlotte home to Little Rock. When I plug that into GCMapper it looks like this – LIT-IAH-CUN-BOG-PUJ-CLT-LIT.

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It’s 5649 miles. So let’s compare that to the award chart above. Anything between 4,001 and 7,000 would cost 38,000 ANA miles.

So here’s my opinion on that price, it’s great. After all this isn’t even possible on most airlines and it would likely be more expensive just to go to BOG and back.

But in my opinion the hot spot is 4,000 miles as it only costs 22,000 ANA miles. It’s a minor price bump from 2,000 to 4,000. Look you can double your distance for 2,000 more miles! It’s phenomenal. 4,000 is still enough to Caribbean hop, if you will.

However the jump from 7,000 to 9,000 isn’t much either. Consider this, for 5,000 miles flown you are paying 38,000 ANA miles. But if you fly 9,000 or just under, you are flying significantly more for 43,000 ANA miles.

Really the only way to get under the 4,000 mile bar is to start some where like Houston. Or do a domestic ticket.

Air New Zealand

Since Air New Zealand doesn’t have fuel surcharges, it seems like a great idea. You could start in Australia and go to Fiji, New Caledonia, etc… (You have to start in SYD as you can’t back track in originating country and leave again). However, those islands are further than you think.

Our Sydney to Cooke Islands flight was like 6 hours long. Grant it, it is further away than many islands. And Fiji is worth a trip for sure. But there might be better Star Alliance options. Who knows.

A trip to see three islands, Vanuatu, New Caledonia, Fiji and New Zealand would be 55,000 miles, or 85,000 miles in Business Class. But seeing as a roundtrip with United would be 35,000 miles and could only include two locations… it’s a better deal, but not a great deal.

But technically you could do a trip from LA to Rarotonga, to Sydney, to New Zealand, to Fiji and back (via New Zealand) which would be 75,000 miles. Could maybe do something similar for 65,000 miles (or 105,000 miles in business class (and trust me, Air New Zealand is a nice business class)). Which is actually a great deal.

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With United I could get a similar route for a similar price, minus two stops. So this is actually a great deal.

However, it’s quite difficult to find availability on Air New Zealand across the Pacific. In fact, across the Pacific is just a weak point in the Star Alliance period. So I won’t dwell on this route too long, but will say, if you put it together in advance… this could be better than a United route.

Domestic tickets

This may be the best redemption. I love international travel but there are some great places in the US and the fact is you can avoid fuel surcharges and see 4 places for 22,000 miles.

Let’s start in Cleveland… because, if you live there you’re probably wanting to be somewhere else.

From Cleveland to Toronto, to Calgary, to Denver, to Chicago, then back to Cleveland. (CLE-YYZ-YYC-DEN-ORD-CLE).

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That’s 3,971 miles. That means it would cost you 22,000 ANA miles. That’s incredible. For most airlines you don’t even get 1 stopover on domestic flights and to see one place would cost 25,000 miles at best.

Of course, further routes would require the next tier, which is 38,000 miles.

Combining two tickets

But for 38,000 miles, geez, you could pay 6,000 more miles and do a whole new route. Right? Or for example, an 8,000 mile route would cost 43,000 ANA miles or 22,000 for two 4,000 mile trips.

This is all ideal, and a bit extreme but might as well give it a hypothetical go?

Let’s go one coast to another. Let’s even start in my little hometown of Charlottesville, Va.

You could do this:

Charlottesville to DC, to Miami, transit in Houston, to Austin, to Chicago, then via DC we return home. (CHO-IAD-MIA-IAH-AUS-ORD-IAD-CHO) Except, make the stopover in Austin really long to add another ticket in it.

Sounds absurd but you could add the following to the ticket: Austin to Denver, to Seattle, to Portland, to San Francisco, to Phoenix, to Austin. (AUS-DEN-SEA-PDX-SFO-AUS).

All that to say for 44,000 miles you can have a stopover in DC, Miami, Austin, Chicago, Denver, Seattle, Portland and San Francisco. Grant it, a regular roundtrip on United or Air Canada is 25,000 miles, but for 76% more miles, you can see 8 places instead of 1. And for what? like $20-$40 in fees?

 

Even without all the unnecessary craziness, 4 stops is a lot and often cheaper than the other airlines. So my advice is simple:

  1. Before you transfer you Amex MR Points, run your route through the circle mapper and find the price on the ANA award chart above.
  2. Figure out where you want to stopover and try to route that in.
  3. If it’s cheaper/worth the extra miles – call and simply ask them to price it out. They can tell you what the fees, fuel surcharges and the mileage will be.

Understand they are unable to hold your ticket while you transfer points, thus you risk loosing your award seats. This is one reason it’s better to look online, just so you can see what the availability is like yourself.

But I have no doubt that ANA is a better transfer than a lot of the other Amex travel partners for a lot of people. Again, it just depends on the fees and thus depends on where you are traveling to.

ANA Stopover Rules

  • Only roundtrip (no oneways)
  • 4 stops
  • “No stopovers or ground transportation within the country of origin are permitted on international routes.”
    In other words, on routes with two or more countries you can not stopover in the home country. So you can’t stopover in Houston on your way to Bogota.
  • Only 1 stopover in each city
  • Open-jaws are allowed
  • But (regarding open-jaws) you need to return to the same country
  • Itinerary is valid for up to 12 sectors (which I assume means segments).

There are more, mostly common sense rules you can find here.

I will mention that you cannot route through your departure country on your way to another country. I imagine that if you have extra mileage left over, you can add a free trip on. Like go to Europe and back, then do Mexico and back. But you can combine the two if you don’t cross back into your own country.

Open jaws

Open-jaws could be really helpful. Think about it, let’s say your ideal trip is 4001 miles. Instead of returning home to Charlottesville, I could return to DC. Or better yet, I could open-jaw between Seattle and Portland, save the miles and use the stop elsewhere.

Also, let’s just say hypothetically you were doing the trip I mentioned being too expensive. Starting in Vienna and going to Istanbul and Amman and all that. Well, the thing is that you have to return back to Vienna. Or do you?

I should say you have to book a ticket back to Vienna. But just route a layover somewhere and get off the plane and leave the last leg dumped. Yes, you paid for it, but as long as you’re under the 4,000 mile bar (or whatever the bar is you’re going for) it doesn’t matter. And no, you cannot get it refunded (although you could probably get the tax refunded).

Other Partners

With Star Alliance partners, you can mix and match on one ticket. This is normal. However the following confuses me.

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It says, “Partner Flight Awards are eligible for use on only 1 airline other than ANA for non Star Alliance Member Airlines.” No, google translate didn’t come up with this wording, it’s on their site.

I would assume it means that you can use multiple Star Alliance partners but only add one of those non-Star Alliance partners. However, then the visual shows only Virgin.

You may notice that there are some good partners here too, Etihad, Virgin Atlantic, Qatar. However, I can’t help but notice that you only accrue miles on Hawaii Airlines for inter island flights.

So if anyone has any experience on those two things, please comment and clarify.

Parting Words

American Express is hurting for good transfers, and this is greatly under rated, so it could be worth a try. I mean, for goodness sake, people transfer Amex points to Delta SkyPesos! I’d rather try Air New Zealand availability to Fiji and New Zealand than do that.

Also, it is a 1:1 transfer of SPG. So your options of earning are there.

Who’s with me! Who’s got some ideas for good routes for ANA. However… I’m pretty low on Amex points.

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56 Comments

  1. Luckily I live in Houston 😉 So far I’ve only done Houston > Costa Rica RT for 22k.

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    • If you like the Caribbean/Central America, You’re in luck.

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  2. This is a great post. I’ve been curious about ANA for a while. This is very informational, and great timing as well

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    • Thanks Anh!

      Reply
  3. Small typo “From Cleveland to Toronto, to Calgary, to Denver, to Chicago, then back to Cleveland. (CLE-YVR-YYC-DEN-ORD-CLE).” YVR is Vancouver, not Toronto.

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    • Thanks Grant, got it changed.

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  4. I picked up SAT-RTB for my anniversary (long weekend) next February for 22K AMEX points – far better than any U.S. Carrier. Draw an arc from Albuquerque through Minneapolis to Toronto; anyone south / east of it can get a trip to somewhere in the Caribbean for 22K, and most places west of it can get to Cabo for the same price.

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    • Good points. Right, 22k is a lot better than 35k. Nice pick up too, with RTB. Googling it, it looks like an awesome use for my future ANA planning.

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  5. Interesting post. I’ve never considered ANA before. I noticed you didn’t mention if open jaw is allowed on a US only itinerary. if it is then you could save a lot of flight miles by not having to backtrack to the origin city plus get to visit another city. This would be outstanding for people on holiday in the US.

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    • Haven’t used ANA for a domestic personally. But perhaps it’s something to consider as the prices rival Southwest… especially when you consider adding stopovers.

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  6. Great info!

    I just tried online and found that you could only book a simple r/t ticket. So for multiple s/o ticket, I assume you have to call? Do you have experience with their phone agents? Are they clueless as DL’s or better?

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    • Also is MR to ANA instant transfer?

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    • No, AMEX says it takes ~3 days. I transferred Sunday evening and miles showed up in ANA account Tuesday morning

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    • Phone agents are helpful, but I think you can book multi-city online once you have miles in your account. I called just to confirm no surcharges, before I transfered.

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    • I assumed you could do it online, but I did mine over the phone. Oh wait, just saw Kennys’ post. Yea, there is a delay in getting your rewards number isn’t there? Like I remember mine coming in the mail or something… been a while.

      Also, the transfer is pretty quick. Like Kenny says, Sunday night (which is not a business day (don’t know if it matters)) to tuesday morning is a short turn around.

      Reply
  7. Curious to compare ANA to BA Avios (which is where I would normally transfer Amex points). They seem similar, but ANA mileage costs seem higher.

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    • I mean, that could totally depend on the route though. But given that the costs seem lower for, say flights around Europe, I like Avios. However, if you have a plan and StarAlliance makes more sense… ANA can be killer… like the example I gave in Caribbean, there are no OneWorld options to try with Avios.

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  8. Totally agree with you that ANA miles are great for certain things e.g. Midwest – Western Europe.

    However as of last month, at least in my experience, it was assessing YQ on AC trans-Atlantic. I don’t have any miles left in my account but check it out sometime if you haven’t already.

    -Ex-Clevelander 😉

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    • Hmm… Too be honest they should be charging YQ on AC, and I was surprised that they weren’t. So if they are… w/e. Fuel surcharges are just dumb.

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  9. Is back-tracking allowed (stopping over in a destination city more than once)?

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    • Backtracking is allowed, but not stopping over in it. So you could go down to houston and stopover and then continue on… but when you route through Houston again, you can’t stopover there. So still generous that you can route through cities twice… but no double stopover.

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  10. Another question I have: when starting and ending an international trip in the US mainland, are stop-overs allowed in Puerto Rico, Guam, and other US territories? And on a similar note, are stop-overs in Canada allowed on international trips?

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    • That. Is a great question.
      Unfortunately I don’t think they list clear zone specifics or clarification on this. My assumption is that Guam and SJU would surely be considered a different country.

      My assumption is that since they do not have a region or zone list, that “International” would be strictly country specific. So I’d say Yes, you can stopover in Canada.

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  11. What you don’t mention is that miles also expire after three years (unless you are a “Diamond” member) and there’s no way to renew them that I am aware of. All in all, I think ANA award have limited uses, especially because, as you mention, the very high fuel surcharges they require. The roundtrip requirement can also be a serious problem if you don’t know exactly how long you want to go somewhere and want to make the return booking later.

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    • People hold onto miles for 36 months? I think my miles last a few months. :-p

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    • Limited? As in half the round trip cost from say LAX/SFO-OGG in econ or biz on United? (~20K/40K ANA vs 40K/80K UA r/t?).

      And since ANA is MR partner, all you do is transfer the points you need to book the individual flight(s) you desire – you don’t have to warehouse your points inside ANA.

      And how many people book open ended flights, other than perhaps jobless bloggers who pimp CC affiliate links for a “living”?

      Reply
  12. does it make sense to hop around Japan using this, assuming you are already in Japan? e.g. NRT-FUK-KIX-CTS-NRT… (haven’t checked if they actually fly these routes…)

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    • Unfortunately it’s not allowed. In fact, they even restrict stopovers in Japan when starting from another country to 1 stopover. Pretty strict on the Japan front, for whatever reason.

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  13. I am confused by their definition of round-trip, and how that combines with open-jaw. Does it mean my start and end destination must be the same, but any one of my stopovers can be open-jaw? Or can I open-jaw as long as it is in the same country? E.g. what if I wanted to do SFO-SEA then drive my way to YVR and YYC, then fly YYC-NYC. Is that considered one way, or is it round trip because I start and depart in the US?

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  14. Are US domestic first seats booked at biz/mid-level award or the triple point “1st class” level?

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  15. Quick question with this— I priced out a RT HND-OKA and came up with a required amount of 18,000 miles. Is this because it is a domestic flight, or am I missing something here? I’m on the Japanese site.

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    • Hmm, perhaps I should have gone into this as there seem to be more readers from Japan.
      So yes!
      Not only do you have a different award chart for Domestic flights… well you have 3. ANA domestic, ANA international and Star Alliance Partners. A little confusing and also, made more confusing as they have different prices based on the season. I’m guessing you’re looking at “regular” season.
      Here’s the award chart for ANA flights.
      https://www.ana.co.jp/wws/general/e/amc/reference/tokuten/muryou_jp.html

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    • Hmm. That is confusing. But works! Nice to have a good use for my MR points when I want to save my UR.

      Thanks Drew!

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    • De nada.

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  16. love the info- thanks for posting
    ANA site will not let me search without miles in my newly established account. don’t want to transfer sapphire points until i am sure i can do this.

    so how would i book a trip if i cannot even planit without the miles transfer?

    so obvious answer is call it in?
    do they charge for this?

    trying to do something from london and back
    say brussels- budapest -lisbon- madrid and back to u.k.

    would this fly?

    thanks

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  17. sorry- meant amex points

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  18. I tried to plot the itin MIA-YYZ-PHL-CLT-MIA with stopovers in YYZ, PHL and CLT. However, it gave me ‘Stopovers or ground transfer within the departure country are not permitted’ So it looks like tickets between USA and Canada is treated as Int’l so I cannot have s/o in US while most other carriers treat USA and Canada as domestic zone.

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    • I also tried the itin you mentioned in the post CLE-YYZ-YYC-DEN-ORD-CLE. Still same info as I cannot have s/o within the departure country. Did ANA change the rule or am I missing something? Is it possible to create such itins with call center?

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    • So the rules are technically that you can’t have a stopover in the country of origin if you have a route with two or more countries. So… my fault on that Andy. Maybe the US can claim Canada…

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    • Oh yea. It does say country, I thought they might be strict about that. I guess that means I need to edit the example above. later… :-p
      Thanks for the comment!

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  19. This post led me to consider redeeming membership rewards on ANA. I successfully booked 4 business class tickets for ORD-AMS, BUD-BRU, BRU-ORD for my family for only 272,000 points for next summer. The itinerary came in at 8,989 miles (I know, I left 11 miles on the table!). Our third child will be arriving in time for this trip, and humorously his ticket will be the costliest as United charges 10% of the fare for lap infants.

    We’ll fill out the trip with some train travel and another cheap avios reward DUS-VIE (no fuel charge on Airberlin and 10% points–not dollars–for the lap infant).

    Now to tackle the art of the BRG for lodging, using another great post of yours. Also, while it’s not really a normal scenario for most of your readers, I’d be grateful if you had any tips for a family of 5 in Europe. It’s obviously not a problem stateside, but I’m really wondering if it will be that big of an issue to bring the infant into a room with a max occupancy of 4.

    Thanks for the awesome blog and newsletter Drew. I really appreciate your useful posts and thank you for not just posting affiliate link filler (although that probably would be more lucrative). I consider myself moderately advanced at this dark art of travel hacking, and thanks to your blog I think I’ve really stepped it up a notch.

    Reply
    • Tyler,
      This is great to hear, thanks much for commenting. United charges 10% for lap infants? What the heck.

      Anyways, that’s a great trip, great cities. Budapest and Vienna are seriously two of my favorite cities in the world. Ironically three of our recent IC BRGs were DUS, VIE and BUD. All great hotels.

      I really can’t imagine a hotel enforcing a max occupancy on an infant… but I also didn’t know about the 10% on United. So I would email a hotel if you’re worried about it being a problem. I send really short emails to hotels all the time. I’m like the opposite of pointsmommy blog. Know nothing about kids and travel. So I would love to help more but I’m not sure I can help in that regards.

      But I’m glad to hear about your success on booking this ticket. I guess you’re not flying US Air? Did UA charge fuel surcharges?

      Thanks again, Tyler. It is indeed much more lucrative to push links. :-p

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    • Thanks for the reply Drew. Excellent to know that you’ve had success with BRGs in those cities. I’m just beginning to plan out the lodging, and have also found success in sending off emails. That being said, I am the type to ask for forgiveness later, and won’t be stupid enough to present my infant, Simba like, at check-in. My strategy had mainly involved BRGs, and Club Carlson free nights, but you’ve turned me on to the IHG promos and Holiday Inns in Europe often have quads.

      Don’t worry about not being a mommy blogger and knowing about travel with kids, your material is much more useful than a thirteen part Hyatt review. My wife and I used to be up for things like the caribbean hopper (I’m only 32), but with young children travel is now an endurance sport in of itself. We just got back from a weekend in SFO for a family wedding, too much travel for the kids in such a short time (Southwest companion pass and direct flight!). That’s the reason we’re burning points on business class seats. We’re hoping for long naps on those lie flat seats, and the business lounges should often provide lunch and dinner on travel days.

      Here is (what turned out to be A LOT) more info that applies to ANA awards more generally:

      -We were not charged fuel surcharges (as far as I can tell) for our transatlantic flights on United.
      The total taxes and fuel surcharges on our itinerary were $170.30 per ticket, of that only $43 was YQ. The charges were grouped on the receipt after booking, and with a SN (Brussels Air) flight in there, it’s hard for me to say definitively. However, a new ITA search shows a similar YQ for the same SN BUD-BRU flight so I’m fairly confident.

      -UA charges 10% $ for lap infants. BA charges 10% points for lap infants.
      Thepointsguy has a good post on the lap child policies. Since kid 3 isn’t born yet, and thus unable to be ticketed, I just went with the itinerary and have estimated the transatlantic portion to cost in the ballpark of $500. So I’ll be applying for a Barclay Arrival card in the near future :)

      -The first rule of Parent Flight Club is you don’t do connections.
      If you are flying with children and have a connection, then you didn’t try hard enough, or didn’t stop to see enough places–especially if you are booking an ANA award. (Of course I might change my mind on this if any of the lounges we encounter have family rooms)

      – You can only transfer into ANA from one membership rewards account per day.
      I transferred the points in from four different membership reward accounts to make our trip possible. ANA will process the first transfer of the day and then reject the rest (there is a flyertalk post about this somewhere).

      -It’s easy to call in and price out the taxes before you transfer points.
      I had already applied for an ANA account earlier and used wandering aramean’s script (using a chrome extension called tampermonkey, really easy to install and run) to search for the star alliance award inventory. I called in and explained that I was going to transfer some points in and wanted to know the taxes for a possible itinerary. No issues simply feeding the agent the flights, she was very helpful and overly apologetic (this is ANA after all).

      -You need to register family members on your award account in order to book tickets for them.
      The area of the website to do this is quite flaky. I ended up calling in and someone took care of it for me, even though technically it is supposed cost miles to make changes to your authorized flyers. It was very easy to book the rest of the itinerary online.

      -It may be possible to move the departure date once booked.
      The ANA website states (and rules printed on the e-ticket reiterates), “After ticketing, you can change your departure date within the ticket’s validity period.” I haven’t tried that just yet, but I may tack on an extra week at the beginning of the trip.

      I hope others find this information useful. No reply necessary, just keep up the good work.

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  20. Interesting reply all around. I’ve never actually gone through with a booking with ANA and thus wouldn’t have known the once a day with transfers. I’m sure others will find that useful too.

    I forgot to ask when you’re going? Hopefully the PointBreaks will be with you. The HI Vienna out of town was on the last one.

    So I’m actually going through the process of booking for three people at a time right now, since my mom is in London with us. We’re traveling around the UK and every hotel charges like $20 for an “extra person” charge. So goofy.

    So, I’m learning a little about family travel. She doesn’t cry or any of that though. :-p

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    • We’ll be there next August, I’m crossing my fingers for several point breaks to re-appear somewhere along my itinerary as well. I noticed quite a few that would have worked for us in this list. However, I had to plan the trip much further in advance since deciding to try and get 4 business class seats on the same flight.

      As for just starting to learn about family travel, so are we! We’ve only been parents for 3 years now, every trip has been different. Based on our trip experiences so far, having a parent along is not unlike having a child (no disrespect, but unless parents are also pro travelers, compromises need to be made). Also, as far as the room for three thing, from what I’ve read, the extra person charge seems to be justified by the hotels as being for additional bedding. Let us all know what you find out with your bookings.

      My wife is a teacher, and I left a higher paying job with less time off to stay home with the kids. At first I took the time due to a non-compete clause, but once off really realized that you can generally have time or money. We chose time (best choice I’ve ever made), life’s too short–hence a month in Europe funded by points. It really looks like you’ve also found something that works for the both of you, I enjoy reading about it.

      Reply
  21. Question: Thank you for sharing the tips, extremely helpful indeed. I am wondering if the 4 stopover rules also apply to Japanese domestic ticket redemption. Thanks!

    Reply
  22. Hey Drew,

    I want to thank you for covering ANA redemption topic. It helped me in planning an amazing trip LAS-LAX-SFO-ORD ATL-IAD-LGA-BUF just for 22K miles and 12.5USD each. I could not have planned this trip any cheaper. So BIG thank YOU from this reader :).
    Keep writing amazing things as you always do 😉

    Reply
  23. With the demise of the AA explorer ticket, it sounds like this is a good back up-how do you think it compares? We were hoping to use the Explorer ticket (first class!) to go SFO-GPS-Lima-Easter island-SFO. Could we still do that on the ANA ticket?

    Reply
  24. I was planning a trip with ANA miles from SFO-NRT-SYD-SFO. To avoid fuel surcharge, I think I should be able to find UA flights SFO-NRT and SYD-SFO.
    But there’s one leg of the flight from NRT-SYD.
    Will adding that leg add a huge fuel surcharge?

    Reply
  25. This is excellent info. I was about to cancel my Amex as the FYF is ending. I was just going to transfer to Avios but now need to look into this further with a bit of a plan. Thanks!

    I only recently discovered your blog and love it. I started reading from the beginning.

    Is there a way to get past newsletters or even the password for older special posts?

    Reply
  26. This is super useful!
    Here’s what we are trying to do… (ideally leaving this week Thurs!)
    SFO->NRT for 10 days (Tokyo for 4 days, unknown where else)
    NRT->BCN for 15 days, somehow make our way to London
    LHR->YYZ for one week, I guess the departure from LHR would be an open jaw
    YYZ->SFO – complete flight.

    We have significant numbers on AMEX — but we don’t know what the best way to achieve the above is. We are also planning to travel for another month in Nov and Dec, so don’t mind if we have extra open legs anywhere…

    Do you have suggestions of different ways to plan this? Thanks!

    Reply
    • You could do that with United miles if you just didn’t open-jaw and didn’t tack on yyz-sfo. Maybe do that separately. Same with US Air miles basically.

      Reply
  27. Hi Drew! I came across this post while trying to figure out how to avoid ANA’s skyrocketing surcharge. I also saw that your hometown is Charlottesville, where I went to college (UVA! Wahoowa!). Anyways, I was wondering if you could help me figure out an affordable way to fly from Singapore to DC using ANA mileage. There is still close to $700 of surcharge for this route via United…thank you!

    Reply
  28. So I know you can return to a different city in your departing country, but can you do open-jaw in middle of the journey?

    Reply
  29. hi! im still learning how to use miles for travel and your site is definitely helping my studies! i have a question though- i have 140000 chase preferred points and i know its possible to transfer that to an airline for 1:1. My question is which airline would give me the most for those points. Between my husband and i we have about 250000 delta points but from what i have read transferring miles form chases preferred to delta is not a smart thing to do…

    Reply
    • United is by far the best option, in my opinion

      Reply

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We have spent the majority of our marriage traveling full time, living out of hotels.   All the while, we list our expenses publicly, budgeting $25,000 a year for our nomadic life while still staying in mostly 4 or 5 star hotels across ~20 countries a year.
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