The Points Guy pointed out something today that I never knew which is really interesting. It seems like ANA Mileage Club (NH FF program) is not slapping YQ on Air Canada awards and United TATL business awards. This means it might be the cheapest way to get a business class ticket to continental Europe.
As far as I know, the information is current as of today, however I do not know whether ANA will put surcharges back on. Please check with ANA’s phone agents before transferring any miles into the program.
From some of the award itineraries I’ve looked at, NH is not charging YQ on AC flights when a paid fare as well as an Aeroplan ticket does! A screenshot of a sample TATL (in this case, YUL-GVA) shows only USD 76.70 in taxes and fees (and no fuel surcharge).
This is in contrast to to a paid fare which charges $826 roundtrip in YQ.
An Aeroplan award ticket charges the same thing, which is quite absurd for an award ticket:
This also applies to tickets such as the TPAC routes, for example YVR-NRT, with $580 in YQ for a paid fare and an Aeroplan Award Ticket.
NH does not seem to be charging YQ on this AC flight redemption either, with only $55 in taxes.
With North American redemptions on Air Canada, there is no YQ on paid fares, however Aeroplan does have a fuel surcharge on all redemptions with Air Canada.
Why this is interesting is because ANA regularly charges YQ if it’s labelled in a paid fare. So with all of the partner airlines, ANA charges a fuel surcharge for if there is a YQ/Q charge in the fare construction. This is in all of the other examples that The Points Guy took a screenshot from, including Lufthansa, Turkish, and Swiss.
United is also another interesting case where ANA has mis-priced YQ. In this UA fare from SFO-NRT, there is a YQ of around ~600 because it shows up on the paid fare.
But even on TATL’s where there is no surcharge when redeeming with NH, there is when buying a paid fare.
This contrasts with the data that TPG has:
To me it looks like a mistake, but recently there have been problems with how ANA is charging YQ on United flights. In a nutshell, this thread on FT talks about why the YQ on United might be so weird. Originally, the fuel surcharge was embedded in the fare (Aug 2012), which meant that while it would be charged on paid fares while it would not be on award tickets (and thus not show up as a YQ line in a screenshot of the ITA Matrix Fare breakdown).
ORIGINATING THE UNITED STATES OUTBOUND - A SURCHARGE OF USD 403.00 FARE COMPONENT WILL BE ADDED TO THE APPLICABLE FARE FOR TRAVEL FOR TRANSATLANTIC SECTORS.
So originally ANA would charge this amount, until someone called NH questioning why the taxes and fees were so high. So it was an error and then ANA took off the YQ. However, United has now put the fuel surcharge back on their paid tickets as a line of YQ, so that means other *A programs which consistently charge YQ (unlike Aeroplan with its “select” airline) should charge it as well.
In any case, regardless of the United complications, ANA (as suggested by posters on FT) are upfront and consistent with applying YQ on routes and will add YQ/Q fuel surcharge if listed under the fare construction. In several of these itineraries it seems like NH is not charging the proper YQ on AC and some UA routes which makes it a stunning value along with the award chart and routing rules.
Because they calculate itineraries based on fixed mileage limits as opposed to zones, ANA is a good value especially with multi-city itineraries. But furthermore because they operate on distance bands, round-trip awards that price just under a band would be a good deal, such as the 63k band on most TATL flights. This means most flights from the east coast are between 38,000 to 43,000 miles in economy, and 63,000 to 68,000 miles in business, and if you’re flying on UA or AC TATL, less than $200 in taxes and fees.
With a simple roundtrip, it is still a good deal. You can fly Air Canada’s new business class (staggered 1-2-1 as opposed to their old herringbone) seats for just 63,000 miles, which operates on the YUL-CDG (and also YYZ-MUC I think).
This prices at just under 7,000 miles, so an economy class redemption would be only 38,000 miles, while a business class redemption would only be 63,000 miles. That is way below all other award programs for redemptions to continental Europe.
Alternatively if you are leaving from the east coast of the US you can also take advantage of this flying on UA (which also seems to be mispricing YQ).
EWR-LHR similarly is under 7,000 miles and is 38,000 miles in economy and 63,000 miles in business.
So ANA is clearly very good for a point to point ticket. But it is also very amazing with multi-city tickets! ANA allows up to 4 stopovers on a ticket:
Your entire itinerary may have no more than 4 stopovers (a stay exceeding 24 hours). (Only 1 stopover in Japan is permitted for itineraries departing from overseas. Stopovers in Japan are not allowed for itineraries departing from Japan. 2 stopovers are permitted within Europe.)Only 1 stopover is permitted for each city. Ground transportation during an itinerary is regarded as a stopover.
No stopovers or ground transportation within the country of origin are permitted on international routes (itineraries that include 2 or more countries).
I would avoid the intra-Europe segments with the trip, because taxes on LH and LX are VERY high (around $120 up to $250 per segment). Instead, if you you pair the ticket with Avios (using Flight Reward Saver with fixed taxes and fees), you can construct an itinerary like this:
1. ANA Ticket: EWR-YYZ(Stop)-YUL(Stop)-CDG(openjaw)/ARN-EWR
ANA treats the open-jaw in Europe as two stopovers (if I’m reading their convoluted award language right), so that’s a total of 4 stopovers. You can use a another Avios ticket at 12,000 miles to plug the open-jaw, 4500 miles in economy for CDG-LHR and 7,500 miles in economy for LHR-ARN. You can get flight reward saver for these redemption on BA metal so taxes are fixed.
2. Avios Ticket: CDG-LHR, LHR-ARN
So in total for this redemption, you can get stopovers in Toronto, Montral, London, Paris, and Stockholm for 80,000 miles. I believe that is cheaper than any roundtrip business class redemption on the major programs (100k+ for UA, AA, DL, US) and you also get 5 stopovers. Crazy redemption value!
Other routes (such as the YVR-NRT on AC) isn’t bad either (for TPAC 85k RT in business), but a TATL trip is very underpriced compared to everyone else, because it has both no YQ and such a low miles outlay going for it.
Another wonderful thing with ANA is that there are no international gateways involved, so you can leave and have stopovers wherever you want. Of course you are only allowed two (or an openjaw) in Europe and you cannot pass a city twice with backtracking (whether connection or stopover), but you’re not stuck with gateway cities, overwater carrier requirement, and MPM like with AA (and also finding flat-bed biz space that doesn’t have YQ! *hem BA*).
As far as I know I do not think this will last long as ANA is clearly mispricing. Please note my bolded disclaimer at the top and check that the taxes are the same as I have in the images. ANA points transfer from SPG at a 1:1 ratio (with the 5k bonus so roughly 1:1.25), and AMEX MR US at a 1:1 ratio except not instantly, so be very certain of your redemption before transferring!
I am probably not going to use my SPG (all my AMEX is Canadian which does not have ANA as a transfer partner) for this redemption, so I will not be able to test this out whether it will work. From what I’ve seen, it should, so please report back with your experience if you do ticket. If you can take advantage of this and find the award space, it is a phenomenal value for TATL flat bed business class.
HT: The Points Guy for original data