Many frequent flyer programs offer travellers opportunities to redeem points for aspirational round-the-world itineraries. Whether you’re planning a trip with Aeroplan, British Airways Avios, Cathay Pacific Asia Miles, or any other program, you can leverage sweet spots to craft the trip of a lifetime.
Perhaps the most lucrative program for planning a round-the-world redemption is ANA Mileage Club, the loyalty program for Japan’s All Nippon Airways. With ANA Mileage Club, you can plan an eight-stop round-the-world itinerary at a fraction of the cost you’d pay with other programs, while flying with some of the best airlines in the world.
Let’s take a look at this incredible sweet spot, including some examples of how to maximize the program to the fullest.
In This Post
- How to Earn Miles with ANA Mileage Club
- The ANA Round-the-World Award Chart
- The Rules
- A Few Examples
- Taxes & Fees
- How to Search and Book
How to Earn Miles with ANA Mileage Club
There are two primary ways for North Americans to rack up balances within ANA Mileage Club: transferring from Marriott Bonvoy or American Express US Membership Rewards.
If you’re sitting on some extra Bonvoy points, you can transfer them to ANA Mileage Club at an optimal ratio of 60,000 Bonvoy points = 25,000 ANA miles.
Bonvoy points are frequently earned through welcome bonuses on Marriott Bonvoy co-branded credit cards, such as the Marriott Bonvoy American Express Card or the Marriott Bonvoy Business American Express Card. Alternatively, you can transfer Amex Membership Rewards points at a 1:1.2 ratio.
If you opt to transfer, the overall picture looks like 50,000 MR points = 60,000 Bonvoy points = 25,000 ANA miles. As you can see, earning ANA Mileage Club miles this way isn’t the most effective option, as you’re getting a very sub-optimal transfer ratio for valuable Amex MR points.
A much more effective way to earn ANA miles is via US credit cards. 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, such as the Amex US Gold Card, the Amex US EveryDay Card, and the Amex US Business Platinum Card in order to rack up Amex 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, you’ll need to understand the rules for redeeming them for a multi-stop trip around the world.
Let’s 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, perhaps by using a tool such as Great Circle Mapper. 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 out there.
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, and you can’t just cross the Pacific twice.
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 using major Star Alliance hubs.
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
Let’s look at a few examples to illustrate the types of trips 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 Signature Class.
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.
Clearly, there’s significant value to be found 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 140,000 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 is an absolute bargain. Even if you were to leverage Aeroplan’s stopover policy, you’d wind up with numerous bounds and a significantly higher cost in points.
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 37,929 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 a steep price to pay; however, 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
When booking through ANA Mileage Club, the amount of fuel surcharges you’ll pay varies according to which Star Alliance airline you are flying with. Certain airlines, such as Lufthansa or Austrian 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 more modest 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.
In addition, remember that certain countries and jurisdictions have regulations that limit the total surcharges on any itinerary originating in that country. Some countries have particularly hefty taxes and fees, such as the UK Air Passenger Duty, 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 Aeroplan, United, AwardLogic, or ExpertFlyer.
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, you’ll need to give ANA Mileage Club a call to get the booking completed, as it can’t be done online.
Keep in mind 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 excellent 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. There’s 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 enjoyed by those of us who are hungry for some incredible multi-stop trips.
The only real downside to this redemption opportunity is the relative difficulty piecing together an itinerary with limited award space. Furthermore, it’s definitely necessary to be playing the US credit card game if you want to earn a meaningful balance of ANA miles for a round-the-world award.
If you’re able to make the trip work, you’ll be rewarded handsomely with a trip around the world on some of the best airlines in the game. Should you need any assistance finding award space, be sure to get in touch with us for a Points Consulting session.