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AA Adds First Class Service to Tokyo — Here’s How to Book for Just 62,500 Points Each Way

Dec. 02, 2018
6 min read
AA Adds First Class Service to Tokyo — Here’s How to Book for Just 62,500 Points Each Way
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While airlines continue to outdo each other in business class, airlines around the world — with the notable exception of Middle Eastern carriers — have been dropping international first class products from their fleets. After United ditched its first class cabin in June, American Airlines was left as the only US airline with a true first class product. But, these are few and far between.

You can only find first class cabins on just two types of AAircraft: American Airlines' 17x Airbus A321T used on premium transcontinental routes (JFK-LAX, JFK-SFO and starting in April 2019 BOS-LAX) and AA's 20x Boeing 777-300ER used on premium international routes.

Starting today, you can book AA first class tickets on another premium international route: Los Angeles (LAX) to Tokyo Haneda (HND). Starting June 6, 2019, the once-daily LA-Haneda route will switch from a Boeing 787-9 to a four-class (economy, premium economy, business, first) Boeing 777-300ER. This adds AA's international first class product to the route for the first time. The flights will operate on the following schedule:

  • AA 27: Los Angeles (LAX) 10:35am Departure ⇒ Tokyo Haneda (HND) 2:20pm Arrival +1 day
  • AA 26: Tokyo Haneda (HND) 4:25pm Departure ⇒ Los Angeles (LAX) 10:40am Arrival

If you're interested in trying out AA's first class product, you have a few options. American Airlines first class saver awards between the US and Asia Region 1 — which includes Japan and South Korea — cost 80,000 AAdvantage miles each way. You can get almost that many miles for signing up for the CitiBusiness / AAdvantage Platinum Select World Mastercard, which is offering a 70,000-mile signup bonus for spending $4,000 in the first four months.

The information for the CitiBusiness AAdvantage Platinum card has been collected independently by The Points Guy. The card details on this page have not been reviewed or provided by the card issuer.

Due to a recent devaluation, it'll also cost 80,000 miles to book this award through the Alaska MileagePlan. The good news here is that Alaska often offers mileage sales, where you can purchase miles in bulk for cheap. For example, you can currently buy Alaska MileagePlan miles for just 1.97 cents per mile:

However, there's a way to book these awards for even cheaper: Etihad Guest. As TPG's Richard Kerr points out, Etihad continues to fly under the radar. And that's true for American Airlines awards. Here are some examples of what you can get:

Left off of that list (since it wasn't an option until now): first class awards between the US and Asia Region 1 for 62,500 Etihad miles. However, if you don't fly Etihad or have Etihad Guest miles, you might wonder how this is relevant to you. So, let's show you how to make this happen.

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Transfer Points: Etihad Guest is a 1:1 transfer partner of both Citi ThankYou Rewards and American Express Membership Rewards. Both of these have offered periodic transfer bonuses, which help sweeten the deal. And soon, you'll be able to transfer Capital One miles to Etihad Guest at a 2:1.5 ratio.

If you don't already have one of these three transferable point currencies, here are a few sign-up bonuses that'll help you rack up these points:

  • Capital One Spark Miles for Business: up to 200,000 Capital One miles (150,000 Etihad miles); earn 50,000 miles after spending $5,000 in the first three months and 150,000 miles after spending $50,000 in the first six months of account opening.
  • The Business Platinum Card® from American Express: Earn up to 75,000 bonus points: 50,000 bonus points after you spend $10,000 and an extra 25,000 bonus points after you spend an additional $10,000 all on qualifying purchases within your first 3 months of Card Membership.
  • The Platinum Card® from American Express: 60,000 Membership Rewards points (60,000 Etihad miles) after spending $5,000 in the first three months.
  • Capital One Venture Rewards Credit Card: 75,000 Capital One miles (56,250 Etihad miles) after spending $5,000 in the first three months.
  • Citi Premier® Card : 60,000 Thank You Points (60,000 Etihad miles) after spending $4,000 in the first three months.
  • American Express® Gold Card: 35,000 Membership Rewards points (35,000 Etihad miles) after spending $4,000 on purchases in the first three months.

The information for the Capital One Spark Miles for Business has been collected independently by The Points Guy. The card details on this page have not been reviewed or provided by the card issuer.

Buy Points: Etihad Guest charges a very reasonable two cents per mile for buying its miles. And you don't have to buy a bunch to get this rate. If you need just 1,000 more miles to complete a reservation, you can buy 1,000 miles for just $20 total.

So, if you don't have enough time to spend and earn a credit card sign-up bonus, you can buy miles at this rate to get a one-way flight on this LA-Tokyo route for just $1,250 one-way. That's about 1/10th of the cost of a revenue one-way flight. Of course, the caveat is that you need to find saver award space.

Also watch out for Etihad buy points promotions. For example, through Nov. 15, members received a 25% bonus when buying 50,000 - 60,000 miles. That meant that you could have gotten 62,500 miles for just $1,000 each way.

Award Availability: With just eight first class seats, saver award availability is going to be tough to find. We recommend setting up award availability alerts on ExpertFlyer. With a premium subscription, you can now set up to 200 alerts at a time — up from just 30 alerts at the beginning of November. Never used it before? Here's a beginner's guide on how to get started with ExpertFlyer.

Featured image by Flagship First class cabin.

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Card Rating is based on the opinion of TPG‘s editors and is not influenced by the card issuer.
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There's a lot to love about the Amex Gold card. It's been a fan favorite during the pandemic because of its fantastic rewards rate on restaurants (that includes takeout and delivery in the U.S.!) and U.S. supermarkets. If you're hitting the skies soon, you'll also earn bonus points on travel. Paired with up to $120 in Uber Cash (for U.S. Uber rides or Uber Eats orders) and up to $120 in annual dining statement credits at eligible partners, there's no reason that the foodie shouldn't add this card to their wallet. Enrollment required.

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  • Welcome bonus of 60,000 points after spending $4,000 in the first six months

Cons

  • Weak on travel outside of flights and everyday spending bonus categories
  • Not as useful for those living outside the U.S.
  • Some may have trouble using Uber/food credits
  • Few travel perks and protections
  • Earn 60,000 Membership Rewards® points after you spend $4,000 on eligible purchases with your new Card within the first 6 months of Card Membership.
  • Earn 4X Membership Rewards® Points at Restaurants, plus takeout and delivery in the U.S., and earn 4X Membership Rewards® points at U.S. supermarkets (on up to $25,000 per calendar year in purchases, then 1X).
  • Earn 3X Membership Rewards® points on flights booked directly with airlines or on amextravel.com.
  • $120 Uber Cash on Gold: Add your Gold Card to your Uber account and each month automatically get $10 in Uber Cash for Uber Eats orders or Uber rides in the U.S., totaling up to $120 per year.
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  • Choose the color that suits your style. Gold or Rose Gold.
  • No Foreign Transaction Fees.
  • Annual Fee is $250.
  • Terms Apply.
  • See Rates & Fees
Apply for American Express® Gold Card
at American Express's secure site
Terms & restrictions apply. See rates & fees
Best for the well-traveled foodie
TPG Editor‘s Rating
Card Rating is based on the opinion of TPG‘s editors and is not influenced by the card issuer.
4 / 5
Go to review

Rewards Rate

4XEarn 4X Membership Rewards® Points at Restaurants, plus takeout and delivery in the U.S.
4XEarn 4X Membership Rewards® points at U.S. supermarkets (on up to $25,000 per calendar year in purchases, then 1X).
3XEarn 3X Membership Rewards® points on flights booked directly with airlines or on amextravel.com.
  • Intro Offer
    Earn 60,000 Membership Rewards® points after you spend $4,000 on eligible purchases with your new Card within the first 6 months of Card Membership.

    60,000 bonus points
  • Annual Fee

    $250
  • Recommended Credit
    Credit ranges are a variation of FICO© Score 8, one of many types of credit scores lenders may use when considering your credit card application.

    670-850
    Excellent/Good

Why We Chose It

There's a lot to love about the Amex Gold card. It's been a fan favorite during the pandemic because of its fantastic rewards rate on restaurants (that includes takeout and delivery in the U.S.!) and U.S. supermarkets. If you're hitting the skies soon, you'll also earn bonus points on travel. Paired with up to $120 in Uber Cash (for U.S. Uber rides or Uber Eats orders) and up to $120 in annual dining statement credits at eligible partners, there's no reason that the foodie shouldn't add this card to their wallet. Enrollment required.

Pros

  • 4x on dining at restaurants and U.S. supermarkets (on the first $25,000 in purchases per calendar year; then 1x)
  • 3x on flights booked directly with the airline or with Amex Travel
  • Welcome bonus of 60,000 points after spending $4,000 in the first six months

Cons

  • Weak on travel outside of flights and everyday spending bonus categories
  • Not as useful for those living outside the U.S.
  • Some may have trouble using Uber/food credits
  • Few travel perks and protections
  • Earn 60,000 Membership Rewards® points after you spend $4,000 on eligible purchases with your new Card within the first 6 months of Card Membership.
  • Earn 4X Membership Rewards® Points at Restaurants, plus takeout and delivery in the U.S., and earn 4X Membership Rewards® points at U.S. supermarkets (on up to $25,000 per calendar year in purchases, then 1X).
  • Earn 3X Membership Rewards® points on flights booked directly with airlines or on amextravel.com.
  • $120 Uber Cash on Gold: Add your Gold Card to your Uber account and each month automatically get $10 in Uber Cash for Uber Eats orders or Uber rides in the U.S., totaling up to $120 per year.
  • $120 Dining Credit: Satisfy your cravings and earn up to $10 in statement credits monthly when you pay with the American Express® Gold Card at Grubhub, The Cheesecake Factory, Goldbelly, Wine.com, Milk Bar and select Shake Shack locations. Enrollment required.
  • Choose the color that suits your style. Gold or Rose Gold.
  • No Foreign Transaction Fees.
  • Annual Fee is $250.
  • Terms Apply.
  • See Rates & Fees