Author Archives: Andy Shuman

Do ANA Miles Redemptions Cost Less in Cash Than 2 Years Ago?

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ANA Miles

If you have ANA miles or transferable American Express Membership/SPG points, you might get a better value from ANA  than ever before. Let’s just be clear: the redemption levels haven’t changed, but the cash outlay has, and in some cases — to the tune of hundreds of dollars!

Last week I reported that ANA has stopped adding fuel surcharges to flights on their Star Alliance partner Scandinavian Airlines. That’s a huge thing, IMHO, because finding Business Class award space on United or Air Canada is not an easy task.

ANA Has Dropped Fuel Surcharges for Award Flights on Scandinavian Airlines

That nudged me to take another look at what’s going on with ANA fuel surcharges. Last time I checked was almost two years ago in this post:

ANA Fuel Surcharge Is Gone… Kinda

It’s no secret that I love ANA Miles, even though they add YQ

ANA has a very good, business-class-friendly award chart for both their own flights and Star alliance and other airline partners. In fact, it’s exactly Business Class where ANA shines – neither coach nor first usually offer values vastly superior to U.S.-based frequent flyer programs, although there are exceptions to this rule.

Yet ANA does add fuel surcharges to its own flights and most of its partners flights, and I’ve probably got some ’splaining to do, considering how much I’ve bitched about those pesky fuel surcharges (usually coded by airlines as YQ).

Most people who aren’t travel agents and miles aficionados don’t care about fuel surcharges because a revenue ticket already contains them. We “enthusiasts” hate them because they add a cash component to a supposedly free ticket, and travel agents simply get stiffed on commissions. How airlines keep getting away with this scam in most countries is hard to explain, because, seriously, they shouldn’t be allowed to do that.

In 2016, after oil had gotten dirt cheap, ANA dropped its fuel surcharges. Not out of the goodness of its heart; rather there is a law in Japan prohibiting airlines from overcharging for fuel (and they have to apply for and receive permission from the government on a bimonthly basis). So, this lovely, legalized accounting scam perpetrated by nearly all European carriers is not legal in Japan, at least to the degree it’s practiced elsewhere.

Since 2016, however, the price of kerosene has risen, so Japanese airlines are at it again. Right now the cost of fuel surcharges adds $86 each way if your travel originates from North America. It’s not pleasant, but even a cheapskate like me can live with that.

ANA Miles

if your flight to Japan originates in the U.S. you’ll pay the $86 fuel surchargeper per segment in addition to taxes

Let’s take the simplest redemption possible. 2 years ago, a roundtrip award flight between New York and Tokyo used to cost $85.39 in taxes and fees (no YQ). Now it costs ~$256 with ~$173 in fuel surcharges.

ana miles

Your fuel surcharge per roundtrip to Japan is $172 — 2 years ago it was a zero

So, that’s straightforward enough, right? We know that a fuel surcharge for flight between North America and Japan originated in North America costs $86 per segment. Hence twice the amount plus a buck or 2 probably due to the currency fluctuations.

Well, simple roundtrip flights are easy to figure out, but when you add connections, whatever YQ the airline charges defies logic sometimes. But don’t worry, it’s not necessarily a bad thing. Let’s take another look at the ANA fuel surcharges on their own flights and their partners’.

ANA fuel surcharges have changed

Yep, I know this may sound like a paradox after ANA reintroduced fuel surcharges to its own flights, but it’s true. I decided to compare ANA fuel surcharges today with what I found 2 years ago, and was amazed at the results. I will update that post in the next few days so you can see direct screenshot comparisons, but for now, this is what I found (keep in mind, with ANA you pay the same fuel surcharges for all classes of service).

To compare apples with apples, I tried to find award space for the same flights exactly. When that was impossible, I tried to find the closest route.

Note: SO means Stopover (24 hours and more); OJ – Open Jaw; D – Destination.

ANA Fuel surcharges: changes for the better

Route

2016 Total/YQ

2018 Total/YQ

Los Angeles – Sydney (United): SO

OJ: Aukland – Shanghai – Tokyo (Air New Zealand): D

Tokyo – Los Angeles (ANA)

$468/$346

$212/$104 via Manila

$133/$2 via Sydney (AKL-PVG-NRT)

Los Angeles – Tokyo (ANA): SO

Tokyo – Manila (ANA): D

Manila – Tokyo – Los Angeles ANA)

$435/$328

$212/$104

Los Angeles – Tokyo (ANA): SO

Tokyo – Bangkok (ANA): D

Bangkok – Tokyo – Los Angeles ANA)

 $525/$408

 $289/$166

Los Angeles – Tokyo (ANA): SO

Tokyo – Singapore (ANA): D

Singapore – Tokyo – Los Angeles ANA)

 $535/$415

 $127/$4

Los Angeles – Tokyo (ANA): SO

Tokyo – Phnom Penh (ANA): D

Phnom Penh – Tokyo – Los Angeles ANA)

 $709/$588

 $211/$84

Los Angeles – Tokyo (ANA): SO

Tokyo — Kuala Lumpur (ANA): D

Kuala Lumpur – Tokyo – Los Angeles ANA)

 $257/$144

 $191/$74

Los Angeles – Tokyo (ANA): SO

Tokyo — Beijing (ANA): D

Beijing – Tokyo – Los Angeles ANA)

  $467/$358

 $445/$323 (minimal reduction)

Los Angeles – Tokyo (ANA): SO

Tokyo — Taipei (ANA): D

Taipei – Tokyo – Los Angeles ANA)

 $196/$85   $184/$70 (minimal reduction)

Back then it felt very strange to me that ANA would remove fuel surcharges from its award tickets to Japan (according to the law), but leave them intact for some destinations beyond Japan. It was also weird that ANA would add fuel surcharges to partners that didn’t add them to their own flights, like Air New Zealand. I even tried to reach out to the airline to find out why, but never got a straight answer. It didn’t make any sense to me at all.

Well, these strange surcharges seem to be either drastically reduced or eliminated altogether. Which is no less strange considering that ANA does add fuel surcharges today – unlike 2 years ago.

ANA Fuel surcharges: changes for the worse

I wish I could report that all ANA changes are peachy and rosy, but I won’t lie. The weird thing is that the routes that had YQ 2 years ago now cost less, while some routes that didn’t have YQ back then – do get them added now. If there is any rhyme or reason to this, I’d surely like to know.

Here are some examples.

Route

2016 Total/YQ 2018 Total/YQ

Los Angeles – Tokyo (ANA): SO

Tokyo — Hong Kong (ANA): D

Hong Kong – Tokyo – Los Angeles ANA)

 $121/$10  $273/$134

Los Angeles – Tokyo (ANA): SO

Tokyo — Jakarta (ANA): D

Jakarta – Tokyo – Los Angeles ANA)

 $115/$8  $284/$166

Los Angeles – Tokyo (ANA): SO

Tokyo — Ho Chi Minh(ANA): D

Ho Chi Minh – Tokyo – Los Angeles ANA)

 $125/$8  $286/$166

ANA fuel surcharges: net positive!

Are you seeing what I’m seeing?

It’s cheaper to visit Japan and: Taipei, Kuala Lumpir, Singapore, Phnom Penh, Sydney, Manila, Bangkok, Ho Chi Minh, Jakarta, Hong Kong than just fly to Japan (even though YQ to Hong Kong, Ho Chi Minh, and Jakarta have increased).

Tell you what: I’m not complaining.  😀

Whether I do or don’t understand the logic behind ANA YQ pricing (I don’t), it doesn’t really matter. The point is, if you want to add another city in Asia to your flight plan on ANA metal, it will cost you either less or roughly the same as a nonstop trip to Japan (with the exception of Beijing). And if you want to see 2 cities in Japan, it will cost you exactly the same.

ANA partners fuel surcharges

As I’ve mentioned before, ANA doesn’t add fuel surcharges to some partners, like United, Air Canada, Scandinavian, and Air New Zealand. As a reminder, I’m mostly interested in carriers that fly from/to the U.S.

Some ANA miles partners carry small-to-moderate fuel surcharges.

LOT will set you back $120 for a round trip between the U.S. and Warsaw.

ana miles

LOT is the cheapest European Star airline in terms of fuel surcharges: only $120 per roundtrip between the U.S. and Warsaw

Turkish charges more than twice as much between the U.S. and Istanbul; however, its flying network is nothing short of sensational, and its Business Class award space is frequently wide open.

ana miles

Turkish has a higher YQ surcharge than LOT: $266 per roundtrip between the U.S. and Istanbul (still considered low by European “standards”)

For flights to Asia, Eva is probably your best bet with only $66 in fuel surcharges between the U.S. and Taipei.

ana miles

Eva is great for travel to Asia: only $66 YQ between the U.S. and Taipei per roundtrip

Asiana’s fuel surcharge will set you back $222 in YQ charges for a flight between the U.S. and Seoul. That’s almost a 40% increase compared to 2016.

ana miles

Asian has a higher fuel surcharge: $222 between the U.S. and Seoul

Let’s recap: how to save cash with ANA Mileage Club award tickets

  • The Americas

No fuel surcharges at all.

  • Europe

To fully avoid fuel surcharges, fly United, Scandinavian, Air Canada, or Singapore (only to Frankfurt and Manchester). Note: it’s virtually impossible to get Singapore in premium classes on a partner’s award.

To save on surcharges, fly LOT or Turkish. All other European airlines’ fuel surcharges are $400 to $500.

  • Africa

Can’t avoid the surcharges on South African ($400+).

  • Asia

To avoid fuel surcharges fly United, Air Canada, or Singapore (same caveat regarding premium seats).

To save on surcharges, fly Eva (very low) or Asiana (moderate). Fly ANA if you want to visit Japan, especially in low seasons (you’ll save on miles).

  • Australia, New Zealand, South Pacific

Use Air New Zealand or United (no fuel surcharges).

So what do you think? Have ANA miles become more or less valuable to you? Share your thoughts.

 

 

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