Booking ANA First & Business Class With Virgin Atlantic Points: A Great Value

Booking ANA First & Business Class With Virgin Atlantic Points: A Great Value

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In this post I wanted to take an in-depth look at what I consider to be one of the best sweet spot award redemptions out there, which involves redeeming Virgin Atlantic Flying Club points on All Nippon Airways (ANA). This continues to be a great deal, despite the devaluation we saw to this redemption in March 2023.

Lets take a look at how to earn Virgin Atlantic Flying Club points, how Virgin Atlantic redemptions on ANA work, and whether this redemption is even useful anymore, given ANA’s stinginess with award availability.

How to earn Virgin Atlantic Flying Club points

If you don’t currently have Virgin Atlantic Flying Club points, don’t worry, as there are lots of ways to earn them with transferrable points currencies, as all transfer at a 1:1 ratio:

If you really want to maximize value, we sometimes see transfer bonuses from these programs to Virgin Atlantic Flying Club, which can stretch your points even further. When we do see transfer bonuses, in most cases they’re in the range of 25-30%.

On top of that, the Virgin Atlantic Flying Club program sells points directly, and there are often even bonuses.

Redeeming Virgin Atlantic points on ANA is an awesome value

Redeeming Virgin Atlantic points on All Nippon Airways

While Flying Club is far from my favorite loyalty program, it has some incredible niche redemptions that you won’t find through other programs, that can make accruing Flying Club points with a specific use in mind an excellent idea.

My single favorite use of Flying Club points is redeeming on All Nippon Airways.

Virgin Atlantic redemption rates on ANA

Virgin Atlantic Flying Club has a zone based award chart for travel on ANA, and the redemption rates are as follows (these prices are roundtrip, though you can book one-ways for half the cost of a roundtrip):

Virgin Atlantic Flying Club award chart for ANA

As you can see, all awards are to & from Japan, so if you plan on connecting beyond Japan, you’ll need to book your ticket as two separate awards. The good news is that since you can book one-ways for half the cost of a roundtrip, you can easily mix-and-match options. For example:

  • You could fly one-way in first class and one-way in business class
  • You could fly from the US to Japan, and then fly from Japan to Europe

I want to specifically call out that:

  • Business class awards between the US mainland or Europe and Japan cost 45,000-47,500 points one-way
  • First class awards between the US mainland or Europe and Japan cost 72,500-85,000 points one-way

Business class redemptions are priced just as attractively as in the past, though first class awards were devalued earlier this year. Still, I think Flying Club offers good value in first class, especially if you can take advantage of a transfer bonus.

Searching ANA awards using Virgin Atlantic points

While you can’t search or book ANA awards using Virgin Atlantic points through Virgin Atlantic’s website, the program should generally have access to the same award availability as all of ANA’s other partner airlines.

So you can take your pick of which website you want to use to search availability. I’d recommend aircanada.com or united.com, as both show all Star Alliance award availability online.

Award availability on All Nippon Airways
Award availability on All Nippon Airways

Now, the major catch with this redemption option is that ANA is quite stingy with award availability. The airline often releases only one first class award seat per flight, and even that isn’t consistent, as many flights don’t have any first class award availability.

At this moment finding ANA first class award space is like finding a needle in a haystack. In the past we’ve sometimes seen ANA offer better award availability, and I’m sure that will happen again at some point in the future.

But expect that you’ll have to work hard to find ANA award space in first class. On the plus side, business class award space is sometimes more readily available.

Booking ANA awards using Virgin Atlantic points

While it’s annoying that you have to call to book these awards, the good news is that Virgin Atlantic’s Flying Club agents are the most competent in the industry. They’re actually awesome. You can phone up Flying Club from the US by calling 800.365.9500.

After you’ve determined which flights are available, call up Virgin Atlantic and give the representative the exact flights and class of service you want. The agent will look up the space, which may take a few minutes.

Often they’ll get back to you after a few minutes and say that the space confirmed. However, often they won’t get an immediate response from ANA (though the space should match what other partners see).

In those instances you’ll be given a confirmation number and will be told to call back in a few hours to see if the space confirmed. If you did your research correctly, you should be good.

Then just call back a short while later and book.

ANA’s new 777 business class

Virgin Atlantic fuel surcharges on ANA

Virgin Atlantic passes on whatever carrier imposed surcharges ANA would have on revenue tickets. ANA publishes its fuel surcharges, and updates them periodically, as they’re based on Singapore’s jet fuel price index.

The easiest way to look these up the total cash you’ll have to pay is through ITA Matrix — just look up the itinerary there for the cabin you’re traveling in, look at the fare breakdown, and expect to pay everything except the base fare.

At the moment ANA’s fuel surcharges are quite high, though not as high as they were several months ago. For a one-way ticket from Tokyo to New York in business class, you can expect to pay around $315 at the moment, with $247.60 of that being fuel surcharges.

Taxes & fees on an ANA award
ANA’s new 777 business class

Virgin Atlantic award holds on ANA

Virgin Atlantic Flying Club can hold ANA awards for up to 48 hours. More accurately, they request the space, and once they do that, it’s 48 hours before the flights drop out of the record. So you do have up to 48 hours, which should be plenty of time to transfer points.

Generally points transfers from Amex, Capital One, Chase, and Citi, to Virgin Atlantic, are all instant.

ANA’s new 777 first class

Virgin Atlantic Flying Club award change & cancelation fees

If you want to change or cancel an ANA award ticket booked with Virgin Atlantic Flying Club points there’s a $50 fee to do so, and you’ll need to make the change at least 24 hours before departure.

Is this really that good of a deal?

Assuming you can find award availability, redeeming Virgin Atlantic points on All Nippon Airways really is a very good deal, especially in business class. Being able to fly from the United States to Japan while redeeming just 45,000-47,500 points for a one-way business class ticket, or 72,500-85,000 points for a one-way first class ticket, is very good. It only gets better when there’s a transfer bonus Amex or Citi.

As a point of comparison, here’s how much other programs charge one-way for the same award:

  • Air Canada Aeroplan: 75,000 points in business class, 105,000 points in first class
  • Avianca LifeMiles: 75,000 miles in business class, 90,000 miles in first class
  • United MileagePlus: 80,000 miles in business class, 110,000 miles in first class

Admittedly the math changes a bit if you’re connecting beyond Japan, and you should also factor in the fuel surcharges, which these other programs don’t pass on.

ANA’s new 777 first class

Is ANA first class really that good?

All Nippon Airways has new first class and business class products, which are available on select long haul routes. I reviewed both of these products, and found them to be spectacular:

ANA’s new hard products are truly industry leading, and when you combine it with the exceptional soft product — great service, food, and drinks — ANA is phenomenal.

ANA’s new first class
ANA’s new first class

Even if you end up in ANA’s old first class, you’ll still have a great experience. While the hard product isn’t quite as good, you’ll get the same great food, drinks, and service.

ANA First Class
ANA’s old first class
ANA’s old first class

Bottom line

Virgin Atlantic Flying Club has some incredible niche redemptions, and unarguably the single best value is redeeming those points for travel in ANA first & business class. While the award redemption rates are attractive, the catch is that award availability can also be tough to come by, so it takes some effort to find availability.

Flying Club is transfer partners with all major transferable points currencies, so if you’re planning a trip to Japan, this is a redemption option that’s worth keeping in mind. ANA’s first and business class products are excellent, which is the icing on the cake.

Is anyone looking forward to redeeming Virgin Atlantic points for travel on ANA?

Conversations (29)
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  1. Katherine Meredith Guest

    Is there an advantage to booking ANA reward trip through Virgin if I am probably doing economy? And is there an availability problem with economy seats? shoiuld I condider a differt airline for east coast US to Tokyo? (thanks..)

  2. Claire Guest

    Hi Ben, just booked an ANA award and virgin said they can no longer hold ANA reservation.

  3. Bill n DC Diamond

    I’d like to fly the new First with access to more windows :-)

    Any information on close in award availability verses end of schedule for that 1 seat?

    Also you didn’t mention that VA has a 30 lag from ANA sets is schedule I can find ANA availability at the far end of schedule but it’s gone by time VA sees the schedule :-(

  4. Jinxed_K Guest

    I'd like to ask in your opinion, what would be the best in this kind of situation
    My work requires me to submit PTO a few months ahead of time, especially for 2-3 weeks off which I usually take when going to Japan, so I can have like 1-2 days leeway, but not much flexibility.
    I'd like to book seats with miles, but as we're seeing, they're not always available.
    I'd like...

    I'd like to ask in your opinion, what would be the best in this kind of situation
    My work requires me to submit PTO a few months ahead of time, especially for 2-3 weeks off which I usually take when going to Japan, so I can have like 1-2 days leeway, but not much flexibility.
    I'd like to book seats with miles, but as we're seeing, they're not always available.
    I'd like to keep a paid booking as a backup, but I can't always afford to spend the extra for fully refundable tickets.
    Should I book something with a cancellation fee on the lower end and eat the fee if award seats open up? Are there better options?

  5. World_Traveller New Member

    Great timing, as I was looking to get from Tokyo to London next week. I used Air Canada to search for availability and found 2 seats in business ("The Room") on 15 May. I then called Virgin Atlantic and the friendly agent confirmed availability for 47,500 points plus £220 in taxes and fees. I needed to transfer AmEx points and asked if the booking could be held, but I was told that can't be done...

    Great timing, as I was looking to get from Tokyo to London next week. I used Air Canada to search for availability and found 2 seats in business ("The Room") on 15 May. I then called Virgin Atlantic and the friendly agent confirmed availability for 47,500 points plus £220 in taxes and fees. I needed to transfer AmEx points and asked if the booking could be held, but I was told that can't be done with ANA. So, that's a discrepancy from this post. I'm not sure if the agent was wrong or if Ben's information is wrong, but this was my experience just now.

    One additional data point worth mentioning: Aeroplan allows you to drive down the required points by paying more in cash. I could have booked the flight using 48,000 Aeroplan points plus ~$500. So using VA points was a better deal, but not a hugely better deal.

    1. Andrew Diamond

      Agreed. I've asked Virgin about a hold before and was denied. I never want to HUCA when I find super scarce availability.

  6. RobASFO Guest

    Finding NH business class on nonstops from SFO on United's Mileage Plus website is like looking for a needle in a haystack: the flights that are available are always United.

  7. Willem Guest

    You could also say: “Booking on ANA’s Vietnam website occasionally also presents a great value”! ;)

  8. Dan Guest

    Finding a real Rolex for $100 is a great value too. Maybe Ben can write about that next?

  9. Bandmeeting Guest

    When I look at the United web site I only see economy, premium economy and business. I actually did book first class a couple of years ago now it doesn’t even show as an option much less available.

    1. NFSF Diamond

      First only shows when it's available, and there is very little these days

    2. Bandmeeting Guest

      Thanks. I was unaware that it was only if available.

  10. Euro Gold

    Amen on the availability, which used to be VERY easy for the SJC and SEA routes even if they were operated on the 787s with no first class. The only availability I saw recently were some scattered seats on the TYO-IAH routes in J. I flew ANA F last month in the old product out of ORD but to get that seat required booking it as a dummy booking 11 months in advance.

    Everyone woos...

    Amen on the availability, which used to be VERY easy for the SJC and SEA routes even if they were operated on the 787s with no first class. The only availability I saw recently were some scattered seats on the TYO-IAH routes in J. I flew ANA F last month in the old product out of ORD but to get that seat required booking it as a dummy booking 11 months in advance.

    Everyone woos over ANA first and the new business class, but I will say the long-haul old business class seems underappreciated and overlooked for what looks like a solid product.

  11. Todd Guest

    lol @ "On the plus side, business class award space is sometimes more readily available."

  12. Jay Guest

    "On the plus side, business class award space is sometimes more readily available." -- has ANYONE found this to be true?? I have not been able to find anything even when looking 11-12 months out!

    1. Duck Ling Guest

      The same. I check united.com like someone with OCD on crack. And i'm not picky. I will take any US departure city, any date I can find. Nada.

    2. Andrew Diamond

      I've not found it to be true from the west coast. Even on close in dates. IMO Ben should correct that nonsense.

    3. staradmiral Guest

      The lower award space is likely due to rebound travel now that Japan has opened up after the pandemic. should normalize to pre pandemic levels in a year

    4. TimR Guest

      This is true for close-in availability. I booked HND-SFO "The Room" just a couple weeks ago.

  13. Duck Ling Guest

    Thanks Ben I would love to fly NH using VS Miles but I can NEVER find availability in business. And I do put a fair amount of effort into searching.

    Do you have any tips on how to search more efficiently? Instead of searching day by day multiple routes?

    TIA

    1. Jinxed_K Guest

      Rather than searching the ANA departure city one by one, ie: DC, Chicago, Houston, I've been able to find availability by searching from a third city, I usually pick Boston as it's my home city, and search for a BOS-TYO flight on the 30 day calendar
      If space and route is available, it will show up as a connection like BOS-IAD on UA, then IAD-HND on NH costing around 88k-90k miles in green lettering.

      Rather than searching the ANA departure city one by one, ie: DC, Chicago, Houston, I've been able to find availability by searching from a third city, I usually pick Boston as it's my home city, and search for a BOS-TYO flight on the 30 day calendar
      If space and route is available, it will show up as a connection like BOS-IAD on UA, then IAD-HND on NH costing around 88k-90k miles in green lettering.
      I note the date and departure city, go to ANA's website and search it and it's usually open, but I've never seen the connecting flight available, so I'll book just the NH segment with miles and book the domestic segment separately with cash. I book directly with ANA but pretty sure it should work with VS as well.

  14. brianna hoffner Diamond

    I'd love to hear a report from anyone who's found and successfully booked ANY availability in ANA F through this program in the past six months. In my experience there's literally zero availability.

    (Sidenote, by law ANA has to set its fuel surcharges based on the Singapore jet fuel index price)

    1. Omar Guest

      I did see 2 F seats on NRT-HNL a month ago but did not book it as the date was slightly off what I needed. That said it is absolutely a unicorn.

    2. Octonaut Guest

      Did it a few months ago (pre-devaluation) - searched a few times a day on United 30 day and spotted a single seat to JFK. Think your best bet is spotting a cancellation, otherwise T-14 for J or paying up for AC outside of the 330 day VS booking window. Right now? Too many people with miles, too much demand for Japan - these are unicorns as far as I'm concerned.

    3. Maxi Guest

      I also saw LHR-HND F availability a week out on two occasions last month. I will try to book it on short notice next year. On the other hand: biz availability on short notice is generally plentiful.

    4. TimR Guest

      Well many blogs widely publicized ANA F availability a couple months ago with schedule change to SFO. Business class is quite readily available close-in (2 weeks or less out)

    5. Aaabbb Guest

      What city do you see for Business class availabilities? I’m based in LAX and rarely see anything even it’s close in

  15. Ben Holz Guest

    Has award availability been especially bad ex-HNL? Been waiting for that NH F A380 review for a while. In fairness it looks very similar to The Suite, but if I am not mistaken, it's the only A380 first class product you haven't flown yet...

    1. Omar Guest

      NH seems to only ever open F on the 77W for award. I've never seen it on the 380.

Featured Comments Most helpful comments ( as chosen by the OMAAT community ).

The comments on this page have not been provided, reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by any advertiser, and it is not an advertiser's responsibility to ensure posts and/or questions are answered.

TimR Guest

Well many blogs widely publicized ANA F availability a couple months ago with schedule change to SFO. Business class is quite readily available close-in (2 weeks or less out)

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TimR Guest

This is true for close-in availability. I booked HND-SFO "The Room" just a couple weeks ago.

1
Maxi Guest

I also saw LHR-HND F availability a week out on two occasions last month. I will try to book it on short notice next year. On the other hand: biz availability on short notice is generally plentiful.

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