April 19, 2013 ANA suddenly turns out awesome elite program.
In the age of decreasing benefits and angry elites (how many times has UA been sued over benefits?) one airline is bucking the trend. ANA has tweaked their program providing some awesome benefits for Japan based flyers. First, for middle and top tier (Gold and Platinum) they will get unlimited upgrades to premium economy on international flights. Even though this benefit is contingent on availability at boarding it’s available on any fare class. NH’s product isn’t just UA’s Economy Plus, it’s an actual premium product, NH’s premium economy product has the same pitch as United’s domestic first and only slight less with 18.5in v 20in. Either way on a 10hr flight I’ll take it.
The less sexy but fundamentally more interesting addition, are the “Super Flyers” credit cards. These credit cards which are only available to mid and top tier elites grant a sliding scale of benefits based on the annual fee. For about $120.00/year the holder gets Star Gold status (lounge access), international premium economy upgrades, and 50% bonus redeemable miles. Seriously, this is greatest travel credit card ever made. Of course the catch is you have to be elite to apply, but not to renew every year.
My suggestion to any Japan based flyers is to get status one year, then get this card. Then it doesn’t matter if you fly or not, you still have basically the best mid-tier airline status in existence.