All Nippon Airways’ Mileage Club program is transfer partners with both American Express Membership Rewards and Starwood Preferred Guest, and offers a pretty lucrative distance based award chart.
The major catch is that they impose fuel surcharges on all award tickets equal to what the airlines would charge on a revenue ticket, which means a transatlantic award ticket will easily cost you $500-700 in taxes, fees, and fuel surcharges. Compared to redeeming with a US airline that doesn’t impose those fuel surcharges, that takes quite a bit of value out of the program. Up until now the only airline I know of on which they didn’t impose these fuel surcharges was US Airways, and that’s simply because they don’t have fuel surcharges on revenue tickets either.
Anyway, Dan’s Deals reports that ANA is apparently no longer imposing fuel surcharges for travel on United, which would be huge. Taking a look at the award chart you’ll see that business class for travel of 4,001-7,000 miles roundtrip costs just 63,000 miles, and travel for 7,001-9,000 miles roundtrip costs just 68,000 miles. This covers travel from most of the east coast to Europe, making this a spectacular value without the fuel surcharges.
What’s also unique about ANA is that they allow four stopovers on an itinerary (including the destination), though none are allowed in the country of origin and only two are allowed in Europe.
Anyway, this may just be the best use of Membership Rewards points for business class travel to Europe now. United has flat bed business class seats on much of their transatlantic fleet, and flying routes like Newark to London for 63,000 miles in business class with no fuel surcharges is a value that’s tough to beat.