ANA Frequent Flyer Program: the Best or Not the Best: Part 7 — Summing Up

Facebooktwitterrss

ANA Frequent Flyer Program

This is my final ANA frequent flyer program post. Here are the previous installments:

Which is the Best Frequent Flyer Program for U.S. Travelers, Part 1

ANA Award Availability — The Best FF Program for U.S. Travelers, Part 2

ANA Awards Booking, Etihad Apartment, Routing Rules, and More — The Best FF Program for U.S. Travelers, Part 3

ANA Fuel Surcharge Is Gone… Kinda — Best FF Program for U.S. Travelers, Part 4

ANA Secret Trick — Best FF Program for U.S. Travelers, Part 5

ANA Round the World Award Ticket — Best FF Program for U.S. Travelers, Part 6

I started this series in May – over 6 months ago. In my review I’ve tried to make the case that ANA Frequent Flyer Program offers exceptional benefits to its members, especially in light of all recent and not so recent devaluations.

No, the program isn’t perfect, but we know better than expect perfection from anything.

So let’s sum it up, shall we?

ANA Frequent Flyer Program: The Good And the Bad

GetAbility

Mostly Positive. You can get ANA miles by transferring points from American Express Membership Rewards and Starwood Preferred Guest programs. That’s not too bad, but when the SPG gets fully integrated into the Marriott Rewards program, who knows? In addition, you can pool miles with family members, and when I say “family,” I’m using the term loosely.

Routing Rules

A mixed bag. It doesn’t allow one-way travel. Not for 60% of the round trip, not for anything; you must book a round-trip flight. On the other hand, you can have a stopover and up to 2 open jaws. Backtracking is usually permitted.

You can’t fly to Asia via Europe, but you can fly to Asia via the Pacific (and vice versa). This opens up some terrific opportunities.

Award Chart Value

Positive. I analyzed (and over-analyzed) different award values, and have come to the inevitable conclusion that in terms of general long-haul flights value, ANA Mileage Club beats all major U.S. airline frequent flyer programs by a mile, especially in business. There are a few exceptions, but simply put:

ANA is your go-to Business Class airline!

  • U.S. to Europe and South America: 88,000 miles
  • U.S. to Asia: 75,000 to 136,000 miles
  • U.S. to South Pacific: 120,000 miles 

That wide range above includes both ANA and the partners. If you fly on ANA metal, the levels are even better.

  • 75,000 for a round-trip flight in business to Japan
  • 80,000 to Beijing, Hong Kong, Seoul, or Manila
  • 100,000 to Bangkok, Delhi or Singapore

Award Space

Mostly positiveespecially if you can book in advance — just read the linked post. Weirdly, on many flights First Class space is wide open, even when economy and business seats are not. 

Booking Engine

Mixed Bag. On the one hand, you can search and book every Star partner online (including Singapore). On the other hand, using ANA’s search engine is twice as hard as British Airways’.

Why? Because of ANA’s round-trip fixation. It’s already too bad that you can’t search segment by segment. But the real problem is that when one of your segments doesn’t have availability or violates some of its rules, you have to start all over, from step 1. ANA’s search engine is really designed to test your sanity.

What’s the solution? I always start my search with United. That’s not ideal, because United can be quirky, even with a user friendly calendar option. But in most cases, United accurately (although not always) reflects Star Alliance’s availability, including ANA’s.

Some folks like to use the Air Canada Aeroplan engine to search for Star partners. I really don’t, as the AC search engine is full of quirks of its own.

A better free way to find ANA award space with a surgical precision is a Chrome extension aptly-named Award Finder. You can set a number of parameters, like the particular airline, class of service, and even the number of stops, and get very reliable results. You can also search multiple dates, although when you do, be patient — it can take a while.

Fuel Surcharge

It’s … complicated. Now, fuel scamcharges are my favorite pet peeve. I hate the damn scam, and I don’t mind screaming about it from the rooftops. A great thing about Japanese airlines (and regulators) is that they are trying to be fair. So award flights on ANA own metal should supposedly be surcharge-free.

ANA Frequent Flyer Program ANA Mileage Club

ANA Fuel surcharges: None, or so the say.

“Supposedly,” because it’s not always the case. Sometimes, ANA is true to its word.

ANA Frequent Flyer Program

You won’t pay a fuel surcharge for a flight from the U.S. to Tokyo

ANA Frequent Flyer Program ANA Mileage Club ana nrt-bkk-nrt

Or between Tokyo and Bangkok

And other times …

ANA Frequent Flyer Program ANA Mileage Club ana-yq-lax-nrt-bkk-nrt-lax

But for some reason, you pay a surcharge for a flight from the U.S. to Bangkok via Tokyo.

Now, I don’t have any idea why it’s happening, and in what twisted world the sum of $4 and $4 equals $408. ANA agents could never explain clearly why they apply a fuel surcharge for flights via Japan, yet don’t apply it for flights when Japan is a departure point or a destination. I think, if you demand that the surcharge be refunded (after using your ticket, mind you), they will have a very hard time defending it. In the end, ANA’s own website says it shouldn’t be there.

But really, I wouldn’t sweat it too much, because there are ways around it. In fact, if you want that particular flight (with LAX-NRT in First Class and LAX-BKK in Business), you’ll be better off booking them separately. Sure, it will cost you 15,000 more miles, but you will save $400.

Besides, ANA adds the scamcharge very inconsistently. My research showed there won’t be any fuel surcharge for:

  • Hong Kong (HK has outlawed fuel surcharges)
  • Jakarta
  • Hanoi
  • Ho Chi Minh City

And a cheaper surcharge for:

  • Kuala Lumpur ($144)
  • Taipei ($85)

Note that I haven’t checked every single route ANA flies, so it might not be a complete list.

ANA does add surcharges to most of its partners, except:

  • United
  • Air Canada
  • Air New Zealand
  • Air China
  • Etihad
  • Flights in the Americas

Terms and rules

Mostly positive. One major drawback of the ANA Frequent Flyer Program is that your miles expire after 3 years (except for Diamond members), and there is no way to reset the clock.

  • Phone booking fee: $25 (waived if the flight can’t be booked on the website)
  • Family mile pooling is allowed!
  • Booking window: 96 hours to 355 days
  • Close-in booking fee: none!
  • Date/time change fee: none
  • Other changes: airlines, origin, destination, routing, class of service: not allowed

But:

  • You can cancel your ticket and redeposit miles for only 3,000 miles, then book a new ticket!

That’s a huge benefit compared to the U.S. programs!

World Class Customer Service

I’ve already written how ANA saved my ass in Sao Paulo and Stockholm, both times having gone above and beyond. But I’ve never flown ANA, so all my interactions with ANA customer service were on the ground. I presume, they are not too shabby, though, not only because ANA is a 5-star Skytrax airline, but most importantly because of what people say about the service and overall experience. While I’ve only used ANA miles on partners so far, I look forward to experiencing an actual ANA hard product. 

Last but Not the Least

ANA will charge your infant 10% of revenue ticket. Has nothing to do with miles, but nice to know (Thanks Raj!).

So this is it, folks. Took me long enough to complete this series, but in my opinion, ANA Mileage Club is the best overall frequent mile program for an international, long-haul U.S. traveler.

Don’t know about you. Yes, no, maybe?

I’m resuming my weekly newsletter and going to make an important announcement in the next one that comes out on Monday, Dec 5. 

Facebooktwittergoogle_plusredditpinterestlinkedintumblrmail

ANA Round the World Award Ticket — Best FF Program for U.S. Travelers, Part 6

The ANA Round the World award flight above would cover 8 stopovers: Tokyo, Seoul, Peking, Istanbul, Vienna, Paris, New York, and Las Vegas. It would cost 75,000 in Economy, 115,000 in Business Class, and 180,000 in First. Here are the previous installments of my ANA series: Which is the Best Frequent Flyer Program for U.S. Travelers,Continue Reading

Fidel Castro Is Dead! Now Guess Which Airline Offers 33X Value for Flights to Cuba

Fidel Castro is dead A fiery revolutionary. A ruthless and cunning dictator. A gifted orator who put his nation on a meatless diet and convinced them that the only choice they had was socialism or death. A survivor of numerous assassination attempts, several U.S. presidents, his own cigars, and persistent rumors of his imminent deathContinue Reading

New Delta SkyMiles Devaluation to India

  My apologies for the radio silence. I’ve traveled to Hong Kong, Bangkok and Manila, flew on Cathay, Thai and Etihad, and stayed at Intercontinental, Hilton and Airbnb. The reports are coming, and I’m also coming with a major announcement. Just need to take care of some work first. Delta SkyMiles Devaluation: Strike Eight On SeptemberContinue Reading

Hilton Diamond+ and Proposed American Express Hilton Elite Card: My First Ever Conspiracy Theory

In case you, guys, are wondering where the hell I’ve been, I’ve been in Asia. Hong Kong, Bangkok, Manila. As in, was in Hang Kong, now in Bangkok and in a few days I’m going to Manila for TBEX – the Travel Blogger conference. Currently staying on the “wrong side” of the Chao Phraya River, inContinue Reading

SPG Marriott Merger and My Thoughts on Transfer Opportunities

  I’m between flights right now. Got back from the Fincon (Financial Bloggers) conference in San Diego on Sunday and already packing for my next Asia trip on Saturday (later about that). Maybe it’s not all that unusual for you, vagabonds, but I’m not one of you. I usually spread out my flights throughout theContinue Reading

Best Western Rewards Credit Cards, Barclaycard Arrival New Bonus, AMEX Business Gold, I’m going to “FinCon16 and more.

  Updated my credit card bonuses pages. Best Credit Cards for Miles — Free Flights  Best Credit Cards for Points — Free Hotel Stays  But first the news! I have some affiliate links now I know, I know. And you Brutus… Well, the way I see it, if you want to support this blog (please do!)Continue Reading

ANA Secret Trick — Best FF Program for U.S. Travelers, Part 5

    Which is the Best Frequent Flyer Program for U.S. Travelers, Part 1 ANA Award Availability — The Best FF Program for U.S. Travelers, Part 2 ANA Awards Booking, Etihad Apartment, Routing Rules, and More — The Best FF Program for U.S. Travelers, Part 3 ANA Fuel Surcharge Is Gone… Kinda — Best FFContinue Reading

Delta Devaluation 2016: Book an Award Flight to India Before It’s Too Late

  Let me get this off my chest first Delta SkyMiles is the most dishonest and unethical major U.S. frequent flyer program. Always has been and probably always will. As a reminder, Delta doesn’t announce award changes anymore. They just change the redemption levels after a certain date. As a result, you don’t have aContinue Reading

Why Chase Sapphire Reserve Sucks or Revenge of a Nerd

  Do you really need another Chase Sapphire Reserve Review? Don’t you already know how fabulous, incredible, magnificent (insert an adjective of your choice here) this card is? Don’t you know that it’s a great moneymaker despite the cruel $450 fee, that it has a great trip protection coverage; hell, you do know how it’s the greatest thingContinue Reading

Copyright © 2016 lazytravelers.net. 2013-2016 All Rights Reserved. 

Follow

Get every new post delivered to your Inbox

Join other followers