May the 4th Be With You: Fly the Star Wars Jet on Miles!
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May the 4th be with you.
Today is special day for Star Wars fans worldwide: today we celebrate everything Star Wars by cleverly changing the word “Force” (as in the Force in Star Wars… If you don’t know what that is, stop reading now. No. Really.) to “Fourth”–as in May 4th!
In a cross promotional effort with Disney (yes, they now own Lucasfilm), ANA partnered to bring some of the coolest looking airplane livery in the GALAXY. Sure it’s samples cross branding promotion, but it’s pretty sweet nonetheless.These beauties are still flying. There are three jets: R2-DR, BB-8 and a generic ‘Star Wars’ themed plane. Here’s what they look like:
And on the inside:
ANA is a Star Alliance partner. This means you can use ANA, United, Singapore or Air Canada’s Aeroplan miles to redeem for flights on ANA metal.
If you look closely, there are some good deals to be had. Most interestingly is that all ANA flights are roundtrip values this could be helpful for you, but may not if you’re hitting multiple countries. On our recent trip to Japan we flew from Beijing to Tokyo-Haneda using the United award listed as 15,000. Had I looked closer, I may have used Singapore miles depending on final award taxes.
The roundtrip restriction has always tripped me up and prevented me from using ANA miles.
Redeeming United miles for Tokyo-Sydney in first class, even roundtrip, represents an incredible value. However, on North American based routes you’re better off using ANA miles. Hand over fist they’re always cheaper redemptions in each class of service.
I’ve omitted one route: Tokyo Narita – Singapore. Why? ANA’s new chart is in Japanese and I couldn’t identify the region Singapore is in. If I had to guess, It wouldn’t be much more than the Tokyo Haneda – Beijing (PEK) route.
Fuel Surcharges (YQ)
Ah, fuel surcharges. Pesky fuel taxes that airlines pass on to each other. United is one of those airlines that never passes them on so if you have United miles you can book any of these flights without YQ and only the airport and airline taxes.
- United – Never passes on fuel surcharges from the partner carrier you’re flying on
- Air Canada (Aeroplan) – Always passes on fuel surcharges; highest on Asia-Europe routes. Lowest on Asia-Asia (Singapore, China); moderate on Asia-U.S. and Asia-Oceania.
- Singapore – Always passes on fuel surcharges; highest on Asia-Europe routes. Would/should roughly mimic Aeroplan’s fuel surcharges (in Singaporean dollars, not Canadian dollars).
- ANA – Has recently lowered YQ; see more details here. Typically ranges between $40.00 (Japan-China) and $115.00 (Japan-Oceania); most expensive is Asia-Europe.
If you’re flying one way, your best bet is to use United miles on many routes. For roundtrips I’d probably go with ANA considering their significantly lower YQ.
Booking these routes and relevant rules:
You can book all of these online with the exception of Singapore, which must be called in to book partner awards. But, on these routes you’d be better off using other miles that are not Singapore. With ANA you may have an easier time calling it in, or you can create an account and search here.
- United – Allows a stopover and open-jaw on roundtrip tickets; mixed partner awards allowed
- Singapore – One stopover allowed on roundtrip tickets; three additional stopovers allowed at $100 per stop.
- Air Canada (Aeroplan) – Two stopovers on roundtrip tickets; mixed partner awards allowed
- ANA – One stopover allowed on award tickets, except those leaving from Japan (all are roundtrip); open-jaw allowed.
Back to Star Wars… And Award Availability
Here are the routes with flight numbers (NH is the airline code for ANA) and which livery is on each route. (Please note: I used United for all award searches because of the easy to use calendar. However, they may inconsistencies in award availability. Confirm space with checking Aeroplan.) For the sake of consistency, all routes have been searched roundtrip for two passengers in March 2017 (pretty far from now–so availability should be good, right? Right?!) as nonstop. They originate in Tokyo (HND or NRT) with the exception of the North American routes.
Haneda-Beijing (Flight NH961 & NH962) – Overall this route has pretty good available on ANA and other Star Alliance partners in both business and coach (no first is operated). But, I had trouble finding coach seats on NH 961.
Haneda-Paris (Flight NH215 & NH216) – As you can see from the calendar, there’s solid availability on this route, too. In both directions. There is no first class offered on this route.
Haneda-Sydney (Flight NH879 & NH880) – There is no first class on this route either. Finding availability was easier from HND to SYD, and a bit tricker on the way back.
Narita-Chicago (Flight NH114 & NH113) – There are coach, business and first class seats on this route. Here’s a snapshot and the operating flight you want.
Narita-Houston (Flight NH174 & NH173) – Availability in all classes of services looks pretty great. First and business are lie flat.
Narita-New York (Flight NH104 & NH103) – Availability is also good far out in all classes of service.
Narita-Singapore (Flight NH801 & NH802) – Only the outbound is pictured (so you can see the calendar), but the trend as in other routes remains the same. And there’s a first class! Business on the return, NH 802, is harder to find. Could be the timing of the flight.
Of course flight award availability is hard to predict, but if you follow these steps and do your research you should be able to see some trends. And from what I’ve seen on these routes ANA has solid availability overall. Coupled with some great award redemptions ANA miles are a solid award currency to use for routes that are to, through or from, Japan.
You can keep up to date with the routes and flight numbers that operate the Star Wars plans on ANA’s dedicated Star Wars Jets page.
Obligatory Star Wars and Aviation References and Puns
“Do or do not, there is no fly” – Capt. Yoda
All Nippon Airways = ANA = ANAkin
Regarding the recent news that first class cabins induce air rage: “First leads to anger; business leads to hate; economy leads to suffering.”
“These Boeing and Airbus aircraft completed their transpolar-Kessel runs in 12 parsecs.”
“ANA landed first”
May the Force Be With You.