How to book a $20,000 ANA first-class ticket for just $34
Virgin Atlantic Flying Club has a number of partners with which it allows you to earn and spend Virgin Points. Some are far better known and discussed more often than others.
For example, Virgin’s close partnership with Delta and Air France/KLM means there’s a wide array of booking and earning options, and award availability searches and bookings can easily be made on Virgin’s website.
When it comes to the more obscure partners, the process is a little more challenging, but the rewards are potentially greater.
One such partner is the Japanese airline All Nippon Airlines (ANA). ANA has a great reputation, and more recently with the introduction of its new business- and first-class products, which it has named “The Room” and “The Suite,” respectively, flying a premium class on ANA has become somewhat of a bucket list flight for me and many others.
You can fly the new products on select ANA 777s, which currently operate to London Heathrow (LHR), Frankfurt (FRA) and New York JFK (JFK).
Historically, when booking ANA award tickets through Flying Club, you were required to book a round-trip journey, which made lining up availability very difficult. Last week, ANA announced that it would allow one-way partner awards, adding an element of flexibility and opening up new options for Virgin Flying Club members.
I just booked one of these first-class tickets from Tokyo to London. The cash price of that one-way flight was a whopping $19,503, but yet I only had to lay out £25 (about $34) plus points. But how did I do it? I’ll walk you through step by step.
How many points do I need?
The exciting thing about booking ANA awards with Virgin Points is that the award chart offers great value in comparison to other programs. One-way business-class tickets from Tokyo to Europe or the U.S. East Coast (covering all of the routes with the new product) cost just 47,500 Virgin Points, with first class coming in at 60,000 Virgin Points. By comparison, United was charging 126,500 miles for the same first-class ticket.
The full award chart shown below is published on the Virgin Atlantic website and shows the price of return tickets. Virgin does not charge any additional fees or fuel surcharges on these redemptions, so you will only pay the actual taxes.
My one-way ticket from Tokyo to London in first class, therefore, cost 60,000 Virgin Points plus £25 (about $34) in taxes and fees. Flying from London to Tokyo would have incurred higher charges of £230 (about $316) due to U.K. taxes and Airport Passenger Duty. A flight departing Frankfurt would incur around £90 (about $124) in taxes and fees.
How to find availability
Finding availability is the tricky part of this process. This has become a little easier now that one-way flight bookings are possible because you only need to find availability in one direction, whereas before, finding return flights whose dates matched up nicely was very difficult. I never managed to book a return ticket because of this over the past couple of years.
I have found the easiest way to search for availability is on the United Airlines website. United and ANA are both Star Alliance members, and so it’s possible to book ANA tickets on United.com. However, as I’ve mentioned, the rates are much higher than with Virgin.
The great thing about searching with United is that you don’t even need a United MileagePlus account to search, as there is no need to sign in.
On the United homepage, fill in your desired route, select “Book with miles” and “Flexible dates.”
Once the search results load, click the “Show only nonstop flight availability” checkbox. The calendar will then clearly show dates that have “Saver Award” availability in premium cabins with five dots. A solid bar shows dates where there is economy availability.
Once you click on a date that shows availability, you might need to uncheck the “With stops” box to filter the results to clearly show the available nonstop flights.
Make a note of the available dates and flight numbers you would like to book and have them ready for the next step. You will not use the United site to book your tickets.
How to book ANA flights with Virgin Atlantic
This is where things get a little more complicated. You cannot book ANA award tickets on the Virgin Atlantic website. The only way to book using Virgin Points is either over the phone or via Virgin’s WhatsApp booking service. I have found Virgin’s WhatsApp service slower than usual recently and generally, the agents at the Virgin call center are very helpful and wait times are not too long. I recommend calling up to book.
The call center does not have a quick or efficient way to search availability, so putting the work in yourself before following the steps above will speed up the process. Even when you provide your desired dates, the Virgin agent will not immediately see availability. They have to request the ticket and wait a couple of minutes for a response.
The agent may not yet know of the new option to book one-way flights with ANA, but be assertive on this point and they are usually incredibly helpful.
The whole process took me about 10 minutes on the phone and I quickly received my confirmation by email. I was then able to head over to the ANA website to reserve my seat. Remember to ask the Virgin agent for both the Virgin and ANA booking references. You will need the latter to access the booking on the ANA site.
Virgin Atlantic’s Flying Club provides one of the best-value redemptions out there on one of the best first- and business-class products in the sky. Virgin Points are easy to come by in the U.S. — especially because it’s a transfer partner of American Express.
So, racking up 47,500 Virgin Points shouldn’t be too difficult for most. Being able to book one-way tickets now allows far more flexibility and with a little groundwork, one of these tickets can be yours!
Featured image by ANA
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