As the lustre of the Aeroplan Mini-RTW somewhat fades with the September 1 reduction of stopovers allowed on round-trip tickets, I’ve been taking a look at other types of “round-the-world awards” out there that can also satiate our desire to visit multiple destinations on the same trip at an effective price point.
I’ve talked about the Oneworld multi-carrier award charts within British Airways Avios and Cathay Pacific Asia Miles, and today we’ll venture back into Star Alliance’s neck of the woods with ANA Mileage Club’s round-the-world (RTW) awards.
ANA Mileage Club is a program that I haven’t given much attention to here on Prince of Travel, but it definitely has its fair share of sweet spots, and it’s a program that can be accessed by Canadians through Marriott Bonvoy transfers and US credit cards. Let’s talk a bit about those earning methods first, and then we’ll delve into the meat of the RTW award chart.
Earning Miles with ANA Mileage Club
Canadian points collectors have two primary ways of racking up points balances within ANA Mileage Club. One way is to transfer Marriott Bonvoy points to ANA at an optimal ratio of 60,000 Bonvoy points = 25,000 ANA miles.
Bonvoy points themselves are frequently earned by transferring Amex MR Select points from the American Express Cobalt Card at a 1:1.2 ratio, so the overall picture there looks like 50,000 MR Select points = 60,000 Bonvoy points = 25,000 ANA miles.
Arguably a more effective way to earn ANA miles would be via the US credit card scene. ANA Mileage Club is one of the many frequent flyer programs that partner with Amex US but not Amex Canada, offering Amex US cardholders the ability to transfer their MR points to ANA at a 1:1 ratio.
You can sign up for US-issued MR cards, like the Amex US Gold Card, the Amex US EveryDay Card, and the Amex US Business Platinum Card in order to rack up US MR points, which then transfer to ANA Mileage Club at par. Furthermore, remember that once you’ve set up a single MR-earning Amex card in the US, you can transfer your Canadian MR points to the US at the prevailing exchange rate once every 12 months as well.
The ANA Round-the-World Award Chart
Once you’ve earned ANA miles, what are the rules for redeeming them for a multi-stop trip around the world?
We begin at the award chart, which reads as follows:
You add up the distances of all the flights on your itinerary to find your Total Basic Sector Mileage. Then, you look up that total against the chart based on your desired class of service (determined by the highest class of service of any flight on your itinerary) to find the total number of miles required.
Together with the award chart, there are a few routing rules to go over. These rules govern how you’re allowed to piece together various flights into a single itinerary, and importantly, they’re a little stricter than the other types of round-the-world awards we’ve covered so far.
Your trip must proceed in one direction: either eastbound or westbound. Furthermore, you must cross both the Atlantic and Pacific Oceans along your journey. This means that the trip must be a “true” round-the-world itinerary; unlike the Aeroplan Mini-RTW, you can’t choose to travel back and forth across the same ocean.
There’s a rule against “backtracking”, although what exactly counts as backtracking seems to be up to the judgment of the ANA Mileage Club agent helping you book the itinerary.
For example, an itinerary involving a Singapore–Perth–Bangkok turnaround should be fine, even though it looks like a pretty clear backtrack when plotted on a map, because it’s a pretty reasonable way to get to and from Perth.
On the other hand, something like Beijing–Addis Ababa–Singapore–Zurich would most likely be stricken down under this rule.
Your itinerary may have up to 12 segments, up to eight stopovers (wow!), and up to four “ground transfers”.
Among those eight stopovers, you can have a maximum of three stopovers in Europe and a maximum of four stopovers in Japan.
The definition of a ground transfer includes open-jaws, but crucially, airport transfers between co-terminals in the same city (like flying into Tokyo Haneda and out of Tokyo Narita) also count towards your allowance of ground transfers, unlike the majority of other programs.
The minimum trip duration is 10 days, and travel must be completed within one year from the ticketing date.
A Few Examples
As usual, let’s have a few examples to illustrate what you can do with an ANA round-the-world award.
1. A classic RTW
Starting in Toronto, hop over to Zurich on Swiss via Montreal before continuing to Istanbul and spending a few days there. Then fly to Tokyo, use up a ground transfer by flying into Narita and out of Haneda, and return to Toronto on Air Canada business class leveraging Japan’s fuel surcharge regulations.
We’re only using three stopovers out of our allowance of eight, and the total distance clocks in at 17,209 miles. Looking at the award chart, we see that this would cost us 65,000 ANA miles in economy class or 105,000 ANA miles in business class.
Hold up… 105,000 miles in business class? That’s a huge discount compared to the 150,000 miles that Aeroplan would’ve charged… back when it even allowed you to book a three-stop trip like this!
Clearly, there’s pretty significant value to be had in the ANA round-the-world award if you’re looking to visit both Europe and Asia in the same trip. After all, even if you were converting Canadian MR points into US MR points so that you could transfer them to ANA Mileage Club, you’d only need about 135,000 MR points to make that happen at the prevailing FX rate.
2. Eight Stops Around the World
This itinerary takes you to eight cities around the world and gives you an extended-length stopover in each one of them: Seoul, Taipei, Singapore, Perth, Bangkok, Kolkata, New Delhi, and Istanbul. The total distance clocks in at 24,997 miles, just shy of the 25,000-mile threshold, and so this trip would cost 100,000 ANA miles in economy class or 145,000 ANA miles in business class.
Again, 145,000 miles… that’s it? I mean, Aeroplan would charge you 160,000 miles to get to Australia, and you’d only get one stopover to work with as of September 1, 2019. With ANA, you pay fewer miles, and you get up to eight stopovers to play with to your heart’s content. What’s not to love?
3. Six Continents, ANA Style
To take this redemption opportunity to the most extreme, let’s use up the full allowance of 12 segments and embark on a round-the-world trip to all six continents. You’d choose eight of the eleven intermediate cities as your stopovers, with the remaining three cities being long layovers of up to 24 hours.
The total distance flown is 37,442 miles, so you’d pay 160,000 ANA miles in economy class or 220,000 ANA miles in business class.
Now, 220,000 miles is quite a bit higher compared to what Aeroplan might charge, but again, the ability to add up to eight stopovers is virtually unparalleled for travellers looking to use their points to embark on audacious multi-destination trips, especially ones as large-scale as the sample trip illustrated here.
Taxes & Fees on the ANA Round-the-World Award
When booking through ANA Mileage Club, fuel surcharges operate very similarly to Aeroplan – certain airlines have high surcharges, while the majority of Star Alliance airlines – including some of its best business class products, like EVA Air, Singapore Airlines, and Turkish Airlines – levy minimal or zero surcharges.
By picking and choosing your airlines carefully, you can wind up with an epic round-the-world trip in business class while only paying a few hundred dollars in fees. Here’s a rough guideline that was found on the FlyerTalk thread on this topic, which shows you which airlines have surcharges and which ones do not:
In addition, remember that certain countries and jurisdictions have regulations that would limit the total surcharges on any itinerary originating in that country, and that some countries like the UK have particularly hefty departure taxes and are best avoided if you’re trying to look after your budget.
How to Search and Book
In theory, searching for availability for ANA round-the-world awards would involve the same set of booking tools as you’d use for Aeroplan awards, since they’re both accessing the same inventory on Star Alliance airlines.
However, ultimately it’s the availability you see via the ANA Mileage Club website that dictates what ANA agents can book, so that would perhaps be the best way to search, or at least to perform a double-check after finding space on the Aeroplan, United.com, or ExpertFlyer search engines.
The steps involved are generally the same no matter which search engine you use, though. Break the trip up into one-way segments and locate availability on each segment one-by-one, then arrange it all into an itinerary that fits within all the rules outlined above. Finally, give ANA Mileage Club a call to get the booking completed.
(One thing to note is that ANA Mileage Club members have access to far more award space on ANA flights themselves compared to partner programs. An ANA RTW award is therefore an excellent occasion to try out ANA’s long-haul business class or even First Class products.)
Round-the-world awards can only be booked over the phone, and ANA’s agents tend to be well-educated on the rules and will enforce them strictly. On one hand, you can’t really get away with much outside the rules, but on the other hand the agents are all quite professional in their dealings and will make your life easier by telling you exactly why a certain itinerary isn’t valid.
Lastly, note that ANA only allows you to redeem miles on behalf of your family members and relatives, and not on behalf of anyone in general. (They even have a family tree on their website to show exactly which types of family members are eligible to use a member’s miles.)
This will be an important point to keep in mind for those of you who might travel with friends, colleagues, or other extra-familial companions – in that case, everyone would need to redeem miles out of their own ANA Mileage Club accounts.
Combining an unbelievably generous allowance of eight stopovers with a very fairly priced award chart, the ANA round-the-world award contains incredible globetrotting power that’s just waiting to be exploited by those of us who are hungry for some more multi-stop trips after the reduction of the Aeroplan Mini-RTW.
The only real downside to this redemption opportunity is the relative difficulty of earning ANA miles in Canada – it’s definitely necessary to be playing the US credit card game if you want to earn a meaningful enough balance within ANA for a round-the-world award.
I look forward to playing around with the possibilities myself for a future trip, and please do share in the comments if you’ve booked any of these awards with ANA in the past – I’d love to hear about your experience!