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The ANA search engine is a powerful, albeit imperfect tool to find a Star Alliance award.
It’s powerful because you can search inventory for all Star Alliance partner airlines awards (which is not the case with United’s website, for example, which excludes Singapore Airlines), s0 it’s useful both if you’re trying to use ANA miles, which are transferable from Amex Membership Rewards, or you’re trying to use other Star Alliance miles like United MileagePlus and want to hone in on award space.
But it can be excruciatingly slow for these reasons:
However, if you are looking for simple roundtrip flights, it’s not that bad.
First, you need to be logged on to search for an award flight.
If you’re not registered with the ANA Mileage Club, it’s easy and free, just follow this link.
After you log on, click “Award Booking” next to the “Search” button. There is no need to fill out your travel information yet.
First, let’s look at how to book a simple round-trip flight with reasonably good award availability – between New York and Seoul on ANA partner Asiana. This is a really good way of using ANA miles, not only because of availability, but also because Asiana’s fuel surcharge is reasonably low.
Fill in your travel information and hit “Next”.
Both flights are available. However, if your flights are not available, you can quickly change the dates and try again.
Pick a flight with seats available.
The final page will show you the cost in miles and cash. In our example, it’s 60,000 miles and $207.69 in cash. Hit “Next” to proceed.
Open the “Payment” submenu, and you will see the itemized ticket cost. In our example, the fuel surcharge is $161.80, which is not bad at all for such a long flight.
You can go ahead and enter your information after this page and finalize the ticket.
Now let’s try and look for a multi-city flight.
ANA allows one free stopover and up to two open jaws. This is a terrific way to get more travel for the same amount of miles, however you must watch for fuel surcharges as ANA adds them to most of its partners.
And you’ll want to keep in mind ANA’s complicated, but very useful routing rules.
First, make sure you choose “Multiple cities/Mixed classes”.
We’ll presume you prefer flying in business, but keep in mind that unlike some other airlines, ANA charges you the exact amount of miles for the class of service you fly per each leg, so if you mix economy and business you’ll be charged less than if you fly business the whole way.
Let’s say you want to fly from New York to Seoul with a stopover in Hong Kong and return to Los Angeles.
All classes of service are available on Asiana, so we choose Business and click “Next.”
There are multiple options to fly between Seoul and Hong Kong including several flights on Asiana and two Fifth Freedom Flight on Thai Airways and Air India. Choose the one you want, but in our example, we’ll stick with Asiana.
There are multiple choices to fly back between Hong Kong and Los Angeles including ANA or a combination of ANA and United. We will choose ANA, especially that it has a flight in our preferred class of service.
Here is your final screen. You’ll confirm the seats are actually available (and make sure you do this – don’t trust the ‘Seats available’ you see in the prior screen as it sometimes displays false readings).
If you extend the “Payment” section, you’ll see that the fuel surcharge is even less compared to the round-trip Seoul flight, although due to increased taxes, the cost remained approximately the same.
If you decide to fly back on ANA via Tokyo instead of the Asiana flights you will save roughly $50 because ANA doesn’t have fuel surcharges on its non-stop flights, as well as connecting flights to and from Hong Kong.
And if all that is too much travel, consider using the free Award Finder browser plugin, which will automate your searches of the ANA website and other airline award sites.
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