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ANA award chart and Southwest earning updates

Southwest offers update

I’ve written about application timing here and here, but Chase has brought back 50K offers on all three 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 (if applying from late September to December) 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. None of these are affiliate links.

Personal Premier 50K card application, $99 fee not waived.

Personal Premier 50K card application, $99 fee not waived (our referral link good through 8/31/15, referral bonus for us is 5K points).

Personal Plus 50K card application, $69 fee not waived.

Business Premier card application with 60K bonus, $99 fee not waived via Miles to Memories

Business Premier card application from emailed offer, $99 fee not waived via Free Frequent Flyer Miles confirmed still working April 2015.

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!

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

ANA Sweet Spot

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.

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.

It looks like there's 5 months left to book this for 75K miles in coach or 110K in business, surcharge-free.

It looks like there’s 5 months left to book this for 75K ANA miles in coach or 115K in business, surcharge-free. Yes, this is a real award ticket you can read about here.

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!

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!

Mexico gets better for most, the rest go way up in price under the new award chart.

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.

– Kenny


{ 8 comments… add one }
  • bluecat November 19, 2014, 4:16 pm

    Kenny-I’ve never tried using ANA as a way to do a trip. One thing I don’t see mentioned in your post is this: once you add up the segments and determine the ANA “cost”, don’t you need to determine the availability of all segments at “saver” prices??

    In your Roatan example, you wrote “Roatan was the only destination with 2 seats in both directions that weekend so I booked it for 22,000 miles and $25 per person. The transfer from AMEX to ANA took 2 days which made me a little nervous”. My question is “what do you mean by 2 seats”? and how did you determine that? Did you use ANA website? Does this only work for saver, or also for standard (I doubt).

    And you were nervous about the amex to ana transfer because you thought you would lose the saver seats which you could not hold?

    • Kenny November 19, 2014, 4:22 pm

      Yes, there must be saver availability, which could be checked at United while logged out of your UA account, or at Air Canada or ANA’s site. Since I wanted to confirm the taxes, I also called in and found ANA’s phone rep to be helpful and quick. As you guessed, the two seats we needed had disappeared from UA’s calendar for a day or two while I was working out the details but before I transferred points. Fortunately availability came back and did not change during the time it took to transfer.

      • bluecat November 19, 2014, 5:02 pm

        Thanks for that quick reply. You need to be logged out of UA so that it doesn;t show better availability (because you have Mileage Plus credit card, for example) than what ANA would give you?
        (Just clarifying)

        • Kenny November 19, 2014, 5:08 pm

          Exactly. Credit cards or status might give you extra space. To be 100% sure, you can click through to the payment page on united.com to confirm it is X not XN that you are seeing. If you have a situation where you need both X and XN space (say, 4 pax and space only shows up when logged in) you can check with 1 pax then 2 and so on to see how many could be booked with ANA miles, and then book the rest with UA miles. Best of both worlds.

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