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Update: Some offers mentioned below are no longer available. View the current offers here – Starwood Preferred Guest Credit Card from American Express, Starwood Preferred Guest Business Credit Card from American Express
Back in April, ANA revamped its Mileage Club frequent-flyer program and its web site. While the new award charts have some sweet spots, the web redevelopment pretty much ruined what had been the best Star Alliance award search engine out there, limiting the types of awards you could pull in and the breadth of your search to a single day.
But that collective sigh of relief you heard today from the frequent-flyer forums and miles enthusiasts everywhere is the result of the fact that ANA’s award search engine seems to be up and running again, pulling in awards you might have trouble finding on other Star Alliance carriers’ sites and generally making everyone’s life easier.
In order to use the award search tool, you must log in at this link. Once you do, you’ll see the following page:
Click on the “ANA International Flight Awards” tab. Then simply input your dates, choose the class of service, and for a bit more flexibility, click that little box that says “Compare seat availability +/- 3 days.” Note, this also requires you to search roundtrip awards, but you can just input any date you want.
That should pull up a calendar of availability week by week. Even if your search isn’t successful on the days you initially choose (i.e. there are no award seats available), you can hit “Confirm,” and the week’s availability should pull up all the same.
The days with open award availability should be denoted by “OK.” Click on the day that you want, and you’ll see the specific awards that are available. In this case, there are Lufthansa and United awards from Frankfurt to Washington Dulles in first class.
You can then price out the award including miles and taxes.
And it’ll give you links to the specific award charts that explain why this specific award costs this specific amount of miles!
And a breakdown of the miles, taxes and fees.
There seem to be a few glitches, so even on days when award availability is there, you might get a message like this:
In that case, just try your search again. Sometimes it resolves, sometimes it doesn’t. Hopefully that glitch will get fixed soon, but in the meantime, the award availability seems to be there and it’s at least good for finding the flights with award seats. From there, you can use another site like United or Aeroplan to search on specific days for the awards you find and book them from there.
However, apart from the award chart and search tool, ANA’s mileage program is a great one to consider for a few reasons. Though fuel surcharges on awards can be high, the airline doesn’t charge last-minute award booking fees, which can potentially save you hundreds of dollars.
The Mileage Club program is a 1:1 transfer partner of American Express Membership Rewards (transfers usually take about 48 hours), which you can earn with cards like the EveryDay Preferred, Premier Rewards Gold, and the The Platinum Card from American Express. ANA is also a 1:1 transfer partner of Starwood Preferred Guest — you can earn 30,000 bonus points after spending $3,000 within the first three months with the Starwood Preferred Guest Credit Card, and 30,000 bonus points after spending $5,000 within the first three months with the Starwood Preferred Guest Business Credit Card — transfers to ANA can take up to a few weeks. However, if you transfer 20,000 Starpoints at a time, you get a 5,000-point bonus, giving you a potential transfer ratio of 1:1.25.
For more information, check out TPG Contributor Richard Kerr’s post on Maximizing the New ANA Award Chart.