Sweet Spot Sunday: How to fly round-trip to Europe in business class for 88,000 miles

Apr 4, 2021

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Sweet Spot Sunday is a weekly series, highlighting the best-value award redemptions across loyalty programs. 

When it comes to Star Alliance award tickets, most people go the easy route: United MileagePlus. You can book award tickets online and points are easily accessible through Ultimate Rewards transfers and cobranded United cards. Easy, right? Except there’s a cheaper option out there. All Nippon Airways (ANA) Mileage Club offers several sweet spot redemptions that can save you as much as 50% on award travel. More points mean more travel and who doesn’t love that, especially after a year in quarantine?

Today we’ll go over one of ANA’s best sweet spots available: the 88,000-mile round-trip business-class award to Europe. If you’re not familiar with ANA Mileage Club, don’t worry – I’ll walk you through everything you need to know about earning Mileage Club points and how to book this sweet spot award, step by step.

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In This Post

Why it’s special

This award offers terrific value when compared to programs like American AAdvantage, Delta SkyMiles and United MileagePlus. A typical business-class award to Europe costs 115,000-154,000 miles round-trip, meaning you can save nearly half the miles by booking through ANA instead.

Economy awards to Europe often pricing out at 60,000 miles round-trip or more, making this 88,000-mile ANA award an even better value.

Related: 10 ways to redeem ANA Mileage Club miles for maximum value

How to book this award

You can book ANA award tickets online or you can do it over the phone for a $25 fee. Just keep in mind that you can’t book any ANA awards within 96 hours of departure, so you’ll need to plan ahead. ANA also doesn’t allow one-way award bookings, so you’ll have to find return flight availability. With that being said, here’s how to book an ANA award ticket:

Step 1: Log in to your Mileage Club account

This probably goes without saying, but you’ll need to be logged in to your ANA Mileage Club account to book an award ticket. If you don’t have a Mileage Club account, you can sign up for one fairly easily.

Once you’re logged in, head to the Partner Flight Awards page and click on the “How to Apply” tab. The “Reservations and Applications for Partner Airline Flight Awards” button will take you to an award booking page.

ANA Mileage Club award booking
(Screenshot courtesy of ana.co.jp)

Step 2: Enter your trip information

Once you’re on the award booking page, you’ll need to enter the details for your trip. It’s always a good idea to check off the “Compare seat availability +/- 3 days” box. If your dates are flexible, it generates a broader search.

ANA award search NYC-CDG
(Screenshot courtesy of ana.co.jp)

Notice there’s a check box at the bottom: “Check when logged in user will not be traveling.” You’ll need to check that when booking travel for someone else. ANA allows you to book travel for a spouse, parents, grandparents, cousins, aunts and uncles. ANA also allows family pooling, so you can combine points and redeem an award faster.

Related: 5 mistakes to avoid when flying Star Alliance partners

Step 3: Confirm your travel dates

On the search results page, you’ll see a calendar displaying award availability within one week of your specified dates. If you’re lucky, you’ll see “Seats available” all around. With travel demand to Europe likely picking up, you might need to adjust your dates on this page to book this award.

ANA Mileage Club award NYC-CDG search
(Screenshot courtesy of ana.co.jp)

Step 4: Pick your flight

Once you confirm your travel dates, you’ll get redirected to a page that shows the total cost of the award, along with flight options. As you can see, some awards can carry pretty hefty taxes. Even though ANA eliminated most fuel surcharges last year, they continue to pass on fuel surcharges added by partner carriers like Lufthansa, Copa and Air China, to name a few. The difference can be staggering. For example, a business-class award with a Swiss Airlines segment costs $962.17.

ANA 88k award to Europe fuel surcharges
(Screenshot courtesy of ana.co.jp)

That same award drops to $171.10 if you switch to a Scandinavian Airlines segment instead. It’s definitely worth comparing the flights operated by different carriers to ensure you’re paying the lowest taxes possible.

ANA 88k award to Europe no fuel surcharges
(Screenshot courtesy of ana.co.jp)

Related: Book this, not that: Star Alliance award tickets

Step 5: Confirm and pay

On the final step, you’ll need to review your itinerary and finalize your booking. In my case, I currently have zero ANA miles, so I’m not able to proceed with the booking until I top off my account.

ANA 88,000 business class award
(Screenshot courtesy of ana.co.jp)

The next step would be to enter your traveler profile and pay for your flight. Be sure to use a card that earns bonus points on travel, like The Platinum Card® from American Express or Chase Sapphire Reserve.

If you’re booking an award with inordinately high taxes, you may want to consider charging it to the Capital One Venture Rewards Credit Card. You’ll earn only 2x miles per $1 spent but you can redeem miles toward the purchase to eliminate your out-of-pocket cost. Plus, the card offers travel accident insurance, offering you another layer of protection if anything goes wrong during your trip.

Related: The best websites for searching Star Alliance award availability

How to earn points for this award

Considering that ANA is a transfer partner of Amex Membership Rewards, these points are fairly easy to come by. The easiest option is through a new credit card welcome bonus. Since Amex is currently offering elevated welcome bonuses on several of their most popular cards, the timing is great.

Not only will you receive enough points to cover a round-trip ANA business-class award to Europe, but you can continue earning Membership Rewards through generous category bonuses. Just keep in mind Amex’s once-per-lifetime rule when it comes to welcome bonuses.

Here’s a look at some of the best card options to help you earn at least 88,000 ANA miles:

The Platinum Card from American Express

(Photo by Clint Henderson/The Points Guy)

The Platinum Card currently offers 100,000 Membership Rewards points after spending $6,000 on purchases on your new card in your first six months of card membership. Plus, you’ll earn 10x points on eligible purchases on your new card at U.S. gas stations and U.S. supermarkets, on up to $15,000 in combined purchases during your first six months of card membership.

Even if you earn just 1x on the first $4,000 and then charge $1,000 in grocery purchases to your card, you’ll end up with a combined 89,000 Membership Rewards points. That’s more than enough to secure an ANA business-class award ticket to Europe.

The Business Platinum Card® from American Express

(Photo by John Gribben for The Points Guy)

The Business Platinum Card offers 120,000 Membership Rewards points after spending $15,000 in eligible purchases within the first three months of card membership.

American Express® Gold Card

(Photo by Isabelle Raphael/The Points Guy)

The Amex Gold Card is a good option if you have a portion of the points needed for this award but want to give your balance a boost. The card currently offers 60,000 Membership Rewards points after spending $4,000 within your first six months of card membership. The card also earns 3x on flights booked directly with the airline or via American Express Travel and 4x on dining at restaurants and groceries at U.S. supermarkets (up to $25,000 in purchases per calendar year; then 1x), making it ideal for maximizing daily spending.

I recommend the Amex Gold Card if you don’t need the full 88,000 points for an ANA business-class award to Europe. It still offers a sizeable welcome bonus and the $250 annual fee (see rates and fees) is much more reasonable for the average person than the premium Platinum cards.

American Express® Business Gold Card

(Photo by Isabelle Raphael/The Points Guy)
(Photo by Isabelle Raphael/The Points Guy)

The Amex Business Gold Card currently offers a welcome bonus of 70,000 Membership Rewards Points after you spend $10,000 on eligible purchases within the first three months of card membership. That definitely takes the sting out of the card’s $295 annual fee (see rates and fees).

If you want to save up for an ANA business-class award to Europe without paying over $500 in annual fees, then the Amex Business Gold Card is a great alternative. The welcome bonus is higher than on the personal Gold Card and if you make use of all the statement credits, you’ll more than offset the $295 annual fee (see rates and fees).

Bottom line

If Europe is on your post-pandemic bucket list, and you have Membership Rewards saved up, ANA’s 88,000-mile business-class ticket is one of the cheapest options out there. Earning points for this award is also fairly easy, considering ANA is a Membership Rewards transfer partner and, barring the once-per-lifetime rule, there are always great welcome bonuses you can take advantage of to stock up on points

For rates and fees of the Amex Gold card, please click here.
For rates and fees of the Amex Business Gold card, please click here.

Featured photo of Lufthansa’s A350 business class by Zach Honig/The Points Guy.

Editorial Disclaimer: Opinions expressed here are the author’s alone, not those of any bank, credit card issuer, airlines or hotel chain, and have not been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by any of these entities.

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