ANA award chart and Southwest earning updates


Staff member

Yesterday ANA released a new award chart that appears to take take effect for travel booked after April 12, 2015. Travel is Free has done a great job introducing and breaking down some of the bigger changes, but there is one huge current family travel sweet spot that we lose. Fortunately we pick up a new one to sort of replace it, and many of the other changes are good. Or great.

Losing the 4,000 mile itinerary for 22K miles

Under the distance-based program, everywhere in green could reach Central America and the Caribbean for 22K miles roundtrip, making ANA the best program for a warm-weather winter getaway for many.

This sweet spot got us to Roatan for 22K miles each, and was the best deal for Central America and the Caribbean for much of the country. Examples like Houston-Ecuador or Boston-Grand Cayman or any itinerary on United up to 4,000 miles was just 22K miles roundtrip. Southwest’s expansion in those areas helps make up for the loss, but they don’t serve nearly as many destinations as United.

Gaining Mexico as part of the U.S. region

Under the new program, Alaska, Canada and Mexico are all part of the North America region! So after April 2015, any routing to anywhere in Mexico will require less miles with ANA than any other program except possibly Southwest. So the winter escape becomes easier for the people who need it most (far Northern U.S. and Canada) as long as it’s in Mexico.

Using a stopover to make this even better

Summer in the Canadian Rockies and winter in Mexico!

Since ANA’s new chart seems to allow one stopover, you should be able to tack a free one-way from anywhere in North America to your home airport, stopover and then continue on a roundtrip to Mexico. I’d say that’s worth the additional 3,000 miles!

Prices to Mexico get better for most, the rest of these destinations go way up in price under the new award chart.

Other great deals with the new chart

There are a bunch of them. Head on over to Travel is Free for the details. Unfortunately, most of them on airlines other than United or Air New Zealand come with substantial surcharges.

I’m hoping to be able to find space on United to book in March under the old program for travel in February 2016, and I’d recommend looking into the current sweet spot if you’ve been planning a Central America trip for ‘sometime’.

The other loss

Currently, if you start your trip in Brazil, you can fly anywhere (including a huge round-the-world trip) and avoid surcharges on the entire trip, regardless of the airlines and routing. With only one stopover allowed, this sweet spot for one of the last remaining ‘Explorer” tickets will be gone.

Southwest 50K offers on all 4 cards, perfectly timed for a 2015-2016 companion pass!

I’ve written about application timing here and here, but Chase has brought back 50K offers on all four Southwest cards! So if you got a bonus on a personal Premier card within the past 24 months, you can go for the Plus card now. It is also possible to get both personal cards. Lots of options, just remember to NOT hit the $2000 spending threshold until AFTER your December statement posts if you’re looking for 2 years worth of Companion Pass benefits. These links are all directly from Southwest homepage.

Personal Premier card application, $99 fee not waived.

Personal Plus card application, $69 fee not waived.

Business Premier card application, $99 fee not waived.

Business Plus card application, $69 fee not waived.

These offers come around regularly, so there’s no hurry unless you have planned travel on Southwest early in 2015. We have a trip to Cancun booked for February, so Bonnie got one card at the end of September and just got approved for the second one. Thanks to Southwest’s cancellation policy, the ticket we need is already booked with points. Once she gets the Pass, we can cancel that ticket for a full refund of the points and taxes, and then rebook using no points. We luv Southwest!

– Kenny

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