Guide to Booking ANA Around the World Award Tickets

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Booking ANA Around the World Award Tickets

Guide to ANA Around the World Award Tickets

Booing an around the world award ticket is one of those aspirational “bucket list” items for me as a points and miles nerd. There are a number of programs that offer around the world awards, but none offers them as such good rates as ANA. You can book a decent ANA around the world business class award for just 115,000 miles, which is an insane deal, considering that this is roughly a simple round-trip ticket with other programs.

In this post I want to get into the nitty gritty details about ANA around the world awards. This includes an overview of ticketing rules, to how to search for award space, to putting together your award with one of ANA’s phone reps. Putting together any around-the-world itinerary is quite an undertaking, but if this is something you’re highly interested in doing, it’s well worth the time investment.

Earning ANA Mileage Club Miles

Before I launch into the details of ANA around the world awards, I thought I’d cover the best ways to earn ANA miles. ANA Mileage Club is a transfer partner of strictly American Express Membership Rewards. No other bank programs partner with ANA. You can also transfer Marriott Bonvoy points to ANA Mileage Club, but I find that Membership Rewards are the easiest and best way to go.

Here are several credit cards that will help you boost your Membership Rewards balance:
  • Business Platinum Card from American Express – Earn 50,000 Membership Rewards points after spending $10,000 within the first 3 months. Earn an additional 25,000 points after spending and additional $10,000 within the first three months. The card comes with a $595 annual fee and an array of travel and business perks.
  • American Express Gold Card – Earn 35,000 Membership Rewards points after spending $4,000 within the first 3 months. The card has a $250 annual fee. The Amex Gold earns 4x at US supermarkets and restaurants worldwide plus offers dining and airline credits.
  • American Express Everyday Preferred Card – Earn 15,000 Membership Rewards points with a $95 annual fee after spending $1,000 in purchases within the first 3 months. The card earns 3x at US supermarkets, 2X at US gas stations and offers 50% more points if you make 30 or more transactions in a statement period.
  • American Express Everyday Card – 10,000 Membership Rewards points after spending $1,000 in purchases within your first 3 months. No annual fee, and earns 2x at US supermarkets and a 20% boost if you make 20 or more purchases in a statement period.
  • American Express Blue Business Plus Card – No public welcome offer, but you can earn 10,000 Membership Rewards points after $5,000 in spend within 3 months by using refer-a-friend bonuses. The card earns 2x Membership Rewards on all purchases, up to $50,000 per year. This is one of my favorite no-fee credit cards.

Remember that American Express has a once-per-lifetime rule regarding welcome offers on their products. My favorite cards for racking up lots of Membership Rewards on ongoing spend are the Gold Card (4x points on US supermarkets and restaurants) and the Blue Business Plus (2x points on all spend).

Now on to the details of booking ANA around the world award tickets.

ANA Around the World Award Rules

ANA has some fairly restrictive routing rules on their standard awards, including only being able to book round-trip awards, and needing to begin and end in the same country. Luckily, you’re a bit more free with routing on an around the world itinerary.

Here are the rules for ANA around the world award tickets:
  • Your trip must span at least 10 days from date of departure of first international flight to date of departure of the final international flight.
  • You must fly west-to-east or east-to-west and touch all three of ANA’s “zones” (Americas, Europe/Africa/ME, and Asia/Oceania)
  • You cannot backtrack
    • I’m fairly certain ANA is pretty strict on this. Each flight must be truly west-to-east or east-to-west. You can have as much north-south movement as you want.
  • You must cross the Atlantic and Pacific oceans once, and only once (which prevents much of the opportunity to backtrack)
  • Up to 8 stopovers are permitted between origin and final destination
    • Max of 3 stopovers in Europe
    • Max of 4 stopovers in Japan (because people would do this?)
  • You can have a maximum of 12 total segments and four ground transfers.
    • Transfer between airports in the same city (e.g. Tokyo Haneda and Tokyo Narita) unfortunately count toward your four.
  • Only Star Alliance airline partners may be used

The cost of the award is based on a chart specific to around-the-world awards, which I’ll cover next. Overall, you have plenty of room for creativity within ANA’s around the world routing rules. The 8 stopovers is plenty, although in some cases you might find it hard to stay within the 12 segment limit, especially if you live near a regional airport in the U.S. and will kill two getting to/from there domestically. Lots of nonstop awards will be needed between your stopover destinations.

ANA Around the World Award Chart

The award chart of ANA around the world tickets is distance-based. The normal chart has award regions and also seasonal pricing for ANA’s own flights. Luckily, the ANA around the world chart does not change seasonally. Here is the award chart:

ANA Around the World Award Chart

To calculate the price of your award, you need to add up all the flight segments to find the total miles traveled, which will place you in one of the award bands. If you have stopovers with a “break” (i.e. open jaw), this is not included in the total.

The first band that will be of use for an around the world award is likely the 14,000 to 18,000 mile band which prices at 105,000 miles for business class and 160,000 miles for first class. This would basically have you hugging the north pole as closely as possible as you transit around it.

The next three bands are likely the most useful, as you can plan an excellent trip under 25,000 miles. But if you want to visit all six inhabited continents on one award, you’ll likely end up pricing into one of the higher bands. Still, an around the world trip that has you visiting South America, Africa, Europe, Asia, and Oceania is still an excellent deal at 200,000 miles for business class.

ANA around the world awards

Searching For Award Space

While ANA has a decent website for searching for award space, I find that it is a bit limiting when it comes to planning around the world awards. First, you must log in to search. This means you must create a Mileage Plan account, which is a good thing if you ever plan to take advantage of these awards. The main annoyance I have is the requirement to search for round-trip flights, which isn’t helpful when you need to find a set of one-way awards.

I prefer to search for space with United. United returns a lot of options, and their results will often help you uncover other potential options, as many mixed class results are returned and partner flights not directly between the city pair search show up better.

Another option is Aeroplan. The search engine for the Canadian flag carrier had lots of problems a matter of months ago, but my searches lately have been returning good results.

The downside to searching with a non-ANA program is that you may run into phantom award space. I’d plan to check all segments through ANA’s search engine before moving on to book, just to be sure the space is available.

Finding An Example Award

Here is an example ANA around the world award. I prefer to fly west-to-east, and there are lots of options for booking flights departing from San Francisco here on the West Coast. To start things off, I found space on Star Alliance partner EVA to Taipei in business class. The following segments took me to Tokyo, Seoul, Rome, Munich, Athens, Cairo, and Washington D.C. before returning me home to California.

Here is the full itinerary:
  • San Francisco to Tokyo on ANA
  • Tokyo to Seoul on Asiana
  • Seoul to Taipei on EVA
  • Taipei to Bangkok on Thai
  • Bangkok to Addis Ababa on Ethiopian
  • Addis Ababa to Cairo on Egyptair
  • Cairo to Athens on Aegean
  • Athens to Rome on Aegean
  • Rome to San Francisco on United via Newark

This maximizes my 8 stopovers and has a total of 10 segments. The total distance traveled is 22,317 miles, according to the Great Circle Mapper. This places me at the lower end of the 22,001 to 25,000 band, which requires 145,000 ANA miles for business class.

One downside to ANA is the amount of fuel surcharges they levy. For some carriers this is fairly low (e.g. United, EVA, Avianca). For others, the charges are extremely high. You’ll note that I avoided Lufthansa for a long-haul. Their surcharges are some of the worst.

I’m not sure exactly what this itinerary would cost, but between airport taxes and fuel surcharges, I would expect to pay between $600 and $900 in fees for a business class award.

ANA around the world award example

Booking Your ANA Around the World Award

One of the only downsides to booking an ANA around the world award is that you must do it over the phone. Before calling up ANA, I would note down the following:

  • A full itinerary including the following for each segment:
    • Date, origin, destination, carrier, flight number, and class of service
  • Backup flight options, in case ANA cannot see the award space you found through another program
  • Total miles traveled, to know which band it should price into (I typically use MileCalc to determine flight miles)
  • All passenger details (make sure you register family as award users before you call to book!)

Once you are set with everything you need, call ANA at (800) 235-9262. ANA has a guide to their call center wait times, and calling after 5:00 PM Pacific Time is probably your best best. Agents speak English and Japanese.

You’ll need to request to book an ANA around the world award and feed the agent each segment with all info described above. Hopefully, if things go according to plan, you’ll end the call with a confirmed reservation.

One note: ANA miles do not transfer instantaneously, and awards cannot be put on hold. Transfers of Membership Rewards take 3-4 days for them to post to your Mileage Club account.

Conclusion

I’ll always argue that ANA around the world award tickets are one of the best possible uses of American Express Membership Rewards. With an attractive distance-based ATW chart and a plethora of partners with great premium cabin products, this would really be a dream trip. One day I know I’ll get around to booking one of these, although it may be a couple years down the road. Let’s hope ANA maintains their loyalty program as-is until then!

Maps generated by the Great Circle Mapper – copyright © Karl L. Swartz.

16 COMMENTS

  1. Can you backtrack for a connection if there’s no stop? Some programs allow this and some don’t.
    Any idea how strict ANA is on the family member requirement on awards?

    • Not sure on that rule for backtracking. They may not be that strict?

      They *are* strict on the family member requirement. It must be a relationship on their published chart.

  2. Ana is a Japanese program and of course people would stop multiple times in Japan. I find it offensive that you actually add a comment. If u check the regular domestic ticket for Japanese (unlike foreigners fare). It would save a lot of Japanese money if most of the flights are within Japan despite paying for RTW ticket. I think your question demonstrate your ignorance. (Japanese have many other people ways to earn Ana miles beside amex transfer)

    • I’m not sure how to take this. Absolutely no offense intended. I don’t see how booking a round-the-world trip would be a better option than two other round-trip tickets within Japan. You’re highly constrained by the W->E or E->W requirement.

      In terms of foreigners stopping multiple times in Japan, it makes little sense to burn four of your stops here. You can book other short hops with cash or fewer miles (or take the train) for intra-Japan travel, saving your stopovers for other locations.

  3. I put up a comment here a while ago that was seemingly pulled down. I can’t imagine what the problem would be with my question.

    • All comments go into moderation if they appear to be the first from a particular person. Depending on who is addressing them, it can take up to several hours for comments to be approved. Don’t worry…we got your first. 😉

  4. do you have to end your trip from the city you started? Or you can end from the country you started? ie in your example you Started in SFO and end in SFO, but can one Start in SFO and end say in EWR?

    • I don’t believe you need to end in the same city. Just same country. I believe starting in SFO and ending in EWR is entirely valid.

      • How would you know if your plan doesn’t work, i.e. the above SFO / EWR, or a north / south segment that actually is backtracking? Does the ANA agent tell you, specifically, or just sorry, won’t work?

        • I would point them to the ANA rules for the EWR/SFO (same country, different airport) issue. In terms of backtracking on highly N-S segments, it might be up to agent discretion.

  5. Great blog. The rules state a minimum time of 10 days for the trip, but not a maximum time the complete trip must be taken.

    If one flew from Japan to Australia, would that be east>west, or west>east?

    Would that qualify for flying over the Pacific?

    • Maximum is simply through the end of the schedule at time of booking. No hard max. You could fly half of it over a period, have a long break at home, and fly the other half months later.

      Japan to Australia is an interesting one. I believe HND-SYD is west -> east, but NRT-PER is east -> west. All based on longitudinal movement.

      Flying over the Pacific I believe would be from the Americas to Asia/Australia.

  6. As I understand it, Virgin Air miles can be used to book with ANA but that is not mentioned here. Is that because this is not applicable for this typed of award travel. I only scanned the article and didn’t see it but maybe I missed it. Thanks.

    • Virgin Atlantic Miles are great for round-trips in premium cabins on ANA. They unfortunately can’t be used for ATW trips, but it wouldn’t be possible anyway, as you need to include Star Alliance partners to put together an ATW award.

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