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After the last round of offers for The Platinum Card® from American Express that came with a 100,000 Membership Rewards welcome bonus (or more!), a lot of people will find themselves in possession of a huge number of Membership Rewards points.

If you’d like to maximize your latest haul of these extremely valuable points, read on, because we’ve got a fantastic idea for you that will allow you to stretch those points further than you ever imagined.

Japan’s largest airline All Nippon Airways (ANA) offers one of the absolutely best deals in the points and miles world. Using ANA miles, you can hop continents and make multiple stops for a little more than a price of a round trip award.

So if you can get away for a few weeks and your goal is to visit several continents on one trip, ANA’s Around the World award is just the ticket (pun intended).

What Is ANA Around the World Ticket

There are a few other airlines offering around the world tickets that you can book with miles, but none are as generous as ANA.

So let’s cut to the chase, here are the general rules of ANA’s Around the World Ticket:

  • You have to cross both the Atlantic and Pacific Oceans once
  • You have to fly east to west or west to east. Backtracking is not permitted according to the official rules; however, ANA allows some leniency in that regard if you need to backtrack a little to get to a Star Alliance hub airport
  • A maximum of eight stopovers (time on the ground greater than 24 hours) are permitted between the departure point and the final return point; ground transfers (arriving in one city and making your own way to another city OR travel between different airports in the same city) count as two stopovers
  • You must be gone at least 10 days after the departure of the first international flight on the itinerary
  • The maximum of 12 flight segments are allowed. A segment is one route with one flight number
  • You may include a maximum of four ground transport segments (including travel between different airports in the same city)
  • The required mileage is calculated according to the total mileage flown for the entire itinerary. Ground transfers don’t count against your distance-flown award mileage calculation, so you only need to calculate the miles you actually fly
  • You must return to the continent where you started

Why Are We Excited About the ANA Around the World Ticket

So why are we so excited about ANA’s Around the World ticket (we’ll call it RTW for short)?

ANA is a transfer partner of American Express and thanks to Amex’s family of Membership Rewards earning cards, such as The Platinum Card® from American Express or the American Express® Gold Card, it’s fairly easy to accumulate a good stash of Membership Rewards.

American Express® Gold Card

American Express® Gold Card

Earn 60,000 Membership Rewards® points after you spend $4,000 on eligible purchases with your new Card within the first 6 months. Terms Apply.

LEARN MORE

ANA has very generous routing rules and allows travelers to make up to eight stopovers on their RTW tickets. And the number of miles needed to hop continents is very reasonable.

For example, you’ll need 88,000 ANA miles to fly round-trip between the U.S. and Europe in business class. However, I was able to book an around the world ticket that took me to Europe, the Middle East and Asia for 115,000 ANA miles to visit multiple countries across three continents in business class.

ANA has an extremely competent customer support team dedicated to helping you book your tickets. When you call ANA’s general number, you are immediately given an option to connect with this team of specialists. Because ANA’s RTW tickets can’t be booked online, it’s very comforting to know that you’ll be talking to a person who knows what they are doing.

Because ANA is part of Star Alliance, the largest airline alliance in the world, you can fly pretty much anywhere on one of its partners. We’ll be using ANA miles to book flights on Star Alliance, not just ANA itself. In fact, the first time I booked a RTW ticket, I didn’t even fly ANA at all.

And because we’ll be flying on partner airlines, this is an opportunity to try out some of the best airlines in the world, such as Singapore Airlines and, of course, ANA itself.

And if you choose to book your RTW ticket in business class, you’ll have an opportunity to sample some really great business class cabins on first rate airlines, such as Swiss and Austrian.  

Things to Watch Out for When Booking ANA Around the World Ticket

Before we dive in and go over all the details of the RTW booking, here are a couple of warnings. Believe me when I say that it’s easy to get too excited and get a little bit carried away when booking your RTW tickets. So what are some of the caveats?

Too Many Destinations

You might be thinking, I have eight stopovers, so I must maximize them all! However, how much travel time do you realistically have? Will you be spending more time in the airports than exploring on the ground?

Because you are only allowed to fly on Star Alliance as part of the RTW ticket, the most direct routing with nonstop flights between two destinations might not always be available. We might have to get flights with layovers to get from point A to point B of our trip, and that will cut into our time on the ground.

Surcharges and Fees

ANA passes on carrier imposed surcharges, so you’ll have to be a bit selective when choosing partner airlines flights. Some airlines have very high surcharges, so if possible, avoid these partners and choose a partner with low surcharges. For example, LOT Polish Airlines and United have low or no surcharges, but Austrian, Lufthansa and others’ surcharges can be in the $500-700 range for a single business class flight.

If possible, play with different routings to figure the least expensive way to get from destination to destination. Or, sometimes it might be cheaper to fly on a low cost carrier between destinations, or take a train, than paying surcharges.

Keep in mind the stopovers and ground transfer rules, of course.    

Mixed Cabin Awards

According to the ANA’s rules, if your itinerary includes mixed cabin flights or segments, you’ll be charged the highest price. If you are booking the whole itinerary in economy, that’s not going to be an issue. However, anyone booking a RTW ticket in business class will probably run into a situation where a particular segment is not available in business class. For example, I could never get a business class award on United from my home airport to any of the United’s hubs, so my RTW itinerary did include the short United flights in economy.  

And if you were thinking about booking a RTW ticket entirely in first class, I am sorry to dash your hopes and dreams. While Star Alliance has some fabulous first class options, such as Lufthansa first class or Singapore Airlines first, airlines often don’t open these to partners. And there might not be a first class on a particular segment at all. So save your points and book a business class instead.  

How to Book ANA Around the World Ticket

Let’s walk through the booking process. It might sound complicated at first, but, to make it easier, we’ve broken down the process into simple steps.

Calculate the Total Distance

Here’s ANA’s RTW chart. It is distance-based and there’s no seasonality.

Once you’ve decided where you want to go on your around the world journey, head over to the Great Circle Mapper and plug in the airport codes to calculate the total distance. Once you figured out the distance, consult the award chart to see how many ANA miles you’ll need.

Find Award Space

To look for available award space, use United or Aeroplan search engines. Both are reliable and easy to use. Ignore the mileage required displayed by United or Aeroplan for each leg of the trip, as we are just looking for available saver award space on each leg.

To search for available flights using United, don’t log in. United will display more saver awards for its own members and United℠ Explorer Card holders. We want to see what is available to all Star Alliance partners and I recommend looking for longer international flights first.  

I’ve booked a couple of RTW tickets, and in my personal experience, it’s much easier to find award space outside of North America.

Remember that we are always looking for the saver award space and we are going to ignore United’s own mileage requirements.

United has a handy calendar feature where you can see 30 days of available saver awards.

If you prefer to use Aeroplan, you’ll have to create an account first, before searching for award space.

Try to find nonstop flights and the most direct routing, as all flights with connections will count against the total number of segments and the total distance flown.

Here’s an interesting tidbit I learned from an ANA agent that helped me book my RTW itinerary. According to the routing rules, you can only travel in one direction, either east or west. However, that only applies to travel between continents. So once you reach a continent, you can criss-cross it in any direction, as long as you don’t exceed the total number of allowed segments and stopovers.  

Estimate Taxes and Surcharges

Remember that ANA passes carrier-imposed surcharges and some partner airlines will have higher taxes and fees, but how do you find out how much exactly you’ll need to pay?

To find out, head over to ITA Matrix and plug in your flights, one segment at a time. Don’t forget to change the cabin to your preferred class of service and select no extra stops from the drop down menu.

You’ll see all the nonstop flights available on the next screen.

Austrian is a very nice airline and has a great business class. Let’s see how much their surcharges are.

YQ and YR are carrier-imposed surcharges, and as you can see from the example are quite high. However, other Star Alliance carriers, such as LOT Polish Airlines charge much less.

You can play with different departure and destination city pairs to find the optimal routing and the lowest surcharges. Repeat the steps until you have all the segments figured out and all the surcharges added up.

Here’s an example of a great itinerary you can book with 100,000 ANA miles in economy or 145,000 miles in business class. The key, of course, would be to find award space on Star Alliance carriers that doesn’t exceed the 12 segments allowed with a RTW booking.

Call ANA and Book

Keep good records of all your award searches and once you finalized your itinerary, call ANA to book. Be prepared with a couple of alternative routings in case the agent can’t find award space on your preferred flights.

If you don’t live near a major international getaway, you might have to book a positioning flight to get to a hub airport. United can be extremely stingy with domestic award space it releases to partner airlines.  

How to Earn ANA Miles  

ANA is a transfer partner of American Express, and there’s no shortage of great Membership Rewards earning cards in Amex’s portfolio. The points transfer at a rate of 1:1 and the transfers take a couple of days, usually about 48 hours, so keep that in mind when you are looking for available award space.

One of our favorite personal cards is the Platinum Card from American Express. If you are the proud owner of the recently acquired Amex Platinum that came with the 100,000 Membership Rewards bonus points and 10X on groceries for the first 6 months (1x per $1 after), you’ll have the right amount of points for an amazing RTW trip in business class in no time.

The Blue Business® Plus Credit Card from American Express is a favorite among small business owners. The card earns 2X on all purchases up to $50,000 a year, and 1x on all purchases afterwards. It is one of my favorite cards and it never leaves my wallet.

The Blue Business® Plus Credit Card from American Express

The Blue Business® Plus Credit Card from American Express

Earn 15,000 Membership Rewards® Points after you spend $3,000 in eligible purchases on the Card within your first 3 months of Card Membership.

LEARN MORE 

Final Thoughts

ANA’s Around the World ticket is one of the best, if not the best, deals in the world of points and miles and American Express Membership Rewards points are one of the best transferable currencies.

Try to find the most direct routing to avoid running out of allowed flight segments and miles flown. Don’t forget to estimate the surcharges with the help of ITA Matrix – this step will help avoid unpleasant surprises at the time of booking. A little flexibility goes a long way, so start looking for award space as early as you can.  

ANA agents are very competent and, once you figure out your flights, make the booking process extremely easy.

Just imagine, you can visit a couple of continents for just a bit more than it’ll take you to fly to just one destination! The hardest part is deciding where you want to go!

Travel well,

Anna

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