ANA 777 First Class Suites Review (ORD to HND) [2021]

Japanese-based ANA (All Nippon Airways) has a very highly regarded first class product that many rave about. ANA’s first class suite on their Boeing 777 offers a suite that might not be industry leading, but their first class service and food outshine almost any other airline.

In this review, I will share my most recent experience flying ANA first class from Chicago to Tokyo. I’ll also cover things like my booking with miles and points, fees, lounge experiences, and everything else in-between.



ANA has a number of routes from Tokyo Hanada – HND (which is their downtown airport) and Tokyo Narita – NRT (which is an airport further away from downtown.)

  • Chicago – ORD serves HND and NRT
  • New York – JFK serves HND and NRT
  • Los Angeles – LAX serves HND and NRT
  • Honolulu – HNL serves HND and NRT
  • San Fransico – SFO serves NRT
  • Houston – IAH serves NRT
  • Washinton DC – IAD serves NRT
  • Seattle – SEA serves NRT (no first class)
  • San Jose – SJC serves NRT (no first class)
  • Mexico City – MEX serves NRT (no first class)

Miles and points and fees

Since I was redeeming miles for myself and Yuka with completely different needs for itineraries, I ended up redeeming both Avianca LifeMiles and Virgin Atlantic Flying Club miles.

For myself, I booked using LifeMiles considering I wanted a one-way award without any want to go back home. Thus, it ended up costing me 90,000 LifeMiles one-way for Chicago – ORD to Toyko – HND. LifeMiles doesn’t add fuel surcharges, so the fees equaled $30.60 USD.

LifeMiles transfers from Amex Membership Rewards or Citi ThankYou Points (and now Capital One). Plus, LifeMiles runs many promotions for buying miles on the cheap, which I ended up doing because I didn’t want to transfer points and instead pay for this flight because of the promotion.

For Yuka, I booked using Virgin Atlantic miles since she was going from Japan to the USA but needed to go back to Japan. Virgin Atlantic miles has a sweet spot with ANA first class. For 120,000 miles roundtrip in first class, you can go from the east-coast to Japan and then back to the US. Plus, it allows open jaws, just no one-way itineraries. Thus, Yuka did HND to New York – JFK for the outbound and her return ORD to HND.

The one downside with using Virgin Atlantic mile is the fact that they impose fuel surcharges. While it’s not a huge issue, it does add up if you add more than one person to the award. For Yuka, her fees equaled $335.41 USD. Big difference in fees, but I would still redeem Virgin Atlantic miles for ANA first-class again since they offer excellent transfer promotions from Amex Membership Rewards a few times a year.

Remember, Virgin Atlantic is a transfer partner of Chase so this could be one of the most valuable first class redemptions for your Chase Ultimate Rewards.

We chose window seats ending in K.

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ORD Lounge

One of my favorite domestic lounges in the US would be the United Polaris Lounge.

Since ANA doesn’t have any flights to Detroit – DTW. I have many airports to choose from for our flight to Japan. Since flying out of ORD last year on my ANA first class flight and experiencing the United Polaris lounge, I find it one of the best lounges in the US.

The lounge is exclusive since business or first class passengers have access into the lounge. You cannot access the lounge any other way, not even status gets you in.

The entrance of ORD United Polaris lounge

The lounge has lots of amenities from a restaurant-style dining room, buffet dining room, nap rooms, shower rooms, and a bar. The seating varies from tables, lounge chairs, to private cubbies with pull out desks.

My favorite is the restaurant-style dining room where you can sit down and order off the menu. While it takes a while for orders to come to your tables or the disappearance of waiters/waitresses, it’s still proper dining with a lovely menu and decent food.

Herbed-crusted Pacific salmon ordered in the dining room.

The showers and nap rooms are first come, first served. I love the showers in particular since the floor is heated and could be controlled to your leisure. Even for an evening flight like ours, the lounge didn’t fill up like the likes of the EWR United Polaris lounge.

ORD United Polaris lounge.
ORD United Polaris lounge.
ORD United Polaris lounge.

There are no boarding announcements for the flight. However, airlines like Lufthansa and ANA do walk around giving updates on delayed flights in a calm, but a noticeable tone of voice.


Since our flight was leaving late, about 30 minutes late, we ended up arriving later than most.

ORD isn’t my favorite airport. Gate seating is not enough for the 100s of passengers for certain flights like ours. The lines also go out of the gate forcing people to avoid these long lines walking to other gates. Notice the first and diamond line not having enough room in the gate area and is forced to go into the middle of the terminal. The same goes with the economy and business class lines, but far worse.

In the photo, the first class and diamond elite line and passengers were eager to get on. First class, ANA Diamond elites, people needing assistance, and families boarding started first. First class and Diamonds use their own jet bridge and people requiring assistant and families using the business and economy jetbridge.

First class and ANA Diamond elite boarding line.

Once we were onboard, we were greeted by two friendly first class flight attendants that escorted us to our seats.

Boarding ANA 777
Yuka being escorted to her seat, which was seat 2K.

The first class seat

The first class cabin is a 2 row 1-2-1 configuration. These seats are considered by SeatGuru to be open suites. The seat itself will remind you of a lounge chair with the feature of going into the fully lie-flat position for bed-mode.

I personally like these seats. They aren’t my favorite for looking out of the window, nighttime flights don’t really matter, but the amount of storage compartments and privacy makes the seat somewhat awesome and niche. There is a place for everything on both walls, under the ottoman, in the ottoman, and on the shelf. In terms of design looks, I do like it as well, but that is subjective. It’s basically a mini-office cubical.

I would also love to note how clean and well maintained these seats are. One reason why I love flying Japanese full-service airlines, like ANA and JAL, is the fact that they do such a great job at cleaning and maintaining the seat conditions.

ANA first class seat 1K
ANA first class seat 1K
ANA first class seat 1K
ANA first class seat 1K
ANA first class seat 1K
ANA first class seat 1K

These seats are amazing for privacy and by far one of the most private seats without a door. However, the window seat does suck if you want to look out of the window since they make you lean forward. The middle seats also have the same problem making you lean forward to see your partner on the other side of the wall.

Luckily, sitting in the middle still allows you to close that tiny divider for ultimate privacy. So, because of those reasons we chose to sit both in the window seats and just come over to visit each other during the flight.

Waiting at our seats were a Samsonite amenity kit, headphones, PJs, and a cardigan. Once I got settled into my seat, the crew asked what I wanted to drink. I asked for a glass of champagne.

Champagne as my pre-departure beverage.

The crew then walks around asking if you want anything from their basket of goodies like Shiseido lip balm, toothbrush, earplugs, relaxation scent card, etc. Then they give you the wifi card good for 100MB of data, and later on, they ask if you need arrival cards. OnAir is their wifi provider and is not my favorite provider since it’s slow, not as fast, and also has data limits, unlike their competitors. I prefer JAL’s wifi which has unlimited data.

ANA first class seat 1K displaying their new safety video.
ANA first class wifi card and arrival cards.

During our decent, I filmed a mini seat tour trying to show all the compartments and what it looks like when sitting in the seat:


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ANA first class dining

Once the plane was in the air and the seatbelt sign was turned off the crew went into action. The crew were very diligent and began taking Yuka’s drink order first and then asked for my drink order.

The amuse and my drink order came out. The amuse served this flight was a roasted duck and kumquat pincho, grape and goat cheese ball with pistachio, smoked salmon and scallop tartar in bouchee pie, and cheese pepper bars. The drink I ordered was Krug Champagne.  I didn’t care for the amuse much.

Bottle of 2004 Krug Champagne
Krug Champagne and amuse.

After finishing the Amuse, I was asked for my meal order. I told the flight attendant I wasn’t hungry and didn’t want to eat. However, after relaxing a few hours, I was hungry and thirsty. I pressed the call button and immediately the flight attendant arrived. I told her I was hungry and asked if I could order my meal now. She asked what I wanted and was happy to prepare my meal.

Shortly after she took my meal order another flight attendant brought me a warm towel and started to set my table.

Warm towel
ANA first class dining table presentation

I love the olive oil, butter, salt, and pepper presentation.

Salt and pepper with butter and olive oil.

For my appetizer, I ordered parsnip mousse with caviar. The parsnip mousse was okay, but it was nice to have something different besides the standard caviar setup. ANA does provide a mother of pearl spoon with the caviar. A flight attendant brought me the bread basket filled with a few different options, I opted for sourdough bread.

Parsnip mousse with caviar
Parsnip mousse with caviar

Another appetizer was the garden salad topped with blue cheese and bacon served with Japanese style dressing. Surprisingly, the menu only says garden salad and the types of dressing available. I find it weird that they don’t describe the salad to be topped with blue cheese and bacon. I am a fan of blue cheese and enjoyed the salad, but I know many people that aren’t.

Garden salad topped with blue cheese and bacon served with Japanese style dressing
Garden salad topped with blue cheese and bacon served with Japanese style dressing

For the main, I ordered the vegetable ravioli with curry-flavored cream sauce. For anyone that knows me, I love curry. Since it’s a curry cream sauce, it ended up not being spicy. The ravioli noodles weren’t too hard or too soft. The only change I would make to the dish is for the dish to be spicy. Overall though, I enjoyed eating this dish.

Vegetable ravioli with curry-flavored cream sauce
Vegetable ravioli with curry-flavored cream sauce

I ended up skipping dessert and the cheese plate since I was super full.

After the meal, I wanted to sleep so they made my bed and I ended up sleeping for a bit. I woke up and wanted to visit Yuka. ANA doesn’t support a dual dining experience, but if the seat is in bed mode, there is more than enough room for me to sit by the IFE display. There is also enough room us to pull out the table and dine together. Of course, we asked if it’s okay and the crew said it’s alright unless there is turbulence.

In bed mode, I was able to sit and dine with Yuka

Yuka ended up ordering ramen. ANA serves special ramen on routes to Japan and it’s called IPPUDO rich-tasting miso “DAICHI” ramen. We both shared one bowl loving it and really enjoyed the rich flavors it had. This bowl of ramen my favorite dish out of all the dishes we had and Yuka’s second favorite dish after her steak.

IPPUDO rich-tasting miso “DAICHI” ramen
IPPUDO rich-tasting miso “DAICHI” ramen

Me being me, I became more hungry and wanted to have some curry. I ordered ANA original curry and the dish presentation was lacking. However, the rice was cooked correctly and the curry tasted better than how it actually looks.

ANA original curry and steamed rice

Then we ordered ice cream, which was vanilla and caramel ice cream. However, the crew made a special plate presentation with a plane (they remember me mentioning how I love planes), flowers, dry ice to resemble clouds, and happy written in chocolate. An adorable display and shows how far the crew will go.

A special ice cream presentation for Yuka and I
A special ice cream presentation for Yuka and I

After the ice cream, I was still hungry and ordered seafood over steamed rice. It was very good and surprisingly fresh. The side of wasabi was right and didn’t remind me of the cheap packets of wasabi that you would get from the grocery store.

Seafood over steamed rice
Seafood over steamed rice

ANA first class service

ANA is one of those special airlines that shines in every cabin for service. No matter if you fly economy, premium economy, business, or first, you will find that service is very attentive and professional, and it’s partly because the service industry in Japan is known to be the best in terms of professional and polite service, yet somewhat robotic.

However, the crew on this flight wasn’t robotic, but it was the opposite. They were very down to earth, got to know us, laughed, very attentive on how much water I drank and even offered me a 1-liter bottle of water, and professional all at the same time. While this doesn’t hit the mark of the most fun crew I have ever had on a flight, but this crew was definitely the best when it came down to how considerate and attentive they were.

ANA first class bed

Once you’re ready for bed, you can ask one of the flight attendants that you are ready to sleep and they will offer to make your bed. On this flight, I ended up having a pleasant nap since I ended up eating and talking to Yuka, most of the flight.

ANA provides a mattress pad, proper blanket, two pillows (one is memory foam), and the thinner blanket provided. The bed is wide and long. I like to sleep on my stomach or on my side and the bed provides a lot of space for me to do so. The pillows are the right size since ANA gives you two different pillows. Having the choice between two different pillows makes a huge difference.

The only negative thing about the bed is the fact that the mattress pad is just okay. While it adds comfort, it’s not much comfort and it’s not as nice as some other first class mattress pads.

ANA first class bed
ANA first class bed

Final word

This flight from Chicago to Tokyo flying ANA first class was one of the top 3 flights I have ever taken. The flight shined since the crew was being so loving and attentive. Then the food that was super yummy and made for a wonderful dining experience. Plus, this flight is one of the easiest and cheapest first class redemptions with reasonable surcharges that are avoidable.

I would definitely fly ANA again and was glad to share the experience with Yuka as well.

This article was originally published by Steve Smith.

ANA Reveals New A380 Features with New First Class

Japan-based ANA (All Nippon Airways) just revealed their new A380 cabin which will serve the leisure route from Tokyo to Honolulu beginning in the spring of 2019. This is going to be the first route served by the A380 for ANA and they’ll actually operate three A380s in total.

There’s a lot of marketing going into this launch. Back in 2017 ANA held a contest for livery designs and announced one winner. Some felt like the winning livery was a bit hideous but personally I loved it.

But now it turns out that ANA has opted to put on a special livery on their other two A380s. These will incorporate different colors meant to symbolize things like the “crystal clear waters of the Hawaiian ocean” and “beautiful Hawaiian sunset[s],”  while the original blue livery symbolizes the sky.

While the new liveries are fun, the real fun is in the configuration and layout of the new A380 cabin.

The new ANA A380 cabin

ANA published the new seat map of the A380 which reveals a few interesting details. It’s going to have eight First Class seats, 56 Business Class seats, and 73 Premium Economy seats on the upper deck. Meanwhile the lower deck will consist of 383 Economy Class seats, which includes 60 “couch seats.”

The new first class suites and business class seats

This is the first time ANA is offering first class on this route and the new suites look very sleek and impressive. Personally, I love the black suites which come with huge 32-inch monitors, the same size of the screens on the new Singapore Suites.

The new business class seats look pretty good too. The footwells look like they have a decent amount of room, there’s plenty of counter space, and they give you the option to sit close to each other or far apart for the middle seats.

Since this is a vacation/honeymoon destination, it makes sense they would offer “honey moon” seats in business class.

The ANA Couchii looks like an interesting product and seems like something more airlines like Air New Zealand are considering these days. The additional “ii” in Couchii is seems to be part of the overall “ANA HAWAii” marketing scheme meant to signify the “numerous excitements that passengers are able to experience including cabin features.”

Bars and multi-purpose rooms

One thing that I think is really interesting about these A380s is that they will feature multiple on-board bars and even a multi-purpose room “where new mothers will be able to tend to their babies and passengers will be able to change before arriving at their destination.”

I’m very interesting to see how they implement their on-board bars. The layout of the seat map reminds me of the Korean Air A380 with multiple bars located throughout the cabin but on ANA even economy passengers will be able to visit their own bar, which is pretty cool.

The flights between Hawaii and Tokyo are going to be around 8 to 9 hours so this isn’t a terribly long flight but that’s still plenty of time to be able to have some fun at the bar. Given the leisure route, I’d expect there to be a party vibe at these bars, since many in-flight bars already get that way and this one will have a lot of vacationers on it. I suspect many people will be battling hangovers before they even touch down in Hawaii.

While you can’t book these flights yet, for a roundtrip in first class you’re looking at about 130,000 ANA or United miles while business can be as cheap as 65,000 miles roundtrip on ANA. Since ANA is a partner of American Express, you could earn enough ANA miles for a roundtrip business class ticket between Japan and Hawaii with a single sign-up bonus + minimum spend on the Platinum Card from American Express.

Final word

Overall, it’s a little bit odd that ANA is using their A380s for this route as opposed to longer routes but perhaps this is all part of their overall marketing scheme which they are clearly focused on for this route. I think that the product looks great though and this would certainly be a fun way to get to Hawaii.

ANA Reveals Special Livery for New A380 to Hawaii

On March 6, Japan’s largest airline, ANA, announced a special livery for its new A380 flights that will fly between Tokyo and Honolulu.

This special livery was designed by Tokyo resident, Chihiro Masuoka, and was selected out of a pool of 2,197 submissions from around the world that were part of an open competition, organized by ANA. The design features a large Hawaiian Green Sea Turtle (along with its little ones), which the airline says is a sign of “prosperity and good luck.” For the winning design, Chihiro Masuoka was also given roundtrip business-class tickets for ANA’s Tokyo-Honolulu route… not bad.


The design titled, Sea Turtle Family, will be painted on ANA’s first A380 which will be delivered by Airbus in early 2019. ANA will then become the first Japanese airline to fly the A380. Two more A380s are set to be delivered later in the year of 2019. In Hawaii, they call the green sea turtle “Honu” and so ANA is dubbing its A380 the “Flying Honu.”

There are actually four runner up designs that ANA revealed. The Kirkuma design looks interesting to me but I definitely think that the right winner was chosen based on the other designs. Although I love the “spirit” of the design of the Stephen+Cayden (I’m assuming painted by a kid in MS Paint), I don’t think a lot of people would “get it,” so I think ANA chose the right design.


Anything new for the A380 cabin?

According to the press release, “ANA is moving forward with preparations to offer new passenger services to coincide with the introduction of the A380, and will provide updates as they become available.”

It doesn’t sound like any revolutionary seating design is on the way by the sound of that language (emphasis on “services”), so it looks like ANA will be sticking to its current product for now (which is quite good). 

If you’re not familiar with ANA they are one of my favorite airlines because they offer such great redemption rates (often with little fees) and are a partner of American Express Membership Rewards. For more on ANA, read here about reasons why they are a powerhouse airline.

8 Reasons Why ANA Is a Powerhouse Airline

I don’t hear people talk about ANA (All Nippon Airways) as much as I think they should. ANA is the largest airline out of Japan and it offers some of the most valuable redemptions out of any airline to a host of different continents. It’s also very easy to rack up ANA miles with American Express, allowing travelers a pretty quick and easy option for accumulating enough miles to fly in premium cabins to wherever they want to go. So here’s a look at 8 reasons why ANA is a powerhouse airline. 

1) Sweet spots

ANA consistently ranks atop many of the sweet spot articles I put together, especially for business class. If you’re eyeing a trip to Europe, Asia, Australia, or pretty much anywhere and you want to be afforded the luxury of flying in business class at a reasonable rate then ANA is almost always one of the top choices.

Take a look at some of their amazing redemptions:

North America to Europe

  • Business class: 88,000 miles
  • Economy: 55,000 miles

Europe is a perfect destination for using ANA miles because it shouldn’t be impossible to find availability on United flights and it’s a superb destination for stopovers. You’ll probably have to cough a little up for fees when you fly into places like London, Paris and other places but even when you do, those fees won’t be too bad if you’re flying with United. For example, I found roundtrip flights from Chicago to Munich with only $135 in total fees.

Only a couple of other airlines like Korean Air, JAL, etc., can compete with ANA’s ridiculously low rates to Europe.

North America to South America

  • Business class: 88,000 miles
  • Economy: 55,000 miles

You can use United and other Star Alliance partners to get around fuel surcharges when using ANA to book tickets to South America. For example, Houston to Rio De Janerio is only 88,000 miles in business class and the fees are only $62! Most other airlines will require 20,000 or more points for that same route.

North America to Africa and the Middle East

  • Business class: 104,000 miles
  • Economy: 65,000 miles

You’ll probably have to pay some pretty hefty fuel surcharges unless you get kind of lucky when using ANA miles to get to Africa but paying fees when you only have to spend 104,000 miles is not that bad of a deal.

North America to Japan

  • Business class: 75,000 miles
  • Economy: 40,000 miles

The rates for booking an ANA flight for only 75,000 miles roundtrip in low season in business class can come with fees as low as $86! That means with one Amex credit card and $86 in fees you could get a roundtrip business class to Japan and even stopover in Hawaii if you wanted. This is, in my opinion, one of the most valuable redemptions available. Consider that if you wanted to book a roundtrip in business class just to Hawaii with United, it would actually require more miles (80,000) than ANA requires to get to both Japan and Hawaii

Thus, if you’re planning a trip to Japan, definitely consider this option.

One of the top redemptions out there!

North American to Australia

  • Economy: 75,000
  • Business Class: 105,000+

I found ANA flights to Australia with less than $200 in total fees! Keep in mind that you should be able to stopover in a place like Fiji or French Polynesia for no additional expense. For 105,000 miles roundtrip that’s just ridiculous!

2) Membership Rewards

Another reason to love ANA is that you’re able to transfer to ANA from Membership Rewards at a 1:1 ratio. Why is this so great? Because American Express Membership Rewards offers many different cards with very generous sign-up bonuses.

  • EveryDay Card (25K)
  • EveryDay Preferred Card (30K)
  • Green Card (25K)
  • Gold Card (25K)
    • Different versions of this card available
  • Premier Rewards Gold Card (50K)
  • Platinum Card from American Express (100K)
    • There are about 6 versions of this card, although not all offer such great sign-up bonuses
  • Business Platinum Card from American Express (100K)
  • Business Rewards Gold Card (75K)

That means that you could earn 125K on sign-up bonuses before ever paying an annual fee (and receiving $100 in airline credits) with the Premier Rewards Gold Card and the Business Rewards Gold Card (the annual fees are waived the first year). That’s more than enough to get to to Australia roundtrip in business class. And if you just added one more card like a Green Card (with annual fee also waived the first year), you could have 150K + Membership Rewards, enough to get two people roundtrip business class to Japan. All with just three cards. That’s amazing.

3) Star Alliance (and other partners)

ANA is a member of the Star Alliance along with United Airlines. ANA also doesn’t pass on fuel surcharges for United. This is another reason why I love ANA so much. You could book the same United flight to Europe with ANA miles instead of United miles and end up saving over 20,000 miles! And pay no fuel surcharges.

ANA also partners with a number of other airlines like Hawaiian Airlines, Virgin Atlantic, and Etihad among others.

Etihad Business Class
Etihad business class can be booked with ANA miles.

4) Fees and fuel surcharges

ANA does have fuel surcharges and fees on its metal on many partners (besides United) and that’s the one drawback of the program. However, sometimes the total fees aren’t bad at all. Just take a look at the booking above to Japan on ANA — fees were only $86 and only $62 for getting to South America! Thus, while you’ll have to watch out for fees on alliance partners like Lufthansa and Brussels Airlines, it’s definitely possible to get to your destination on ANA without shelling out a lot of cash on fees and fuel surcharges.

5) Search feature

A lot of alliance partners don’t allow you to search for award availability for other partners on their website and that’s really annoying because that means you’ll always have to call in to book and you’re not sure what that airline is seeing in terms of award availability. However, you can usually pull up a substantial amount of partner awards using ANA’s search function. And you can even search for multi-city itineraries.

The problem is that the search function can be a bit shoddy with its incessant error messages at times, although sometimes it works okay.  Hopefully, ANA will work that out some time in the future but it’s still nice to be able to have a working online search function.

6) Awards on hold

You can put reservations on hold for 24 to 48 hours by calling on (although YMMV). Transfer times from Membership Rewards take 2 to 3 days so you’re kind of cutting it close with the transfer time but at least they give you the option. 

7) Stopovers and routing rules

One stopover is allowed on either leg so you can maximize your routing subject to other routing rules. As mentioned, one of the very popular stopovers is Hawaii while coming or going to Japan. Not only that but you can also get up to two open jaws, allowing you maximum flexibility and endless options for maximizing the value of your miles. 

The only real drawback to ANA is that they don’t permit one-way awards and have somewhat restricting rules on connections, so that’s something you always have to consider. 

8) Great product

ANA is known for having a great business class and first class product with both great food and service. It’s not uncommon to see ANA listed in the top 10 for premium cabins. They give you plenty of room and storage space in their business class cabins and also even provide you with suites on their first class product. You can’t ask for much more. 

Business Class, ANA B787 DreamlinerANA business class on 787. Photo by Jason Lawton.

Final word 

Overall, ANA is a beast of an airline. They have some of the best sweet spots out of any airline, it’s extremely easy to accumulate ANA miles with American Express credit cards, they have great booking policies, many different routes with minimal fees, and a superb product to go along with all of that. They’re definitely one of my favorite airlines, no question. 

Cover Photo by Christian Junker via Flickr


The Best Ways to Use Miles and Points to Get to Europe

There are a number of ways to use miles and points to get to Europe for very cheap. Some of the best redemptions depend on your specific route and destination but others are great deals regardless of where you’re departing from and landing. Here’s a list of 8 of the best ways to use points and miles to get to Europe! 

Update: See my article on the best way to use miles and points to get to Paris for a more in-depth look at getting to Europe. 

1) Flying Blue

  • 25,000 miles (depends on the promo)
  • 50,000 miles – Standard redemption to Europe Flying Blue

Photo by Can Pac Swire via Flickr

Flying Blue offers amazing promo deals that sometimes offer as much as 50% off to Europe! These deals pop up at the beginning of each month so you’ll need to keep a close on them to take advantage of them. Even if you don’t catch one of the promo deals, the standard rate of 50,000 miles roundtrip to Europe is not bad, especially if you can minimize the fees by booking with a SkyTeam alliance partner like Delta. Flying Blue also allows you one stopover and one open jaw so you have increased value. 

How to get miles for Flying Blue

  • American Express Membership Rewards
  • Chase Ultimate Rewards
  • Starwood Preferred Guests
  • Citi Thankyou Points

2) British Airways Avios

British Airways Avios operates on a distance-based chart, so to take advantage of these best redemption rates you need to be departing from the East Coast of the United States and landing somewhere in Western Europe. However, even if you’re coming from the West Coast, some of the redemptions can still be pretty decent. And remember, with British Airways you can stopover and/or open jaw pretty much anywhere but you’ll have to factor in the increased distance added to your redemption.

London Heathrow U.K. - British Airways Flag carrier

Photo by Daniel Mennerich

There are several ways to take advantage of the British Airways Avios distance-based system when getting to Europe. I’ll show you how to utilize these Avios with three different One World airlines, including British Airways.

a) Aer Lingus

  • 25,000 Avios – Boston to Dublin
  • 40,000 Avios – NYC/Chicago/Toronto to Dublin
  • 50,000 Avios – LA/San Francisco to Dublin

One popular way to get to Europe with British Airways is to book flights with the Irish airlines Aer Lingus. The Boston to Dublin route is highly valuable because it contains a total of 2,987 miles, which puts it just under the 3,000 mile range of the next bracket for British Airways. That’s how you can do a round trip for only 25,000 Avios and the route is only about 6 hours so it’s very doable in economy. Check here for a list of all Aer Lingus direct flights from North America.

You’ll need to search United’s website to find availability for Aer Lingus and then call in to British Airways to proceed with the booking.

b) British Airways

  • 34,000 Avios – NYC to Dublin

Off-peak flights from the East Coast to Europe can be as low as 34,000 Avios. However, I don’t generally recommend to fly with British Airways to Europe because you will get hit with heavy fuel surcharges. Take a look at the fees for the route below.

Screen Shot 2016-04-27 at 1.16.42 PM

While the off-peak redemption requires fewer miles than the Aer Lingus redemption, it also requires much more in fees than the same route would require booked with Aer Lingus.

c) Air Berlin

  • 40,000 Avios – NYC to Berlin
  • 40,000 Avios – NYC/Boston to Düsseldorf
  • 50,000 Avios – Chicago/Miami to Berlin
  • 50,000 Avios – Ft. Meyers/Miami to Düsseldorf

Air Berlin is a solid choice to get to Europe from the East Coast with minimal fees. Just take a look at the redemption below… the fees pale in comparison to what you would have to pay if you booked a British Airways flight on its own metal. 

Screen Shot 2016-04-27 at 1.12.17 PM

How to get British Airways Avios

  • American Express Membership Rewards (10:8)
  • Starwood Preferred Guests
  • Chase Ultimate Rewards
  • Chase British Airways Credit Card

3) Iberia Airlines Plus

  • 34,000 Avios – NYC/Chicago to Madrid
  • 42,500 – Miami to Madrid Iberia Airlines

Photo by Bernal Saborio via Flickr.

Iberia Airlines Plus is part of the same Avios system as British Airways and implements a distance-based system as well. However, it has its own unique redemption policies that do differ and has an advantage over British Airways in that you can avoid higher taxes and fees.

One sweet redemption is getting from Chicago or New York to Madrid for only 34,000 Avios and “only” about $180-$200 in fees (which compared to British Airways is actually not bad). You can lower the fees by booking flights on American Airlines, but keep in mind that the milage requirement will go up since Iberia charges more miles for certain partners and you can’t book one-way awards on American Airlines with Iberia

How to get Iberia Avios

  • American Express Membership Rewards (10:8)
  • Transfer 1:1 from British Airways Avios

4) Singapore Airlines

  • 34,000 miles – East Coast (JFK and Houston) to Europe II

Photo by Pieter van Marion via Fickr.

Singapore Airlines is another great way get to Europe but you’re restricted geographically just like British Airways. If you depart from the East Coast/Houston to “Europe II,” you can get rates as low as 34,000 roundtrip if you capture the online 15% booking discount. The following locations fall into the Europe II category:

  • Barcelona
  • Frankfurt
  • London
  • Manchester
  • Milan
  • Moscow
  • Munich
  • Paris
  • Zurich

However, you need to note that Singapore Airlines will charge you significant fees. For example, I came across the following fees when trying out some bookings:

  • NYC to Frankfurt – $464
  • Houston to Moscow – $393

You can get around these hefty fees by booking Star Alliance partner United with Singapore Airlines. As shown on their Star Alliance partner award chart, flights from North America to Europe can be booked as low as 55,000 miles, but partner airlines are not given the 15% discount and the redemption rates are higher, so the deal is not to sweet (though still decent). 

One thing to remember: Singapore Airlines allows one stopover and one open jaw on round trip saver awards to everywhere except Europe and the U.S.

How to get Singapore Airlines Krisflyer miles

  • American Express Membership Rewards
  • Starwood Preferred Guests
  • Chase Ultimate Rewards
  • Citi Thankyou Points

5) American Airlines

  • 45,000 to Europe American Airlines

Photo by ERIC SALARD via Flickr.

American Airlines MileSAAver awards allow for redemptions to Europe as low as 45,000 round trip. Try to avoid booking British Airways flights on the American Airlines website to cut down on fees charged. If you stick with American Airlines you can keep your fees as low as about $50 but if you route with British Airways through London, your fees can easily amount to $650 plus.

American Airlines does not allow for stopovers at international destinations although open jaws are permitted. The lack of stopovers is a bummer but if you only have your sights set on one destination in Europe this becomes less of a concern and the roundtrip for 45,000 becomes much sweeter.

How to get American Airlines Aadvantage miles

  • Citi Platinum Select/Executive
  • Citigold Checking bonuses
  • Starwood Preferred Guests

6) Korean Air

  • 50,000 miles to Europe

korean air plane

Photo by My16SidedOffice via Flickr.

Korean offers decent redemptions to Europe. When booking with a SkyTeam partner you are allowed one stopover during the entire journey that can be in the zone of departure or arrival and one “surface segment” (open jaw) at the destination that is not considered a stopover. This allows for great flexibility when booking. Korean Air will often require surcharges when getting to Europe but if you can find availability on airlines like Delta that shouldn’t be a major problem.

How to get Korean Air SKYPASS miles

  • Chase Ultimate Rewards 
  • Starwood Preferred Guests
  • SKYPASS Visa Signature Card

7) ANA

  • 55,000 miles to Europe

ANA is a great option to get to Europe because you can avoid high fees by booking with Star Alliance partners like United and they allow for flexibility with generous stopover and open jaw policies. With ANA, you’re allowed to open jaw twice and stopover once. The rules for the open jaw are a little confusing because they define some continents as “countries” and alternate the terms “zones” and “areas” without clear definitions of exactly what they are referring to.

However, in terms of going to Europe, you can pretty much open jaw anywhere in the continent and stopover there one time as well. To find out more about these booking policies, read more about booking ANA award flights here.

How to get ANA miles

  • American Express Membership Rewards
  • Starwood Preferred Guests

8) United

  • 60,000 miles to Europe

United’s Saver Awards allow you to get to Europe in economy for 60,000 miles (the same mileage requirement applies to Star Alliance redemptions). While this redemption is among the highest of the airlines on the list, you have to remember that with United you don’t have to worry about fuel surcharges and so your tickets to Europe will cost next-to-nothing. You’re also allowed an open jaw on a roundtrip ticket and two open jaws, allowing for superb flexibility and maximization of miles.

How to get United Mileage Plus miles

  • Starwood Preferred Guests (bad 2:1 ratio)
  • Chase Ultimate Rewards
  • Chase United Mileage Plus Credit Card

Guide to Booking Award Flights with ANA

The reward program for ANA has some very valuable sweet spots for both economy and business class redemptions to pretty much every corner of the globe. In addition, it’s pretty easy to rack up ANA miles from transfer partners making it a solid option for redemptions. However, the booking rules can be a bit confusing to comprehend. Here’s a guide for booking flights with both ANA and ANA partner airlines with ANA miles.

Star Alliance

ANA is a member of the Star Alliance, the largest airline alliance out of the big three (One World, Star Alliance, and SkyTeam). This means that you can use your ANA miles to fly on any of these other airlines (subject to availability).

Star_Alliance logo and members

The trick is to find availability for seats that can be booked with Star Alliance partners. The good news is that ANA is one of the best sites to perform searches for Star Alliance partner availability. Read about how to find Star Alliance availability here.

ANA Partners

ANA also has several non Star Alliance partners that you can book with.

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ANA non-alliance partners

How to Get ANA miles from credit cards


Aeroplan is a transfer partner of  two major reward programs:

  • American Express Membership Rewards (1:1 ratio)
  • Starwood Preferred Guests (1:1)*

*Remember, when you transfer Starwood points in increments of 20,000 you receive an additional 5,000 in miles, so 20,000 points will earn you 25,000 Aeroplan miles. In addition, Starwood will often run promotions where you can earn additional bonuses on your transfers, such as up to ~25%!

Just don’t

There’s also the ANA Card USA. It has an annual fee of $70 and offers 5,000 miles upon your first purchase. This abysmal sign-up bonus should be a last resort and I would only consider it if you just had to have the 5,000 miles and had exhausted all opportunities with American Express. 

Unique program policies

ANA has a few unique program policies. For example: 

  • You can book trips for up to 10 family members but they must all be registered
  • You can pool points with other family members but they must be registered and you must “apply” while paying for the application fee with 1,000 ANA miles
  • You can put reservations on hold for 24 to 48 hours by calling in (although YMMV)
  • Cancellations cost 3,000 ANA miles per person

In addition to these unique policies, there are several other booking policies. I don’t wont to bog down readers with all of them, so here are some of the important ones:

  • You must begin your trip within one year of ticket issuance
  • You can apply from 9:00 a.m. (Japan time) of 355 days before your boarding day (not including the date of departure) until 96 hours before departure.
  • You are able to change the boarding date or flight up to 24 hours before departure.
  • The name of the passenger, and the name of the individual supplying the miles cannot be changed.
  • The airline, passenger, sector, and route cannot be changed. (However, in certain cases where both ANA and Air Japan operate flights over the same sector, passengers may switch between the 2 airlines.)

ANA definitely implements some unique booking policies

Fuel surcharges

You are almost always going to incur fuel surcharges when using ANA miles to book award flights. However, United Airlines is an exception, and thus can be a very valuable partner to redeem miles with. Air Canada and Air New Zealand are also great partners to use to avoid or mitigate charges.

The surcharges imposed by ANA aren’t the highest in the industry and many can be quite reasonable, but they are often pretty much impossible to avoid unless you book United Airline/Air Canada flights. For a closer look on fuel surcharges, keep reading further.

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Stopovers and Open Jaws

The rules section for “transfer partners” on ANA’s website is a little unclear but after playing around with bookings on the website and calling in to verify, I realized that the below rules apply to both ANA bookings and bookings with Star Alliance partners

1) One stopover is allowed on either leg

2) One open jaw is allowed subject to the following rules:

  • When the point of departure and final point of destination differ, both locations must be within the same country.

This means you can fly out of Chicago and come back to Houston, for example. (Confusingly, many regions like Europe and the U.S./Canada are considered one “country.”)

  • If the destination of your outbound trip and the point of departure of your inbound trip are different, they must be within the same area.

This is what confused me because they use the  term “area” versus “zone” and then they provide a small chart that doesn’t completely describe the areas. (See the chart below.) Thus, if you’re wanting to explore options for open jaw for inbound flights, I suggest experimenting with the website or calling in to see if the destination of your outbound trip and point of departure of your inbound trip fall within the same “area.”

November 25, 2016 update: the website is clearer on this point now.  

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  • For zones in which the destination of your outbound trip and the point of departure of your inbound trip are different, the required number of miles will be calculated by halving the required number of miles for each zone and adding them together.

The stopover can be combined with the open jaw rules for pretty flexible routing that can somewhat make up for the lack of one way redemptions in some cases.  For example, I was able to book the following on the website:

  • Outbound trip:
    • IAD -> LHR [stopover] -> CDG
  • Inbound trip:
    • LHR [open jaw]-> IAH [open jaw]

I called in just to make sure that this was a valid booking and didn’t get a 100% yes — it was more like, “we are pretty sure you can do that but the only way we can tell you for sure is if you transfer miles to ANA…” Thus, while this route should work according to the rules above, I’d always try to double check with ANA before planning on such a booking.

ANA sweet spots

ANA has several sweets spots that are worth mentioning.

Here’s a summary of the sweet spots for ANA:

  • North America to Europe
    • Business class: 88,000 miles
    • Economy: 55,000 miles
  • North America to South America
    • Business class: 88,000 miles
    • Economy: 55,000 miles
  • North America to Africa and the Middle East
    • Business class: 104,000 miles
    • Economy: 65,000 miles
  • North America to Japan 
    • Business class: 75,000 miles
    • Economy: 40,000 miles
  • North America to Asia 1
    • Business class: 80,000 miles
    • Economy: 45,000 miles

Keep reading below to see details on booking these sweet spots and to see how much you would pay on fees.

North America to Europe

ANA offers one of the cheapest and most efficient ways to get to Europe with award bookings. Take a look at the award chart below.

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Notice the sweet spot from North America:

  • 88,000 in business class

Compare that to the following

  • Aeroplan: 110,000 miles
  • American Airlines: 115,000
  • Delta: 125,000
  • United: 115,000 miles (140,000 miles if booked with alliance partner)

Here’s a real world example of a flight between IAD and LHR. First, you can see how much this trip would cost on United’s website.

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United offers flights from North America to Europe for 115,000 miles but only if you fly with United. Partner airlines require 140,000 miles!

So you’d be looking at 115,000 miles assuming you were able to find United availability. If you booked the same trip on another partner airline, you’d be looking at 140,000 miles!

Now, take a look below at how much this same flight would cost with ANA miles.

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ANA requires only 88,000 miles and $183.70 to fly business class roundtrip to London from North America

88,000 miles plus $183.70 in fees to fly business class from North America to Europe is an absolute bargain, espcially given the product level of ANA.

And the deal is even sweeter when you book with Air Canada because the fees go down to $68!

But remember, those low fees are with flying United and Air Canada. Here is an example of what you’re looking at if you can’t get around the fuel surcharges

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North America to Europe with TAP Portugal requires $613 in fees

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North America to Europe with Turkish Airlines and Lufthansa requires $497 in fees

As you can see, the fuel surcharges can be pretty hefty and so I’d try my best to find availability on a United or Air Canada flight to avoid the charges.

Getting more value with stopovers 

Now let’s say you wanted to add a bit more value to the prior trip from D.C. to London  by making London a stopover en route to Paris, and let’s just throw in an open jaw back to Houston so you can see how it works.

So this flight path is going to look like this:

  • IAD -> LHR [stopover] -> CDG
  • CDG -> IAH [open jaw]

This route is legal because it has one stopover in the zone of your destination [CDG in Europe] and you are returning to the same zone of your departure [United States and Canada]. (You could also make your second leg depart from anywhere within the same “area.”)

So let’s see how much more we’d pay in fees.

ANA booking ANA booking

So that’s $155 more in fees to get the extra addition of Paris to your London trip.

If you searched long enough you could probably find better stop over deals than this but I noticed that a lot of the stopovers in Europe would incur pretty significant fees. For a true budget flyer, it might make more sense to just buy a one-way ticket on a budget airliner to your desired stopover location and then open jaw back from there to North America.

For example you could do:

  • IAD -> LHR
  • London -> Paris [with budget airline]
  • CDG [open jaw] -> IAD

And finally, don’t forget about economy flights from North America to Europe… at only 55,000 miles, that’s not a bad deal at all.

Therefore, ANA is one of the best options for getting to Europe from North America! 

North America to South America

Getting to South America can be a lucrative way to redeem ANA miles, too. In fact, with the potential for lower surcharges, I’d argue there’s even better value in flying to South America than to Europe in business class.  For example, Houston to Rio De Janerio is only 88,000 miles in business class and the fees are only $62!

Here are the miles required by other airlines or this route.

  • Aeroplan: 110,000 miles
  • American Airlines: 115,000 miles
  • Delta: 150,000 miles
  • United: 110,000 miles

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88,000 miles and $62.24 for North America to Brazil in business class!

Getting more value with stopovers 

Let’s say you were planning a larger scale trip to South America where you wanted to see Rio de Janerio, Santiago Chile (and maybe take a flight to Easter Island), and Lima, Peru (and take a short flight to Cusco to get to Machu Picchu).

For the same amount of 88,000 miles you could get to Rio de Janerio, Santiago, Chile, and Lima, Peru. You’d still have to cover your tickets from Rio to Santiago, Easter Island, and Cusco, but having everything else worked out with business class tickets for only 88,000 miles would be great.

A sample flight path would like this:

  • Outbound: IAH – YYZ -> GIG
  • Inbound: SCL[open jaw] -> LIM [stopover] -> IAH

This is all legal because your inbound leg departs from the same area (SCL in South America) as the destination of your outbound leg (GIG in South America) and you only have one stopover on your route (LIM which is also in the area of your destination).

The best part of this routing is that your fees would only come out to $101.25.

Take a look at what this itinerary looks like booked on the ANA website. Again, when I called in to verify this route I got the same “we’re 99% confident you can book this route but you’ll need to transfer your miles to ANA for us be sure.” 

Note: you could probably find better routings not flying through Canada but I just wanted to show  how much value you could get from 88,000 miles!

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Total fees number to only $101.25!

Also, economy awards from North America to South America can really be bargains at only 55,000 round trip!

North America to Africa and the Middle East

104,000 in business class to Africa and the Middle East in business class is another bargain, in my opinion. Availability might sometimes be an issue, especially without the added flexibility of one way awards but being able to get to places like South Africa and Dubai in business class for 104,000 miles round trip is pretty phenomenal.

  • Aeroplan: 165,000
  • American Airlines:  140,000
  • Delta:  170,000
  • United: 140,000 (160,000 on partners)

Just keep an eye out for those surcharges, as you can see on the routes below they can be quite pricey. (Partner Etihad is known for having little to no surcharges, so seek availability with them.)

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$498 in fees with Turkish Airlines

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$593 in fees with Ethiopian Airlines

Also, economy awards from North America to Africa and the Middle East can really be bargains at only 65,000 round trip!

Getting more value with stopovers 

Don’t forget that Africa and the Middle East are part of the same zone (Zone 8). That means you would be able to combine a trip to the Middle East with your trip to South Africa. I struggled to find some availability for this trip so I wasn’t able to price out the fees but with enough time and willingness you could probably secure this route for a mere 104,000 miles.

Partner Restrictions

There are some restrictions when booking with certain partners that you should be aware of:

  • There are unavailable periods during which flight awards may not be used.
  • Even if your itinerary includes ANA flights, the Chart of miles required for Partner Flight Awards will apply if the itinerary includes even one flight partner airline.
  • Flight award passengers cannot use Suite Class, First Class and Business Class on certain aircraft flown by Singapore Airlines (A380, A380 and B777-300ER).
  • Flight awards for Hawaiian Airlines flights can only be used only be used for flights within the Hawaiian islands.
  • EVA Air Elite Class cannot be used.

Check here for more specific rules.

Sweet spots booking directly with ANA

When you book directly with ANA you are subject to different rules. They operate with a different map and on a seasonal basis.


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They have low season, regular season, and high season, which change for different years. Take a look at the season chart for North America/Europe and Japan.

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There are some real sweet spots for getting to Japan and Asia 1 (China, Guam, Hong Kong, Macau, Philippine, Taiwan).

The following rates apply during low season:

  • North America to Japan 
    • Business class: 75,000 miles
    • Economy: 40,000 miles
  • North America to Asia 1
    • Business class: 80,000 miles
    • Economy: 45,000 miles

The drawback is that you’re going to have to pay fuel surcharges for ANA flights. The good news is that they really aren’t that bad. In fact, as you can see below, the total fees for flying ANA from North America to Japan are actually cheaper than those including a United flight!

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Since there is one partner leg on this trip, the partner rate of 90,000 miles apply

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Only 75,000 miles and $85 in fees for round trip business class to Japan is great!

Remember, that while one stop over is allowed on ANA  flights, no stopovers can be made for flights departing from Japan.

Final Word 

So there you have it, ANA is one of the most valuable transfer partners of American Express Membership Rewards and Starwood and should definitely be considered an option if you’re planning a trip from North America to any of the zones discussed above. 

Cover Photo by lkarasawa via Flickr. 




How to Find Star Alliance Reward Availability

The Star Alliance is the largest of the three major airlines alliances (Star Alliance, Sky Team, and One World). If you’re not unfamiliar with airline alliances, they are programs that allow you to book tickets on partner airlines with miles from another program. So, just as one example of many, the Star Alliance allows you to book United flights with Singapore Airline miles.

One of the biggest issues with booking alliance partners is finding availability, avoiding surcharges, and knowing how to execute the booking. This article will focus on finding Star Alliance reward availability but will shed a little bit of light on the other two factors. 


List of Star Alliance Partners

It’s a good idea to familiarize yourself with all of the different Star Alliance partners right off the bat. Here’s a list of all of them to date.

Star_Alliance logo and members

As you can see, there are 27 different airlines that make up this alliance. That means that for each airline, you could potentially book up to 26 different airlines with their miles. With so many options, searching for availability might sound overwhelming.

The good news is that you can pretty much find all of the Star Alliance availability by just focusing your searches on a few websites. These are the the websites for: United, ANA, and Aeroplan (Air Canada), and Singapore Airlines. After reviewing these websites, you should have a thorough idea of the different routes you can book.

Searching United Airlines

Boeing | 747-422 | United Airlines | N119UA | Hong Kong | HKG | VHHH
Photo by Christian Junker

United’s website is one of the best to use for a few reasons. For one, I think it’s pretty simple and the layout will show you a full two months of availability for all classes. This is far superior to those sites that force you to look at one day at a time, or even sometimes one day and on air fare at a time. It’s also easy because United doesn’t even require you to have a MileagePlus account and to log in to view reward seats.

To get started, simply go to the United website and begin your search. Be sure to select “Search for award travel” to ensure that you’ll be pulling up results for awards. On United’s site, you can search for one-way, round trip, and multi-city trips. 

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When searching on United’s website you will be looking for “Saver Awards.” These are going to be the only potential seats that you will be able to book with alliance partners. You’ll easily see “Saver” listed for business and first class seats but pay close attention to the economy seats because the “Saver” designation is in a different area and in green. 

United to book Air Canada

United has a nice color system that makes viewing these at quick glance pretty easy.

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As you can see, United provides an easy way to view the availability for each class of Saver Award over a time span of two months. Don’t forget to check the white boxes for availability that “may” be there.

If there are multiple legs, be sure to double check that each leg of the trip is the kind of class that you want to fly. If the class is different for different legs you should see the red “mixed cabin” as seen in the image below. 

Screen Shot 2016-04-05 at 6.18.55 PM
57.5K United miles for a one way flight to London from Houston

To get more details regarding the class fare, simply click on the “Details” icon and full details will drop down on the flight. As seen below, you can see everything from the types of meals offered, the class for each leg, the exact flight time, which airline operates which leg, etc.

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As you scroll through the different flights, you’ll see the airlines noted right beneath the departure and arrival times and locations. As seen below, the flight is operated by Air Canada, a Star Alliance partner. Screen Shot 2016-04-05 at 6.35.49 PM

Multiple legs

I don’t ever have trouble finding reward flights with two legs but some people have trouble finding flights on United’s website with three or more segments. I’ve been able to find 3 segment rewards flights a number of times on United’s website, so it might just depend on the route. However, it’s never a bad idea to search for your flight leg-by-leg, just in case you might be missing out on something.

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Important reminder: If you hold a United Mileage Plus Explorer Card or have status with United there’s a chance that you might see more reward availability than is actually available to other alliance partners. To ensure that you aren’t viewing increased availability, do not log in to your MileagePlus account when searching, or better yet, search the United website while browsing from Google Chrome Incognito or a similar private browser.

In addition, be on the lookout for “phantom reward” space, which are reward spaces that show up on a website but actually are not available to you. This happened to me recently when I tried to book United saver awards with Singapore Airlines. I called up Singapore Airlines about 4 times but each time they told me there was no availability. After I checked ANA, I saw that there was no availability and realized I must’ve seen the dreaded phantom rewards. 

Searching ANA (All Nippon Airways)

Boeing | 777-281/ER | All Nippon Airways | JA707A | Hong Kong | HKG | VHHH
Photo by Christian Junker

Unlike United, ANA requires you to have a rewards account with them before viewing reward availability. So first make sure that you sign up for their program. Their “application” appears a bit more daunting than any other frequent flier program I’ve encountered and they even have signage on their website as if you were applying for a credit card and were going to get a hard pull on your credit. But don’t worry, it’s nothing serious, just your standard contact information.

To get started on searching for rewards on ANA, make sure you select “Award Booking” in the bottom right corner when you input your search criteria. 

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No one-way flights

The functionality of the search tool isn’t bad but note that you can only search for round-trip or multiple-segment trips — you cannot search ANA for one way reward flight any longer. If you try to you will get an error screen popping up telling you that you are not allowed to book to single legs.

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Thus, I suggest just picking a random date for your return date on a roundtrip in order to view reward availability segment by segment.

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Once you select your search criteria you’ll be able to see the availability based on a weekly timeline if you select the “+/- 3 days” option. Click the dates with seats available to move forward with the booking process.

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ANA allows you to view the final fees and mile requirements even if you don’t have the requisite miles to complete the booking, so it’s easy to see exactly how much you’d pay were you to book through ANA. 

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The biggest advantage to searching the ANA website is that it usually shows all of the alliance partners (with some exception mentioned below), which is very handy for airlines like Singapore Airlines which don’t usually show up on United or Aeroplan.

Multiple Legs

Most of the time, ANA is pretty good about showing multiple legs for rewards flights but just be careful when trying to find certain airlines, such as South African Airways.

I tried to find the same route from DFW to CPT that I found on United’s website but none of the routes showed up on ANA. Even when I broke the flight down into segments, the only leg that showed up was from DFW to EWR. Thus, not only was there nothing showing up for a multiple-leg trip, even nonstop South African Airways flights that showed availability on United and Aeroplan weren’t showing up.

That’s why it’s always good practice to check each of these websites when looking for your flight. You want to make sure that you fill in all of the gaps.

Searching Aeroplan (Air Canada)

Air Canada A320-211 C-FKCO
Photo by Caribb

In the past Aeroplan’s website has caused many frequent travelers a bit of grief due its slow speed. However, recently speaking I haven’t had much trouble with it and actually consider it to be among the best.

Aeroplan does require you to sign up but that takes all but two seconds so it shouldn’t be an issue. Once you get your log-in information, sign in and click on “Use Your Miles” and then on “Travel.”

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You should find the search process pretty straight forward.

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Similar to United, you can scan for airline carriers on the left and also click on “Details” for full specifics on your flight.

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When booking partner airlines with Aeroplan, you always want to be cautious to ensure that you’re not incurring unnecessary fuel surcharges. For example, take a look at the next two flights below.

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Notice anything different?

There’s a huge difference in the price. It’s a difference of $190 USD vs  $834 USD due to fuel surcharges. United is one of the Star Alliance partners that Aeroplan does not force you to pay fuel surcharges. So always do your best to book with a partner that does not incur fuel surcharges when booking with Aeroplan. The following airlines do not carry surcharges when you book them through Aeroplan:

  • Air China
  • Brussels
  • EgyptAir
  • Ethiopian
  • EVA Air
  • Scandinavian
  • Singapore
  • Swiss
  • Turkish
  • United

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United requires 30,000 more miles to get to Paris from Toronto than Aeroplan!

There’s another difference you should be made well aware of when booking as well. Above is the cost and fees for that same flight from Toronto to Paris but it shows what you would pay if you booked on United’s website. As you can see, you’d be paying about the same in USD but you’d be using 30,000 more miles for the booking!

I’ll have much more to say on maximizing your redemptions on Aeroplan later but this is a prime example of the things to be aware of when booking through alliance partners. If you’re not “in the know,” it can be really easy to lose out on thousands of points.

Multiple legs

Aeroplan is known to have good multi-segment search features, but again, I think you should always check on all three websites when trying to search for multi-leg flights. In addition, I would still break the flight down and search segment by segment to ensure that you’re seeing the maximum availability.

As an example, the screen shot below shows only two Star Alliance flights departing on this day but United’s website showed more than that. Granted, the additional flights on the United website included an airport change (JFK to EWR), it still goes to show that you need to be thorough with your research.

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As an added note, check out the redemptions for DWF to CPT on economy on United versus Aeroplan. This time, United has the cheaper option, only requiring 40,000 miles for a one way economy ticket versus the 50,000 miles required by Aeroplan. This is another reason to make sure you check with the different websites: you can double check that you’re looking at booking the best rates for your trip.

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United is 10,000 miles cheaper than Aeroplan from Texas DFW to South Africa CPT

So that’s it. It can be a bit time consuming to go through three different websites to search for different flights but if you really want to make sure that you’re not missing any availability, then searching all three of these websites for Star Alliance reward availability is a must! 

Cover Photo Christian Junker