Sweet Spot Sunday: How to fly round-trip to Europe in business class for 88,000 miles
Editor's note: This post has been updated with new information. It was originally published April 4, 2021.
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?
It's true that this is indeed the easy route, but did you know there’s a (much) cheaper option out there?
All Nippon Airways Mileage Club offers several sweet spot redemptions that can save you as much as 50% on award travel to Europe. More points mean more travel and who doesn’t love that?
In this guide, 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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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 price out at 60,000 miles or more round-trip, making this 88,000-mile ANA award an even better value.
What's more, you can add an open-jaw and stopover to all award tickets. This means you can see multiple destinations for the price of one, and depart and return from different airports.
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.
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. Additionally, you can use the "Multiple cities/Mixed classes" button to search for itineraries with stopovers.
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.
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.
Step 4: Pick your flight
Once you confirm your travel dates, you’ll be 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. Unfortunately, the carrier passes on fuel surcharges for many carriers like Austrian, Lufthansa and Swiss, to name a few. The difference can be staggering. For example, a business-class award with a Swiss Airlines segment costs $962.17.
On the other hand, a business-class itinerary from the U.S. to Europe operated by TAP Air Portugal has just over $57 in taxes and fees. It’s definitely worth comparing the flights operated by different carriers to ensure you’re paying the lowest taxes possible.
Finally, here's an example of an itinerary with a stopover. Here, you go from Newark to Lisbon, Portugal; Lisbon to Barcelona; and Casablanca, Morocco, to Newark. You'd be responsible for booking another ticket from Barcelona to Casablanca. It's also worth noting that ANA considers Morocco a part of Europe and prices accordingly. This whole itinerary costs 88,000 miles and roughly $130 in taxes and fees in business class.
Step 5: Confirm and pay
In 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.
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 2 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, giving you another layer of protection if anything goes wrong during your trip.
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 its most popular cards, the timing is great.
Here’s a look at some of the best card options to help you earn enough miles for a business-class trip to Europe:
- The Platinum Card from American Express: Earn 80,000 bonus points after you spend $6,000 on purchases in the first six months of card membership.
- American Express® Gold Card: Earn 60,000 bonus points after you spend $4,000 on purchases with your new card within the first six months of card membership.
- The Business Platinum Card® from American Express: Earn 150,000 bonus points after you spend $15,000 on eligible purchases in the first three months of card membership.
Not only will you earn bonus points toward 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.
If Europe is on your 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.
Additional reporting by Andrew Kunesh.