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:
- Find possible award routes.
- Add up total miles flown
- 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.
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:
- Air New Zealand
- 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.
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.
DC to Cancun, to San Salvador, to Belize City to DC = 3,796 flown miles = 22,000 ANA miles.
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.
2) Houston, to Cancun, to San Jose, to Lima, to Mexico City to Houston = 6,572 flown miles
3) Miami, to Guatemala City, to San Jose, to Lima, to Bogata, to Miami = 5,812 flown miles.
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.
- Only roundtrips are allowed.
- Open-jaws are allowed, but you need to return to the same city.
- 12 segment maximum.
Stopovers are not allowed domestically on international tickets. Is that right?
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.