Fly Business Class around the World for 125,000 Amex Points

The ANA Round the World trip is one of the best deals for points and miles seekers – fly around the world in business class for just 125,000 Amex points per person.

All Nippon Airways, more commonly referred to as ANA, is based out of Japan and allows travelers to fly around the globe for a preset number of miles on Star Alliance carriers.

While my wife and I did a quick honeymoon to Jamaica last July, we have plans to take a longer honeymoon using the ANA Round the World ticket in the near future.

As you can see below, the ANA Round the World itineraries can differ based on the total mileage flown and which class you want to fly in. One of the cool things about points and miles is that you have the ability to use them for redemptions you wouldn’t otherwise be able to afford – an enormous worldwide journey is just that!

The ANA Round the World deal has a preset number of miles needed for redemption based on the number of miles and class flown.
The ANA Round the World deal has a preset number of miles needed for redemption based on the number of miles and class flown.

My wife and I are aiming to do a 20,001-22,000-mile journey in business class. But, as you can see, there are many other options out there depending on where and how you want to fly. To me, business class seems like the sweet spot for this redemption.

Before we jump in, I want to note that while this is one of the best values for redeeming points and miles, it’s also one of the more intricate redemptions you can choose. For true beginners, I would encourage you to read through the article to just get a sense of what’s possible once you get more comfortable with the points and miles game.

How do I earn ANA miles?

When I started researching the ANA Round the World trip, the first thing I asked myself was: How do I earn ANA miles?

The easiest way for most people to earn these miles is through American Express. American Express Membership Rewards transfer to ANA at a 1:1 ratio. Again, this is just another reason we love transferable-point cards, such as:

  • American Express Platinum Card (Bonus spending on airfare)
  • American Express Gold Card (Bonus spending on groceries and restaurants)
  • American Express Everyday Card (Bonus spending on groceries and number of transactions)
  • American Express Green Card (Bonus spending on travel and restaurants)

An easy way to earn even more American Express Membership Rewards is by using Rakuten. Amex cardholders can earn Membership Rewards points through the Rakuten shopping portal. If you don’t have a Rakuten account, use our referral link to sign up!

There are two other ways to earn ANA miles. ANA has a shopping portal that can be used with select American online retailers, and ANA has a co-branded credit card. However, there’s typically not a sign-up bonus for the credit card and the earning rates are not great. It’s better to just stick to Membership Rewards.

As I mentioned in my 2019 Points and Miles Goals article, one of my major goals this year was to earn American Express Membership Rewards for this specific redemption.

ANA Round the World Rules

Unfortunately, it’s not as easy as it sounds. There are very specific routing rules, award availability, and fuel surcharges/taxes and fees to understand. Below are the general rules:

  • Flights must be on Star Alliance airlines
  • Trip must be at least 10 days
  • You must fly in one direction (east to west or west to east) and you can’t go backwards.
  • You must cross both the Atlantic and Pacific oceans
  • Regardless of the total miles flown, your trip can only include up to 12 segments and 4 ground transfers
  • Up to 8 stopovers are allowed (3 in Europe, 4 in Japan)
  • Trip must go through ANA’s three areas:
    • Area 1: North America, Central America, South America, Hawaii
    • Area 2: Europe, Middle East, Africa, Russia (West of the Urals)
    • Area 3: Japan, South Korea, China, Southeast Asia, Southwest Pacific, Russia (east of the Urals)

Despite these complicated rules, ANA does allow for a little bit of flexibility.

Ground transfers can be used to get between airports in two different cities (or two airports in the same city) when you don’t want to use milage for your ANA Round the World itinerary. This is because ground transfers don’t count toward your total mileage. Trains, separate flights, and rental cars all count as a ground transfers.

While ground transfers between two airports don’t count toward your total milage, they would count towards 2 of the 8 allowed stopovers. For example, if you flew into London, but wanted your next flight to be from Dublin, you could use 1 ground transfer to get between the two cities, but this would count as 2 stopovers, 1 in London and 1 in Dublin.

ANA Round the World Availability

Now that you understand the rules, the next step is actually piecing together and booking the ANA Round the World itinerary.

Booking into business or first class will make finding award availability much more difficult. Therefore, the more flexibility on dates and cities you have, the better. For example, if you want to visit Lyon, France, it might be easiest to find award availability flying into Paris and then find your own way to Lyon.

The best way to look up Star Alliance flights is through the United Airlines website. Ignore the cost of the flights. You will want to pay attention to flight with “Saver” availability.

This flight between SFO and ICN has Business Saver Award availability meaning it is a possible flight for the ANA Round the World trip.

There are 26 members in the Star Alliance so the possibilities are endless.

When planning this trip, it will be important to keep track of the number of miles flown along the way. The Great Circle Mapper is a great tool for this.

Once you piece together your itinerary, be sure to record the operating airline, date/time, and flight numbers. The ANA Round the World trip is not able to be booked online. You will need to call into ANA with all of the information.

Paying Taxes and Fees with ANA Round the World Ticket

Because the true cost of an itinerary could be more than $20,000, the taxes and fees can get pretty expensive. As the traveler, you will be on the hook for these.

There’s not a perfect way to figure out what those fees will be, either. The best way will be to plug in your exact itinerary into the ITA Matrix Software online. While you aren’t able to actually purchase flights from this site, it will give you an idea of what the fees will look like for your specific itinerary.

In general, you should consider avoiding the following specific airports and airlines due to their high taxes and fees.

Airlines to avoid

  • Air India
  • Austrian Airlines
  • Brussels Airlines
  • EgyptAir
  • Lufthansa
  • South African Airways
  • SWISS
  • TAP Air Portugal
  • Thai Airways

Airports to avoid

  • London
  • Manchester
  • Frankfurt
  • Munich
  • Dusseldorf
  • Berlin
  • Vienna
  • Hamburg
  • Paris

Europe is notorious for having airports with high departure taxes. This is where using ground transfers can become important. Perhaps, instead of flying back to the United States from London, you take a train to Ireland and leave from Dublin.

Example ANA Round the World Itinerary

To illustrate how great (and tricky!) an ANA Round the World itinerary could be, we’re going to work through an example of one.

I asked my wife for help on this one. She said she wanted to visit the following places on this trip: South Korea, Thailand, Singapore, Croatia, Switzerland, Germany, and Ireland. To add to that, I want to go to Spain.

I will try to work both of our places into this ANA Round the World itinerary. But, because finding flights and award availability is tough, it might not be possible.

Because I know there are good Star Alliance options from the west coast to Asia, we’re going to do this trip going West. Remember, we can go in only one direction.

Here’s what I came up with (in full disclosure, this was my final itinerary after looking at many different options):

  • Seattle to Tokyo
  • Fukuoka to Seoul
  • Seoul to Singapore
  • Singapore to Bangkok
  • Bangkok to Phuket
  • Phuket to Instanbul
  • Istanbul to Berlin
  • Berlin to Munich
  • Munich to Madrid
  • Madrid to Lisbon
  • Lisbon to Chicago

Seattle to Tokyo

The first leg of the trip will head west of over the Pacific Ocean to Japan. There’s also a Seattle to Tokyo flight on Asiana; however, it connects through Seoul, so that wouldn’t work. So, we’re going with the ANA flight.

Flying from Seattle to Tokyo will be the first segment on the ANA Round the World trip.
Flying from Seattle to Tokyo will be the first segment on the ANA Round the World trip.
  • Segments: 1/12
  • Ground transfers: 0/4
  • Stopovers: 1/8 (0/3 in Europe, 1/4 in Japan)
  • Total miles: 4,769/22,000

Fukuoka to Seoul

Instead of flying in and out of Tokyo, I wanted to see more of Japan, so we’ll work our way down to Fukuoka via the train, and from there, fly to Seoul. This will be one of our four allowed ground transfers. And, ANA rules will count this ground transfer as two stopovers.

Taking advantage of a ground transfer, we will leave from Fukuoka instead of Tokyo. The ANA Round the World rules allow for up to four ground transfers.
Taking advantage of a ground transfer, we will leave from Fukuoka instead of Tokyo. The ANA Round the World rules allow for up to four ground transfers.
  • Segments: 2/12
  • Ground transfers: 1/4
  • Stopovers: 3/8 (0/3 in Europe, 2/4 in Japan)
  • Total miles: 5,119/22,000

Seoul to Singapore

I’ve always wanted to visit the pool on top of the Marina Bay Sands Singapore. So, we’ll spend less than 24 hours there and that way it won’t count as a stopover. As you’ll see by the end of this, we could have extended this a day and still be good with the stopover limit.

This ANA Round the World trip will visit Singapore for less than 24 hours so it will not count as a stopover.
This ANA Round the World trip will visit Singapore for less than 24 hours so it will not count as a stopover.
  • Segments: 3/12
  • Ground transfers: 1/4
  • Stopovers: 3/8 (0/3 in Europe, 2/4 in Japan)
  • Total miles: 7,896/22,000

Singapore to Phuket (though Bangkok)

After spending a quick 21 hours in Singapore, it’s off to Phuket. Once in Phuket, we’ll travel around and go sit on the beach for a while. Ever since my brother and his wife traveled to Thailand, I’ve had it on my list.

There were no direct flights on Star Alliance carriers that I could find around my dates that would allow me to fly from Singapore to Phuket without going through Bangkok.
There were no direct flights on Star Alliance carriers that I could find around my dates that would allow me to fly from Singapore to Phuket without going through Bangkok.
  • Segments: 5/12
  • Ground transfers: 1/4
  • Stopovers: 4/8 (0/3 in Europe, 2/4 in Japan)
  • Total miles: 9,278/22,000

Phuket to Berlin (through Istanbul)

This was tricky. For Europe, I pretty much based the city on where I could find availability and good flight options. That place was Berlin! There were also nonstop flights on Turkish Airlines on Tuesday, September 22, but more make-believe days on a Thai beach sounded better. This will count as two segments since there’s a stop in Istanbul.

To find this flight, I first searched Phuket to Istanbul as I knew we would most likely need to connect there. Then, I searched from Istanbul to a few different places in Europe.
To find this flight, I first searched Phuket to Istanbul as I knew we would most likely need to connect there. Then, I searched from Istanbul to a few different places in Europe.
  • Segments: 7/12
  • Ground transfers: 1/4
  • Stopovers: 5/8 (1/3 in Europe, 2/4 in Japan)
  • Total miles: 15,136/22,000

Berlin to Madrid (Munich)

After a couple of days in Berlin, it’s off to Madrid. But, not before a quick stop in Munich. I found a flight that built a long enough layover to allow us to go into Munich for a couple of hours if we wanted. The airport is a little more than a half-hour from the city center by way of the train.

If not, there are several Priority Pass lounges that I have access to thanks to my Chase Sapphire Reserve card.

This is the only Lufthansa flight on this ANA Round the World Itinerary. Lufthansa passes on high taxes/fees on its award tickets.
This is the only Lufthansa flight on this ANA Round the World Itinerary because Lufthansa tends to have high taxes/fees on its award tickets.
  • Segments: 9/12
  • Ground transfers: 1/4
  • Stopovers: 6/8 (2/3 in Europe, 2/4 in Japan)
  • Total miles: 16,365/22,000

Madrid to Chicago (through Lisbon)

The last leg of the trip will take us from Madrid to Chicago by way of Lisbon. This could even allow us a morning in Lisbon if we wanted.

It’s important to notice how we’re not returning to Seattle. Our miles were super close to the threshold of 22,000. In order to save miles, I decided to cut the trip short in Chicago saving us a little less than 1,000 miles.

While you’re required to finish in the same continent where you begin, you are not required to finish in the same city.

The final flight on this ANA Round the World Itinerary will have an overnight connection in Lisbon, Portugal.
The final flight on this ANA Round the World Itinerary will have an overnight connection in Lisbon, Portugal.
  • Segments: 11/12
  • Ground transfers: 1/4
  • Stopovers: 6/8 (2/3 in Europe, 2/4 in Japan)
  • Total miles: 20,694/22,000

Final Stats: ANA Round the World Itinerary

In total, this ANA Round the World Itinerary will travel 21,278 miles with 11 total flights. It will only use six out of the eight stopovers. If we paid cash, it would cost $8,310 for one of us! After redeeming 125,000 American Express Membership Rewards, that’s six cents per mile! We would visit 10 different countries as well!

The ANA Round the World total mileage would not count the 585 ground transfer from Tokyo (NRT) to Fukuoka (FUK). But, I wanted to map out the entire trip so needed to include it.

You’ll also notice that I’m flying several airlines that are on my “no-fly” list due to taxes/fees, but it was inevitable based on the schedule.

There are a ton of moving parts, so depending on what you want to see, almost anything is possible.

Quick Thoughts:

  • Picking a timeframe for this trip before beginning the planning exercise made finding flights tough. However, because I didn’t have strict date limitations, I was able to adjust dates based on award and flight availability.
  • Because I had leftover stopovers, I could actually visit one more city, however, my milage was getting super tight.
  • I learned that finding long flights first is the most important. In this case, it was the first flight, the last flight, and the flight connecting Asia and Europe.
  • For the flights to/from the United States, the best award availability was from the United hubs: Chicago, Denver, Dulles, Houston, Los Angeles, Newark, and San Francisco. I knew Seattle had multiple options to Asia on other Star Alliance carriers, so I went that direction.
  • Also, I’ve read that while although the travel must be from east to west or west to east, ANA is not strict about this rule if backtracking is needed to connect through a Star Alliance hub.

Final Thoughts: ANA Round the World

This ANA Round the World redemption is one of the things that really got me excited about collecting points and miles. Without points and miles, I would never be able to afford 11 business class flights that cover almost 22,000 miles.

Earning ANA miles is easy thanks to its partnership with American Express. Earning miles using bonuses from cards like the American Express Gold Card and American Express Everyday card will surely accelerate earning. To top it off, using the Rakuten shopping portal will add to your Membership Rewards balance.

I can’t wait until we actually get to plan and take our trip around the world.


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