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ANA Stopover Secrets

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:

  1. All ANA tickets have to be roundtrip
  2. 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 Trick

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.

Screen Shot 2014-12-08 at 1.18.32 AM

 

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:

ANA 11 ANA 12 ANA 21 ANA 22

 

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.

 

Conclusion

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.

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29 Comments

  1. This is amazing! I’m assuming you can actually take the last leg and it doesn’t have to be a “throw away”? Going back to your first example, if I plan a trip to Canada later down the road, technically I can take the YYZ-ORD trip back and not throw away that ticket, right?

    Reply
    • Sure, you can take it. Could use AA miles back to Toronto on the same or something. All kinds of ways you would actually use an open-jaw though.

      Reply
  2. This is beyond awesome and timely as always! Wasn’t really considering using ANA too much for my RTW trip because of the required roundtrip. I will be positioned to leave SA via Brazil at the beginning of May.

    Reply
    • Great, hope it works out well for you then. Hopefully you can find a short/cheap international flight to get back to brazil. :-p
      onw.innosked.com

      Reply
  3. I am always amazed with the quality of your posts and wondering how or where you get all the information. Is this done by trial and error? or deeply hidden flyertalk thread?

    Reply
    • The Drew is All knowing and All powerful.

      Reply
    • 😀
      I wouldn’t doubt it’s on FT but I don’t dig around on FT much any more. But personally, I find that tricks have patterns. You learn one trick with one airline and variations work with others. Then just trial and error.

      Reply
  4. Thanks Drew! Great post as always!

    Could you say a bit more about the significance of DXB, even cryptically?

    I’m booking a SE Asia hopper and a Air NZ hopper with ANA thanks to you! Many thanks!

    Cheers,
    Max

    Reply
    • Didn’t mean to be cryptic about that. Just when I try going across the Atlantic, say JFK-LHR I can continue all the way to DXB and the same trick will work. But if I were to continue all the way to India, the trick just doesn’t work.

      Reply
  5. I am laughing while I’m reading the entire post. You have a great sense of humor. :)

    Reply
    • This post?
      I know a lot of people laugh at my spelling. But that’s usually the only comedy on this site. 😀

      Reply
  6. Because of your awesome posts when I apply for credit cards I want to use your link(s). However, there are many times when I don’t see a link for a popular card. Please advise what I should do as I want to use your links to thank you for all your help.

    Reply
    • Daniel I super appreciate your reading and support. But don’t stress over it. If I don’t have a link, I just don’t have it. So spread the love. 😀

      Reply
  7. What would be fuel surcharges for such one way with stops in Europe?

    Reply
    • A lot. 😀
      I mean besides the airport taxes (which I suppose can also be a little expensive, or more), just fuel alone on a lot of Star Alliance partners to Europe will be $516+ on a roundtrip. So easily another ~$200, plus airport taxes per airport departure which will average another $50 each.

      Reply
  8. Nice trick! You’re the BEST!

    Reply
    • Thanks. :-) Hope it helps.

      Reply
  9. like sample above, you know any fuel surcharge or taxes?

    Reply
    • Depends which one, but usually ~$200 in fuel plus ~$50 per airport in Europe you stopover at. With South America you can avoid fuel surcharges.

      Reply
    • Like the sample of Central America (IAH – Cun and so on), is it big fuel charges and taxes?

      Reply
  10. @travelisfree
    ahem!
    doesnt ANA partner with Garuda?

    Reply
  11. This is a great summary and timely post!
    Nevertheless, this info has been posted on flyertalk and on some other blogs hinted…
    quick search got me milevalue’s comment section with an example. http://milevalue.com/free-oneway-principles-on-ana-awards/

    I guess the lesson is always read the comments a day later? 😉 Good post really….

    Reply
    • I suppose, as I’ve learned a lot in my comments. I didn’t see this particular trick discussed in comments, blogs, or FT but at this point I now assume that there’s basically nothing I’ll come up with that at least someone else hasn’t already discovered. Nothing’s new under the sun, as they say.

      Reply
    • In any case you’re doing extensive trial and error experimentation, verification, and compilation, and here the material is easy to find, read and understand. The fact that pieces are published elsewhere here and there doesn’t diminish the value of what you do in terms of reliability and credibility. Unfortunately I won’t be able to take advantage of this one, but keep finding value on an ongoing basis.

      Reply
  12. Any news if fuel surcharges will be dropped with the decrease in oil?

    Reply
  13. Drew, can you mix Star Alliance partners and non alliance partners on a single ANA award? And also for Indonesia drop down menu shows only 3 available airports even though Garuda is a non alliance partner and flies to dozens airports in Indonesia. Is there anyway to get the rest on the airports populated in drop down menu when you search for flights?

    Reply
  14. Though this ends in April, can you book before then to fly after April (like the still-hanging-over American Airlines Explorer awards)? And THANK YOU.

    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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