An “Around the world” trip booked with All Nippon Airways (ANA) miles is one of the best deals in the world (pun intended) of travel rewards. The redemption rate is amazing, and there are lots of stops you can include in your itinerary. If you want to visit more than one continent in a single trip, it makes sense to book an “Around the world” ticket.

In this article, I’ll share with you how I booked my around the world itinerary in business class with just 145,000 ANA miles.

General Rules of ANA Around the World Tickets

ANA is a Star Alliance airline, and because Star Alliance is the largest airline alliance, you can go anywhere on your around the world trip. You will need far fewer ANA miles than if you were to book the same itinerary with any other carrier.

Star Alliance Carriers

Here’s a quick overview of ANA around the world ticket rules:

  • The travel must be from east to west or west to east (ANA is lenient about this rule if you need to backtrack to connect at a Star Alliance hub)
  • A total of eight stopovers are allowed; ground transfer (arriving in one city and making your own way to another city) counts as two stopovers
  • The travel can include up to 12 segments
  • You can mix cabins, but the rate is always calculated based on the highest cabin
  • Travel has to touch three ANA mileage zones and must return to the originating zone which means you have to return  to the continent you departed from
  • The trip has to be at least 10 days long

ANA’s around the world award chart is distance-based, so first, we need to estimate the distance flown. Once you settled on your destinations, use Great Circle Mapper to figure out how many miles you will be flying. Once you calculate your total mileage, check the following chart to see exactly how many ANA miles you will need.

How to Earn ANA Miles

ANA is an American Express Membership Rewards partner which means you have plenty of options to earn ANA miles thanks to a slew of Amex cards.

Generous welcome bonuses and bonus categories make Membership Rewards points fairly easy to earn. My favorite American Express cards are Amex Blue Business Plus which has no annual fee and earns 2X on all purchases and American Express Platinum.

Membership Rewards points transfer to ANA at 1:1 ratio and the transfer takes about 48 hours.

How to Book ANA RTW Trip

First, we need to find availability on each segment of our trip separately and call ANA to book it. I like to use United and Aeroplan websites to look for award space. Both are easy to use and produce reliable results.

To search for flights on United, you don’t even need to log in. If your trip will include flights on United, you’ll want to search those segments with Aeroplan to ensure award space is available to partners.

Head over to United and plug in your departure and arrival airports and your date. I recommend starting with longer international segments.

Remember, we are just looking for saver award availability and we aren’t going to pay any attention to United’s mileage requirements.

Recently, United hasn’t been showing award availability on one of its partners, Singapore Airlines. If your travel plans include Singapore, I’d recommend using Air Canada’s frequent flyer program Aeroplan to search until United resolves the issue. Its a good practice to check award space on more than one airline to make sure you aren’t seeing phantom award availability.

To search on Aeroplan, you’ll need to create an account first. After you create your account, navigate to Aeroplan, login, go to Book travel, then Flights. Enter your dates, departure and destination airports and click search.

You’ll see the results on the next screen. It’s easy to toggle back and forth between cabin classes, just click on the arrow next to Business/First. You can also uncheck Display mixed cabin, but I like to leave it as is.

Sometimes there’s a short connecting flight available in economy on a route that doesn’t have business class, or it might be one-cabin aircraft, and I don’t want to miss it entirely.

Again, we are not going to pay attention to the mileage rates, we are just looking for available flights.

Taxes And Fees (Including Surcharges)

ANA passes on carrier-imposed surcharges and they vary greatly from carrier to carrier. I used ITA Matrix to estimate the surcharges for my trip.

Just plug in your flight information, one segment at a time and click Search.

The next screen will display all available routes. For this example, I am interested in ANA flight to Haneda airport so I am going to click on it to see the surcharges.

As you can see from the screenshot below, carrier-imposed surcharges or YQ are $130 for this flight in business class. Sometimes you will see YQ and YR, both are carrier-imposed surcharges that we’ll need to pay.

Repeat the process for all of your segments and add up YQ and YR surcharges to estimate how much you’ll have to pay for the entire trip.

Some carriers, such as LOT Polish Airlines have low surcharges while you won’t have any surcharges on other partners such as United (except on flights to Asia), so I always play with different routing options to see if I can save some money on those pesky surcharges.

My Itinerary

Here’s what my itinerary looks like:

Total distance flown: 22,999 miles.

I am going to Israel on the first part of my trip. I wasn’t able to find a one-stop flight from my home airport, so I’ll be connecting in Chicago (ORD) and Warsaw (WAW). I had an option to fly on Austrian Airlines and to connect in Vienna, but however much I love Austrian Airlines and the Vienna airport, the carrier-imposed surcharges were over $500 on Austrian. LOT’s surcharges were about $225 so LOT it is!

From Israel, I plan to fly to Hong Kong.

There are no direct Star Alliance flights from Tel Aviv (TLV) to Hong Kong (HKG), so I’ll be connecting in Istanbul (IST).

After spending a few days in Hong Kong, I’ll head over to Singapore on a direct Hong Kong-Singapore flight.

From Singapore (SIN), I plan to make my way to one of Thailand’s beautiful beaches on a low-cost carrier because there are no good Star Alliance options to the places I am considering as a quick beach getaway.

After a few days on the beach, I plan to fly on a local low-cost carrier to Bangkok (BKK) to position for my flight home. ANA considers these as ground transfers, so if you are planning on doing something similar, make sure you count the stopovers and ground transfers carefully in order to stay within ANA around the world ticket rules.

I wasn’t able to find award space all the way to my home airport, but I was able to find good flights to Chicago (ORD). I’ll just have to book a separate flight home from Chicago.

I’ve never flown ANA and I am looking forward to checking out their very nice business class.

ANA Business Class | Image Courtesy of ANA

I spent 145,000 ANA miles and $553 in surcharges to book this amazing trip. Not bad for all that distance flown in business class!

A Few Booking Tips

Here’s what I learned from my experience booking ANA RTW tickets:

  • Be prepared with alternative routes just in case the agent can’t find award space on your preferred flight
  • If you live near a secondary airport, be ready to position for your major international segments. Ironically, for me, the toughest part was finding domestic award space on United
  • Be flexible and creative with your routing
  • Because you are limited to 12 segments, try to find non-stop flights

Interesting fact I learned from an ANA agent – the routing rules state that you can only travel east or west. However, that only applies to travel between continents or ANA zones. Once you reach the Americas, Asia or Europe, you can traverse the continents in either direction, as long as you don’t exceed the allowed stopovers or the total number of segments.

Final Thoughts

I love having a good stash of transferrable currencies like American Express Membership Rewards. Transferrable currencies allow for lots of flexibility and great value redemptions.

ANA phone agents are some of the best in the business and are incredibly easy to work with. They are knowledgeable, courteous and very efficient.

The possibilities for planning a trip of a lifetime are endless! You can visit several continents, multiple countries and all for barely more than the price of a round-trip ticket with other programs. If you want to visit more than one continent, then ANA around the world ticket is definitely a great option.

Travel well,