This is the creme de la creme of points and miles…
There’s something so satisfying about booking an award ticket and knowing you used a few miles as possible. If for no other reason, this is why booking an ANA Round The World (RTW) award is kind of a bucket list item for many miles and points enthusiasts (obsessives?).
While many airlines no longer offer round the world awards, ANA continues to do so at very reasonable rates using points. However, taking advantage fo the ANA RTW award chart requires a good understanding of routing rules, surcharges and some flexibility on travel dates.
With that in mind, let’s take a look at everything you need to know to book one of these fun awards. It’s worth the effort!
Before you run off and transfer Amex Membership Rewards points to your ANA Mileage Club account, please make sure you understand the routing rules for Round The World awards. They’re not terribly complicated but you don’t want to build an itinerary that you can’t book!
Here’s what you need to know:
- You must choose to fly east-west or west-east — you are NOT allowed to backtrack
- You must cross both the Atlantic and Pacific oceans — only once each as per the rule above
- Include up to 12 segments and include 4 ground transfer segments
- Up to 8 stopovers are allowed
- Up to 3 in Europe
- Up to 4 in Japan
- Your trip must span at least 10 days from the date of your first international departure
- Flights may be operated by ANA or Star Alliance partners
- Your itinerary must touch all three zones — what ANA calls “Areas” and return to the one from which you start the trip
If there’s one rule that’s bound to cause you an issue, it’s the first one. Not being able to backtrack can make things quite frustrating but there’s still plenty of fun to be had.
There are also two important points to remember with the ground transfer segments. First, even if you change airports within a city — think Tokyo Narita (NRT) and Tokyo Haneda (HND), this will count as one of your ground transfers.
Additionally, ground transfers will count as 2 stopovers. For example, if you fly into Munich (MUC) and out of Frankfurt (FRA), that will take up 2 of your 8 allowed stopovers.
Second, the ground transfers do not add to your Total Basic Sector Mileage — your total flight miles — which determines how many ANA Mileage Club miles are required to book.
While I guess requiring that your trip be no less than 10 days could be an issue if you just wanted to spend the whole trip flying, I can’t imagine that will be an issue for just about anyone.
As with simpler round-trip awards that include Star Alliance partners, you don’t have to worry about low, regular and high season award rates. Simply use the chart below to determine the required ANA miles based on your itinerary’s total flight miles.
The highest class of service you book during your trip will dictate which award rate governs your award. This means a single first class segment could jack up the redemption rate even if the rest is in business class. Similarly, you won’t get a discount for including an economy segment on a business class award.
How To Find Award Space and Book
Unsurprisingly, ANA doesn’t provide a way to search for RTW awards online but do you really want to call and ask a phone rep to search for award space day by day. Pass.
I’d suggest starting your search with United’s site as it provides a flexible date search option that allows you to see economy and premium cabin award availability across two months of dates. Just ignore the award rates and cash cost that United shows.
Start by searching the long-haul segments and then find the shorter flights to piece the trip together. Write down the details of each flight:
- Flight number
- Class of service
Once you have done that, you can call ANA (800-235-9262) and feed the flight details to a phone rep so they can help you complete the booking.
If you want to include a segment on ANA, know that ANA does release more award space to its own members. In this case, if you don’t see space when you search with United, you’ll want to hop over to ANA’s site to check. Just make sure it’s confirmed space and not waitlisted space.
You have the basics down, so let’s cover a few things to help you book like an award booking pro.
Use ExpertFlyer To Avoid Phantom Award Space
On occasion, United has shown phantom award space. When it comes to award booking, I’m not sure if there’s anything more frustrating than piecing together an amazing RTW award only to find out that the award space wasn’t really there.
While it’s a rare occurrence, I still like to double check with one of two methods. My favorite is to use ExpertFlyer to check each route a final time as I’ve found it to be the most reliable. If you don’t have an ExpertFlyer subscription, you can search each route with Aeroplan.
Use GCMap To Determine The Total Flight Miles
Rather than putting together all the flights you want and hoping you have enough ANA miles — or Membership Rewards points to transfer, you can use GCMap to calculate the total flight distance.
By entering your route with the respective airport codes, you’ll be able to quickly find how many ANA Mileage Club miles you’ll need based on the total flight miles.
Remember, you don’t need to ground transfer segments in this calculation.
If you want to estimate the total cost of taxes and fees, you can use ITA Matrix to search each segment. Specifically, the surcharges will be marked as YQ and/or YR — as you can see below.
Keep Surcharges To A Minimum
While ANA does pass on surcharges on award tickets, there are ways to avoid them or keep them to a minimum. It just takes remembering which carriers tack on these annoying surcharges before you get started with your search.
If you want to keep the cash cost down, you’ll want to a few European carriers which will charge more than $200 — sometimes much more — in surcharges:
- Air India
- Austrian Airlines
- Brussels Airlines
- South African Airways
- TAP Air Portugal
- Thai Airways
Carriers that will require more reasonable (if any) surcharges on long-hauls include:
- Air Canada
- Air New Zealand
- Asiana Airlines
- All Nippon Airways (ANA)
- Ethiopian Airlines
- EVA Air
- LOT Polish Airlines
- Scandinavian Airlines (SAS)
- Singapore Airlines
- Turkish Airlines
- United Airlines — except to/from Asia
Surcharges can vary a bit by the country from which you’re flying, but this should give you a general idea. In this case, I checked surcharges between the U.S. and the airline’s home country.
When you factor in the cost of surcharges and the miles required for an ANA Round The World award, I find that business class is the true sweet spot. For those trying to use as few miles as possible, economy class is an option but I think business class is the better value.
While a RTW first class award would be an amazing trip, there are a couple of things to consider. First, award space can be much more difficult to find, especially if you want to bring your significant other or a friend.
Second, a number of carriers don’t even have first class cabins so you’ll be flying business class on some segments at first class award rates.
Finally, you can’t even use ANA miles to book SWISS first class and you have to wait until two weeks from departure to even have the option of booking Lufthansa first class.
ANA Round The World Example Booking
Now that you have all the necessary info to book, let’s take a look at an example of what you could do with an ANA RTW award.
- Chicago (ORD) to Seoul (ICN) on Asiana — stopover (1)
- ICN to Taipei (TPE) on Asiana or EVA — stopover (2)
- TPE to Hong Kong (HKG) on EVA — stopover (3)
- HKG to Addis Ababa (ADD) on Ethiopian — stopover (4)
- ADD to Cairo (CAI) on Ethiopian or EgyptAir — stopover (5)
- CAI to Istanbul (IST) on EgyptAir or Turkish — stopover (6)
- IST to São Paulo (GRU) on Turkish — stopover (7)
- GRU to Buenos Aires (EZE) on Turkish or Ethiopian — stopover (8)
- EZE to Bogota (BOG) on Avianca — layover
- BOG to ORD on Avianca
As you can see from the map, this trip travel west to east and doesn’t backtrack at any point. Additionally, we’ve maxed out our stopovers with 8 and kept the total segments under the max of 12 at 10 total.
Talk about a massive trip!
The total flight distance on this trip comes out to 28,518 miles and will require 170,000 ANA Mileage Club miles to book (plus taxes/fees). For some context, United MileagePlus would require 180,000 miles for a round-trip to South Asia (with one stopover and one open jaw) on Star Alliance partners.
How To Earn ANA Mileage Club Miles
For my fellow Americans, American Express clearly provides the best way to get your hands on ANA Mileage Club miles thanks to an array of cards that earn Membership Rewards points.
You can transfer Membership Rewards points to ANA at a 1:1 rate and transfers usually process within a couple of days. Because of this transfer time, you’ll want to run a final search once your points have transferred. Since space could get swiped while you wait on the transfer, it’s best to have alternative flight options.
If you don’t quite have enough Amex points, Marriott Rewards points can serve as a backup in a pinch. You can earn Marriott points from your stays booked directly with Marriott and with any of several Marriott and SPG credit cards.
Lastly, First National Bank of Omaha (FNBO) issues a co-branded ANA card that earns ANA miles directly. Unfortunately, the earn rate on the card is pretty poor.
In early/mid-2018, I decided I was going to book one of these RTW adventures. After a fun Iberia Avios promo (June 2018), an awesome Hong Kong Airlines business class fare deal (August 2018) and an otherworldly Cathay Pacific first class (December 2018), I don’t really have the time this year.
If you have the time and the miles and points to make it happen, I highly recommend booking yourself a business class RTW with ANA miles. You’ll not only get to visit some amazing places along the way, but you’ll get there comfortably — perhaps with a nice glass of champagne (or two).
Perhaps, I’ll have for one of these trips in 2020. Until then, I’m going to have to live vicariously through you so tell me if you book one!