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

Feb. 03, 2020
7 min read
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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.

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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

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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.

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Cons

  • Doesn't make sense if you don't fly Delta
  • SkyMiles aren't the most valuable airline currency
  • Earn 90,000 bonus miles after you spend $4,000 in purchases on your new Card in your first 6 months.
  • Receive a Domestic Main Cabin round-trip companion certificate each year upon renewal of your Card. Payment of the government imposed taxes and fees of no more than $80 for roundtrip domestic flights (for itineraries with up to four flight segments) is required. Baggage charges and other restrictions apply. See terms and conditions for details.
  • Enjoy your first checked bag free on Delta flights. Plus enjoy Main Cabin 1 Priority Boarding and settle into your seat sooner.
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  • Earn 3X Miles on Delta purchases and purchases made directly with hotels.
  • Earn 2X Miles at restaurants worldwide including takeout and delivery in the U.S., and at U.S. supermarkets.
  • Earn 1X Mile on all other eligible purchases.
  • Enjoy a per-visit rate of $50 per person for Card Members and up to two guests to enter the Delta Sky Club when traveling on a Delta flight.
  • Fee Credit for Global Entry or TSA PreCheck® after you apply through any Authorized Enrollment Provider. If approved for Global Entry, at no additional charge, you will receive access to TSA PreCheck.
  • Earn up to 20,000 Medallion® Qualification Miles (MQMs) with Status Boost® per year. After you spend $25,000 in purchases on your Card in a calendar year, you can earn 10,000 MQMs up to two times per year, getting you closer to Medallion® Status. MQMs are used to determine Medallion® Status and are different than miles you earn toward flights.
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TPG Editor‘s Rating
Card Rating is based on the opinion of TPG‘s editors and is not influenced by the card issuer.
3 / 5
Go to review

Rewards Rate

3XEarn 3X Miles on Delta purchases and purchases made directly with hotels.
2XEarn 2X Miles at restaurants worldwide, including takeout and delivery in the U.S. and at U.S. supermarkets.
1XEarn 1X Miles on all other eligible purchases.
  • Intro Offer
    Earn 90,000 bonus miles after you spend $4,000 in purchases on your new Card in your first 6 months.

    Earn 90,000 Bonus Miles
    50,000 Bonus Miles
  • 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

Build your loyalty to Delta by applying for the carrier's mid-tier card option, the Delta SkyMiles Platinum card. The annual fee is quickly recouped by the card's travel perks, such as an application credit to Global Entry or TSA Precheck, annual companion certificate and so much more. Plus you can fast-track to elite status simply through card spend.

Pros

  • Earn bonus Medallion® Qualification Miles (MQMs) and an Medallion Qualifying Dollar (MQD) waiver when you hit specific spending thresholds with your card within a calendar year
  • Receive a Domestic Main Cabin round-trip companion certificate each year
  • Statement credit for TSA PreCheck/Global Entry fee (up to $100)
  • First checked bag free

Cons

  • Doesn't make sense if you don't fly Delta
  • SkyMiles aren't the most valuable airline currency
  • Earn 90,000 bonus miles after you spend $4,000 in purchases on your new Card in your first 6 months.
  • Receive a Domestic Main Cabin round-trip companion certificate each year upon renewal of your Card. Payment of the government imposed taxes and fees of no more than $80 for roundtrip domestic flights (for itineraries with up to four flight segments) is required. Baggage charges and other restrictions apply. See terms and conditions for details.
  • Enjoy your first checked bag free on Delta flights. Plus enjoy Main Cabin 1 Priority Boarding and settle into your seat sooner.
  • New: Card Members get 15% off when using miles to book Award Travel on Delta flights through delta.com and the Fly Delta app. Discount not applicable to partner-operated flights or to taxes and fees.
  • Earn 3X Miles on Delta purchases and purchases made directly with hotels.
  • Earn 2X Miles at restaurants worldwide including takeout and delivery in the U.S., and at U.S. supermarkets.
  • Earn 1X Mile on all other eligible purchases.
  • Enjoy a per-visit rate of $50 per person for Card Members and up to two guests to enter the Delta Sky Club when traveling on a Delta flight.
  • Fee Credit for Global Entry or TSA PreCheck® after you apply through any Authorized Enrollment Provider. If approved for Global Entry, at no additional charge, you will receive access to TSA PreCheck.
  • Earn up to 20,000 Medallion® Qualification Miles (MQMs) with Status Boost® per year. After you spend $25,000 in purchases on your Card in a calendar year, you can earn 10,000 MQMs up to two times per year, getting you closer to Medallion® Status. MQMs are used to determine Medallion® Status and are different than miles you earn toward flights.
  • No Foreign Transaction Fees.
  • $250 Annual Fee.
  • Terms Apply.
  • See Rates & Fees