March 4, 2017 The Hot Ticket
We pan for upgrade-gold, day-in, day-out and just discovered an award that even we found hard to believe.
Time is money, and this deal saves you serious money and—let’s face it—the drudgery of the search.
So on February 17 at around 3 p.m. (yes, it sounds like proud parents telling when the baby was born) one of my analysts found what I believe is “The Ultimate Mileage Award.”
To tell you the truth, I sent my analyst back a couple of times to double-check the data. Although seemingly too good to be true, it’s true, as confirmed through two bookings I made myself—one in Business Class and one in First (see screenshots below). Belt and suspenders on this one.
And the Winner Is…
All Nippon Airways (ANA) Round-the-World (RTW) Award. It makes the world your oyster. Open it. (Next month I’ll reveal my second favorite award.)
What makes this mileage award really fly is that anyone with Amex Rewards or Starpoints can book it because ANA is a points-transfer partner with both.
Welcome to Oysterville
In addition to getting up to eight stops around the globe, you can use this mileage award also to save miles on standard long-haul, round-trip flights:
- American travelers: Save 10,000 to 15,000 miles
- Delta travelers: Save 35,000 to 55,000 miles
- United travelers: Save 10,000 to 35,000 miles
The hang-up that some people have about Round-the-World flights is that they sound so long. Yet the distance covered is often little more than many typical long-haul, round-trips.
You don’t have to see the whole world. You’re free to skip over and stop where you want. But if you have a bucket list that needs checking, there is no better deal for you that I know of.
Hidden in Plain Sight
The deal is easily overlooked (I did several times even after I was given the web address), as you can see below.
Miss the button, miss the deal. (And please, can we keep this between ourselves? That’s why we refer to you as members. Make it public and ANA might rescind it!)
What’s uncovered when you click on the above button:
To put this deal in context, consider that Delta charges 140,000 miles for a simple Business Class round-trip between the U.S. and Europe, and 160,000 miles to Asia.
Look at the chart carefully: You can fly around the world for 105,000 miles in Business Class—55,000 miles LESS than Delta charges to Asia—or 160,000 in First. (The kids can even fly coach for just 65,000.)
Here’s a sample itinerary:
New York > Frankfurt > Tokyo > Seoul > New York
All that for up to 35,000 to 55,000 fewer miles than the cost for any one of those round-trips on American, Delta, or United!
Just look here:
Let’s Get Creative
Haven’t been to the Taj Mahal? Add Delhi for 10,000 miles to the itinerary above.
Want to scratch off the “Venice of the North” (St. Petersburg) from the list? That won’t even cost a dime more, on the Taj Mahal itinerary.
All Nippon allows up to eight stops; some cost extra, some don’t. Sydney, for instance, can be had for 40,000 more miles because it requires veering far to the south.
No Miles? No problem.
You know the routine by now: Just buy the miles. In fact, I needed to do that to make the booking above. Amex sells them for just 2.5¢ each—a five-minute phone call to Membership Rewards è voila!
You can buy 105,000 points for just $2,625 and transfer them to All Nippon for RTW itineraries of fewer than 18,000 flight miles!
That’s $7,414 (70%) LESS than the lowest published Business Class fare with United. (More on RTW Business Class fares here.)
Sample Savings With The Ultimate Business Class Mileage Award
|Miles Flown||Miles Cost||Cost If Buying Points from Amex||Normal RTW Fare||SAVINGS|
|Up to 18,000||105,000||$2,625 (plus $500+ award taxes)||$10,539||$7,414 / 70%|
|18,001 to 20,000||115,000||$2,875 (plus $500+ award taxes)||$7,164 / 68%|
|22,001 to 25,000||145,000||$3,625 (plus $500+ award taxes)||$6,414 / 61%|
What About Availability?
Asiana generally has very good availability from Los Angeles and New York to Seoul, as does All Nippon to Tokyo. The best airlines to/from Europe, off the top of my head, are Austrian Airlines, Lufthansa, and Turkish.
So, although there’s no shortage of flights within the Star Alliance to Asia or Europe, availability is always a concern. That’s why this month, FCF’s Daily Alerts will focus on “availability trends” that can help you piece together world-class itineraries with ANA, fast. Keep an eye out for them.
What Else to Know
- You must book by phone (800-235-9262). I recommend using Aeroplan.com and United.com to get a sense of availability of the long-haul flights before calling, because ANA’s website is less efficient. Short-haul flights are generally easy to find space.
- Transfers from Amex to ANA take two to four days, so there’s a chance your seat could disappear; here’s how I think about this:
- I look for routes and dates with cluster availability, meaning if I miss one day, there’s a good chance the seat is available on the day before or after.
- With ANA, the downside is minimal, even if the seat falls through, as ANA miles are very often worth much more than miles on most other carriers, as they can be used for everyday round-trips at much better rates than United miles, for example. Or bank the miles and you’ll be ready to strike instantly the next time you book the RTW steal.
- Together with the pricing chart, use the Circle Mapper tool to help quickly calculate the distance and cost of your various itinerary ideas.
- Want to go nuts and use this fare to fly A380s? Go here or here for ideas. (Hint: ANA partners that operate the plane include Asiana, Lufthansa, Singapore, and Thai.)
- The rest of the relevant fine print can be found here.
- For me, I find traveling East to West causes less jet lag.
So, What’s Your Nominee for Best Mileage Award?
Start giving it some thought because we’ll be announcing a new contest soon.