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A Sweet Spot Redemption to Japan: ANA via Virgin Atlantic

Travel on Point(s) has partnered with CardRatings for our coverage of credit card products. Travel on Point(s) and CardRatings may receive a commission from card issuers. Opinions, reviews, analyses & recommendations are the author’s alone, and have not been reviewed, endorsed or approved by any of these entities.

A Sweet Spot Redemption to Japan: ANA via Virgin Atlantic

Travel on Point(s) has partnered with CardRatings for our coverage of credit card products. Travel on Point(s) and CardRatings may receive a commission from card issuers. Opinions, reviews, analyses & recommendations are the author’s alone, and have not been reviewed, endorsed or approved by any of these entities.

If you've ever wanted to travel to Japan, whether or not you actually made those dreams a reality, you know that Japan is EXPENSIVE. It is expensive to fly there and it is expensive once you arrive. Despite the costs, Japan is a very unique destination and a place that most travelers wish to visit. Today's post discusses one of the best sweet spots in all of travel, and easily the best sweet spot to Asia: flying All Nippon Airways (ANA) to Tokyo via Virgin Atlantic miles.

ALL NIPPON AIRWAYS (ANA)

ANA is the largest airline in Japan. It has a 5 star rating (the highest possible) with Skytrax and has nearly perfect scores in all grading criteria. At the 2019 Airline awards, ANA was voted the 2nd best business class experience in the world and the best in-flight catering in the world. Similarly, ANA was voted the 7th best first class experience in the world. Keep in mind that no USA airline cracks the top 10 list in any of these categories. Not only are you flying to Japan on a sweet spot redemption, but you are doing so in world-class luxury.

ANA flies from Narita and Haneda airports in Tokyo. The non-stop flights to the USA from either Narita or Haneda include: Chicago, Honolulu, Houston, Los Angeles, New York City, San Francisco, San Jose, Seattle, and Washington, D.C. Most of these destinations are daily flights and several (including Chicago and NYC) have multiple daily flights. Almost all these routes are operated by a Boeing 777-300.

                                      ANA First Class Seat Photo Credit: Live and Let's Fly

Virgin Atlantic Sweet Spot

Virgin Atlantic, which is a transfer partner of all transferable currencies (UR, MR, and TYP), has an incredible sweet spot redemption chart with ANA. Japan to the west coast of the USA is 60,000 in economy, 90,000 in business, and 110,000 in first class. Japan to the east cost of the USA is only slightly higher: 65,000 in economy, 95,000 in business, and 120,000 in first class. Simply stated, there is no better deal available anywhere to fly from North American (the rates above also include Canada and Mexico) to Asia. 47,500 each way in Business for up to 14 hours in the air is insane value, especially when you consider it is the #2 business class in the world! You can compare this to United (also a partner of ANA) that charges round-trip prices of 80,000 economy, 140,000 business, and 220,000 first class!

Notes about Virgin Atlantic: you are required to book a round-trip award. ANA is notorious for only releasing 2 business and 2 first class seats per flight, so these seats disappear quickly when the schedule is released (330 days in advance), oftentimes to never reappear. The “trick” I brainstormed, and shared with a very experienced group of award travelers at a meetup in Houston, is to book a round-trip with the departing date you want (the day after the schedule opens) and book the immediate return to where ever in North America is available. This gives you a 2ish hour layover at Narita. When the schedule opens for your actual return date, call Virgin Atlantic (probably the best telephone CSRs in the business), pay $50 for the change fee, and you can change your return flight to the actual day and airport you want, assuming it is available. It adds $50 per person to the cost of your trip, but a $50 insurance policy to make sure you don't lose your departing flight while awaiting the return flight is well worth it to me.

There are rumors that this sweet spot could disappear at any time. I believe it will happen soon. This value is, honestly, too good to last. If you plans include a trip to Japan in the next 12-18 months, take a look at this sweet spot and be ready to book it when the schedule opens.

As always, please leave comments below or join our Facebook group to give us your comments, feedback or ask questions!

Travel on Point(s) has partnered with CardRatings for our coverage of credit card products. Travel on Point(s) and CardRatings may receive a commission from card issuers. Opinions, reviews, analyses & recommendations are the author’s alone, and have not been reviewed, endorsed or approved by any of these entities.

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