ANA business class awards to Japan [Sweet-spot spotlight]

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ANA Mileage Club is an Amex transfer partner and offers some of the hands-down best deals on premium-cabin travel to Japan (and other parts of Asia). Depending on the time of year, a round trip business class flight from North America to Japan on ANA will cost between 75,000-90,000 miles (total) plus about $265 in taxes & fees. For reference, most programs charge between 60-90K each way. If you have Membership Rewards points to transfer, this can be a great way to fly up front to Japan (and beyond).

Sweet spot spotlight:

  • The short story: ANA Mileage Club offers round trip business class awards from North America to Japan for just 75K to 90K miles round trip (depending on season).
  • Miles required: 75K round trip during “low” season, 85K RT during “regular” season, or 90K RT during “high” season (all for business class)
  • How to find awards: Search for available space at https://www.ana.co.jp/en/us/ (you’ll need to create a free “Mileage Club” frequent flyer account and then click link to “Award Booking” above the main airfare search boxes to search for available award space.
  • How to book awards: Book online at https://www.ana.co.jp/en/us/.

Quick Notes

ANA has fantastic rates for round trip travel to Japan. Here is the chart for travel between Japan and Hawaii, North America, and Europe (L = low season, R = regular season, H = high season).

Note that seasonal prices only apply to itineraries entirely flown on ANA. If you include partner segments, you’ll pay the “high” price regardless of when you fly. Interestingly, low season includes April, which is the time of year when cherry blossoms are usually bursting at the seams across much of Japan. I was just there from April 4-14th this year and it was a great time of year to visit Japan.

Even during high season, paying 45K miles each way is still an absolute steal for business class to Japan, especially given ANA’s stellar service (See this post where I compared ANA’s business class to Delta One Suites for pictures and details about what it’s like to fly ANA business class). Keep in mind that ANA requires round trip travel on awards (they do not allow one-way award bookings).

Searching for availability is pretty simple. Log in to your ANA Mileage Club account and then click “Award Booking”. From there, you input the cities and you can check the box below return date to compare sear availability +/- 3 days.

If you do opt for a flexible date search, the tool will show you which dates have available itineraries.

However, the one thing to absolutely watch out for with ANA award bookings is waitlisted seats. Unfortunately, the dates showing “Seats available” above do not all have available seats. ANA shows seats available whether those seats are available for booking or are waitlist-only. It is therefore annoyingly easy to think there are seats available when there really aren’t. Reports I’ve read indicate that ANA waitlisted seats clear when someone cancels — but that you can not reliably count on waitlists to clear. Personally, I probably wouldn’t move miles to ANA just to hope to get a waitlisted award.

The following screen shot shows both available and waitlisted options. The flights that are waitlist-only say “Waitlisted” highlighted in a tan color. The flights selected in this screen shot are available for booking. This 2020 itinerary from New York to Tokyo mixes an outbound flight during “regular” season with a return flight in “low” season, so you’ll see that it prices out in between at 80,000 miles round trip plus $265.78 for one passenger.

Note that you can also include a connection within Japan for the same price and that taxes / fees may be lower from other parts of North America. For instance, here is Vancouver to Okinawa for 75K round trip plus $195 during low season (but watch out — that flight to Tokyo is waitlisted and I didn’t even notice it when I took the screen shot, evidence of how easy it is to get duped here!).

You can even build in a stopover and/or change airports between Haneda and NRT. These are the same departure and return dates as New York to Tokyo in the first example above, but this time continuing on to Okinawa after a stop in Tokyo. It prices out at the same 80K + $265 round trip. Note that flights within Japan will be economy class only.

Bottom line

ANA offers terrific value in terms of its awards — whether on ANA or partners — for flights between the US and Japan. Awards to the rest of Asia and Australia present similarly awesome value and ANA often offers good business class availability when you book far enough in advance. I had no trouble finding availability for the screen shots in this post (and I also ran additional searches from other gateways with pretty good results). As a 1:1 transfer partner from Membership Rewards, ANA presents an excellent value for your points. Other Amex Transfer partners charge nearly the ANA round trip price for one-way travel — and keep in mind that you could include partner segments for the high season price, which can also make sense in some scenarios.

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