ANA (All Nippon Airways) is flat out amazing. If you haven’t checked out Dr. Travel’s review of their first class product, take a second to read it here. Pretty sure he finished off $400ish of Hibiki 21 during the flight…
ANA is consistently ranked among the best airlines in the world, and is Japan’s only 5 star airline according to SkyTrax.
Great food: check. Amazing staff: yes. Comfortable seats: of course. It is an amazing flying experience that anyone would be lucky to enjoy.
It also might be (and when I mean might be, I mean definitely) represents the greatest “bang for buck” of any award booking on the planet.
I’ll go through the specifics in the article, but 75k ANA miles will get you a ROUND TRIP business class seat from WAS to NRT. Yes, you read that correct. 75k ANA MILES will get you a ROUND TRIP BUSINESS CLASS TICKET.
Granted thats “low season.” But still, even in peak season, you can get RT business class for 80k-90k. Considering it will cost me (at a very minimum) 160k Delta points to fly business to Japan, this is a steal.
75k points to fly business class on ANA with a direct flight…or 160k Delta points for business class with a layover….hmmmmmmmm choice is obvious to me!
How to get miles
Besides actually flying with the airline, the easiest way to obtain ANA specific miles is through American Express.
If you are a Platinum Card holder, you are allowed to purchase up to 500k miles per year (at $.025 per point). If you didn’t have any AMEx points saved up, you would be able to buy 75k miles for $1,875…meaning you would be able to buy a business class seat for $1,875 (as opposed to paying the normal price of $5.805).
ANA is also part of Star Alliance, and using Star Alliance points, you could still get a great deal to fly ANA business class (90k RT w/a layover). But I’ll save that for another post. This blog is focused on ANA specific miles.
Unless you’re trying to obtain status, purchasing a business class seat using miles is a great way to go. And unless you have tons of Star Alliance points built up, purchasing the points through AMEx represents a great value.
How to book
So now that we know 75k miles can get you a RT business class seat on ANA, you need to grab a coffee, clear your afternoon, and get ready to spend a $h#t ton of time looking through the ANA award schedule.
In order to look through the award schedule, you must have an ANA account. After logging in, go to award search, and start plugging in your cities (ANA has service from Washington, Chicago, JFK, Seattle, Honolulu, Los Angeles, San Francisco).
Now this is where it starts to get extremely frustrating. After you plug in your days, even if the award seat is showing as available, chances are it is actually waitlisted.
Look at this image. Simple enough, you would think that every flight (especially on the desired travel dates of 2/15 and 3/6) are free.
BUT when you click “next” on the screen, you’ll quickly find that everything is already listed at “waitlist.”
I confirmed with the agent I spoke with over the phone. Unless someone who has an award ticket re books their ticket on another flight, no additional award space will open up. Meaning, it would be pretty unlikely that your “waitlisted” seat would clear.
So that means you have to go day-by-day until you find flights that aren’t listed as “waitlisted.” Not an impossible task, but a very, very time consuming one.
Open jaw tickets
If you thought finding two RT business class seats from point A to point B was time consuming, try finding 4 award seats from Washington, DC to Narita, Narita to Singapore, Bangkok to Haneda, and Narita back to Washington, DC…I’ve literally spent 15+ hours looking through fares and talking to agents (hence why I consider myself pretty good with ANA).
BUUTTTTT If you have the miles (and the patience), using open jaw tickets with ANA is an even bigger bargain.
Take the trip above as an example. I was able to get all 4 of those flights (Washington DC to Narita, Narita to Singapore, Bangkok to Haneda, Narita to Washington DC) on business class for 105k miles per person.
To search for all of these tickets, click on the “multiple cities/mixed classes” tab from the award booking home page.
After plugging in your dates and cities, you will be routed to page that will show you which classes are available for each segment of your flight (which I find very useful).
After plugging in all of the information, I was able to score 2 business class seats all the way through for 105k miles and a little over $500 USD each.
It really seems as if ANA only offers 2 award seats per flight. As I mentioned, we needed to book 4 award seats for our big trip to Asia. In order to stay on the same flight schedule, we had to have mixed classes for our flights (because all of the business class seats were now taken). I ended up purchasing tickets with first, business, and one economy flight (from BKK to HND) for 150k miles per person. Still, a pretty good deal considering it includes first class, but maybe no quite as good as the business class deal.
If you need to go to Japan (or really most parts of Asia), flying with ANA is a steal if you can find award seats.
Planning a trip to Japan? Hit up the comments sections with some of your questions.