June 3, 2017
Three Ways to Book ANA First Class using Miles & Points
I finally got the chance to visit Tokyo this summer for the first time. I’d heard good things about ANA (All Nippon Airways), one of Japan’s flagship carriers and the #5 airline in the world according to Skytrax’s 2016 survey. In addition to being highly acclaimed, ANA also operates four Star Wars themed jets. There’s R2-D2, BB-8, C-3PO, and a general Star Wars jet. There’s several ways to book First Class awards on ANA, here’s the three that I considered:
You can book one-way First Class awards on Star Alliance partner airlines using 110,000 United miles. The great thing about United is that it doesn’t impose fuel charges on award tickets. You just pay nominal taxes and fees, which are typically under $100. To book simple one-way partner awards, just go to United.com, search for the award flight you want, and book right online.
Any United or Star Alliance partner flight can earn United miles if you credit them to your United MileagePlus account. You can also transfer miles from Chase Ultimate Rewards to United-and those transfers post to your account within minutes. There are several credit cards you can use to earn Chase Ultimate Rewards points-like the Sapphire Reserve, Sapphire Preferred, Ink Business Preferred, and more. You could of course stick with using a United credit card, though Chase Ultimate Rewards cards will earn you more points per $1 in most cases.
Virgin Atlantic Flying Club
Virgin Atlantic Flying Club is by far the cheapest way to book First Class flights on ANA. They charge just 110,000 miles Roundtrip for flights between Tokyo and the West Coast and 120,000 miles Roundtrip for flights between Tokyo and the East Coast (keep reading, it gets even better). This is literally half the price of using United miles. ANA does impose moderate fuel charges, so you’ll typically have to a pay a few hundred dollars in addition to the miles. The main restriction when it comes to booking using Virgin Atlantic miles is that you must book a roundtrip award. In addition, you can’t make this booking online. First, you need to find ANA flights with award space. To do this, head over to United.com and look for saver level award space in ANA First Class. Once you find space, call Virgin Atlantic and have an agent book you an award seat on the flight you just found.
Luckily, it’s pretty easy to acquire Virgin Atlantic miles. Flying Club is a transfer partner of American Express Membership Rewards, Chase Ultimate Rewards, Citi ThankYou, and Starwood Preferred Guest. But wait, it gets even better! Whenever you transfer 20,000 points from Starwood, you get a 5,000 mile bonus. If you transfer just 90,000 SPG points to Virgin Atlantic, you’d get 110,000 Virgin Atlantic miles (factoring in 4 x 5,000 miles bonuses). That buys you a roundtrip flight in ANA First Class!
ANA Mileage Club
ANA’s award chart is zone based and season based. This means the number of miles needed for an award booking will vary based on where you’re flying between and the time of year you’re flying. You can find ANA’s full award chart here. For our purposes, First Class flights between Japan and North America cost 150,000 miles Roundtrip during the low and regular season and 165,000 miles Roundtrip during the high season. (High season is select dates around New Year, late April-early May, late July –August, and Christmas). ANA adds reasonable fuel charges to award tickets, so you’ll have to spend a few hundred dollars in addition to the miles. Also note that ANA awards must be booked roundtrip, although they can be in different class (for example, you can fly First Class one way and Business class the other way).
ANA is a transfer partner of Starwood Preferred Guest and American Express Membership Rewards. You can transfer points from either of those programs to ANA. Remember, Starwood gives you 5,000 bonus miles for every 20,000 miles you transfer.
Virgin Atlantic Flying Club miles are the cheapest way to book ANA First Class awards between the US and Japan. You can get a First Class flight between the West Coast and Japan for just 90,000 SPG Points. If a roundtrip flight works with your schedule, that’s your best bet. If you can’t swing a roundtrip flight for some reason, you can book a one-way ANA First Class award using 110,000 United Mileage Plus miles instead.