Say What?! ~$110 Business Class Flights to Japan (Yes, It’s True!) and How You Can Do It, Too!

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Say What?! ~$110 Business Class Flights to Japan (Yes, It’s True!) and How You Can Do It, Too!

EmilySay What?! ~$110 Business Class Flights to Japan (Yes, It’s True!) and How You Can Do It, Too!Million Mile Secrets Team

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Emily:   Miles and points earned from just a few credit cards can help get you to Japan – or anywhere else you might want to go – for a fraction of the price!

My partner, Alfy, and I flew from the US to Japan round-trip for ~$110 in Business Class per person.  He was raised in Japan and had not seen his family for ~20 years!  And for 3 weeks of lodging (including some fancy 5-star hotels), I spent ~$450!  In this series, I will show you how you can do it, too!

Cheap Business Class Flights To Japan
Don’t Miss a Walk Through the Enchanted Bamboo Forest!

If you haven’t already done so, check out our free Beginner’s Guide to Miles and Points!  Also, check out my Visiting Japan 101 series, as well as my How to Stay in Tokyo for Free series.

How to Use Miles for a Trip to Kyoto Index:

The best part of traveling is seeing new places and experiencing things I’d never get to see back home.  Kyoto, Japan is a fantastic place to explore old temples, see natural beauty, and meet friendly people.  And you can ride all around the city (safely!) on a bike!  These experiences made Kyoto a very unique place to visit and a place I would love to return to!

Cheap Business Class Flights To Japan
Be Transported Into Another World

Introduction & Planning

Signing up for just a few credit cards, tracking the spending, and redeeming the bonus points is what allows me to travel, for almost free.

I also get very excited for international travel opportunities.  I feel like I learn more about myself and other cultures, and grow more as a result.

This chart shows the retail cost and the actual cost we paid, along with the miles and points we used from credit card rewards.

 Round Trip Business Class Ticket From Austin to Tokyo
Retail cost ~$11,000 for 2 round-trip tickets
Our Cash Cost ~$110 in taxes per round-trip ticket
Miles & Points Used 120,000 American Airlines miles per round-trip ticket
Source of Miles & Points - Citi American Airlines Platinum Select (Current sign-up bonus of 60,000 American Airlines miles after meeting minimum spending requirements)
- Citi American Airlines Executive (Current sign-up bonus of 50,000 American Airlines miles after meeting minimum spending requirements)
Other Miles & Points to UseChase Ultimate Rewards points and/or United Airlines Miles
- Chase Sapphire Preferred (Current sign-up bonus of 50,000 Chase Ultimate Reward points after meeting minimum spending requirements)
- Chase Ink Business Preferred (Current sign-up bonus of 80,000 Chase Ultimate Reward points after meeting minimum spending requirements)
Additional Information - You can transfer your Chase Ultimate Rewards points to United Airlines at a ratio of 1:1

Flights

We flew in Cathay Pacific Business Class for our flights to Japan.  And we flew Japan Airlines Business Class on our way back.

Round-trip Business Class flights to Japan now cost 120,000 American Airlines miles and ~$110 in taxes and fees per person.  

Cheap Business Class Flights To Japan
Can This TV Screen Be Any Larger?

Riding on a Cathay Pacific flight was a real treat!  It was Alfy’s first time in Business Class, and I love surprising family and friends with a fancy flight experience!  But Business Class does cost more in miles, so there is nothing wrong with booking in coach.  We recently flew to Hawaii in coach for ~$20!  That way, you can take double the amount of trips (and who wouldn’t want to return to Hawaii?!)!

Cheap Business Class Flights To Japan
Cheers to Big Travel With Small Money!

How to Get From Tokyo to Kyoto

We started our mainland Japan tour in Tokyo.  Getting from Tokyo to Kyoto was very easy and fast.  The rail system is advanced in Japan.  Plus, it’s also very easy to navigate, thanks to Google Maps!

And although in many places you’d still want a car, you can get around very easily without one.  Don’t forget that if you do want to rent a car in Japan, you will need an international driver’s license.  Gas, tolls, and parking can be expensive, as well.

We rode the Shinkansen (the fast train) to Kyoto.  We got one-way tickets because our flight back home flew out of Osaka.

I didn’t get a JR Pass.  You can read more about the JR Rail pass in this post.  Do your own research and do what makes the most sense for you!

Cheap Business Class Flights To Japan
Eating Pizza & Waiting for the Train

Kyoto Airbnb Review

In Kyoto, we stayed in a Private Apartment Airbnb.  The total cost for 4 nights was $166.  Although very basic, the room came with 2 bikes for an additional ~$10 per day.

We LOVED riding the bikes all around Kyoto!  The room came with 2 large beds, a fridge, basic kitchen, and a no-frills bathroom.

Cheap Business Class Flights To Japan
The Large Airbnb Bed Could’ve Slept 3 to 4 People!

We experienced what homes are really like in Japan, with the small bathrooms and kitchens.  We really do get spoiled with these fancy hotels sometimes.  But we actually loved this place, especially because of the cheap bike rentals (an extra $10 / day).

All we had to do was go downstairs by the elevator and pick up our bikes.  It was super easy and we rode them every day, for hours a day!

Airbnbs are great for families and larger groups.  Because you’ll get more of an authentic feel for the area you’re visiting and more amenities for the price.  Here’s how to find a safe and comfortable Airbnb.  And if you use my Airbnb referral link, you can get $40 off your next rental!

Cheap Business Class Flights To Japan
Get $40 Off Your First Airbnb Rental With My Link!

There are plenty of hotels where you can stay with points, so it doesn’t have to be an Airbnb!  Use Hotel Hustle or Award Mapper to find hotels you can book with points.

What to Do in Kyoto

Kyoto is one of my 2 favorite cities in Japan (the other one being Tokyo).  Kyoto was the most beautiful city we visited, and we never ran out of things to do.  Here are some of my favorite activities:

Bike Ride to Arashiyama

Hands down, our favorite activity was riding bikes all around town!  Bikes are everywhere in Kyoto.  Our favorite destination was to Arashiyama, which is a “suburb” on the outskirts of Kyoto.

Cheap Business Class Flights To Japan
You Can Easily Bike From the Kyoto City Center to Arashiyama

Visit Arashiyama

There’s a beautiful bamboo forest, as well as a monkey park.  Don’t miss these places if you’re in Kyoto!

Cheap Business Class Flights To Japan
Mama Monkey Protecting her Young

See Old World Japan

In Kyoto, there are also stunning temples and parks to explore.  We saw one on our bike ride to Arashiyama.

Cheap Business Class Flights To Japan
I Found a Moment’s Peace in This Temple

It was a peaceful place to visit, and I really enjoyed the unique architecture.

Cooking Class

In Kyoto, you can also take various cooking classes.  Japan is known for its outstanding cuisine, so try to make time for a cooking class.  They book well in advance during the busy tourist season, so get your tickets sooner than later.  To be safe, I’d advise at least a month or 2 in advance.

Cheap Business Class Flights To Japan
Alfy & I Had Sooo Much Fun in our Cooking Class!

Where to Eat in Kyoto

There are so many great restaurants in Kyoto!  One of my favorite places was in Arashiyama, and my favorite dessert is a Japanese shaved ice.  These desserts are light and refreshing—the perfect antidote on a hot, summer day!

Cheap Business Class Flights To Japan
Digging Into My Yummy Strawberry Shaved Ice

Later in the series, I’ll go into much more detail on what to do in Kyoto, the restaurants I tried, so stay tuned!

1.   Flights

United Airlines miles or American Airlines miles are both easy to earn for a trip to Japan!

United Airlines

One-way Business Class partner flights to Japan cost 80,000 United Airlines miles plus taxes and fees.  But one-way Business Class award flights with United Airlines only cost 70,000 United Airlines miles taxes and fees.

If you need more United Airlines miles, consider cards like:

Cheap Business Class Flights To Japan
Transfer Chase Ultimate Rewards Points to United Airlines for a Nearly Free Trip to Japan!

American Airlines

Round-trip Business Class flights to Japan cost 120,000 American Airlines miles and ~$110 in taxes and fees per person.  

For an even better flight experience, try to find a seat on Cathay Pacific or Japan Air Lines!

If you need more American Airlines miles, consider cards like:

2.   Hotels

Kyoto has a handful of hotels you can book with points, including the following hotel chains:

  • Marriott-Starwood-Ritz Carlton
  • IHG
  • Hyatt
  • Accor Hotels

You’ll have the most options is you are using Marriott-Starwood points because they have 4 locations near Kyoto.  Team member Jason is going to be staying at the Crowne Plaza Kyoto (IHG) on an upcoming trip and is looking forward to being only steps away from Nijo Castle.

Or if you want to stay in a neighborhood you could book an Airbnb.  You can save money and points this way.  Most Airbnbs in Kyoto are ~$50 to ~$125 a night, depending on what amenities you want.

Bottom Line

Kyoto and Tokyo were my favorite cities in Japan.  I loved riding bikes all around the city, seeing the sites in Arashiyama, and trying some delicious food!

United Airlines miles and American Airlines miles are simple to use for getting to Japan.  And they’re easy to earn with these cards:

It’s easy to find cheap accommodations with Airbnb or book hotels with points!

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Editorial Note: We're the Million Mile Secrets team. And we're proud of our content, opinions and analysis, and of our reader's comments. These haven’t been reviewed, approved or endorsed by any of the airlines, hotels, or credit card issuers which we often write about. And that’s just how we like it! :)

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I agree with other comments in that the title is disingenuous at best.

Author

Thank you for your feedback!

Wow, such a stupid click-baity title. Say 120k Miles for business trip flights to Japan…which is no secret. What a useless post after reading context.

Author

Thanks for sharing your thoughts!

CLICK BAIT! Title is super misleading and makes it seem like there is a sale going on for $110 biz class flights to Japan. You need to reword to something like, “How to fly to Japan in business class using points and only $110 out of pocket.”

Author

I like your idea! Thanks!

I booked round trip business class from SFO to Tokyo for two for 170,000 points and $370 on ANA. Transfer partner of AMEX MR points. Going this fall!

I would use 85k MR per person instead of UR or UA.

Author

How exciting! Thanks for sharing how you booked your trip. It helps people see there’s more than 1 way!

Wondering, if you considered Chase UR. Business Class RT on ANA would have been 90k UR +~$300 transferred to Virgin Atlantic Flying Club. I’m headed there in fall later this year too. Hope you guys have a great time!!

Virgin is a transfer partner of Amex too. OP didn’t need to use Chase UR to do what you did. Also what you did was more expensive – OP got TWO RT tickets for 170k what would have costed you 180k.

I missed the part where he mentioned two. My bad. 170k miles for 1 Business RT just felt off to me. for 2, its a no-brainer.

Fantastic timing Emily. In the process of booking a trip to Japan (including Kyoto) as I read this!

Author

Very cool! Be sure to check out our other reports. https://millionmilesecrets.com/2017/05/29/japan-trip-report/ and https://millionmilesecrets.com/2017/06/26/how-to-stay-in-tokyo-for-free-part-1-introduction-planning/. Let me know if you have any questions. You will LOVE it there!!

Which shinkansen did you take from Tokyo to Kyoto ? The fastest Nozomi or Kodama ? The price and time difference seems to be about $20 and 80 minutes.

Author

I paid $20 more to get there faster. My time is valuable and I want to maximize it while traveling! 🙂