An alternative to United MileagePlus – ANA Mileage Club Review

All Nippon Air or ANA (NH) is a StarAlliance airline and a United Airlines partner for flights to Asia. I’ve flown them a few times since I started traveling to Asia regularly and learned about their Mileage Club rewards program because of their great web tools! Read my ANA Mileage Club review below, to find out how it can be helpful for you and if it can be an alternative to United MileagePlus!

ANA MileageClub OverviewReach – how far will it take me? ANA serves 81 destinations in 15 countries, mostly in Asia! As part of StarAlliance, the largest airline alliance in the world, they will give you access to hundreds of destinations served by their partner airlines, so your miles will take you a long way! Check out my ANA Facts & Figures to learn more about All Nippon Air!

Earning – what do I have to do to earn points? You earn miles with ANA Mileage Club based on the flight distance and an accrual rate depending on the fare class. For domestic ANA flights, the accrual rate ranges from 50%-150%, based on a dizzying number of fare categories with names I couldn’t possibly remember. For international ANA flights and partner flights, there have defined accrual rates based on standard fare classes. I picked United and Lufthansa as partner examples:

ANA MileageClub EarningTableBecause you still earn miles distance-based (instead of revenue-based, like United MileagePlus), you can still earn a lot of miles for long-distance flights, possibly even more on United flights than with United’s own program!
In addition to all the StarAlliance airlines, ANA has a few other partners, like Philippine Airlines, Virgin Atlantic, Hawaiian or TAM, which broadens your reach even more!
You will also add a bonus of 45-130% based on your elite level and length of status! That’s a solid bonus, higher than many other programs.
Lastly, you even earn bonuses of 10% or 25% on flights as a holder of various credit and membership cards (find the detailed list here).

In addition to earning miles when flying, ANA MileageClub has a very long list of partners to earn miles with: from credit cards to hotels and rental cars, from shopping to gas stations and parking. While many reward programs allow for that, I’ve never seen pet hotels or airport nurseries on the list, making ANA’s partner list one of the most extensive I’ve found! What makes it interesting to US-based fliers is that they also offer a Visa credit card (First Bankcard) in the US. They currently run a promotion with a $70 credit after your first ticket purchase and the chance to earn 5,000 bonus points (find out more here).
If you already have an AmEx or SPG credit card, you can transfer points to ANA as well, making it a great option to top up your account!

Redeeming – what do I get for my points? The redemption of ANA miles for reward tickets is about as complex as earning them. The redemption for domestic travel is based on distance and season, starting at 5,000 miles for a one-way ticket up to 600 miles distance in low-season. The longest domestic flights in high season require 11,500 miles!

Redeeming miles for an international award on ANA is even more difficult as you also have to consider different seasons by region and the fare class. You first have to determine the region of your destination according to this map:

ANA MileageClub ZonesInteresting to note are some geographic quirks: Hawaii is in a different zone, Manila is in the North Asia zone and South East Asia and India are in the same zone – that can work out to your advantage!
Next you have to determine whether it is low, regular or high season according to ANA and your destination, using this chart:

ANA MileageClub SeasonsThe departure date with the highest season determines the number of miles needed for the whole trip! Once you got that, you’ll have to determine the miles needed for your zone and season from a the tables listed here!

If you are traveling on partner airlines, it gets a little simpler: You only have to consider the zone and fare class to find out how many points you need! you find those tables here.

To save you from getting a headache, let me point out what I’d consider the sweet spots in the ANA award chart.

Asia 1 (China, Taiwan, Philippines) to Europe in Business Class:             93,000
Asia 1 (China, Taiwan, Philippines) to N. America in Business Class:       95,000
Europe to S Korea in Business Class:                                                        93,000
Europe to Asia 2 (SE Asia, India in Business Class:                                  94,000
N America to Europe in Business Class:                                                    88,000
All of those trips are significantly less than what you’d pay on United or other StarAlliance carriers. For example United charges 170,000 miles for a partner saver award business class between Europe and SE Asia 140,000 miles between the US and Europe!

Status – what perks will I get? ANA Mileage Club has four tiers. The base tier is available by signing up, Bronze is earned after flying 30,000 miles (including at least 15,000 miles flying on ANA), Platinum after flying 50,000 miles (including at least 25,000 miles on ANA) and Diamond after 100,000 miles (including at least 50,000 miles on ANA). The requirement for half the miles being earned on ANA metal makes it more difficult for anybody not based in Japan to achieve status on ANA!
In addition to the fairly standard perks, like priority check-in, priority boarding and additional luggage allowance, MileageClub offers free access to Premium Economy and free international upgrades. You also earn “upgrade points” to get access to premium cabins, without cash or miles payments! There are also some unusual benefits, like free valet parking, access to e-immigration in Hong Kong  or special gifts and magazines! You can see all the benefits below:

ANA MileageClub BenefitsWhat else is there? ANA used to have the best online tool to find award availability on StarAlliance carriers. Since their recent web site redesign, there have been issue like available award seats not showing up or phantom award seats (that you can’t book). Until it gets better, Aeroplan or United might be better tools – let’s hope it gets fixed soon!
ANA Business SeatThe web site is very powerful, with lots of available functionality, but, despite the re-design, still difficult to use, so be prepared to be patient and read each page carefully. Simple things like a change of address will take time and careful reading of each page – seems to be a mix of cultural differences and translation issues.
I have reviewed ANA’s economy class and business class as well as their Haneda Lounge. They are both fine and compare favorably to United, but I’d prefer other Asian carriers like Singapore or Thai for both revenue and reward tickets!

The main reasons to be a ANA MileageClub member (for anybody not living in Japan) are the potential to earn more points on inexpensive long-haul flights (compared to United’s revenue based earning), the ability to top of your account with transfers from US credit card programs and the sweet spots in the redemption charts for business class travel Europe to Asia or North America!
I have been a member in ANA MileageClub for a few years, mostly to use the award search tool. I have not personally earned or transferred points to ANA, but will continue to keep my account open and look for transfer opportunities for sweet spot redemptions! A business class partner award from my current home in Manila to Europe is a bargain and I’ll certainly would love to score that!
Check out their award tables for your personal sweet spots, sign-up (it’s free) and keep them as an option in your mileage programs. If you are flying a lot to Asia, fly a lot on cheap, long-distance United tickets or are targeting a business class award between Europe and the US or Asia, ANA Mileage Club might be an interesting alternative for you!


Comments

An alternative to United MileagePlus – ANA Mileage Club Review — 4 Comments

  1. Thank you for the article. The only disadvantage I see over United is that ANA miles expire after 36 months, whereas United never expire if you “stay active” within 18 months. In my case, I go back to my country every year, so that means I never lose my points.

    My question is: how can I transfer ANA miles into my United account?

    • Yes, the expiration is an issue with ANA: similar to many other airlines based in Asia points expire, regardless of activity. The only way to avoid expiration is achieving Diamond status and I’m not aware of any way to transfer the miles to United – sorry.
      If you have miles at risk of expiring, you could use them for a partner flight (like United in the US) or one of the other partner offerings…

  2. My daughter and I are very disappointed with this Star Alliance particularly ANA and UA. We have connecting flights coming from Manila to Narita to eventually Newark USA. Never have we imagined we will be experiencing a hell of delays and missed connecting flights! I knew ANA had a very good reputation but since the alliance, I’m sorry to say,but, their management is going down the drain and they’re dragging ANA down with them. UA i know has always been bad with constant delays each time we fly. My daughter and I are frequent travellers all over the States and around the world and I can vouch UA so far is on top of my shit list! Right now as i am documenting this review, we’re stuck in Narita Japan and ANA is trying hard to give me premium economy seats as I’ve purchased them for reasons of comfort since i have a very bad back. Now theyre gving us 2.day delay and economy seats which we really dont deserve at all. I talked with the ANA rep and they’re trying their best to give me earlier flights and premium economy seats. If we cant get the latter, they will have to refund me for the price of economy seats which i argued to be just fair. Now for the hotel and meal vouchers, i will still have to wait for them to make arrangements. All in all, we will practically be travelling more than 48 hours! Not to mention the hassle, the stress, lack of sleep, hunger and discomfort! Very disappointed!

    • I’m sorry to hear about your experience – was your outbound flight from Manila delayed? While ANA has a good On-Time Performance record at 85%, Manila’s NAIA airport is problematic.
      I’m glad they are providing hotel and meal vouchers for you, something United does not necessarily do. I’ve been left without it by United in Tokyo, even though I was flying Business Class and have loyalty status with United!
      Have you asked them to upgrade you to Business Class or move you to another airline? While they won’t offer that on their own and don’t have to do it, they might give it to you if you ask for it.
      If you don’t get Premium Economy as you paid, make sure to insist on a document confirming the refund. Once you have accepted Economy and flown, it’ll be difficult to prove otherwise…
      Good luck, I hope you get home safely and soon!

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