Or, consider other cards for 50,000 more miles or points that transfer into United miles with additional flexibility for your everyday spending.
Reward nights start at 10,000 points. Free anniversary night (no points needed) good at any IHG hotel (Intercontinental, Crowne Plaza, more).
$1,000 toward travel or transfer to United, Southwest, and more.
ANA is a really useful Star Alliance airline, and its own Mileage Club program, which is a transfer partner of Amex Membership Rewards and Starwood Preferred Guest, has some great deals on Business and First Class flights for reasonable prices.
Even the fuel surcharges can be reasonable depending on where in Asia you are headed (we did a rundown of their fuel surcharges and mileage prices by destination here). For example, you can get from the U.S. to Vietnam for as little as 100,000 miles roundtrip plus about $150 in taxes and fees in Business Class. Compare that to 160,000 miles using United MileagePlus and you can see why ANA Mileage Club can be such a useful transfer partner to stretch your points further.
If you want to search for ANA award space you can use other Star Alliance airline sites like United or Air Canada Aeroplan’s, but they’re not great for zeroing in specifically on ANA flights.
And using ANA’s own award search requires creating a login, which while simple enough, is a pain to deal with, and it’s not great at showing multiple days of availability at once.
Fortunately, ANA has created a separate International Award Calendar that requires no login at all and lets you quickly scan award space across all of its routes.
There are a few tricks you’ll want to know when searching…
First, you select what region you want to search.
The regions will list all flights between that region and Japan. If you plan to connect beyond Japan, you’ll need to do two separate searches. For example, for a trip from Los Angeles to Singapore, you’ll choose Zone 6 for the Los Angeles / Tokyo segment and then Zone 4 for the Japan / Singapore segment. Then, select the class of service you’re interested in (Economy, Business, or First) and you can search.
The results will be presented in a grid of triangles and circles. You’ll want to look for the circles as those are dates where seats are generally available.
One not so intuitive thing is that ‘Outbound’ means outbound *from* Japan. So if you’re looking for flights from the U.S. to Japan, look at the ‘Inbound’ row to see the correct space.
In the example below there are 3 dates with space from Houston to Tokyo in First Class.
The grid gives you up to six months worth of award space information, and you can scroll without refreshing the page so it’s easy to get a quick read.
Of course, ANA sells award seats much further out than 6 months (355 days in advance to be exact), but this gives you a quick read for the most popular booking window.
One big caveat is that the space shown in the calendar is not real time, and it’s pulled just once a day during Japan’s overnight hours. But ANA award space isn’t as volatile as big U.S. programs like United MileagePlus, so there’s a decent chance what you see in the calendar is available.
Once you see dates that make sense, you can login and do a real award search to verify the space.
Rather than input day by day manually, you can hone in on a day or two that has a really good shot at actually having the space available.
Here’s the result for Houston to Tokyo in First Class, for just 150,000 miles roundtrip plus about $90 in taxes and fees.
If you’re transferring points to ANA from Membership Rewards or Starwood, beware it can take a few days, and ANA doesn’t let you hold awards, so there’s some risk involved. But if you see several dates available around when you want to travel you can make the transfer with more peace of mind that space will ultimately be there when the transfer is complete.
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