From people visiting for the vibrant nightlife to those who are on a religious journey, Tel Aviv has become an increasingly popular destination. Not many US airlines fly to Tel Aviv and those that do depart from the East coast.
United offers a non-stop flight from Newark to Tel Aviv that offers a pretty “sweet spot” as far as award redemption goes. Since ANA and United are both part of Star Alliance, ANA has access to the “Saver” award space that United offers its members. If you have access to ANA Miles, which is a transfer partner of American Express Membership Rewards, you can take advantage of the lower award pricing as well as more flexible routing and cancellation rules!
Cheaper Award Pricing
United classifies Israel as the Middle East in their award chart and charges 85,000/140,000 miles roundtrip in Economy/Business class from the US to Tel Aviv.
However, if you have to American Express Membership Rewards points, you can get the same flights for 60,000/90,000 miles roundtrip in Economy/Business! Let’s take a look at ANA’s award chart.
A roundtrip flight from Newark to Tel Aviv clocks in at 11,384 miles, which falls within the 11,001 – 14,000 bucket on the ANA award chart. If you value ANA miles the same as United miles, that is close to a 30% saving in Economy, or a 35% saving in Business!
Bear in mind that ANA does impose fuel surcharges, but depending on the scenario, that could easily be offset by the 50,000 miles you could be saving per person and the flexibility of ANA’s routing and cancellation rules.
Flexible Routing Rules
You are allowed three stopovers (not counting the destination), though you cannot stopover in the country of origin on an international ticket, and you cannot back-track. However, with the number of partners Star Alliance has in Europe, the possibility are endless!
For example, you can visit Istanbul, Tel Aviv, and Copenhagen in one trip. This award clocks in at 11,541 miles—comfortably within the 11,001 – 14,000 bucket.
This works if you depart from the midwest too! Departing from Chicago would yield a route that totals to 12,952 miles, also within the same ANA price bucket.
How about Frankfurt, Warsaw, and Tel Aviv in one trip? At 11,542 miles, it costs the same 60,000/90,000 miles in Economy/Business with ANA.
“No Fee” Cancellations and Free Changes
United‘s change and cancellation fees are hefty: $100 to change a ticket, for non-elite members or $200 to cancel and redeposit the miles. On the other hand, ANA allows changes to your itinerary free of charge. To cancel and redeposit the miles, ANA will deduct 3,000 miles from the refund.
An award ticket is good for one year (no extensions) and all changes must be made 4 days prior to departure (e.g. if you are departing on the 10th, changes cannot be made after the 6th).
ANA requires roundtrip travel, which makes sense for their distance-based award chart. However, you are allowed an open-jaw, as long as you return to the country of origin. So if you are from the West Coast, you can still take advantage, though you may need to purchase a one-way positioning flight across the country.
Speaking of distance-based award chart, that’s changing! On April 12th, 2015, ANA is transitioning into a region-based award chart. So if you want to book under the distance-based chart, you must do so by 4/12/2015.
Finally, transfers from American Express Membership Rewards to ANA are NOT instantaneous! Keep that in mind when you are planning, as the transfer takes 48 – 72 hours and award availability may have changed by the time the miles are in your ANA account.
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