Trying Again – ANA to South-East Asia

Ha Long Bay, Vietnam

Last year, I wrote about finding a great award trip to Southeast Asia on ANA. Unfortunately, we decided to cancel the trip, which was scheduled for June 2023. We actually made this decision sitting at our safari camp in Kenya as we realized that we were in the middle of a two week trip, had another five day trip to Liverpool in April and a weeklong trip to Ireland in October. That was just too much time away from work if we add in two weeks in Southeast Asia in June.

I held off on canceling for a few weeks because I knew ANA would be announcing their summer schedule in late January. When the schedule was announced, our originally booked flight from Tokyo to New York was canceled and we were placed on completely different flights from Singapore to Tokyo to New York. Because of the schedule change, I was able to call ANA and cancel the itinerary with no fee or miles deducted. This left my full balance of 210,000 miles to try and book this trip again.

I also was able to cancel our positioning flights on Delta for ecredits with no problem. I did have a small cancellation fee on our Vietnam Airlines flight and unless there’s a schedule change before June, I will have to pay $75pp to redeposit Singapore miles from our Phnom Penh-Singapore flight so I can rebook that later. All the hotels were booked on points and cancellable except for the Ritz Carlton in Singapore where I had used Amex hotel credits to partially offset the cost. When I cancelled, I received a full refund, but Amex unfortunately clawed back the $200 credit per night and I lost the ability to use that benefit as I had used 2022 credits.

Anyhow, the trip was now off the books. I was hoping to rebook for the summer of 2024 and would wait until the booking window opened.

However, I realized a few weeks ago that my ANA Platinum status (which provides for more availability on award searches) was expiring in April 2023. I asked my wife if we could possibly plan this trip for February/March so that I would be able to hopefully find two business class seats on the full itinerary of US-Tokyo-Vietnam/Singapore-Tokyo-US. I proposed that we have our big trip in the late winter and keep the summer mostly free to help our youngest as she graduates from college and starts her adult life somewhere. She agreed so my assignment was to try and recreate the trip to Asia that I had already mostly booked and canceled once already.

The first and most important piece was the ANA flights. I stalked the ANA website for a week or so, trying to see patterns on which US cities had availability. I also checked the ANA schedules to see which flights would likely be canceled as ANA tends to publish its schedule a year out, but firms it up about six months at a time and often cancels some of the flights.

It became clear that the easiest cities by far to book ANA flights were San Francisco and Los Angeles. East coast cities like New York and Washington were much harder to find two business class seats on any flight. Chicago and Houston were a bit easier when I was looking in 2022 but these gateways were now also showing ‘waitlisted’ for every day I checked.

As my deadline was approaching I decided to try and fly us out on a Saturday and back on a Friday so that we would have that return weekend to recover from jetlag and catch up on work emails. ANA has a 355 day booking window for its own members, which allows access to seats that United/Air Canada, etc. members cannot yet book as their booking windows are 330 days.

My plan was to fly out of San Francisco so we could spend the night before at the highly regarded Grand Hyatt SFO and fly home via Los Angeles so we could visit the new Delta SkyClub on our layover before flying Delta to Atlanta.

Amazingly, I found two seats on an itinerary from Washington Dulles to Ho Chi Minh City via Tokyo that worked for us on a Saturday in late February. That would avoid having to fly to the west coast the day before and we could take a late flight up to Washington on the Friday night. I also matched that up with a return flight to Los Angeles from Singapore via Tokyo. I tried to grab the JFK seats in ANA’s new business class right when the new day’s schedule opened at 8pm EDT but unfortunately, they already showed as ‘waitlisted.’ The potential good news is that the LAX flight switched to the new business class last winter so it’s possible it could switch again for our flight.

I will have to book positioning flights to Washington (the night before our ANA flight) and from LAX when the Delta schedule opens up for those dates. I’ll also have to book flights from Ho Chi Minh City to Da Nang, Da Nang to Siem Reap, Cambodia and Phnom Penh to Singapore to round out our itinerary. I will probably wait a while for those flights and make sure we aren’t going to have to cancel the trip again.

I managed to book four different Hyatts using points (Park Hyatt Saigon, Hyatt Regency Da Nang, Park Hyatt Siem Reap, and Hyatt Regency Phnom Penh). The Park Hyatt Saigon is actually going up in category after March 28, 2023 so I was just in time on that one.

I’m hopeful we get to take this trip in 2024 as it should be epic. I’ll add some more posts about the details of the trip as things get booked.

If you have questions about this post, let me know in the comments or send me an email at If you are thinking about opening a new credit card, please use one of my links.

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