A Guide to ANA Miles – Don’t Miss This!

Over and over and over again, I compare prices across the mileage board and ANA has the best prices. And it’s totally an option for any mileage collector because of transfer opportunities. Yet, it’s hardly used or talked about.

Even better! It’s a little known fact that you get 4 stopovers with ANA! That means a trip planned for one city could have stops as long as you want in 3 other cities.

The only downside is the fuel surcharges, and you can avoid those!

Here’s a how-to for finding, pricing, using, and maximizing ANA miles.

How to earn ANA miles

We’ll talk about why ANA is a great transfer in a minute, but first I’ll discuss why it’s an option.

How to earn ANA miles with credit cards:

  • Amex Membership Rewards transfers 1:1 to ANAThis means that both the personal and business versions of the Amex Gold and Amex Platinum cards could earn ANA miles. (Transfers may take up to 3 days).
  • SPG points transfer 1:1 or 20,000:25,000 to ANAThis means that both the personal and business versions of the SPG card could earn ANA miles.

Paid flights – Star Alliance partners?

Paid flights on any Star Alliance partner could potentially earn you ANA miles when you give the airline your ANA number when you fly. Make sure you do a quick search to see which “fare class” you booked and how many miles it ears.

There are different codes for different tickets, it’s confusing… but just find the letter on your ticket or on ITA Matrix. Then look at the partner’s earning page on ANA here. For example, click through to United’s earnings and you’ll notice that discount economy, like “K” class, earns 50%. Not acceptable, as you could be earning 100% on United.

 

How to Price and Redeem ANA Miles

The pricing structure is different than most major airlines in the US as it’s distance based. Like most distance based programs, you add up the total amount of miles flown and then it determines your price. So taking more legs and connections could potentially increase the price you pay in ANA miles. Fly more pay more. But not always.

It’s a 3 step process:

  1. Find possible award routes.
  2. Add up total miles flown
  3. Then look at the ANA award chart to see how many ANA miles would be required

Step 1: For example, let’s say we find award space from DC to Cancun direct, and back. You can find Star Alliance award space on United.com, Aeroplan (Air Canada) or on ANA’s site.

Step 2 is to find the total miles flown using GCMAP.com or another mileage calculator. It says that “IAD – CUN – IAD” is a total of 2,710 miles.

Screen Shot 2014-05-05 at 3.30.29 PM

Step 3 is to find the distance flown in the ANA award chart above – in the first column. 2,710 flown miles would put me in the forth row, and thus I would have to pay 22,000 ANA miles.

If you fly more the price goes up right? Well… yes and no. If you fly more than 4,000 miles it would put you in the next price bracket. Right? But technically in our example you’ve still got 1,290 flyable miles (4,000 minus 2710) left before you reach another price bracket. Meaning you could make a layover or stopover somewhere else, like Miami or wherever.

Step 4, which I left out, would be to book. You can book on their clunky website or by calling an agent.

 

Maximizing and Not Getting Screwed

There is one awesome and one terrible thing about ANA.

The awesome thing is that they allow 4 stopovers. The terrible thing is that they pass on fuel surcharges with every partner. If you are aware of any exceptions, please let me know.

Avoiding Fuel Surcharges

Everything you need to know about fuel surcharges with partner flights could be found in the Star Alliance Fuel Surcharge Chart in the column “ITA YQ”.

Basically you’ll find that there are a few partners without fuel surcharges to pass on. This means that you can redeem on any of these partners and not have to pay any fuel surcharges. You’ll still have to pay airport taxes, but those are minor compared to fuel surcharges.

Here’s the list of Star Alliance airlines without fuel surcharges:

  • Avianca
  • Air New Zealand
  • TACA
  • United within the Americas
  • Air Canada within the Americas

There are other airlines where the fuel surcharges would be minor… but I don’t get why you would even bother. Why not collect and use United or AA miles for a trip to Europe, Africa or Asia and then us ANA to South America, Central America, and the Caribbean? That’s what I’d recommend.

Still, it’s a concept I’m teaching. You should be able to apply figuring out South American examples to a Europe trip.

Stopovers

Since I recommend flights basically within the Americas for ANA, I’ll give examples. Again, you can do whatever you want. And the fact of the mater is, they do have great prices in cost of miles, just not in cost of $ (due to fuel surcharges). Plus, 4 stopovers is a lot.

Note that most of the time the number of stopovers is in addition to the 1 stop you already get for your destination. But with these Asian distance based programs they basically mean; this is the total number of stops you get including your destination. Thus, 4 stopovers means that you get 4 stops in your ticket that are as long as you want. Basically 4 destinations.

Without trying to go totally crazy and give the greatest routes, like I did in ANA Stopovers = Dream Trip, let’s just make some basic but great routes to showcase.

Another tool I’m going to be using is the Star Alliance route map, just to pick some ideas of what you could do. Then price them out with GCmap.

Examples

DC to Cancun, to San Salvador, to Belize City to DC = 3,796 flown miles = 22,000 ANA miles.

Screen Shot 2014-05-05 at 4.09.52 PM

Examples of flights costing 38,000 ANA Miles for Economy (and 63,000 Miles for Business):

The following are examples of flights you could do for 38,000 ANA miles, with stops as long as you want in all of the mentioned cities. At the end I’ll include the total number of miles flown, incase you don’t live in the starting city.

So for the first example, it’s 5,232 flown miles, but you can fly up to 7,000 miles before the price changes (although it’s a minor increase). But you could fly another 1,768 miles roundtrip to get to New York. Don’t worry too much though, as the next price increase is to only 43,000 ANA miles (only 5,000 more).

1) New York City to San Juan, to Panama City, to Cancun, to New York City = 5,232 flown miles.

Screen Shot 2014-05-05 at 4.18.46 PM

2) Houston, to Cancun, to San Jose, to Lima, to Mexico City to Houston = 6,572 flown miles

Screen Shot 2014-05-05 at 4.22.24 PM

3) Miami, to Guatemala City, to San Jose, to Lima, to Bogata, to Miami = 5,812 flown miles.

Screen Shot 2014-05-05 at 4.22.24 PM

And so on and so on…

What’s unclear to me is whether or not ANA thinks Canada is a different country. It doesn’t appear to allow stopovers, am I wrong? Which means it thinks the US owns Canada…

 

ANA Miles Routing Rules

There are a number of rules you should know before trying to create a dream trip.

  1. Only roundtrips are allowed.
  2. Open-jaws are allowed, but you need to return to the same city.
  3. 12 segment maximum.

Stopovers are not allowed domestically on international tickets. Is that right?

Conclusion

Why is this not the go-to Amex transfer? For me, it’s fuel surcharges – that’s the only thing bad to say. Therefore it’s not helping my current travels in Asia or the last trip to Europe, but it is totally a great opportunity to see Central America, South America and the Caribbean. Maybe the best program for such travels.

Seriously. Some of the best award prices and 4 stopovers. Why in the world is this not like a big deal? I’ve been writing about it for some time and often readers thank me for sharing because they 1) have never heard of the program before and 2) ended up saving miles and seeing more.

That’s what it’s about! Saving and seeing more.

 

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45 Responses to A Guide to ANA Miles – Don’t Miss This!

  1. sil says:

    Using 85k for Biz class , any interesting route from LAX using TAM, Avianca and Taca? How easy is it find awards ticket for the 3 airlines? Do I just go to ANA website to price it out?

    • Scott says:

      using only avianca…LAX-SAL-LIM-BOG-SJO-LAX. gcmap says it’s 8921 miles, so just inside the 43K econ/68K biz range. i’ve noticed there’s some room for error w/ gcmap as J. Clifton notes, so may not work

      if it does, that’s pretty good and i didn’t even look to use UA, which open up a lot more w/no YQ

      • Drew Macomber says:

        To price it out, like scott says, I just use GCmap. And I come up with the routes by using the Star Alliance route map. But if you’re looking to find actual availability, you can try using ANAs site or any Star Alliance site.

        Yea, it’s all theory though until you actually find availability, or price it out on ANA. Which you can do on the ANA site or over the phone. Their phone agents aren’t too bad.

  2. J. Clifton says:

    I think ANA is great, but maybe that’s because using the GCMapper and looking for no-YQ flights is kind of a fun puzzle.

    I booked my first ever award trip in Feb using ANA to get to Europe on United metal, and I plan on doing the same thing again in a few weeks (or South America, not sure yet). I live near the East Coast, so I enjoy a 43,000 mile r/t to Europe.

    A few things to note:
    - ANA only allows two stops if one of those stops is in Europe.
    - GCMapper isn’t full-proof. I’ve entered some routes around 9,015 miles on ANA that price out at 43,000, but some at 8,985 that say 55,000.

    Great post.

    • Drew Macomber says:

      Great points I should add.

      Wait, you mean your first ever ANA award trip? Not your first award booking ever? Right?

      • J. Clifton says:

        Nope. First ever award booking.
        But now I also have a trip booked to New Zealand and Australia in November using United miles, and I’m working on another ANA trip for the summer.

      • J. Clifton says:

        Although I guess I should mention that, since discovering this hobby, I’ve pieced together a bunch of potential trips, mostly with ANA and United. Like I said, it’s like a fun puzzle.
        :-)

  3. Erik says:

    This post intrigued me, because I am considering booking a nice long city-hopping trip to SE Asia next year. We had considered flying into HKG and then visiting a few of the major cities in China before going onwards to SE Asia. This stopover feature might do the trick. I just did a GC map of HKG-PEK-XIY-CTU-HKG and it comes in under the 4K threshold. I priced this circle in ITA using Air China and it does not show any YQ – is that correct in your experience?

    • Drew Macomber says:

      I need to pull the rules back up again, but it might limit stopovers in a single country. I can do that later and then edit, or rereply.

      But in regards to Air China, I know that Aeroplan doesn’t pass on YQ with them. However, last I checked (like a months and months ago) AC did bring YQ or YR on ITA. It will have to priced on on ANA…

  4. Anh says:

    Does ANA charge fuel surcharges on UA transpac? Your post mentioned United miles within the Americas….

    • Drew Macomber says:

      As far as I know United does have fuel surcharges to pass on tpac, and ANA would continue to pass it on.

  5. Anh says:

    As much as I hate mentioning TPG but I think all your readers here should be advanced enough to know good from bad, so here it is…
    TPG has a pretty good three parts on ANA fuel surcharges with him (or his associates) spending time pricing out sample itineraries on various airlines transpacific and transatlantic. There’s a pretty decent table listing fuel surcharges for all the airlines.

    You mentioned there are no fuel surcharges for TACA, but TPG listed TACA in his table with about 200 fuel surcharges for economy and 400 fuel surcharges for business so I’m a bit confused there.

    • Drew Macomber says:

      Hmm, good to know. I may look into that post and try to check some of the prices myself at some point.

      • Jig says:

        I just priced BOG-LPB on Avianca using ANA, and it definitely had $145 of additional surcharges over and above United or Aeroplan. So it appears TPG was correct on there being ANA surcharges on Avianca/TACA.

  6. Elaine says:

    Great post, thanks.

    How is ANA if you need to cancel/change an award ticket? Having had lots of trouble dealing with TK in IST when an award ticket had to be changed, and remembering Mommy Points’ recent saga when she needed to redeposit Avianca LifeMiles, I am somewhat wary of bookings where I may run into language/time zone issues if I need to contact the airline by phone.

    Any experience with ANA you can share? Thanks again – really a terrific post.

    • KennyB says:

      We used ANA miles for a long weekend in Roatan and it was an awesome trip for an awesome price – 22K ANA miles RT per person! A couple points missed: cancellations cost $0 and 3,000 miles. ANA’s phone service is fine. ALL miles expire 3 years after they are earned (or converted). Which should never matter but is one reason not to convert without specific travel plans.

    • Trevor says:

      I tried to change an award ticket once, but was unable to due to being with 4 days of departure (actually same day). Based on my attempt, there wouldn’t have been any issue (nor any cost) had I tried to do it at least 4 days prior to date of departure.

      In the end, I was able to get United to change it for me anyways. I am a Platinum with them, but don’t know if that influenced the decision to allow me to change it. It took one HUCA, but well worth the 5 minutes. First United agent insisted it could not be done, even though there were 9 X seats available, while the second agent had no difficulty at all and had it done within minutes for no charge at all. So even if you get stuck and are unable to get ANA to change the ticket, you can always try with the airline directly (a couple times if necessary.

    • Drew Macomber says:

      So what I’m hearing is:

      - From KennyB – Cancels are “$0 and 3,000 miles”

      - From Trevor – As I’ve heard, you need to do your changes more than 3 days before departure… However, United changed it for him !? (he is a plat, btw)

      And I second what Kenny said, their phone service is fine.

  7. Raffles says:

    TAM is now oneword – but very good piece regardless

  8. Raffles says:

    ….. or even oneworld!

  9. Trevor says:

    I have successfully booked domestic stopovers with ANA miles. What you cannot do is stopover at the destination. An example of a possible award: DEN-SFO-COS-ORD-COS-DEN. In my case, I would just get off the plane on the final COS and skip the last DEN leg. I have to book that COS-DEN leg though, otherwise it would come up as an invalid route due to having stopped in COS (between SFO and ORD) already.

    Basically, you just have to observe the same rules as with any other booking.

    • Drew Macomber says:

      And where were the stopovers? SFO COS and ORD?

      • Trevor says:

        @Drew-Correct on the stopover cities. Those are all direct flights, with stopovers at each city- (excluding the last COS-DEN which is a throwaway to get it to book).

        • Scott says:

          not to overload on the links to another blog, but milenomics had two posts about ANA domestically (below). basically says the same thing as Trevor, you need to live in an area with a sister city, so that you stopover at one. 22K for the trip Trevor mentions is not bad, but personally im more interested in the international opportunities due to a healthy supply of avios & WN.

          http://milenomics.com/2014/01/double-save-miles-exploiting-ana-stopover-rules/

          • Trevor says:

            @Scott-For us, we MUCH prefer flying out of COS. The downside is that flights START at $425ish r/t, since it’s a pretty small airport. Also, United is really the only realistic option, as they fly direct to all of their hubs at least. This works for us, as we fly to ORD for family and SFO for work. So Avios wouldn’t really help unless we want to route through DFW every single flight, or have to deal with DEN all the time.

            ANA offers a nice compromise. As an example, with an itinerary we are booking today: DEN-ORD (stopover)-COS (stopover)-SJC (via LAX)-COS (open-jaw from SFO direct to COS). I priced a similar ticket on Kayak, and the cheapest is $838. This would be for my wife and son, so nearly $1700 total. Total miles is 44k ANA and about $25. This gives us about $.037 per mile. Well above my acquisition cost (I get a good amount from flying, but most actually comes from MS), which averages <$.01/mile. Another way of looking at it is that I'm getting about a 75% discount on these flights. We would be taking them no matter what. It's not like valuing miles on a business class trip to Italy (which we did do last year), which is much more of a splurge and we never would have paid $4k+ for the cash tickets.

            Anyways, I agree international business/first is awesome with miles and makes it obtainable at all, BUT it's also good to keep in mind that with the right situation (geographic location, required trips, flexibility, etc), you can still get a very good value on domestic awards.

  10. srinik says:

    Great Blog Drew!! Just got approved for Chase Sapphire using your link. I support blogs like yours that offer real content than marketing credit cards. Hope other noobs do the same so that blogs like yours flourish.

    • Drew Macomber says:

      :-) Thanks srinik for your support, your kind words, for commenting and reading.
      The last 3 especially mean a lot to me.
      Drew

  11. HikerT says:

    Isn’t another significant negative that you can only book ANA awards for family? http://www.ana.co.jp/wws/us/e/wws_common/amc/reference/tukau/tokuten3.html

    • Drew Macomber says:

      This does appear to be true. Seems odd. But doesn’t seem like too big of a deal considering Amex is flexible and can transfer to anyone. I just can’t imagine them asking for documentation and actually enforcing this. But I’ve heard of more odd things.

      It says award users, registering them. I wonder if this means creating a family account? Like then your family members can log on and book. Seems odd either way.

      • HikerT says:

        It could be a big deal if someone transfers to ANA not knowing about the restriction. Important to highlight so that people don’t make that mistake before it’s too late.

  12. Jon L says:

    Great post! Generally new to the hobby, and I just signed up for ANA based on this post. However, when I try to search partner awards, it says I do not have enough miles in my account? Do I need to have a minimum number of miles?

  13. ryan1 says:

    good luck finding europe biz class…your examples are great though. But it’s ridiculous how there’s barely any united biz class even 11 months out.

  14. Daniel says:

    Thank you Drew. Have left over ANA miles from an AMEX transfer and wasn’t sure how to manage them…until now!!!

  15. Jason says:

    Used to credit my *A miles to ANA back in the day when I lived in Japan.. until I switched to United solely for the longer expiration dates (back when I didn’t know anything about miles). Probably should revisit ANA’s program….

  16. Donna says:

    I’m sorry. But you mention the fuel charges many times so I don’t get why it’s EVER good to use ANA points. Are you suggesting booking on a different airline using ANA points? Or are you saying that ANA doesn’t charge fuel surcharges when traveling to latin, Central or South America?

  17. Gene says:

    @Drew Macomber
    any confirmation if ANA allows award bookings for self or relatives only? any relative? 3rd cousin in law twice removed?

  18. indian_ says:

    very well written detailed post about ANA. very helpful.
    I transferred about 95k MR points to ANA about a year ago for a trip to asia/india. but for some reason I couldnt execute the trip plan and now i have 95k miles sitting in ANA which will expire in next 2 years. I would like to use ANA miles to visit India using Avianca or TACA to avoid any fuel surcharges. I found following route on avianca website
    jfk-salvador, salvador-tornoto, tornoto-del.
    do you know if there could be a better route if I search from a different origin (instead of jfk)?

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