Bad news for Star Alliance reward searches

Finding reward seats is always the harder part of playing the mileage game. Earning enough for a great reward is one thing but once you have the miles being able to actually find a reward seat can be incredibly difficult. Fortunately there are a few tools out there which help the process for certain carriers. For Star Alliance searches ANA provides the best engine for searching. You have to have an account with them but otherwise it is wide open.

Well, it used to be.

ANA has changed their policies recently to require that one have points in their ANA account in order to search partner award inventory. Seeing as how their site has become the go to source for Star Alliance reward searches, including some folks who have built web applications leveraging that source (not my tools; I don’t have *A reward availability in my set) it is not too hard to se how the load on their systems is not consistent with their actual user base and the volume of bookings they’re handling. It gets expensive to maintain and run systems and this is no exception.

At least for now there is a workaround to the issue, identified by a user on FlyerTalk, but the expectation is that the loophole will close soon enough. Getting miles into ANA isn’t all that hard. They partner with American Express Membership Rewards and a number of hotels and rental car companies as well. The miles will expire after 3 years but that is a small investment to make for the phenomenal search engine that ANA provides.

Some coverage of the issue from Lucky here.

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Seth Miller

I'm Seth, also known as the Wandering Aramean. I was bit by the travel bug 30 years ago and there's no sign of a cure. I fly ~200,000 miles annually; these are my stories. You can connect with me on Twitter, Facebook, and LinkedIn.


  1. And once everyone has transferred a few miles into ANA, what’s going to stop them from changing the requirements to, say, have 20k miles? (after all, you can’t really book anything on *A with 50 miles). Or, they could restrict it to miles flown on ANA (i.e., you have to be a “real” ANA customer).

  2. Indeed, there is no guarantee that they won’t change the rules again later. That being said, the opportunity cost of investing a few miles for the ability to be able to search so effectively is really not all that horrible.

    And, just in case folks are still hesitant, it looks like there is a reasonably effective workaround available that doesn’t require the points investment, just FireFox, GreaseMonkey and the script I whipped up. Read about that solution here.

  3. Thanks for the monkey script. Great job!

    I’d have no problems dedicating my next Hertz rental to ANA; it’s not urgent for me as I don’t expect to plan any award travel in the near future (need to focus on requalification).

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