While I’ve had my fair share of frustration directed at the incompetent folks that plague the call center at ANA (at least most of them), I still love some of their redemption options, especially since they’re an American Express Membership Rewards partner, so the miles are pretty easy to come by. Not only do you have access to the whole Star Alliance, but you also have access to three great partners — Jet Airways, Qatar, and Virgin Atlantic — none of which belong to any of the three big alliances
I’ve blogged in the past about the ability to fly JFK-LHR roundtrip in Upper Class on Virgin for only 63,000 ANA miles, and only 68,000 miles from other major points on the east coast, which is a total bargain. The fact that ANA has a distance based award chart (as opposed to region based) can be an advantage for those of us living on the east coast of the US especially, since Europe is so close.
Another great deal can be found on Qatar Airways, an airline with limited partners, and one of only six five star airlines in the world. JFK/IAD-DOH are both just under 14,000 miles roundtrip, which means an award can be had in business class for a mere 90,000 miles. Sadly Qatar only flies 777-300ER’s to the US, which means there’s no three cabin service. Nonetheless, their business product looks pretty darn good overall, and definitely something I would strive for.
I’ve also heard that Doha is a bit of a hell hole, so you can always try connecting to other parts of the Middle East from there.
Another excellent redemption, in my opinion, is Jet Airways. They offer service from EWR/JFK to DEL via BRU, which is just a bit over 15,000 miles roundtrip. In business class such a redemption would cost 105,000 miles, which is a lot less than you’d pay with basically any other program. Best of all this category of award allows up to 18,000 miles of travel, so you can connect from DEL with ease, be it domestic or international. They’re also an option if you’d prefer to go to Europe, since you can book just EWR-BRU roundtrip for 68,000 miles in business class.
For what it’s worth I’ve heard amazing things about Jet Airways business class, both in terms of hard and soft product. Their hard product is similar to that of VS/NZ/AC, with fully flat beds, and let me point out this tidbit from their website regarding service in Premiere (Business) Class:
Peruse our new menu, whilst sipping Dom Perignon Champagne.
For those of you that base your mileage redemptions off of how much you can drink, Jet is the only airline I know of that serves DP in Biz.
Anyway, those are just a few redemption options. It goes without saying that having a distance based award system has many pluses and minuses. If you use your miles correctly, it can be a big plus, especially with the “special” partners that ANA has.
It’s also worth noting that this is all theoretical talk. I’m not all that familiar with how much award inventory ANA has for Qatar and Jet, but I’m betting it’s pretty limited. Regardless, if you can get a seat, you’re getting a great deal.