I have yet to write about this trick, but since ANA’s award chart is changing to a region based program in April… It’s going to end anyways and more people might as well benefit from it. Ya know, it’s not the easiest trick in the world, but it is totally for this audience. If you want to travel more for less miles, I’ve got a trick for you.
ANA allows 4 stopovers, which is really sweet, but not as sweet if it weren’t for two rules:
- All ANA tickets have to be roundtrip
- All roundtrips have to return to country of original departure
If it weren’t for this pesky rule, you could book a oneway across the world with very little miles and multiple stopovers.
Does that make sense?
Let me contrast this to JAL. What ANA and JAL have in common is that they allow multiple stopovers, and the price is calculated by adding up all the miles flown. Let’s actually do a quick example so everyone is caught up with how ANA works.
The Quick ANA Basics
Let’s take a flight from Chicago with stopovers in Paris, Vienna, and Rome, and then returning back to Chicago. This total flight will be 10,105 flown (butt in the seat) miles. Now we take that number and compare it to the Award Chart.
According to ANA’s award chart, any flights that are between 9,001 and 11,000 flown miles would price out to a total of 55,000 ANA miles. You would first need to transfer in 55,000 miles to take this flight.
With ANA, you have to return back to the US. But this is how ANA and JAL are seemingly different. JAL would allow the flight to end in Rome if you wanted. You would still add up all the miles flown and then calculate the miles needed, but the difference would be whether or not it has to be a roundtrip.
But here’s where things get awesome.
The loop hole here is that ANA’s definition of a roundtrip, really just means that the flight has to end in the country it started in. If you’re leaving from the US, you need to return to the US. But there’s this little thing called an “open-jaw”. Don’t underestimate the potential size of an open-jaw.
Note: Everything I’m about to show, can and should be done online.
This isn’t the best example, but let’s continue with the stopovers in Paris, Vienna and Rome.
Now let’s say that you wanted to book this flight as a oneway. You technically can’t, but there is a way around it. The key is that unlike JAL, ANA does not calculate the distance of the open-jaw towards the price of the ticket.
Therefore, I can open-jaw from Rome to… say, Toronto.
The typical example of an open-jaw is used so that you can have land transit between the two locations, or perhaps a cruise. Either way, the meaning is the you’re supposed to get yourself from Rome to Toronto to continue your next flight. Then, your next flight will be a short flight that: 1) Returns you to the US to fulfill the roundtrip requirement of returning to the country you started in. and 2) Doesn’t actually get flown. This flight is purely to fulfill the requirements of returning to the originating country.
What does this look like?
Like a flight from Chicago to Paris, Vienna, and Rome… with a “throw away ticket” from Toronto to Chicago.
Get it? You add a ticket from Canada to the US and ANA thinks it’s a roundtrip. Period. So understand that you don’t actually have to return to Chicago, but you could return to New York. Or, just find the shortest international flight that ends in the US. Toronto to Rochester is 106 miles, for example, that would be added to the total miles flown.
Now in this case, the flight is 5,700 miles and the price would come out to 38,000 miles… which isn’t great for a oneway to Europe. But considering that there are 1,300 unflown miles yet (and the flight to end in the US could be shorter), that could go all the way to the Middle East.
You could easily do Chicago to Paris, Vienna and Amman for 38,000 miles, including the ticket tacked on at the end. That is not only a reasonable price for a oneway to the Middle East, it’s one of the only ways to get stopovers (two!) along the way.
And consider this, Chicago to Cancun, to Panama and Lima is barely under 4,000 flown miles and therefore would cost a total of 22,000 ANA miles. Which is great for a oneway with stopovers.
The Nerdy Details
Why do I have to start my “throw away ticket” in Canada?
Open-jaws aren’t apparently allowed in the country of origin which is why I did Toronto to Chicago in the example. Although there are shorter flights than that example. Also, since ANA is currently distance based, they don’t see regions, just countries, which is another reason why Canada would work in this example.
How do I book?
Online please. I wrote down in detail the step by step instructions for searching awards in the post Testing ANA’s Online Booking. Follow those steps!
I strongly suggest pricing out the ticket first so you understand exactly what the cost in miles would be. Also, understand how to avoid fuel surcharges. Flights to Europe can be hundreds of dollars, so you’d have to be willing to pay for that with those airlines. If you’re unsure look up the fees on ITA matrix, or ask.
Here’s what booking looks like:
Again, to learn to book you must read Testing ANA’s Online Booking. Also, know that if you don’t have enough miles in the account at the time of searching (which I currently don’t), then the taxes and fees will now show their prices.
What’s the best use of this trick?
That’s subjective, but in general, flights just under 4,000 flown miles are incredible deals. Similarly, flights just under 9,000 flown miles are incredible deals.
Also, I was playing around with really interesting routes that start from Brazil. You could start in South America, stopover in Africa and travel to Europe. Mini round the world trip, I guess. But flights departing from Brazil don’t have fuel surcharges due to Brazilian law. Great way to do a long haul business class to Europe, if you’re into that sorta thing.
The Pacific VS Atlantic Rule?
The most important rule I hadn’t gone over is that you can’t cross both oceans… even with your open-jaw. Doesn’t make sense, but this is how it plays out…
Flights from the US to SE Asia can continue to Oceania, to Australia, or to anywhere else in southeast Asia, and India. India is the furtherest west you can go, in my own experiments. Anything west is the Atlantic half of things.
Flights from the US to Europe and Africa and the Middle East can be combined. I tested this, and Dubai is compatible for flights over the Atlantic. No need to dwell on that too much more, eh?
Basically, you can’t combine regions with this trick. Unless you’re booking multiple oneways. For example you take one flight of 4,000 miles (for 22,000 ANA miles) and then take another, and another. You could build an around the world trip this way.
If you can’t tell already, the power of this trick is potentially huge. 3 stopovers each direction, or round the world trips with tons of stops for cheap, or just oneway flights with stopovers at all.
The reason this is amazing is because ANA is already amazing. I’ve said for at least a year that it’s the most under rated program around and the program is completely changing in April. So now’s the time to take advantage of anything I’ve talked about here, because it is going away. (Also, that means I’m really at no risk of killing this trick, it’s on death row).
But it’s amazing in other ways, as you can get 22,000 mile domestic trips with multiple stopovers, as I’ve shown before. And numerous other routes, but this is a way of making all these stopovers even sweeter.
ANA is a transfer partner of Amex and SPG, btw.