This week our series Award Success features one of the most lucrative awards still available today, namely the ANA All Nippon Airways Mileage Club Round The World award ticket in Business Class.
ANA Mileage Club is a niche program that’s rather underappreciated outside of the Asia-Pacific Region but it has huge potential if one is able to accumulate ANA Miles steadily.
Over the years awards have become more and more restrictive, especially in regards to stopovers which have always been a favorite feature of mine when putting award tickets together for one of my trips.
Very few frequent flyer programs still allow stopovers these days but one option to put complex routings together is a Round the World ticket and ANA Mileage Club has the cheapest rate for them in the entire Star Alliance network.
You can access ANA Mileage Club here to learn about the conditions of the Round The World award.
This is the award chart that is structured by the total distance flown:
I usually redeem for the 20,000 miles award which costs me 115,000 miles in Business Class – an absolute bargain! You could get away with an award for 105,000 miles as well but a Round The World with 18,000 miles total distance is a very difficult task and you would leave too many routing options behind.
On the face of it, even the 180,000 miles for First Class would have been very good but NONE of my long haul segments on Asiana, United, Lufthansa and THAI even offer First Class so that’s out of the question, to begin with.
My ANA miles stem mostly from American Express Membership Rewards, the ANA Credit Cards (U.S. and Japan) as well as transfers from Marriott Bonvoy points.
Here is what I booked this time:
I would have loved to include a few more stops along the way such as Taiwan and a long stopover in Japan but that still isn’t possible for now.
Here is the complete routing:
Some segments were only available in Economy Class which isn’t ideal (especially on Bangkok-Seoul) but the only way to get around. There are very few flights to Korea that just opened up and those almost never have any award availability. Too bad!
All in all I ended up (according to the agent) with 19,280 miles which is a small discrepancy from my own calculation (19,109) based on GCM. Not really sure what ANA uses to calculate the distance. I added LAX-YVR as a surface segment (non-flown segment) as I will take a cruise up the coast. Keep in mind that these surface sectors won’t be counted towards the mileage total.
You can change this RTW ticket free of charge but no changes are allowed to airline or routing. I hope this isn’t going to haunt me during the trip in case I need to make a date change like last time when one of my flights got cancelled.
As far as taxes and fees are concerned, ANA MC is expensive but not as brutal as for example Lufthansa Miles&More.
The entire ticket cost me $754.37 plus a $25 call center fee:
The most significant portion of this total are fuel surcharges, mostly from Thai Airways and Lufthansa but also the United flight from Seoul to San Francisco. I tried my best to avoid the expensive carriers but that’s impossible for my routing at the moment.
Here are some FAQs from the ANA website I referenced above:
- For Round the World itineraries, the required mileage is calculated according to the total basic sector mileage for the entire itinerary. (Calculations exclude ground transportation sectors.)
- Flights must be used to cross both the Atlantic and Pacific Oceans once.
- The flight direction of the itinerary must be east-to-west or west-to-east. Backtracking is not permitted.
- Up to 8 stopovers are permitted between the departure point and the final return point. (Up to 3 stopovers are permitted within Europe and up to 4 stopovers are permitted within Japan.)
- The departure date of the final international flight to return to the country of departure must be at least 10 days after the departure of the first international flight on the itinerary.
Example: When departing Japan on October 1, it will be October 1 + 10 days = October 11. So the return flight to Japan has to be after October 11.
- In addition to a maximum of 12 flight sectors, the itinerary may also include a maximum of 4 ground transport sectors (including travel between different airports in the same city).
The experience booking this ticket was rather pleasant, obviously contributed to by the fact that this ticket had only 6 segments and 1 surface sector and that I had checked availability for these flights ahead of time.
RTW tickets can’t be booked online, you have to call and book it. I called the U.S. reservation hotline of ANA and was on hold for like an hour before getting through to an agent. Following the reservation ANA required a couple of hours to calculate the taxes and fees and I gave them authorization to issue the ticket without calling back. I put the charge on the Amex Platinum card since that’s really the only type of charge that makes sense on that card due to the 5x earning.
I’m looking forward to finally get on the road again next week, especially getting back to Korea after two and a half years.
ANA Mileage Club still has a variety of interesting award sweet spots in their system (for now) and the Round The World Award is definitely one of the most lucrative options. The round trips in First and Business Class are excellent as well, unfortunately they don’t allow international one way flights.
This was the second time I booked a RTW award with ANA and the experience was rather pleasant, taxes were on the higher side but not outrageous. Let’s see how the trip will go after all.