ANA First Class Award Space Wide Open!

Thank you for waiting. I’m so sorry. ANA is releasing a lot of first class award space. I’m so sorry.

ANA first class is fantastic

There aren’t many things that make me smile more than the service culture in Japan. And ANA encompasses just about everything I love about the Japanese service culture. I love ANA first class.

They have a fantastic product.

ANA-first-class-1

Great food.

ANA-first-class-2

Awesome amenities (including Rimowa amenity kits!).

ANA-first-class-3

An onboard bidet-style toilet (one of the coolest airplane amenities, if you ask me). 😉

ANA-first-class-4

And perhaps most importantly, ridiculously good service. ANA is the only airline where I’ve been given a new set of pajamas upon our descent after I changed out of the ones I was wearing the whole flight… along with an apology. I’m not sure which was crazier — that, or on Japan Airlines, when I received an apology for a complimentary upgrade to first class.

Anyway, for the past several years ANA has been quite stingy when it comes to releasing first class award space. They’ve mostly released space:

  • For travel between January and March, in the off season
  • Last minute, usually within a week or two of departure

That’s a stark contrast to ~2008, when they used to release space more consistently. With the economy improved, airlines as profitable as ever, and record load factors, that’s not something you’d expect to change.

ANA is releasing a lot of first class award space!

For reasons I can’t explain, there’s a really good amount of ANA first class award space, and not just last minute or for travel in January through March.

I’m seeing excellent ANA first class award space across the board. Just pulling up some random dates, let’s look at availability next June. These are totally random dates, and I’ve found them to be fairly representative of overall award availability.

Per the ANA award search tool, here’s what first class award availability looks like between New York and Tokyo:

ANA-New-York-Award-Space

And between Los Angeles and Tokyo:

ANA-Los-Angeles-Award-Space

And between Chicago and Tokyo:

ANA-Chicago-Award-Space

And between San Francisco and Tokyo:

ANA-San-Francisco-Award-Space

And between Washington and Tokyo:

ANA-Washington-Award-Space

As you can see, on average about half of dates have award space, which is possibly the most ANA award space I’ve ever seen. A couple of things to note:

  • If you have the choice, you’ll want to book a flight coded as a “77W” and not a “777.” The 77Ws feature the new first class product, while the 777s feature the old first class product (which is still very good). In other words, if possible avoid the second daily Chicago flight and the Washington Dulles flight.
  • Availability isn’t amazing for two passengers. Most space seems to be just for one person, though I am seeing a fair amount of first class for two people with some flexibility.

How to redeem miles for ANA first class

As a refresher, award redemption rates for some of the most popular partner airlines are as follows, one-way:

  • Air Canada Aeroplan between the US and Asia 1 — 105,000 miles
  • Avianca LifeMiles between the US and North Asia — 75,000 miles
  • United MileagePlus between the US and Japan — 110,000 miles

However, this is a case where ANA’s Mileage Club program can be quite lucrative (and they’re partners with American Express Membership Rewards as well). They have a distance based award chart, as follows:

ANA-Distance-Based-Award

That means:

  • Roundtrip first class between Los Angeles or San Francisco and Tokyo would cost 110,000 miles
  • Roundtrip first class between Chicago, New York, or Washington, and Tokyo would cost 120,000 miles

If you book through ANA or Air Canada Aeroplan, there would be fuel surcharges totaling $580 roundtrip.

ANA-Fuel-Surcharges

So if you have the choice I’d definitely book either through ANA’s Mileage Club program or through Avianca’s LifeMiles program. If booking through the latter, be sure to do so before October 15, 2014, since they’re devaluing their award chart then. As of October 15, 2014, that same award will cost 90,000 miles one-way.

Bottom line

Earlier I wrote about how Air China is releasing a lot of first class award space out of New York. That can be practical, though isn’t aspirational. In other words, I would fly Air China first class if I really valued a direct flight, and not because I really want to fly Air China first class.

This is different. ANA first class is one of the world’s best first class products, so I’d go out of my way to book ANA first class while it’s still available. It’s arguably among the best first class products in the world.

(Tip of the hat to MEOW)

Comments

  1. This is great! When I was looking for ANA space earlier this year, I noticed ORD-NRT route always had availability in advance whereas the other routes LAX-NRT, FRA-NRT, JFK-NRT, etc. would only have availability close to departure. Thanks for this!

  2. curse you Ben – I just got back from an aspirational RTW trip and here you have me planning another 🙂

    Since they’re distance-based, a JFK-NRT-FRA-JFK would be worth the extra mileage over purely JFK-NRT-JFK as long as we can find the F availability right? Is the 77W the only aircraft with the new FC product? What about the 388 or 788?

  3. @ Mike — Book through ANA because they have the lowest mileage redemption rates. They’re 30,000-40,000 points cheaper than LifeMiles, so that’s a bag difference. Not really a reason to book through Aeroplan, though. Was simply sharing the costs.

  4. I did that and complemented with a paid EY first class NRT-AUH-LHR (the last leg on the A380) for around U$ 4k.
    I know that would be a toughie, but if you had to choose between NH new F and OZ new F (on JFK-ICN, which is also available), what would be your choice (pick one, don´t say both are great)? I went with NH, but it was a hard decision due to Asiana enclosed suite, 30″ TV and great food and service. Perhaps the crew will apologize to me for choosing NH over OZ. 🙂

  5. @ Carlos — That’s TOTALLY not a fair question. Literally depends on which side of the bed I wake up on a given morning. Today I’m in an ANA mood, I guess. But tomorrow I may be in an Asiana mood…

    Two of my favorite products…

  6. Amusing that you checked a travel date for ORD-NRT that I’m already booked in C on…traveling with family, so I didn’t want pay for everyone to fly F (especially using devalued United miles, ugh). I definitely echo a preference for the 77Ws, especially in C…business on the non-refitted aircraft is not great – angle flat vs. lie flat, so try as hard as you can to grab a 77W flight for the vastly superior C hard product.

    But yes, my one F trip on ANA’s 77W from ORD-NRT last year was *outstanding* and I am definitely flying ANA 77W F home from Tokyo on my upcoming trip. Can’t wait!

  7. super excited about this! two quick questions please.
    i have an unused pre-devaluation UA award from north asia to JFK in biz for 60k miles

    1. can i upgrade that to a first class award and pay the pre-devaluation mileage difference? 10k more

    2. can i change the one way into a round trip for 60k more miles (pre devaluation value) AND / OR upgrade that into RT first for 140k total?

  8. @ AC — If it can be done online then it definitely should be possible. If done by agent, all depends on the agent you get. In practice some people have definitely been able to change a pre devaluation one-way to a roundtrip in a different cabin, but it might take some hanging up and calling back. Good luck!

  9. Since the changes and mergers, what is your best bet with biz or 1st with USDM redemption? I used to do Ana, Thai, United, Asiana.

  10. @ arthur — I’d say the best partners are Cathay Pacific and Japan Airlines in first class, and those two plus Qatar Airways for business class.

  11. @lucky, no luck the first time. lady at premier desk (only a silver) said i can only keep it one way biz. moving up one way to first would trigger new pricing. changing from one way to round trip biz (or first class) would also trigger new pricing =(. HUCA time

  12. They are apparently finally updating the aircraft on the IAD route. I initially booked on the old version of the 777 for my trip in October. But it now shows as the new version.

  13. NH 1011/1012, the “second Chicago flight” is shown as 77W in September. Hopefully they have enough in the fleet to make it permanent.

  14. I flew the second departure from Chicago in May and it was a 77W. It seems like this is becoming more consistent.

  15. This has been especially great for some of the pre-devaluation UA tickets I have at the start of next year. The only downside is being stuck on a regional 787 from Singapore to connect.

  16. @lucky — took 5 min to explain booking and then nearly 40 min on hold for agent to find a method to grandfather me in based on the old fare chart. i was able to move from biz to first for 10k more miles and even got money back cuz my previous routing was North Asia – BKK – FRA – JFK – SFO lol.. now its just North Asia – NRT – SFO. don’t think i want to push my luck on making this a RT fare.

    super excited! never been on first class ever. this is going to be amazing!

  17. @lucky — OMG can’t thank you enough! even better yet.. the agent put me on the wrong connecting flight to NRT. i had about an 22 hour layover at tokyo. even though NRT is quite far from the city, figured it would be fun to travel there for just one night and catch the afternoon flight. somehow the agent put me on an earlier flight which makes my connection time 28 hours =P thats probably what caused her a lot of problems when pricing. or not? either way def worth the 1 hour phone call!

  18. As you mentioned, definitely not wide-open if you are looking for a second seat (i.e. if one award seat had already been taken). Have one-ways (ORD-NRT) booked on consecutive days at the end of September and have been waiting for one of them to open up second award seat but so far no luck.Hopefully, something will open up closer to departure.

  19. Hey Lucky – thanks for the info.
    I have an ORD-NRT J flight booked on the 77W as part of a pre-devaluation UA award.
    F is open on my flight and I’m thinking about spending the extra miles and paying the fee (should be 10k and $75)… But I’m also trying to conserve my UA miles. The question: is NH F really that much better than NH J on the 77W? Can you highlight what you think are the major benefits of F over J? Thanks again for the head’s up!

  20. @ CALPATBX — It’s not a big mileage difference, and the food, service, amenities, etc., are all better. I’d absolutely do it.

  21. I have pre devaluation trip schedule this September with united miles which is from FRa to NRT via bejing on air china and back to nyc on eva from Osaka via seoul. is it possible to switch to first one leg from FRA to ANA first directly to NRT without triggering any changes? how many miles and what plane I need to search for ana out of fra. I am flying from usa on Turkish with a stopover in turkey in business and continue to japan via FRA. thank you

  22. and this is another call for help: my upcoming trip was done to experience several airlines in business class and maximize stopovers( I visited all other places before except Seoul and Taipei which I want to have brief stopover in). DO anybody could suggest how I could try to improve it without triggering any major changes? I never experienced first class and only once did catway pacific in business. because it is so many segments I was not able to add my departure and return city( Cleveland) and need to get to boston and back from nyc home on different transportation arrangments. is it any possibility to include first class segment on ANA? Flights: BOS-IST TK on A-340( long stopover), IST-FRA-TK on A-330 continue FRA-PEK on CA-777-300, PEK-ICN on OZA-A-321 overnight and ICN-NRT on OZ A-321(Destination). Back flight: KIX-PVG on NH-767-300, PVG-TPE EVA747-400(overnight stopover) and TPE-NYC on EVA. I could easily cut both PEK and PVG from the trip and add CLE-BOS and NYC -CLE instead. All booked segments in business class. please, give some feedback. many thanks. I do have united miles to add to first class segments at pre-devaluation level.

  23. I flew ANA First on the 77W flight from IAD-NRT last week and it was only half full. Space for that seat opened up a few weeks out from my date of departure, so I was able to plop my United pre-devaluation reservation on it, after a phone call to work out one minor ticketing error. I was also the only person in the first class cabin who wasn’t an older Japanese businessman.

  24. Hi Lucky, I’m not seeing that much availability ex-EU, for us – your European readers. Have you been able to see any F availability ex FRA, LHR or CDG? Thanks.

  25. Hello,

    Does ANA typically release 2 seats in F for flight from US to Japan ? Is it usually in advance or closer to departure ? I have so far only seen 1 seat for award tickets ( JFK, ORD, IAD, etc ) even when the flight is empty.
    Thanks

    Julie

  26. @ Julie — One is fairly common, two is rare. It happens, but not often, so wouldn’t count on it. If they do it will likely be close to departure.

  27. @ mike — It’s not linked in any way. So if you book one seat it doesn’t increase the likelihood of a second seat opening up.

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