How US athletes are traveling to the Tokyo Olympics this summer
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.
I’d planned to be in Tokyo for the rescheduled Olympics this summer. My Olympic dreams were crushed when Japan announced it wouldn’t allow overseas visitors to attend the Tokyo Olympics. But, the Olympics are still on and many athletes are traveling to Tokyo.
Back in March 2020, Delta announced it would become the official airline of Team USA beginning Jan. 1, 2021. However, with the Tokyo Olympics postponed from 2020 to 2021, Team USA allowed most sponsors to extend through the Tokyo Olympics (including United).
Get the latest points, miles and travel news by signing up for TPG’s free daily newsletter.
As such, most U.S. athletes and Olympic committee members are flying United Airlines to the Tokyo Olympics. And, even if you aren’t flying to Tokyo, you may be able to snag some Olympic swag from United. For example, TPG editor at large Zach Honig recently enjoyed Team USA amenity kits and pajamas when flying United Polaris.
But, back to the athletes. United recently posted a photo of Team USA gymnast Simone Biles in United Polaris business class, with a custom blanket for the G.O.A.T. And North Shore Gymnastics Association got attention earlier this summer when it posted an online fundraiser to upgrade three Minnesota gymnasts to United Polaris. The campaign raised $34,860 and the association published a photo of one of the gymnasts sitting in United Polaris on July 15. Hopefully, the association also looked into getting United Airlines upgrades using miles.
View this post on Instagram
Although some Olympic athletes have secured upgrades for their flights, most will fly in economy. After all, there’s a limited number of business class seats on each aircraft. So, even if an airline or team wanted to fly all the Olympic athletes in premium cabins, it’s typically not possible. For example, a few years ago, Delta denied an upgrade request from the U.S. men’s curling team after winning gold in Pyeongchang. Although TPG didn’t check upgrade availability at the time, Delta claimed there were “no seats” available for upgrades.
TPG readers know it’s often possible to upgrade paid fares with miles. And, many readers simply book business class awards using points and miles. But, many Olympic teams fly on charter flights or flights offered as part of a sponsorship deal. So, even if an Olympic athlete typically works to maximize their points and miles and book business class award flights, they may not have many options when flying to a high-profile event like the Olympics.
Of course, Team USA is only one group of athletes flying to the Tokyo Olympics. For example, Iberia flew two flights from Madrid to Tokyo on July 15 and 17 for Spanish athletes. The airline announced it would use an A350 christened “Spanish Olympic Team” for these flights.
Featured image by Zach Griff/The Points Guy.
Welcome to The Points Guy!
Earn 90,000 bonus miles after you spend $3,000 in purchases within the first three months of card membership. Plus, earn a $200 statement credit after your first Delta purchase within the first three months. Offer ends 7/28/21.
With Status Boost™, earn 10,000 Medallion Qualification Miles (MQMs) after you spend $25,000 in purchases on your Card in a calendar year, up to two times per year getting you closer to Medallion Status. Earn 3X Miles on Delta purchases and purchases made directly with hotels, 2X Miles at restaurants and at U.S. supermarkets and earn 1X Mile on all other eligible purchases. Terms Apply.
- Limited Time Offer: Earn 90,000 Bonus Miles after spending $3,000 in purchases on your new Card in your first 3 months and a $200 statement credit after you make a Delta purchase with your new Card within your first 3 months. Offer expires 7/28/2021.
- Limited Time Offer: Plus, get a 0% intro APR on purchases for 12 months from the date of account opening, then a variable 15.74%-24.74%. Offer expires 7/28/2021.
- Accelerate your path to Medallion Status, with Status Boost®. Plus, in 2021 you can earn even more bonus Medallion® Qualification Miles (MQMs) to help you reach Medallion Status.
- Earn 3X Miles on Delta purchases and purchases made directly with hotels.
- Earn 2X Miles at restaurants worldwide, including takeout and delivery and at U.S. supermarkets.
- 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 $75 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.
- Fee Credit for Global Entry or TSA Pre✓®.
- Enjoy an exclusive rate of $39 per person per visit to enter the Delta Sky Club® for you and up to two guests when traveling on a Delta flight.
- No Foreign Transaction Fees.
- $250 Annual Fee.
- Terms Apply.
- See Rates & Fees