Booking ANA First Class With Virgin Atlantic Miles: An Incredible Value

Booking ANA First Class With Virgin Atlantic Miles: An Incredible Value

145

In this post I wanted to take an in-depth look at what I consider to be the single best sweet spot award redemption in the world, which involves redeeming Virgin Atlantic Flying Club miles on All Nippon Airways (ANA).

I’m writing about this because this redemption opportunity has just become even more lucrative for a couple of reasons:

The big catch is that while many Americans are starting to plan travel thanks to the vaccine timeline here, it’s anyone’s guess when Japan’s borders will reopen to Americans.

Let’s talk about how to earn Virgin Atlantic miles, how Virgin Atlantic redemptions on ANA work, and then talk about whether this is actually that good of a deal.

How to earn Virgin Atlantic Flying Club miles

If you don’t currently have Virgin Atlantic Flying Club miles, don’t worry, as there are lots of ways to earn them with transferrable points currencies:

If you really want to maximize value, we sometimes see transfer bonuses from Amex Membership Rewards and Citi ThankYou to Virgin Atlantic (typically in the range of 25-30%), which can make your transferrable points go even further. Unfortunately no such offers are available right now.

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

Redeeming Virgin Atlantic miles on ANA is an awesome value

Redeeming Virgin Atlantic miles 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 miles with a specific use in mind an excellent idea.

My single favorite use of Flying Club miles 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 now book one-ways for half the cost of a roundtrip):

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 miles one-way
  • First class awards between the US mainland or Europe and Japan cost 55,000-60,000 miles one-way

Searching ANA awards using Virgin Atlantic miles

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

Perhaps the easiest website to use for searching availability is United’s, though if you prefer you can use ANA’s website, Aeroplan’s website, etc.

As far as mainland US gateways go, in general (at least historically, pre-coronavirus) you’ll find:

  • There’s the most first class award availability out of Chicago, Houston, and Washington
  • There’s less first class award availability out of Los Angeles, New York, and San Francisco, though there’s the benefit of ANA having their new first & business class on the New York route (more on that below)

Booking ANA awards using Virgin Atlantic miles

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. The easiest way to look these up 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.

The good news is that at the moment ANA’s fuel surcharges are ridiculously low. For example, here are ANA’s current fees for a one-way first class ticket from New York to Tokyo:

As you can see, you could expect to pay a total of $32 per passenger, only $3 of which would be carrier imposed surcharges (with the rest being taxes and fees).

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, 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 miles 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?

Yes, this really is a spectacularly good deal, in my opinion. Being able to redeem just 55,000-60,000 miles for a one-way first class ticket between the US and Japan is phenomenal. 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: 105,000 miles
  • Avianca LifeMiles: 90,000 miles
  • United MileagePlus: 110,000 miles

ANA’s new 777 first class

Is ANA first class really that good?

All Nippon Airways recently introduced new first class and business class products, which so far are available on their routes to New York JFK, London Heathrow, and Frankfurt (during the pandemic there have been some changes to these rotations, but I’d expect the planes to return to these routes). We’ll have to see how that evolves, given everything going on right now.

I reviewed both of these products in early 2020, 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 ClassANA’s old first class

ANA’s old first class

When will Japan’s borders reopen?

The single biggest thing standing in the way of taking advantage of this redemption opportunity is that Japan’s borders continue to be closed to a vast majority of visitors. Unfortunately it’s anyone’s guess when borders will reopen, as no timeline has been presented, even for vaccinated travelers.

This is purely speculation on my part, but I don’t think it’s a sure bet that Japan’s borders will open to visitors in 2021. Perhaps an early 2022 speculative booking gives you decent odds of being able to enter, but I still don’t think it’s a guarantee.

So here we have the world’s best award redemption opportunity, but there are limited opportunities to actually use it right now.

I can’t wait to return to Japan some day

Bottom line

Virgin Atlantic Flying Club has some incredible niche redemptions, and unarguably the single best value is redeeming those miles for travel in ANA first class. This opportunity has become even more generous with one-way awards now being bookable for half the cost of a roundtrip, not to mention fuel surcharges having been recently reduced.

Flying Club is transfer partners with several major transferable points currencies, so if you’re planning a trip to Japan in the future, this is pretty tough to beat. That’s particularly true with ANA introducing new first and business class products.

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

Conversations (145)
Newest comments are displayed first.

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.

Type your response here.

If you'd like to participate in the discussion, please adhere to our commenting guidelines. Anyone can comment, and your email address will not be published. Register to save your unique username and earn special OMAAT reputation perks!

  1. Andrew

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

    Hahaha. That’s hardly the problem these days.

    “Will ANA merge with JAL or cut FC service by the time people in the US can visit Japan?” is the real question.

  2. Bandmeeting

    I’m booked for late December of this year. Any thoughts on if Japan will be open then?

    I’ve spoken to the Flying Club representatives a couple of times and it was thoroughly enjoyable. Very nice people.

  3. Walester

    I'm interested in booking roundtrip first class tickets on ANA to Tokyo from Honolulu. On Virgin, that's 90K points per person roundtrip. But when I check on the ANA website, it's the same 90K per person. So what's the advantage to booking through Virgin, other than the ability to transfer points from AMEX, CITI, and Chase?

  4. JayhawkCO

    Thanks for bringing this up. I booked LAX-HND-BKK for 87,500 Thank You points and $103 in taxes. First class on the LAX-HND flight and then business down to Bangkok. I booked in February '22, so I'm hopeful this will be the first international booking I don't need to cancel. Laos here I come.

  5. Weekend Surfer

    Award space out of HNL seemed impossible to find pre-pandemic. Would love to ride the A380 in first or business. Wondering if availability will be better when Japan opens up...

  6. Ryan

    You should mention that Virgin award tickets are basically on direct flights only. Those of us that don't live in Gateway cities will have to make connections. Amazing how few of these "HUGE SWEET SPOT" articles mention that sticky point about redemptions.

  7. Frank W

    @Ben Do you know when Virgin Atlantic can get access to ANA's award flights inventory? Is it 355 days before departure as with bookings on ANA's own website, or do you have to wait until 331 days as with Virgin Atlantic's own flights?

  8. Andrew

    Bill - you're absolutely right (both your April 2020 comment and the one a few minutes ago); I've cancelled 3 trips to Japan and the one remaining trip costs $50 per pax every time I move the reservation.

    Lucky, it's okay to not post on Sunday evening. We don't need salt in this particular wound.

  9. Bill

    You really shouldn't keep adding to old articles like this vs just having a fresh article with only new comments. There are comments here from four years ago. Is the information in those old comments even accurate anymore? Japan is headed into another wave of covid infections due to variants. The absolute earliest they could open up is sometimes in the Fall but it seems doubtful they will open up in 2021 especially since they...

    You really shouldn't keep adding to old articles like this vs just having a fresh article with only new comments. There are comments here from four years ago. Is the information in those old comments even accurate anymore? Japan is headed into another wave of covid infections due to variants. The absolute earliest they could open up is sometimes in the Fall but it seems doubtful they will open up in 2021 especially since they still don't have the situation in control. If someone made a speculative partner booking like this is there a limit to how many changes you can make if the borders stay closed? What happens if you can't find award space to change to and the borders are still closed when your flight comes up? What happens if there is a change in award pricing? Seems incredibly risky to be making bookings at a time when Japan (which is known for being ultra sensitive about letting tourists in to begin with during the pandemic) is facing increases in cases. Seems like the prudent thing to do is wait until there is some clarity on the situation, which we haven't had in over a year at this point.

  10. Jim Lovejoy

    Wow! Can book one ways now!
    I wouldn't have known this if not for your blog.
    Thanks a lot!.

  11. Sam

    Can you layover in Tokyo right now?

  12. Lowell

    Tough to be honest, I was able to get 3 from ord , but that was last yr. it will be a very rare to get 4 seats

  13. Richard

    What are the chances of getting 4 seats in first from west coast to Japan in first class? At most I am seeing 2 seats available for booking. If I book those 2 seats do you think they will relase more if available? I am thinking of bookign 2 in first and 2 in business if I can find them. Then can I change from biz to first if they open up?

  14. JustSaying

    DONT DO IT! ANA will cancel the flight and VA won’t refund the miles or the taxes!

  15. Zach

    About an hour. Background music is good just throw it on speaker. Worth the wait

  16. Andrew

    These hold times tho. Good luck booking these tickets

    Haha, don't fall for their text support method. I waited 4 days for my first reply, and 1 more day (so far) for their response to my question.

  17. Zach

    @clem thanks for the tips I switched my 2 first out of Chicago in September to nyc in February. Hopefully the new seats as I’m flying with my wife and a little more time for corona to clear up. What a score thanks again

  18. Clem

    @Eskimo
    Probably a combination of less available agents due to confinement, and all the people that would otherwise physically go somewhere to take care of something in person now have to call (like banks for instance).

    @Lowell
    I used a combination of United's website and AwardNexus, and at least in January/February 2021 I had no issue finding space. I searched for the inbound flight from TYO to NYC first, since they usually have...

    @Eskimo
    Probably a combination of less available agents due to confinement, and all the people that would otherwise physically go somewhere to take care of something in person now have to call (like banks for instance).

    @Lowell
    I used a combination of United's website and AwardNexus, and at least in January/February 2021 I had no issue finding space. I searched for the inbound flight from TYO to NYC first, since they usually have less award space from TYO. There was magically one day in February that had 2 seats available in F. Then I searched for the outbound flight, and there were many many days in January with at least 1 seat available in F from NYC - interestingly there was a lot more availability in F than J. Hope that helps!

  19. Stuart Ivie

    I have been accumulating Amex points for a transfer to Virgin. I was hoping to redeem them for either three Delta One seats from ATL-MUC or two from ATL-HND. Or maybe two first class seats from US-Japan on ANA. My concern is Virgin's financial health. I would hope that Delta's 49% stake would ensure their survival, but these days, who knows?

    I may go ahead and book the award and hope for the best.

    Any thoughts? Thanks, Stu

  20. Lowell

    @clem

    How did you find a space in nyc .. looks like they blocked all nyc flights

  21. Michael

    @Eugene

    My understanding is yes, but you still pay the roundtrip as if you were doing all of it in First. So better to do both outbound and inbound in F.

  22. BrewerSEA

    @Eskimo

    Thank you for the correction. Apparently Chase moved financial insolvency of the travel supplier from the covered to non-covered perils section describing trip cancellation/interruption coverage in the December 2019 version of the benefits guide. That’s a pretty terrible change, and I’m glad I haven’t lost any prepaid travel due to the current crisis.

  23. Eskimo

    @BrewerSEA

    "due to carrier insolvency, you are covered up to $10k pp."
    Not anymore.
    Buyer beware!!!!!

    @Clem
    On the topic of phone wait time, I find it very interesting that every single industry experience this. Is it a bigger issue where many of them downsize those customer support departments?

  24. Matt

    Upon looking at your other post about lap infant fees, would this fall under 1,500 VA miles plus taxes and fees (even though I’d be flying ANA)? There certainly is enough space for me and my 1year old in that seat.

  25. Clem

    Woohoo I was just able to find availability for 2 in F, and from NYC on the same flights in early 2021! That's unheard of for ANA, especially from NYC! Hopefully we get the new seats and there is no more virus around :).
    For others, FYI the wait times on the phone are very long right now obviously ( I waited probably an hour and 20 minutes). Good thing is that I was...

    Woohoo I was just able to find availability for 2 in F, and from NYC on the same flights in early 2021! That's unheard of for ANA, especially from NYC! Hopefully we get the new seats and there is no more virus around :).
    For others, FYI the wait times on the phone are very long right now obviously ( I waited probably an hour and 20 minutes). Good thing is that I was able to transfer my Amex points instantly to Virgin, the rep held on the phone but I had the Amex page ready and it took maybe 20 seconds to got through. I cannot wait!!

  26. BrewerSEA

    It’s my understanding that if you transfer points from Chase and pay the taxes/fees using your CSP/CSR, if your ticket is cancelled due to carrier insolvency, you are covered up to $10k pp. I would be perfectly comfortable booking such a ticket, and may in J out if SEA nonstop or F elsewhere, as I would like to go back to Japan again after another wonderful trip in December in JAL’s APEX suites.

  27. BX

    I dont see any space for new suite JFK-HND/NRT on United at all even when NH website shows confirmable space w/o waitlist... Is NH blocking partner new suites availability from JFK?

  28. Jeff

    Ugh, you really hit me where it hurt with this one! Last summer I was able to snag 3 first class roundtrip tickets from Houston to Tokyo on ANA using VS miles ... for next month. Been looking forward to the trip for a year, and now coronavirus. Up until Japan locked itself down a week or two ago, I was still thinking about going! Anywhere in Japan will still be cleaner than here. Still haven't canceled. I've got 4 weeks.

  29. Steve

    Looking at ANA F award next spring using VS or AV miles any thoughts on the long term viability of both of these options.

  30. Ethan

    @Lucky, a couple of questions if I may:
    1) Looking on ANA's own website won't give me the true award space if I want to book with VA's miles right as ANA generally gives more space to it's members?
    2) Can I use VA's miles and book 1 F & 2 J's on the same booking when calling VA's agents? If so, that means basically once I see awards availability, then I'll call VA and ask one of the agents to hold the space once they confirm it's available right? Thanks!

  31. Eugene

    Hi Lucky - is it possible to mix classes on one RT ticket? Say First on the outbound and Biz on the inbound? Thx!

  32. Lisfranc

    Lucky,

    Agree with the above commenters. People should NOT be transferring to virgin until there’s a bailout. This isn’t the big US 3, which are guaranteed to stay solvent by Uncle Sam. BA wants virgin to go under and will lobby hard to make sure they don’t get bailed out.

    For what it’s worth, I have 300k miles at stack consisting of two transpac ANA F as well as a one way transatlantic delta tix for two on the line.

  33. Eskimo

    @Zach
    Go look at your ticket number if it starts with 932 then it's a Virgin ticket.

    @Kate
    400k is a lot of miles. FWIW you can transfer VS miles to Hilton or IHG at a terrible rate.

    @Alonzo
    Leave people like @Bill alone. He is desperately in need of attention. Normally he would complain about climate change and planes flying too much. Now is has nothing else to do.

  34. Alonzo

    @Bill

    Stfu, he's talking about booking travel a year from now. And he's not advising anything, he's merely making people aware. Make your own decisions. Don't police others, worry about yourself.

  35. Bill

    Seems like a terrible idea to make redemptions at this time. You do understand that Japan is actually seeing the highest increases of COVID cases today of the whole crisis right? They screwed around and now things are starting to spiral. Their healthcare system can't handle this. Just like your post about Ukraine this seems ill timed. I understand you want to write about travel etc, but we are seeing events that are devastating to...

    Seems like a terrible idea to make redemptions at this time. You do understand that Japan is actually seeing the highest increases of COVID cases today of the whole crisis right? They screwed around and now things are starting to spiral. Their healthcare system can't handle this. Just like your post about Ukraine this seems ill timed. I understand you want to write about travel etc, but we are seeing events that are devastating to the world and who the hell knows what airlines will even survive this or where countries will be in a few months. This can go into the summer and then there can be a second wave in the fall. It seems terrible advice to suggest booking travel until we know this is under control, because right now it is certainly not under control and nobody can predict when we will reach a time where tourism will be feasible.

  36. Zach

    Ok so even though I picked my seats on the ana website it’s still a virgin ticket. Thanks

  37. Colin

    @Zach - Virgin ticketed it. It's a Virgin ticket. If Virgin isn't in business, the ticket is essentially worthless. There may be some scenario where ANA honors the ticket, but they aren't obligated to.

  38. Zach

    ANA ticketed my virgin reward redemption. Would they Really cancel my ticket if virgin went under?

  39. Kate

    At this point, I’m just concerned whether my extended family’s nearly 400,000 miles will be worth anything at all in a few months. First world problems I realize. Ben, I hope you have reason for optimism!

  40. HinDC

    Agreed that biggest risk here is VS going bankrupt. Best to avoid making any transfers to VS and booking ANA J/F until there is some certainty about their business as a going concern.

  41. Eskimo

    @GoAmtrak

    Your concern is the most important issue right now which @Lucky failed to disclose.

    If VS does fail, there is a good chance all you VS award redemption will NOT be honored with any airline. Already issued ticket doesn't save you either, unless there is something like EU261 type protection that I don't know.

  42. philco

    Probably worth a reminder that VS is on shaky financial ground right now and in talks for support from the UK government. So there is certain a risk of the loss of you points and tickets with ANA if VS fails before you fly. Yes this is not a risk unique to VS but it is probably a larger risk with them than a number of other airlines. If you got miles locked up with...

    Probably worth a reminder that VS is on shaky financial ground right now and in talks for support from the UK government. So there is certain a risk of the loss of you points and tickets with ANA if VS fails before you fly. Yes this is not a risk unique to VS but it is probably a larger risk with them than a number of other airlines. If you got miles locked up with VS already that is one thing, but I would think hard about transferring to them now. Also I would also make sure you have appropriate travel insurance and/or ability to refund anything else you book in conjunction with an VA/ANA award flight.

  43. GoAmtrak

    The bigger concern is, will VS even *exist* after this disaster is over? We have 240k miles from the BofA signup last year, half of which is invested in an ANA F redemption that I'll likely need to cancel. I'm more concerned about possibly being able to quickly liquidate before VS goes into receivership. Third-party airlines likely wouldn't honor the ticket of a failed carrier. Alternatively, even if VS does survive, a devaluation to this...

    The bigger concern is, will VS even *exist* after this disaster is over? We have 240k miles from the BofA signup last year, half of which is invested in an ANA F redemption that I'll likely need to cancel. I'm more concerned about possibly being able to quickly liquidate before VS goes into receivership. Third-party airlines likely wouldn't honor the ticket of a failed carrier. Alternatively, even if VS does survive, a devaluation to this sweet spot is entirely possible.

  44. Big Sweetness

    What do you mean by fall? I have been searching September for a while, and still don't see this wide open availability you are talking about.

  45. Zach

    Just canceled some flights for my mom she was leaving tomorrow. Called twice and found a virgin rep to change with no fee due to corona virus.

  46. Lowell

    Anyone cancelled their flights due to corona virus?

  47. Roy

    Hi Lucky

    I really enjoy your articles.
    Loyaltylobby mentioned that they successfully booked a one-way award on ANA using flyingclub miles.
    Can you confirm if its true that you can now book one-way awards on ANA using flying club?

    Regards

  48. Emma

    Great article. We have 400k CapOne Miles and were trying to book 2 ANA business class seats to Tokyo this spring (April/May) from the east coast (JFK or IDA) but it looks like all the J award seats are sold out. Does that sound right?

    Any other airlines you would recommend to fly J to TYO? I think our only option would be to transfer to Aeroplan then book from there, but I could be wrong? We've never tried to travel back like this.

  49. Dublin

    Old thread but Just an update. Tons of availability outbound. Inbound almost non existent for 2020. Can’t find in and outbound for all of 2020 for a 7-9 day trip. So frustrating

  50. JohnB

    @Kenneth Kong,

    You can ticket multiple people from one Flying Club acct. Just keep in mind the source of your points. If a companion wishes to use their points, then they will need a Flying Club acct. as well.

  51. Kenneth Kong

    If I need to redeem ANA using Flying Club miles for me and my companion? Do I just need to provide my companion details to the CS over phone? Or my companion has to enroll a Flying Club membership?

  52. Tom Jones

    According to a Virgin Atlantic agent, Haneda to JFK flights are no longer eligible for redemption.

  53. Phil

    Hi is it possible to book LAX to NRT and then HND to LAX or does it have to be the same airport both ways?

  54. Zach

    Just booked first class Chicago to Tokyo for December. How much time should I leave to make the connection? Will I be able to access Polaris lounge after I return? I have a 5 hour layover. Thanks for the tips

  55. Jason

    Just booked two round trip 1st Class tickets on ANA from Chicago to Tokyo over Thanksgiving break for 12 nights. Cost was 185K Amex Rewards points and about $540 in fees. Amazing deal and am so excited!! Almost more so for the flight than Japan ;)

    Thanks so much Lucky!!

  56. gary H.

    Hey Lucky-no one seems to have asked this but I'm afraid I know the answer. Can you transfer VA points to ANA and then book and ANA parter?(e.g. TAP?).Thanks!

    1. Ben (Lucky)

      @ gary H. -- No you can't. You can redeem points for travel on other airlines, but can't transfer points between airline programs.

  57. Nate

    This is a phenomenal deal. Booked 2 First roudtrip tickets in March

  58. Adam

    @Serge

    Once you take the outbound on an award flight, and you want to change the return date, things become very complicated. If you cannot fly on the original return date, be prepared to lose the miles/flight. I’m not saying it’s impossible to change the return segment, but don’t count on it.

  59. travelgirlca

    Do you guys know how many award seats ANA usually makes available for each flight?

    My husband and I are currently on our trip LAX-NRT using Chase points (no Amex for us right now :(. First flight was awesome! It was so awesome that we want to plan a ski trip like this next year with my uncle. Do they usually open 3 award seats on the same flight...?

    1. Ben (Lucky)

      @ travelgirlca -- They're inconsistent in terms of how many they open, but in my experience three seats is extremely rare.

  60. Steve

    Thanks for the article. Had a search for SYD-Tokyo-LHR flights in business/first via UA website and saw little to no availability for 2 people, even 11 months ahead. Any tricks to finding space or is it just a difficult route for availability?

  61. Bill n DC

    I’m actually positioning right now to use the return ticket back to Dulles. Flew out on January 14 IAD-NRT and will fly home in May 14 after Casablanca (tonight on Air Maroc JFK-CMN then EY to AUH EZY to SYD (seat 4A Apmt. SQ to SIN in new Suite then to Tokyo to go home

    I use AmEx MR to VA with bonus so 93,000 MR for RT in ANA First. Outbound, I was only one in First. Great flight. Only complaint with the boxy suite only 1 Window

  62. Mike M

    Booked IAD to NRT r/t in March 2020 for 93k Amex MR points after transfer bonus. Very exciting! Fees were $266 though. Used 220k united miles for compaion’s ticket since I didn’t have enough Amex MR for 2 tickets, but since united miles are rapidly declining in value, seemed like a good unload - plus the United booking included positioning flight from home in CLT and only $11 in fees! Love this site

  63. Nick

    I see the availability of a F saver on LAX - NRT for a date I want when looking on United. My final destination is SGN. Is there a better way to book this than LAX/NRT roundtrip booked with miles and then NRT/SGN booked separately, probably in cash?

  64. Jo

    Does a non-waitlisted flight on ANA website correspond to Saver availability? Or do I absolutely have to confirm via United?

  65. Ravi

    @Cedar Swamp-Thing From NYC to Tokyo. Either JFK, LGA or EWR to HND or NRT

  66. Serge t

    Hello, I’ve asked this before. No one has answer. Can I book the round trip. Take the outbound and then change the return to a later day before 24 hours of the return?

  67. Bandmeeting

    Thank you Ever and Tiffany.

  68. Ktc

    Can you book award ticket for family members using your miles?
    I know some airlines do not allow you to book awards/upgrades for any one else but yoursekf.

  69. Ever

    @Bandmeeting

    You’re not booking through United. The pricing you see is irrelevant.

    You’re just using United to SEARCH for First Class Saver Award availability. And then you call Virgin Atlantic to book (they will hold your award for you to transfer points then call back to finish your booking).

  70. Cedar Swamp-Thing

    @Ravi what city are you looking to fly from/ to? Also, you’re better off looking for departures on Tuesdays, wednesdays and Thursdays. Those are the days ANA makes most of their seats available

  71. Bandmeeting

    Ok. What am I doing wrong? I went to the United site, put in LAX-NRT return trip and it is 220,000 not 110,000.

    1. Tiffany

      @ Bandmeeting -- You won't be using United miles, so their pricing is irrelevant; you're just using united.com to check availability.

  72. Ravi

    I can't find any first class availability on United, Avianca or Aeroplan for ANA from JFK to Narita or Haneda in July, August, November or February. I have been waiting for months and now when I can transfer and get the bonus, nothing is available. Th story of my life.

  73. yy

    u can, but miles needed will increase.

  74. marcus

    can you add UA connections flights to ANA departure airport (and reverse?)

  75. Bob Geld

    Can I use Chase UR points transferred to VA points to fly out of Boston, connecting to any of ANA flights from IAD, JFK, or ORD?

  76. DJ

    Are these awards bookable once ANA schedule loads (for example, I can book up to 9/17/2019 on ANA's website as of today. Is this date also bookable via VA)?

  77. Karim

    Can you book to Osaka via Tokyo if the direct Osaka flight is not available and then book the return from Narita?

  78. joe k.

    Can you book an ANA RTW flight with VA points?

  79. SDExla

    @Colin: awesome. thanks.

    I should mention that Harry and Ron were brilliant, fantastic! They really were great.

  80. Colin

    @SDExla - Take the ticket number to the ANA website, and you will be able to select seats (and also attain the ANA booking reference number).

  81. SDExla

    This was really, really easy (even for an impatient technophobe like me): opened a VA account, waited 24 hours during which time I surfed the United site to find suitable flights (there is a lot of availability through ORD/IAH/LAX, nothing through SFO and I didn't look at NY). ORD-NRT-HND-ORD for 120K. I wrote down the dates and flight numbers. Called VA flight club, waited about 10 minutes on hold. Then, I'm pretty sure Harry Potter...

    This was really, really easy (even for an impatient technophobe like me): opened a VA account, waited 24 hours during which time I surfed the United site to find suitable flights (there is a lot of availability through ORD/IAH/LAX, nothing through SFO and I didn't look at NY). ORD-NRT-HND-ORD for 120K. I wrote down the dates and flight numbers. Called VA flight club, waited about 10 minutes on hold. Then, I'm pretty sure Harry Potter got on the line. It took about 10 minutes for HP to confirm the flights (magic!). I got onto my Amex account, linked the VA account and transferred miles. It was instantaneous. Called VA again. Waited 10 min and got Ron Weasley on the line. He deducted the miles and charged me $341. Can't select seats until 72 hours prior to departure. EZPZ. Thanks, Ben: I'll be sure to raise a glass of Krug and a tumbler of Hibiki 21 in your honor!

  82. Asian Miler

    The First seats were not fancy, but still comfortable. I found the low walls to be lacking for privacy, and too shaky for the more turbulent parts of the flight. Other than that for the hard product, I found their soft product (service) to be topnotch, as expected of Japanese service levels. I'd fly with them again, if only for the friendly service and great on-board sake!

  83. Jack

    Was just on the phone for 30 minutes and the agent couldn't even see an ANA flight (never mind that it was bookable or not).

  84. DTS

    Brandon, have you thought about applying for a Amex Everyday card? There is no annual, that's how I keep my MRs active.

  85. Rocket

    use expert flyer to reduce phantom or no availability issues with united. even Virgin rep told me to use it, super worthwhile $10 for amazing J or F r/t. Or you could be cheap and waste your hours cross-checking multiple websites, calling virgin, waiting on hold, then having them go and find availability for you based on the list you made - not fun, don't do option 2.

  86. kevin

    So much inconsistency in regard to tax and fee charge on the U.S to Tokyo flight. I was charge $260+ on tax for the LAX-NRT per person in F. Now I saw some people reported they only charge for $165+ on tax . What gives?

    1. lucky

      @ kevin -- They recently increased carrier imposed surcharges, so the higher charge is new.

  87. Grant

    There is phantom space on the ANA website. Tried to book a couple awards by calling Virgin Atlantic in June and they said ANA did not have award availability. After a few unsuccessful tries I gave up and booked a JAL Business Class RT award with 120,000 AAdvantage miles which was a great experience. So whatevs.

  88. Paul

    Just booked 1st SFO-NRT-SFO for two in April. It was easy - no hold time, a terrific agent named Ross, and instant transfer from AMEX after he verified the flights. We transferred 85K Amex points from each our accounts to our separate Virgin accounts and Ross merged them. The whole thing took less than 10 minutes (are you listening United and American?).

    What a great deal! Thanks Lucky!

    1. lucky

      @ Paul -- Awesome, happy to hear!

  89. Colin

    @Carter, there is no additional inventory for ANA for UA elites.

  90. Jerry

    I called VS a few days ago to book any date in November or December. Zero availability. The chances of snagging first or business class availability are very low on ANA. Economy is wide open on Delta

  91. Beachfan

    What is the onward travel to Southeast Asia on ANA like? Is NAR-SIN comparable in ANA to that is SIngapire airlines?

  92. Carter

    If using United site to search availability, make sure you are not logged in. MPE cardholders will see availability that is not open to any random user. And Virgin Atlantic is only going to have availability based on what you would see if you are NOT logged in.

  93. Stuart

    Do these AMEX MR bonuses even occur for AMEX accounts in countries other than the US, e.g. here and https://onemileatatime.com/amex-flying-blue-transfer-bonus/?

  94. Debit

    Use alaska on jal, take a break in Tokyo on the way to somewhere else like bali.

  95. Danny

    @ Colin

    Great job. You the man.

  96. Colin

    Haha - just noticed all of these comments are from a while ago. But anyways, there's my quick tutorial lol.

  97. Colin

    Man - Some of these questions are all over the place.

    1. The taxes are not always the same. But I can almost assure you whatever VS quotes you is the "correct" amount.

    2. It's not distance based. With the requirement that roundtrip travel is required, consider LAX/SFO to be 55K each way in F. IAH/ORD/IAD/JFK is 60K each way. You can mix and match (i.e., IAH-NRT-LAX would be 55K plus 60K = 115K.

    3....

    Man - Some of these questions are all over the place.

    1. The taxes are not always the same. But I can almost assure you whatever VS quotes you is the "correct" amount.

    2. It's not distance based. With the requirement that roundtrip travel is required, consider LAX/SFO to be 55K each way in F. IAH/ORD/IAD/JFK is 60K each way. You can mix and match (i.e., IAH-NRT-LAX would be 55K plus 60K = 115K.

    3. To look up award availability, go to united.com, click "more search options", then click "more search options" again to finally get to the advanced booking page. Choose one-way. Enter LAX/SFO/IAH/ORD/IAD/JFK as the From, and Tokyo - All as the To. Make sure to only check Nonstop. Choose First class and the number of passengers. Click search. Wait. Expand the calendar to 30 day. Wherever it says 110K is ANA F, since that's the only *A nonstops in F from those cities (SQ won't show).

    4. Do the same for the return.

    5. Call VS. Wait on hold for 30-45 mins. Talk to a competent agent (they mostly all are), and just give the exact dates and flights you found on United. They will request the space from ANA, IME it takes 30 seconds. Sometimes I've read it takes hours. They will create a booking either way. If it returns quickly, you can ticket it. If not, they will place it on a 48 hour hold with the warning that the space may drop out after 24 hours. Don't be that guy. Just call back before 24 hours is up.

    6. Wait for a ticket number, go to ana's website, search for your reservation using the ticket number and your name (not the booking reference number), and choose seats, enter passport info, etc.

    That's it. It isn't THAT difficult.

  98. AC

    @curtis exact same thing happened to me as well. tried to add a leg to osaka and was quoted extra 7.5k miles per person. how much was your taxes and fees for one ticket? i was quoted ~$255 a person which is def higher than the $175 mentioned in this article.

  99. Curtis

    Chart may not be accurate. Quoted 127.5k today for IAH-NRT-ITM,NRT-IAH 13,573 miles total. Was 120k for only IAH-NRT, NRT-IAH 13,285 miles, which would match the chart. Not sure if they have a more granular chart, or maybe the NRT-ITM leg is considered a separate leg that they are charging 7.5k for.

  100. Brandon Zinn

    Are these rates/charts still valid? Looking to book a trip from US to Tokyo for Jan or Feb 2019. If so, is the above process still best practice? If not, any suggestions on best airline/use of miles for a premium cabin (preferable first) RT ticket?

    Ideally, using a combination of AMEX Membership and Chase Rewards points.

  101. Nav

    Is this distance based chart still valid on Virgin Atlantic?

  102. TJ

    Can anyone confirm if the distance award chart is dead?

    I would like to book IAD-BKK in F. Distance chart above would be 160,000, while region based on chart at Virgin's website would be 185,000 (120,000 + 65,000)

  103. Question

    I just came across this helpful article, but hopefully someone can help me. When I search for award availability on United, does it need to have saver award in order to be able to book it on Ana via Virgin Atlantic? What else only the standard award is available? How about in economy (also only saver)?

    1. lucky

      @ Question -- It does need to be saver award availability, though all ANA award availability you see on united.com is saver availability.

  104. curtis Zheng

    HI, are they still partner virgin and ana, i called virgin atlantic, i called virgin atlantic they said they could no longer book ana, (from lax to tokyo) please clarify

  105. David Canter-McMilan

    Thanks so very much for this article. I just booked my ANA JFK-NRT First Class ticket using 120K Virgin Flying Club points. Not bad, for a currently full fare priced $22K USD ticket.

    AWESOME!!!!

  106. Cliff

    Seems almost too good to be true. But followed instructions exactly as described. VA operators seemed be very familiar with the program. Issue was finding flights that ANA would confirm through the VA operator. Many of my dates worked only out bound and not inbound. But was able to confirm from LAX to Narita return for 110,000 points and with the AMX deal that only cost me 85,000 points. Unbelievable deal, Wow !!!

  107. NMPAX

    Can you work the system to book the RT flight but cancel it part way through if you only need a OW? The refund terms talk about getting 100% of the miles back if the flight is cancelled more than 24hrs out. Is that from the start of the trip or the flight specifically?

  108. Michael

    Mark:
    Amex is not cancelling Virgin Atlantic point transfers-- they're cancelling Virgin America point transfers due to the Alaska merger. But you can still transfer to Virgin Atlantic. Keep the miles in your Amex accounts as MR as long as possible-- only transfer to Virgin when you've called them and they've already confirmed you on the ANA flights on the dates you need. Transfer is instant.

  109. Mak Birenbaum

    Great thread! I hope it's still monitored, because I have a question.

    I am in Houston and want to take advantage of IAH to NRT on ANA first class the last week of December 2018. Current award availability shows tickets until the end of the of July on the United site.

    So I have several issues. American Express will end Virgin Atlantic point transfers after November 1st, my flights will not be open for award...

    Great thread! I hope it's still monitored, because I have a question.

    I am in Houston and want to take advantage of IAH to NRT on ANA first class the last week of December 2018. Current award availability shows tickets until the end of the of July on the United site.

    So I have several issues. American Express will end Virgin Atlantic point transfers after November 1st, my flights will not be open for award booking until three months later, at least based on the United website search, the impending Alaska loyalty program merger, risk of point devaluation at any time, etc.

    My question is if either of these options are worth taking:

    Option one, at the end of October, confirm space on latest available first class round trip ANA IAH-NRT award , probably for late September, and hold, transfer 240,000 (two of us) Am Ex MR points to Virgin Atlantic, get tickets, then hope to move back the dates 3 months later, when December 2018 award space should open up.

    Option two, transfer 240,000 American Express MR points to Virgin Atlantic October 31st, assuming there are no adverse changes in the program between now and then, then wait three month until the end of January 2018, for award ticket availability, hopefully still bookable for 120,000 per person round trip, without adverse changes to the award structure between November 2017 and late January 2018.

    Neither options seem like home runs. Can I get any other opinions on those option, or any others,

    Sincerely,
    Mark

  110. RSB31

    I was waiting for the dates I needed next spring to finally open up, and made my reservations last week! A couple of notes: you get different information for different Virgin representatives; the first one I spoke with told me this offer was only valid on JFK - Narita routes, but I eventually booked through Haneda. I also found there was a waiting period for ANA approval once I requested tickets, which could last as...

    I was waiting for the dates I needed next spring to finally open up, and made my reservations last week! A couple of notes: you get different information for different Virgin representatives; the first one I spoke with told me this offer was only valid on JFK - Narita routes, but I eventually booked through Haneda. I also found there was a waiting period for ANA approval once I requested tickets, which could last as long as 24 hours. However, it seems like the longer the wait, the better chance your request will be granted, as I was told ANA rejects quickly. Finally, one Virgin representative implied that it was also possible to book Business Class through them, although the difference in points wasn't that much. Transferring my points from Chase to Virgin only took seconds, as others have posted. In the end, I booked first class R/T (going to Haneda & returning from Narita) from JFK for 120,000 miles and only $169.06 in taxes. Not a bad deal! Thanks again to Lucky for posting this and to everyone who commented with their feedback. Can't wait for my trip next spring!

  111. CJB

    @jpv

    Use expertflyer.com, make sure you indicate how many rewards you are looking to book on the flight. I used the site to first test it's accuracy for two rewards, and Virgin confirmed availability, and then booked two first class rewards for different dates. Both times availability was confirmed on the phone. So basically I booked $39,000 (USD) in RT tix (JFK-HND) for $337 and 240,000 miles. Expert Flyer offers a 5 day trial and...

    @jpv

    Use expertflyer.com, make sure you indicate how many rewards you are looking to book on the flight. I used the site to first test it's accuracy for two rewards, and Virgin confirmed availability, and then booked two first class rewards for different dates. Both times availability was confirmed on the phone. So basically I booked $39,000 (USD) in RT tix (JFK-HND) for $337 and 240,000 miles. Expert Flyer offers a 5 day trial and if you've exhausted that just pay for the access, it's worth it.

  112. jpv

    FYI Called Virgin a couple times, several flights that currently showed as available on ANA partner sites such as United/Aeroplan did not show available for Virgin.

  113. El

    I am searching on United for IAD NRT. Most First class tickets require about 220,000 miles. I can not find any for 110,000. Am I missing something here?

    1. Ever

      @El

      Only use United to search for ANA award availability at the Saver level. The prices you see are booking with United miles.

      Once you find award availability on United, you need to call Virgin Atlantic and book it there. It's 110,000 roundtrip from the West Coast plus about $169. I think it's 120,000 roundtrip from Central and East coast.

  114. Rick

    Just to add a "data point," I just transferred 22,000 AmEx points to Virgin Atlantic Flying Club. I logged out of my account, logged back in and 28,600 miles were already credited to my account. Took less than seven minutes.

  115. Ever

    I found availability using the United site for a roundtrip in a couple months. It matched what they had and was confirmed instantly.

    I called the US number with option 4. They do seem to have day time business hours. I kept trying to call late evening (west coast) and no answer. When I called early morning, around 6:00am (Pacific), they answered within 10 mins.

    The cost was 110,000 miles plus $169.

    One thing to...

    I found availability using the United site for a roundtrip in a couple months. It matched what they had and was confirmed instantly.

    I called the US number with option 4. They do seem to have day time business hours. I kept trying to call late evening (west coast) and no answer. When I called early morning, around 6:00am (Pacific), they answered within 10 mins.

    The cost was 110,000 miles plus $169.

    One thing to note: I had created a virgin Atlantic account. I transferred some SPG points which took about 12 hours, transferred overnight. Amex points transferred instantly.

    However when I tried to book the next morning, the system wouldn't let them. She told me it was due to the fact that I had created an account less than 24 hours earlier. She put the award on a 24 hour hold and I called the following morning. She was able to ticket it, but manually, at least it worked.

  116. Brandon

    I'm fairly new to all this so forgive me if I'm missing something.

    I would like to cash out my 125,000 MR points and close my card now so I don't get charged the yearly membership fee. Is it a good idea to get the Virgin Atlantic points with the 30% bonus with the intention of using them for an ANA award trip to Asia in the next 2 years? My other options that seem less valuable are to transfer them directly to ANA at 1:1 or add them to my Delta miles.

    1. 54austin

      Brandon - you run the risk of Virgin Atlantic devaluing their ANA award chart. Given how comparatively 'cheap' it is, I'd say there's a very real chance that could happen, although my guess is that it would still remain a competitive rate.

  117. Casey

    Appreciate the write up! Went through this process last night, called in and had ORD-NRT RT in F booked within 15 minutes, the MR transfer was instant so the agent could process it immediately. I believe it was ~130 in taxes for the trip.

    One note is that the VS ticketing systems are having trouble with Thailand tax codes currently, so my J segment of NRT-BKK RT is only on hold while they sort it...

    Appreciate the write up! Went through this process last night, called in and had ORD-NRT RT in F booked within 15 minutes, the MR transfer was instant so the agent could process it immediately. I believe it was ~130 in taxes for the trip.

    One note is that the VS ticketing systems are having trouble with Thailand tax codes currently, so my J segment of NRT-BKK RT is only on hold while they sort it out - they are unable to charge the taxes and thus issue the e-ticket. To be clear based off another user's comments though, these holds can (and mine was) be placed for two weeks, there's no 24 hour limit.

  118. Eric

    When using united as a base does it have to be a saver award to work when calling virigin or does a standard award work?

  119. Esther

    Hi Lucky - I just called Virgin to put an award on hold and they said for partner awards it's only a hold of 24 hours.

    Thanks for the post though!

  120. JMT

    @RSB31 - you want to transfer to Virgin and ticket with them to get the 120,000 RT F/C ticket. United is double the miles.

  121. RSB31

    So if I want to redeem Chase Ultimate Rewards for a R/T flight on ANA to Tokyo from JFK, is it better to transfer to United or Virgin? Can I transfer to Virgin and then book directly through them? Sorry if this is repetitive at all; I'm still new to this. Thx.

  122. Ever

    What other points transfer options are available at good transfer rates?

    With this promotion I'm about 30K points short. Might have to do some Amex offers.

  123. Jeff

    New at this, so apologies if this is a dumb question, regarding the holding of the ticket, so VS will make the request for you even if you don't have enough miles to cover it and you have up to 48 hours to get the mileage needed? Thanks.

    1. 54austin

      Jeff - correct. In my experience, the Amex transfer was pretty fast.

  124. James McCarthy

    How about Air China First class LHR to PEK for 75k return as best use of Virgin miles?

  125. 54austin

    Also, the distance-based award chart in this post is, indeed, no more. It is now region-based and any travel beyond Japan will be priced as two separate awards, altho one booking. If you want to do this (probably still cheaper than most other award options, esp with Amex 30% bonus), you should do as two separate tickets to save on taxes, since flights originating or terminating in Japan have much lower fees than, say, JFK-TYO-HKG as one flight. Same number of miles.

  126. 54austin

    FYI - VS allows open-jaws (e.g. JFK-NRT, HND-ORD).

  127. RareButNiceTravel

    According to the website, its not cumulative at all:
    "If a journey requires a connecting flight or stopover to reach the destination, miles are charged for each sector."

  128. Dan

    I booked this a few weeks back for IAD-NRT round trip and also on ORD-NRT with return HND-ORD... both tickets were 120k plus $86

    They work on the old distance based chart that has long since disappeared.

  129. Toby K

    How can you say the program is distance based? The current chart on the VA website is based on regions with a stopover requiring additional miles. If I am correct, you really need to redo this post

  130. Aaron

    So, one free stopover allowed? Say, LAX-NRT-TPE?

  131. dave

    http://www.virginatlantic.com/gb/en/flying-club/partners/airlines/all-nippon-airways.html

    The chart is avilable on their site

  132. Clifford Chen

    One way is not an option, only roundtrips. Adding any segment will also be extra (so around 40-50k) if you're looking to add another city. Booking this could be a challenge since not all VA agents are familiar with it.

    You'd also have to wait for ANA to confirm after you put awards on hold (similar to booking Hawaiian airline using JetBlue Points), and there are many phantom seats that VA can't book either....

    One way is not an option, only roundtrips. Adding any segment will also be extra (so around 40-50k) if you're looking to add another city. Booking this could be a challenge since not all VA agents are familiar with it.

    You'd also have to wait for ANA to confirm after you put awards on hold (similar to booking Hawaiian airline using JetBlue Points), and there are many phantom seats that VA can't book either. According to Flyertalk, changing your dates could be challenging too.

  133. Uri

    Is one-way not an option for this specific redemption?

  134. denny

    Ah - I see it's based on cumulative distance.

  135. denny

    Looks like ORD to NRT is 160k not 120k

Featured Comments Load all 145 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.

Andrew

“Is anyone looking forward to redeeming Virgin Atlantic miles for travel on ANA?“ Hahaha. That’s hardly the problem these days. “Will ANA merge with JAL or cut FC service by the time people in the US can visit Japan?” is the real question.

Bandmeeting

I’m booked for late December of this year. Any thoughts on if Japan will be open then? I’ve spoken to the Flying Club representatives a couple of times and it was thoroughly enjoyable. Very nice people.

Walester

I'm interested in booking roundtrip first class tickets on ANA to Tokyo from Honolulu. On Virgin, that's 90K points per person roundtrip. But when I check on the ANA website, it's the same 90K per person. So what's the advantage to booking through Virgin, other than the ability to transfer points from AMEX, CITI, and Chase?

Meet Ben Schlappig, OMAAT Founder
4,523,713 Miles Traveled

25,807,500 Words Written

28,675 Posts Published

Keep Exploring OMAAT