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Visiting Japan is a bucket-list item for many folks in our hobby – whether it’s staying in dynamic and bustling Tokyo, seeing the cherry blossoms in springtime, or taking in the tremendous historical and cultural sites.
Award tickets to Japan can be expensive, especially if you prefer Business or First Class for such a long journey. However, there’s a way to save miles and enjoy a much more comfortable flight on one of the world’s best airlines!
You can book award flights on ANA (All Nippon Airways) for fewer miles than other airlines. And if you collect flexible points, like AMEX Membership Rewards or Starwood points, you can transfer points to ANA or Virgin Atlantic to book these awards for cheap!
I’ll show you why you should consider booking ANA award flights for a trip to Japan (and beyond). And how you can save miles while enjoying an incredible in-flight experience!
Treat Yourself to Flights on One of the World’s Best Airlines
ANA was ranked the #3 airline in the world by SkyTrax in 2017. It’s not surprising, given their reputation for incredible in-flight service and modern, comfortable seats.
The food is delicious. Folks who enjoy Japanese food will be absolutely thrilled! ANA takes pride in offering a traditional Japanese menu on all their flights, along with tasty international options.
The seats are roomy and comfortable. ANA’s international Business Class offers comfortable seats that turn into a fully flat bed on most of their planes. And they have deep recliner seats on their regional fleet.
ANA has occasionally used an aircraft with regional seats on some long-haul routes (Vancouver and Jakarta for instance) in the past while they were doing maintenance on their 787 fleet, but this should not be an issue in the future.
When you can book Business Class for as few miles as ANA charges, there’s no reason not to try it out!
Find More Award Seats and Save a TON When You Book With ANA Miles
You can book ANA flights with ANA’s own miles, or with miles from Star Alliance partner airlines like United Airlines or non-alliance partners like Virgin Atlantic. Each booking option has its own pros and cons, but in many cases, booking ANA flights with ANA miles is a fantastic deal.
There are a few great reasons why you should book ANA flights with ANA miles.
1. Incredible Award Prices All the Time
Link: ANA Award Chart
ANA’s award prices are incredible compared to other airlines. For example, between the US and Japan, ANA charges:
- 40,000 to 55,000 ANA miles round-trip in coach (United Airlines charges 70,000 miles for the same flights – you’d save at least 15,000 miles!)
- 75,000 to 90,000 ANA miles round-trip in Business Class (United Airlines charges 160,000 miles for the same flights – you’d save at least 70,000 miles!)
- 150,000 to 165,000 ANA miles round-trip in First Class (United Airlines charges 220,000 miles for the same flights – you’d save at least 55,000 miles!)
If you want to fly onward to other parts of Asia, the price depends on which part of Asia you would like to travel to.
For flights between the US and South Korea you’ll pay:
- 45,000 to 60,000 ANA miles round-trip in coach (United Airlines charges 70,000 miles for the same flights – you’d save at least 10,000 miles!)
- 80,000 to 95,000 ANA miles round-trip in Business Class (United Airlines charges 160,000 miles for the same flights – you’d save at least 65,000 miles!)
- 165,000 to 180,000 ANA miles round-trip in First Class (United Airlines charges 210,000 miles for the same flights – you’d save at least 30,000 miles!)
For flights between the US and Asia 1 (Including China, Hong Kong, Taiwan, and the Philippines) you’ll pay:
- 45,000 to 60,000 ANA miles round-trip in coach
- 80,000 to 95,000 ANA miles round-trip in Business Class
- 165,000 to 180,000 ANA miles round-trip in First Class
And for flights between the US and Asia 2 (Including Singapore, Thailand, Vietnam, Myanmar, Indonesia, India, Cambodia, and Malaysia) you’ll pay:
- 55,000 to 70,000 ANA miles round-trip in coach
- 100,000 to 115,000 ANA miles round-trip in Business Class
- 195,000 to 210,000 ANA miles round-trip in First Class
Note: It’s trickier to compare these prices to United Airlines’ award prices, because the award regions are different.
All of these prices are great deals, but you MUST fly ANA flights in order to take advantage.
Flights that are not on ANA, but rather on other ANA partners, are priced according to a different award chart. These flights can still offer good savings when you book with ANA miles, but are not as good of a deal as ANA’s own flights.
2. Even Better Low Season Prices
As mentioned above, ANA charges different prices based on the season. In 2018, low season is considered to be January 8 to February 28, April 1 to 28, and December 1 to 22. ANA has higher pricing levels for both “regular season” and “high season,” but even these high season prices are a very good deal.
During low season, you can fly from the US to Japan for as little as 75,000 ANA miles round-trip in Business Class, which is quite incredible! That’s fewer miles than United Airlines charges for a one-way flight! Even during high season, ANA charges only 90,000 miles round-trip between Japan and the US – definitely more, but still a great deal.
3. Low Fuel Surcharges
While ANA does pass on fuel surcharges, don’t worry! These should total around $170 for a round-trip flight between the US and Japan, regardless of what class of service you are flying. You’ll also pay airport taxes and government surcharges in addition to fuel surcharges. If you use your ANA miles to fly on partner airlines (like United Airlines or Singapore Airlines), these award prices do NOT apply.
If you were to book the same flight with United Airlines miles, you wouldn’t have to pay fuel surcharges, but you would still have to pay taxes and government surcharges. That means that booking with United Airlines miles would save you the $170 or so in fuel surcharges only.
But you’ll pay much more in United Airlines miles. For a sample trip during low season between the US and Japan in Business Class, you would pay only 75,000 ANA miles, but United Airlines would want 160,000 miles for the same flights! In this case, paying an extra $170 to save 85,000 miles is well worth it.
4. More Flights Available to ANA Members Than Partners
Better yet, ANA makes more flights available to people booking through their mileage program than to partner airlines like United Airlines.
5. Many Flight Options from the US
In North America, ANA flies between Japan and:
- Los Angeles
- Mexico City
- New York
- San Francisco
- San Jose
- Washington, DC
Downsides to Booking With ANA Miles
There are, however, a few downsides to using ANA miles as well.
1. Round-Trip Booking Required
You must book a round-trip award; one-way bookings are not allowed. This is fine if you want to fly a simple round-trip and can find available award seats in both directions, but it’s not so great if you are flying to Japan as a part of a larger journey or if award seats are only available in one direction.
2. No Last Minute Bookings
You must book at least 96 hours in advance, so ANA miles aren’t good for a quick, last-minute getaway.
3. You Can’t Book Flights for Just Anyone
You can only redeem ANA miles for yourself or family members, and you must register your family members ahead of time. This isn’t difficult, but is an extra step to remember. Up to 10 family members can be associated with an ANA account at any given time. Members can be easily added and removed after logging into your ANA account.
How to Book ANA Flights With ANA Miles
It is easy to book an award ticket on ANA, and you can even get a pretty sweet deal!
Step 1. Sign Into Your ANA Account
To book online, log into your ANA account and select “Award Booking.”
Step 2. Enter Travel Parameters and Choose Award Type
Enter your desired travel dates and origin and destination airports.
You should then be prompted to choose between ANA awards (cheaper) and partner awards (more expensive). If you want to use ANA miles to book at the lowest prices available, you should first check ANA awards. You’ll be able to see the minimum number of required miles for each option so it is easy to compare.
Step 3. Choose Desired Flights
Once you select ANA awards, you will see the available flights. You can now select the flights that you would like to book.
Step 4. Review Total Cost
After clicking next, the website will display the total cost of the award, including the mileage requirement and the total taxes and surcharges you will pay.
Step 5. Complete the Booking
If you’re happy with the flights you found, you can then enter the passenger information and complete the payment.
Easily Earn ANA Miles With Transferable Points
1. AMEX Membership Rewards Points
ANA is an AMEX Membership Rewards transfer partner. You can transfer AMEX Membership Rewards points to ANA at a 1:1 ratio in 1,000 point increments.
These cards earn AMEX Membership Rewards points:
Transfers generally take around 48 hours, but could take up to a week.
2. Starwood Points
You can also transfer Starwood points to ANA at a 1:1 ratio… or more! When you transfer 20,000 Starwood points, you’ll be given a 5,000 mile bonus in the program you are transferring to! This effectively improves the transfer ratio to 1:1.25 if you always take advantage of the bonus.
That means that if you transfer 20,000 Starwood points to ANA, you’ll get 25,000 ANA miles!
There are 2 cards that you can use to earn Starwood points directly:
- Starwood Preferred Guest® Credit Card from American Express – Earn 25,000 Starwood points after spending $3,000 on purchases in the first 3 months of opening your account
- Starwood Preferred Guest® Business Credit Card from American Express – Earn 25,000 Starwood points after spending $5,000 on purchases in the first 3 months of opening your account
You can also earn Starwood points indirectly by earning Marriott points. Marriott and Starwood are merging, and you can transfer points freely between the programs. Marriott points transfer to Starwood at a 3:1 ratio (that is, 3 Marriott points will give you 1 Starwood point). You can then transfer those Starwood points to any of their transfer partners (including ANA)!
Here are cards you can use to earn Marriott points:
- Marriott Rewards® Premier Credit Card – Earn 75,000 Marriott points after spending $3,000 on purchases in the first 3 months of opening your account
- Marriott Rewards® Premier Business Credit Card – Earn 75,000 Marriott points after spending $3,000 on purchases in the first 3 months of opening your account
Another Option to Book ANA Flights
Virgin Atlantic and ANA are non-alliance partners, so you can use Virgin Atlantic miles to book ANA award flights. This is a really great partnership to work with if you have flexible points. That’s because Virgin Atlantic is a transfer partner of all 4 main flexible points programs:
If you want to book ANA flights with Virgin Atlantic miles, you’ll pay:
- 60,000 to 65,000 Virgin Atlantic miles round-trip in coach
- 90,000 to 95,000 Virgin Atlantic miles round-trip in Business Class
- 110,000 to 120,000 Virgin Atlantic miles round-trip in First Class
While these prices are slightly higher than what you would pay using ANA miles, they’re all still an incredible savings over what United Airlines would charge for the same flights.
If you don’t have enough points in any one transferable points currency to book a flight on ANA, you can combine points from all 4 transferable points programs to earn enough Virgin Atlantic miles to book an award. This is especially useful if folks have smaller balances in each of the programs.
AMEX has also offered transfer bonuses to Virgin Atlantic in the past (up to 30%), and there’s a reasonable chance that we will see these transfer bonuses again making this an even better deal!
However, you should remember the following before you decide to transfer to Virgin Atlantic:
- You need to call Virgin Atlantic (800-365-9500) to redeem Virgin Atlantic miles for travel on ANA
- BUT they can put the award on hold for up to 48 hours while you transfer the points
- You will have to pay taxes and fees, but it’s the same amount ANA charges
ANA is a world-class airline with amazing service, great food, and spacious lounges – and you can book flights with fewer ANA miles than other airlines!
Redeeming ANA or Virgin Atlantic miles for ANA flights is an incredible deal. You’ll save tens of thousands of miles compared to other airlines, like United Airlines, on just one booking!
Round-trip Business Class flights between the US and Japan cost as few as 75,000 ANA miles. For the same flights, you would pay 90,000 to 95,000 Virgin Atlantic miles (still a good deal), or a whopping 160,000 United Airlines miles.
It’s easy to earn ANA miles because they’re a transfer partner of both AMEX Membership Rewards and Starwood Preferred Guest. Virgin Atlantic miles are even easier to get your hands on because they’re a transfer partner of all 4 transferable points programs.
Have you redeemed miles for ANA award flights? I’d love to hear about your experience in the comments!