Skip to content

Book now: Round-trip, business-class awards to Japan for 90,000 miles

Feb. 03, 2020
7 min read
This post contains references to products from one or more of our advertisers. We may receive compensation when you click on links to those products. Terms apply to the offers listed on this page. For an explanation of our Advertising Policy, visit this page.

Tokyo will be the center of the sports universe this July and August, as it plays host to the 2020 Summer Olympics. Award availability during the games — for both flights and hotel rooms — is very scarce at this point. However, if you've been eyeing a trip to Tokyo either before or after the games, you may be in luck. We're seeing a plethora of two or more premium-class award seats from a major U.S. gateway, and if you're sitting on a stockpile of rewards from the major transferable credit card currencies, you may be able to get there and back for as little as 90,000 miles.

Even better? Some dates have first-class awards available.

Sign-up for the TPG daily newsletter to get points and miles coverage like this delivered to your inbox.

Sign up for our daily newsletter

The inventory here is on ANA, a member of Star Alliance, and at the time of writing, we're seeing some relatively wide award availability from San Francisco (SFO) to Tokyo-Haneda (HND). The carrier's service from SFO has typically gone to Tokyo-Narita (NRT), but it's adding a flight to Haneda in late March. Initially operating just three times per week, the service will shift to daily as of May 25 — which also happens to be when the majority of award space opens up.

As of now, we're seeing multiple dates from late-May through mid-July, then again from mid-August through December — including a few dozen dates in each direction with first-class awards.

Editor's note: Screen shots are from United.com, but read on for an even better way to book.

San Francisco (SFO) to Tokyo-Haneda (HND)

Business class: May 28; June 1-2; July 7, 9, 14-15; August 10-12, 23-25, 27; September 1-3, 6-8, 14-15, 23, and 27-30; October 1, 6, 12, 18-21, 27 and 29; November 4-5, 9-10, 12, 26 and 29-30; December 1-2

First class: June 1, 3; July 2, 6-8, 13-15; August 10-11, 17, 19, 24, 27; September 1, 3, 8, 14-15 and 28-29; October 1, 8, 12, 20, 26-27 and 29; November 2-3, 5, 9, 16, 26 and 30; December 1

Tokyo-Haneda (HND) to San Francisco (SFO)

Business class: May 27, 29-30; June 4, 6, 9, 11-12, 20, 23, 26-27; July 1, 9, 11, 14-15; September 2-4, 9-11, 22-23 and 29-30; October 1, 3, 6, 9, 14-16, 21, 24, 27 and 31; November 4-5, 10-13, 17, 20-21, 24; December 2, 4, 11, 15-19

First class: May 28-29; June 4, 12, 16-20, 23, 25, 27; July 1, 3, 8, 10, 15; September 4, 26; October 10; November 14, 21 and 30; December 5, 19

Note that the flights to or from Tokyo-Narita have little to no award space for two passengers — though you may find Haneda to be a better option than Narita.

Are other options open?

Of course, ANA's service to and from the U.S. includes multiple other gateways, and sadly, we're seeing just a handful of dates with first- and business-class awards from airports like New York-JFK, Washington-Dulles (IAD), Los Angeles (LAX) and Seattle (SEA). You might get lucky — especially in the fall — but for now, San Francisco appears to have significantly better award space than others.

How to book

As noted previously, ANA belongs to Star Alliance, so you could use any member airline's loyalty program to book these awards. However, if you're able to lock in a round-trip itinerary, there's an even better option: Virgin Atlantic Flying Club. This non-alliance partner is particularly attractive for two main reasons. First, it's a 1:1 transfer partner of American Express Membership Rewards, Chase Ultimate Rewards and Citi ThankYou Rewards. Second — and likely more importantly — its award rates for ANA are almost too-good-to-be-true.

Here's how many Flying Club miles you'd need to book a round-trip award from the U.S. to Tokyo on ANA-operated flights:

  • West Coast: 90,000 miles in business class or 110,000 miles in first class
  • East Coast: 95,000 miles in business class or 120,000 miles in first class

Again, these are round-trip prices, though you'll also need to pay roughly $300 in taxes and fees per person.

However, there are a few important restrictions to note. For starters, you must book round-trip awards on ANA if you're using Virgin Atlantic Flying Club. In addition, Virgin Atlantic charges on a per-segment basis, so you aren't able to fly into Tokyo and then connect to another Japanese (or Asian) destination without using additional miles. Finally, you'll need to call to book these awards; they can't be ticketed online.

If you're looking to book a one-way flight — or hoping to use Tokyo as a connecting point en route to another destination — you may want to consider the following options:

ProgramOne-way, business-class award rateOne-way, first-class award rateTransfer options
Air Canada Aeroplan75,000 miles105,000 milesAmex Membership Rewards (1:1), Capital One (2:1.5)
Avianca LifeMiles75,000 miles90,000 milesAmex Membership Rewards (1:1), Capital One (2:1.5), Citi ThankYou Rewards (1:1)
United MileagePlus80,000 miles110,000 milesChase Ultimate Rewards (1:1)

While neither Avianca nor United impose fuel surcharges on ANA-operated flights, Aeroplan will charge the same (reasonable) taxes and fees you'd need to pay if booking through Flying Club.

Remember too that Avianca LifeMiles might be the best option if you're looking to book a mixed-cabin itinerary — like this one from San Francisco to Okinawa (OKA):

Since you're taking the shorter, connecting flight from HND-OKA in economy, it drops your overall award rate by 8,110 miles — a solid savings, especially if you're transferring Amex or Citi points.

Bottom line

Booking first- or business-class award tickets to Asia using points and miles isn't always easy, but if you're based on the West Coast, you may just have an opportunity to get there for a shockingly low award rate. If redeeming 90,000 miles for a round-trip, business-class award ticket from San Francisco to Tokyo seems like a dream, using 110,000 miles for those same flights in first class could be considered an absolute steal. However, if you can be somewhat flexible with your dates, these award tickets can very much become a reality for you and a loved one.

For more information on what to expect on these flights, check out the following reviews:

Featured image by ANA offers great comfort in staggered business class.

TPG featured card

Best starter travel card
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

1 - 3X points
3XEarn 3 Points per $1 spent at Restaurants and Supermarkets
3XEarn 3 Points per $1 spent at Gas Stations, Air Travel and Hotels
1XEarn 1 Point per $1 spent on all other purchases

Intro offer

Earn 80,000 ThankYou® points60,000 points
For a limited time, earn 80,000 bonus ThankYou® Points after you spend $4,000 in purchases within the first 3 months of account opening

Annual Fee

$95

Recommended Credit

670-850
Excellent, Good
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.

Why We Chose It

The Citi Premier’s 3 points per dollar spent across a wide range of popular categories is one of the more lucrative offerings in the world of points and miles. The Citi Premier comes with a $95 annual fee and is currently offering a solid sign up bonus of 80,000 points after you spend $4,000 on purchases within the first three months. It also has some valuable transfer partners to make the most of your rewards. Add in access to Citi Entertainment plus a $100 hotel credit for any single-stay hotel booking that exceeds $500 or more, excluding taxes and fees, booked through the Citi travel website, there are few reasons why the Citi Premier should not be in every traveler’s wallet.

Pros

  • Earns 3x points on restaurants, supermarkets, gas stations, air travel and hotels.
  • $100 annual hotel savings benefit (on single hotel stay bookings of $500 or more, excluding taxes and fees, booked through thankyou.com)
  • Points transfer to 16 airline programs, from JetBlue to Virgin Atlantic.
  • World Elite Mastercard benefits, extended warranty, damage and theft protection.

Cons

  • $95 annual fee
  • Lacks travel protections that other travel rewards cards come with
  • For a limited time, earn 80,000 bonus ThankYou® Points after you spend $4,000 in purchases within the first 3 months of account opening
  • Earn 3 Points per $1 spent at Restaurants and Supermarkets
  • Earn 3 Points per $1 spent at Gas Stations, Air Travel and Hotels
  • Earn 1 Point per $1 spent on all other purchases
  • Annual Hotel Savings Benefit
  • 80,000 Points are redeemable for $800 in gift cards when redeemed at thankyou.com
  • No expiration and no limit to the amount of points you can earn with this card
  • No Foreign Transaction Fees on purchases
Best starter travel card
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

3XEarn 3 Points per $1 spent at Restaurants and Supermarkets
3XEarn 3 Points per $1 spent at Gas Stations, Air Travel and Hotels
1XEarn 1 Point per $1 spent on all other purchases
  • Intro Offer
    For a limited time, earn 80,000 bonus ThankYou® Points after you spend $4,000 in purchases within the first 3 months of account opening

    Earn 80,000 ThankYou® points
    60,000 points
  • Annual Fee

    $95
  • 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

The Citi Premier’s 3 points per dollar spent across a wide range of popular categories is one of the more lucrative offerings in the world of points and miles. The Citi Premier comes with a $95 annual fee and is currently offering a solid sign up bonus of 80,000 points after you spend $4,000 on purchases within the first three months. It also has some valuable transfer partners to make the most of your rewards. Add in access to Citi Entertainment plus a $100 hotel credit for any single-stay hotel booking that exceeds $500 or more, excluding taxes and fees, booked through the Citi travel website, there are few reasons why the Citi Premier should not be in every traveler’s wallet.

Pros

  • Earns 3x points on restaurants, supermarkets, gas stations, air travel and hotels.
  • $100 annual hotel savings benefit (on single hotel stay bookings of $500 or more, excluding taxes and fees, booked through thankyou.com)
  • Points transfer to 16 airline programs, from JetBlue to Virgin Atlantic.
  • World Elite Mastercard benefits, extended warranty, damage and theft protection.

Cons

  • $95 annual fee
  • Lacks travel protections that other travel rewards cards come with
  • For a limited time, earn 80,000 bonus ThankYou® Points after you spend $4,000 in purchases within the first 3 months of account opening
  • Earn 3 Points per $1 spent at Restaurants and Supermarkets
  • Earn 3 Points per $1 spent at Gas Stations, Air Travel and Hotels
  • Earn 1 Point per $1 spent on all other purchases
  • Annual Hotel Savings Benefit
  • 80,000 Points are redeemable for $800 in gift cards when redeemed at thankyou.com
  • No expiration and no limit to the amount of points you can earn with this card
  • No Foreign Transaction Fees on purchases