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The airline award chart game is always changing, and one of my favorite award charts took a big hit earlier this month. The United MileagePlus program didn’t exactly change the actual prices of awards on their chart with this change, but they seriously altered the routing and stopover rules effectively devaluing awards for folks who like to maximize building in as many flights as possible into one award. I still really like United, but as I turn my sights to the next big award trip I want to book, they are probably not my first choice of mileage currency…even though I will likely be using a United operated flight.
As I outlined a while back, I really want to go to Europe in late fall/early winter 2017 (without the kiddos) to go to a famous Christmas Market or two in a place like Germany, Denmark, Vienna, or Brussels. I love my family centered trips, but I’m very much looking forward to having a few adults only trips added back into the mix beginning some time next year. By then I will have gone more than 2.5 years only taking trips with the kiddos along for the ride, and it will be time to travel a little lighter for a bit.
Other than the “adults-only” clause, I’m actually very flexible with the specifics of this European trip. I’m flexible with dates, with cities, with routings, etc. However, I do want to fly in business class. If this is going to be a relaxing kid-free trip, then I’m setting it up to be as relaxing as possible from start to finish. Of course I also want to it be as good of a deal as possible since miles mean more than ever to us now that we have two adults + two kiddos along on most trips.
Booking Business Class Awards to Europe:
When you are looking at business class round trip award tickets to Europe from the United States you have tons and tons of options. Some are not very good options like this option of 110,000 Aeroplan miles + $1500 by selecting carriers with big fuel surcharges.
Some are so-so options like United saver awards from 115,000 – 140,000 United miles + low fees since United doesn’t pass along fuel surcharges on award tickets.
Then, there are the really good options like using ANA’s 88,000 mile round trip + selecting a carrier with low/no fuel surcharges…like United. Be aware if you select an airline like Lufthansa you will get hit with hundreds and hundreds of dollars of fuel surcharges.
Last year ANA switched up its award chart and rules quite a bit, but some gems like the 88,000 mile round trip award to Europe (Zone 7) from the United States (other than Hawaii), Canada, and Mexico (Zone 6) remain available. You also still add in a stopover and some open-jaw components on these round trip awards, though not nearly as many stopovers as you could before last year’s changes.
Limitations of ANA:
Now before you throw caution to the wind and declare ANA as your new favorite program, ANA is not perfect. Some limitations include: miles expire at the end of the month 36 months after their accrual, you can only redeem awards for up to 10 people within “two degrees of family relationship”, their website takes some getting used to, you can’t book one-way awards, and their award chart and rules are a bit complicated to understand.
Strengths of ANA:
However, other than the 88k round trip, there are some great things about ANA including that it is a transfer partner of both Amex Membership Rewards and Starwood Preferred Guest. There are no close-in ticketing fees, but you must book at least 96 hours before departure and all flight changes must also be made by that deadline. You can also cancel and redeposit an award for just 3,000 miles instead of a big cash fee.
How to Book Partner Awards With ANA:
You must be logged in to search, and once you are you can then do a standard round trip search, or search segment by segment via multi-cities.
You should then cross your fingers that the website doesn’t glitch on you, and hopefully you will be able to find what you were looking for! I prefer to use the United website to look for United operated award flights using their calendar view and then head to the ANA website to actually book since ANA makes you go day by day to search for award flights.
Because I have some date and city flexibility for this proposed trip, I feel pretty confident that I will be able to find two 88,000 mile round trip business class awards via ANA, but remember that when you are using ANA to book Star Alliance partner awards from the US to Europe with low fees you are only as strong as the saver award availability released by partner airlines….like United. With United’s Business Class Polaris re-vamp coming down the line I’m a little nervous about what that may do to saver business award availability, but I’ll keep my fingers crossed!
Keep this award chart sweet spot in mind when considering offers like the The Business Platinum Card® from American Express OPEN or the 50,000 sign-up bonus points from The Business Gold Rewards Card from American Express OPEN.
Before I wrap this up, I want to include the countries that ANA defines as Europe/Zone 7 below in case that helps with your 88,000 mile award travel planning. Have you used the ANA 88,000 mile round trip business class award to Europe since it was introduced last year? What is your favorite mileage currency to Europe these days?
ANA Zone 7: Iceland, Ireland, Azerbaijan, Algeria, Albania, Armenia, Andorra, United Kingdom, Italy, Ukraine, Estonia, Austria, The Netherlands, Cyprus, Greece, Greenland, Croatia, San Marino, Gibraltar, Georgia, Switzerland, Svalbard and Jan Mayen, Sweden, Spain (including the Canary Islands), Slovakia, Slovenia, Serbia, Czech Republic, Tunisia, Denmark, Germany, Turkey, Norway, Vatican City, Hungary, Finland, Faroe Islands, France, Bulgaria, Belarus, Belgium, Poland, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Portugal (including the Azores and Madeira), Macedonia, Malta, Monaco, Moldova, Montenegro, Morocco, Latvia, Lithuania, Liechtenstein, Romania, Luxembourg, Russia
Editorial Note: The opinions expressed here are mine and not provided, reviewed, by any bank, card issuer, or other company unless otherwise stated.