The World’s Best Award Redemption Just Got Better

Filed Under: ANA, Virgin Atlantic

Well this is a pleasant surprise — the single best award redemption value out there has just become even more lucrative.

Redeeming Virgin Atlantic miles on ANA is a great value

Virgin Atlantic Flying Club is a fantastic niche frequent flyer program, as there are some incredible award redemption values. The single best use of Virgin Atlantic Flying Club miles is for travel on All Nippon Airways.

Here’s the award chart for roundtrip travel on All Nippon Airways:

As you can see, a roundtrip business class ticket from the US to Japan costs 90,000-95,000 miles, while a roundtrip first class ticket from the US to Japan costs 110,000-120,000 miles.

The catch is that historically you’ve only been able to redeem miles for roundtrip itineraries. This was inconvenient for a few reasons:

  • Sometimes there was only award availability in one direction and not the other
  • Sometimes you may have wanted to only fly one-way between the US and Japan, and then connect to elsewhere before returning home
  • If you wanted to fly business class in one direction and first class in the other direction, you’d be stuck paying the higher cost for the whole itinerary


All Nippon Airways business class

One-way awards are now possible on ANA

There’s some great news on that front — you can now redeem Virgin Atlantic Flying Club miles for one-way travel on All Nippon Airways at half the cost of a roundtrip.

The ANA partner page used to say:

One-way reward trips on ANA are not available.

Now it says:

One-way trips are permitted at half of the round-trip mileage shown below.

This is amazing!

In other words, you can now redeem:

  • 45,000-47,500 Flying Club miles for a one-way ANA business class ticket between the US and Japan
  • 55,000-60,000 Flying Club miles for a one-way ANA first class ticket between the US and Japan

All Nippon Airways’ new “The Room” business class and “The Suite” first class are absolutely incredible, so this is such a great opportunity.

All Nippon Airways first class

Should we be suspicious of this?

On the surface it’s surprising to see the world’s best award redemption get even more valuable. So should we assume that we’re just waiting for the other shoe to drop, which would be an increase in award costs?

I have a few thoughts on that:

  • Virgin Atlantic Flying Club did recently change Delta award pricing without notice, and it was overwhelmingly a devaluation
  • At the same time, Delta owns a 49% stake in Virgin Atlantic, and I got the distinct feeling that Delta forced that change
  • In the case of ANA, it could be that award reimbursement costs just aren’t very high, and the program doesn’t really have an incentive to “force” people to fly roundtrip

So could we see a devaluation to this redemption opportunity eventually? Absolutely, as this has been around for years. But do I necessarily interpret this change as meaning that such a change is imminent? Nope.

It goes without saying that this change as of now is incredible news. So we’ll have to hope that this isn’t accompanied by award costs doubling at some point. 😉

Hopefully we don’t see an increase in ANA award costs soon

Bottom line

What a pleasant surprise to see the world’s single best use of miles become even better, as it’s now possible to redeem Virgin Atlantic miles for one-way travel on ANA, at half the cost of a roundtrip.

What makes Virgin Atlantic Flying Club so great is how easy the points currency is to come by, thanks to the fact that the program partners with Amex Membership Rewards, Chase Ultimate Rewards, and Citi ThankYou.

Now if only we had a sense of when Japan will open its borders to visitors…

(Tip of the hat to David)

Comments
  1. “Now if only we had a sense of when Japan will open its borders to visitors…”

    Exactly my thought.

  2. Just the fact that they are making changes seems like bad news to me. Maybe they have renegotiated their agreement, and now allow for one-ways, but a new award chart is moments/hours from being posted?

  3. Not that I am complaining but any thoughts on why VS would do this? Perhaps, I’m jaded to devaluations but this seems too good to be true. I mean..factor in a transfer bonus, and this is phenomenal deal! Am I missing something?

  4. Yep. Had this booked for 2020, then got it rebooked for 2021, and…. who knows when Japan will reopen to foreigners?!?!?!?
    Hopefully Japan will reopen before VS devalues this redemption.

  5. Maybe I’m missing something. What good does a one way ticket to Japan do for me ? I would still need IAH-HND roundtrip. Now I have the option of one way in business and one way in first ?
    Japan must open by the end of the year. They are suffering a huge financial loss already by hosting the summer Olympics without international fans.

  6. @ D3kingg — One-ways are useful if you want to fly one direction in first class and another direction in business class, or if you’re not simply looking for a roundtrip between the US and Japan. For example, now you could redeem Virgin Atlantic miles to fly from the US to Japan, and then you could redeem Alaska miles to fly from Japan to Hong Kong to the US on Cathay Pacific, with a stopover in Hong Kong. That offers so much more flexibility.

  7. @ AJ — You’re not missing anything, and it’s possible we do see a devaluation at some point. I would say that if Virgin Atlantic was fine offering roundtrip awards on ANA, then odds are that the economics on one-way awards aren’t significantly different. So the program might as well become as attractive as possible for members. Of course we could also see an increase in award costs at some point.

  8. @D3kingg, One-ways are incredibly valuable because they make it easier to get a round trip redemption on a premium cabin that (in more normal times) is difficult to book. Previously, when only round trips were allowed, you had to find outbound and inbound availability that works for your travel dates to be able to book. If you found availability in one direction only, you were out of luck. Now, if you see availability that works for you in one direction but not the other, you can book it and keep waiting/hunting for something to open going the other way, and then book it.

  9. Noob question as I’ve never booked ANA or used VA to book ANA. Do I search availability on ANA or VA’s webpage? And does VA allow ‘put on hold’ open seats so pts can be transferred to VA acct? Thanks in advance.

  10. Over-under 50 percent chance at entering Japan in January 2022 as a vaccinated American tourist?

  11. “ If you wanted to fly business class in one direction and first class in the other direction, you’d be stuck paying the higher cost for the whole itinerary”

    This isnt true. Virgin has always priced my mixed class ANA booking accordingly (1/2 points for first class leg, 1/2 points for business leg).

    Though this is great news! Hopefully no deval is coming but at least now I dont need to transfer over more miles into VS to book something.

  12. @D3kingg

    options as Ben mentioned. Perhaps only 1 way is available during the time you’d like to be there. Previously NH would not be an option at all. Now perhaps NH one way and JL the other.

  13. So this is great if you’re just traveling between US/JPN or EUR/JPN, but not very competitive mileage for destinations beyond (e.g. SE Asia)…correct? Any other ‘sweet spots’?

  14. I just booked “The Room” from NRT to JFK One Way for next February for only 47,500 VA miles. Thanks for the heads up Ben!

  15. And to clarify this is only while booking through VS, correct? Booking through ANA still requires a roundtrip? Asking because I sometimes just use ANA points (the calendar opens earlier than on VS and they make more tickets available so worth the extra points, at 150k for a F roundtrip it’s still a really solid deal).

  16. hello. is it possible when on the virgin atlantic website to choose what partner airline to use for flights? where i live, DAL and ANA fly to japan but i can only pull up DAL flights on virgin atlantic.

  17. I noted a year ago when you posted about this opportunity that it seemed like a poor idea to be booking awards. Lots of people rushed to book travel to Japan for early 2021. Well guess they are not going to Japan in early 2021 either. They already said no international fans for the Olympics so this summer is out for travel to Japan as well. There are currently surges of variants in Japan. It seems quite possible that Japan won’t open their borders to tourists until 2022, especially if we see further virus surges as the weather turns cold again. The end result is you have a bunch of people who booked travel with miles that just keep waiting for the borders to open up. I would imagine when travel is allowed it is going to be incredibly difficult to secure bookings and who knows if there will be devaluations later this year or in 2022. Seems better to hold on to miles until you have a reasonable idea when travel will be possible. Japan is very hesitant to allow tourists in. They aren’t as desperate for tourist dollars as some on here would like to believe.

  18. @Bill

    It’s pretty difficult to find ANA F on routes with the new suite unless you book well in advance. The current free cancellations policy is on Virgin Atlantic’s own site. If you’re waiting until the borders are confirmed to be opened, then you’re going to be booking for travel at end of year in 2022.

    I’m gonna roll the dice and just book now for early 2022, and hope 1) VS doesn’t go under and 2) there isn’t a devaluation (or if there is, at least my date sticks so I don’t have to rebook at the higher price).

  19. My May 2021 F flights out of JFK are probably not happening. I’m hoping something opens up for cherry blossom season in March 2022. The devalue is coming soon. I hope they give us notice. Hopefully I can switch my flight to march before they devalue.

  20. Am I missing something? Is this cheaper than just transferring Amex points directly to ANA?

  21. The biggest value is no booking fee from ANA. Their redemption points are low but the fees can be thousands for business class.

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