Japanese Star Alliance carrier ANA changed reservation systems over to Amadeus and with that change they’ve adjusted the ANA award search tool.
The ANA Site Has Been Most Reliable – But Toughest to Use
The very best, or shall I say most reliable, data source for Star Alliance award space has long been the ANA Mileage Club website. It is almost always correct in what it tells you about award availability. If a seat is available there you should be able to use your miles for it.
It historically has come up with very few creative routings, you always want to search specific non-stop flights — so if you want to fly from Washington DC to Brussels, consider searching not just DC – Brussels but entering a search for Newark – Brussels, or Washington DC – London and separately London – Brussels, Wahsington DC – Frankfurt and then Frankfurt – Brussels, and so on. Search every combination of flights separately.
Four years ago the ANA website started restricting searches for Star Alliance award space to members of their program who had at least 100 miles in an account. But there was a simple workaround (although you could also just transfer 1000 miles from Amex).
The site no longer requires a workaround or miles in your account, I’m good to let my 100 ANA miles expire it looks like. And it doesn’t restrict you from searching same-day award space. The website also looks like it’s coming up with more than just the most basic flight options (non-stops and a few one-connection options).
The site is now very very different.
The ANA Tool is Broken
With the changeover to a new reservation they’ve taken away some features and the system seems to simply not be displaying many flights. There are flights that are available as verified elsewhere that it doesn’t seem to offer me. It also errors out frequently this morning.
For now I’m not worried, I’m assuming there are teething pains from the transition. DON’T PANIC!
Right now we need to use other search options, although hopefully that’s an interim step and not a permanent change.
Here Are Your Other Options
Most Star Alliance airline frequent flyer programs do not show Star Alliance partners’ award space on their websites.
The exceptions, largely, in addition to Japan’s ANA are Air Canada’s Aeroplan and United. Avianca LifeMiles also shows some.
The United website is incredibly easy to use, there’s a helpful award calendar. So even if you are using miles in a different frequent flyer program, it can help to start out at the United website. They do not even require you to be a member of MileagePlus or login to use their site.
One caveat, however is that they do not show all Star Alliance airline partners on their site, so searching at United.com might not be comprehensive. Some Star Alliance partners come and go from showing up. United even intentionally removed your ability to see award space on Singapore Airlines from United.com.
Aeroplan’s site is easy to use, but it won’t find all combinations of flights if you just enter where you are starting from or going. Find the flights that are available, then call up your airline mileage program and request those flights where you have already found award availability.
For the most part award seats that are available to one member of the Star Alliance are available to all. Now, some airlines like Lufthansa and Singapore will give more space to their own frequent flyer program members. But if you’re searching Aeorplan’s site, and availability shows up, you should be able to book the space with miles from other Star Alliance frequent flyer programs.
Aeroplan is also an American Express Membership Rewards points transfer partner. Here’s a detailed discussion of booking Star Alliance awards using Aeroplan miles without any fuel surcharges.