Some big news that isn’t bad news! ANA is changing from a distance based program to a region based program again, starting April 12, 2015 (I think). I’ve said multiple times in the last months that ANA is the most underrated award chart out there. When doing many comparisons, like Best Miles to Europe, ANA consistently has the best prices in Economy and Business. But the new award chart is even better in some areas and is now zone based instead of distance based.
I spent the last couple of hours trying to translate images and texts we have to english, and made an award chart. I’m excited and ready to get right into it, so let’s start with what their new award chart is going to be for Star Alliance redemptions. And trust me, it’s hardly a devaluation.
I made two award charts. The second is simply an english translation of the award chart they gave. But the first I’ll give is the one not only translated, but given from a US perspective. Meaning, I rearanged the award chart in an order I’m used to. For whatever reason my brain interprets the data easier that way.
Starting from North America (prices are roundtrip):
- Flights to Europe will be 45,000 miles. Most airlines are 60,000 miles and many are a bit more than that.
- Africa and the Middle East for 60,000 miles are the cheapest flights to that region… possible. It’s insane.
- India for 70,000 miles. I couldn’t very clearly translate this section, zone 4, as it was only detailed in jpg and the image translators I used never had a clear answer. But it lists towns in southeast Asia, like Jakarta and one was Delhi. I know many readers travel regularly to India, so routes for 70k/110k peaked my interest, although fuel surcharges could be a problem.
- 65,000 miles to China.
- Japan for only 50,000 miles roundtrip.
- And 65,000 miles for a roundtrip to “Oceania”, which seems to be Australia and New Zealand.
Now a lot of this chart is great, but it’s not always logical. Australia is less expensive than China and SE Asia? Heck, some of the best awards to Australia are via China and SE Asia. So I’m curious how this plays out with routing through other regions. I imagine this will be ripe for the picking. There aren’t too many airlines in Asia that are zone based. And none of them have computers to book partners like ANA does. So this could be really interesting. I’ll start saving Amex points now.
Start in Central America
What I also find interesting are the regions that have better prices from Central and South America. This seems odd to me, but I think the reasoning is that there are flights to South Africa and Kenya from Brazil and Argentina, and those aren’t long flights. However all of Africa and the Middle East is one zone.
Here are the awards that are better priced when starting in Central/South America:
|Central and South America||Africa, Middle East||SE Asia, India|
|Central and South America||30,000||45,000||60,000|
What you end up with are flights roundtrip to the Middle East from Central/South America for 45,000 miles… which is insane.
It appears that Mexico, Alaska, Canada, and the US are explicitly mentioned as one zone. My assumption is that unlike Flying Blue, Puerto Rico will be Central America and not the US.
Which means you can take a cheap Flying Blue flight to Puerto Rico (12,500 miles), a cheap Southwest flight (we paid 8,000 Southwest points), or the best redemption is 4,500 Avios from Miami. Then, you could take a flight to the Middle East for 45,000 miles.
And look at premium redemptions. You know what a First Class ticket to the Middle East on AA is? 180,000 miles roundtrip. Yet, ANA on this new award chart will be 110,000 miles. Wow.
And Business Class will be 72,000 miles with ANA… instead of 135,000 miles with AA. Actually it would be less if starting from Central America, but AA wouldn’t require positioning.
What actually makes way less sense though is the fact that flights to SE Asia are cheaper when starting in Central/South America. In no situation could this possibly make sense. In fact, you’ll have to route through the US 99% of the time. So there’s no reason it should be cheaper.
Well, I can’t say I know too much about what the actual routing rules will be, but I imagine they will be very lax. If you look across the board, Star Alliance is much more relaxed, somehow. United routing rules are ghetto rigged, and US Airways were completely non-existent until joining OneWorld. SkyTime is the most uniformed in theory, for example both Korean and Air France/KLM having many of the same rules/prices like only having 2 connections.
Anyways, it’s mostly theory now, but here’s what we know from Google Translate.
Star Alliance Award Rules
Looks like you get one stopover on Star Alliance awards.
ANA Award Rules
And when you fly ANA, you can’t have a stopover when departing from Japan. Why that makes a difference, I do not know.
Over all, this is the biggest downer. Some flights will increase in price, especially in premium cabin, and many long hauls will go down. Prices overall, I’d say are for the better. However, the big loss is the ability to have 4 stopovers. That was, and still is until April, an incredible redemption.
Although, that’s just the nature of distance based vs region based. When you pay more to fly to more places, you generally get more stops. Now they price by region, so they want to cut down on stops.
The Full Award Chart
This is the first program change I’m actually excited about. Over all, I think it’s a good change, despite losing my precious stopovers. They go from having the best prices for certain coasts, like eastern US to western Europe, they are currently the best prices for economy and Business. But with this change they’ll just flat out be the best price from wherever you start.
Still price out a ticket now and see if you should book before the current award chart goes away. 4 stopovers is a big perk. Make sure you read my post on ANA’s current award chart, and then decide.