Fly First Class to Japan for Less Than £1,700 Return

Some links to products and partners on this website will earn an affiliate commission.

Buying miles is often controversial. Some readers might think that collecting miles is something you do through paid flights, credit cards, shopping, etc. and they would never contemplate buying miles.  Others might analyse the opportunity and realise that you can buy heavily discounted tickets in a premium cabin.  This post is for that second group of “travel hackers”.

A couple of days ago, I wrote about the opportunity to buy miles from Virgin Atlantic Flying Club. At first glance, the price seems rather high, at over 1p per mile. But what if you fancied a trip to Japan?

Virgin Atlantic Flying Club partners with All Nippon Airways, and the award chart is simply amazing.

You must book a return flight, and ALL CONNECTIONS are priced separately. But I’m sure that you wouldn’t mind flying to Tokyo (return!) for:

  • 95,000 miles in Business Class
  • 120,000 miles in First Class

Calculating the Total Cost

Let’s start with the assumption that you don’t have any Virgin miles; nor do you have any recent Virgin Atlantic flights on which you could apply “Miles Booster”. But during November you can simply buy miles with a 40% bonus.

To get 120,000 miles, you would need to buy 86,000 miles for £1,305. Once the 40% bonus is added, you’d actually receive 120,400 miles.

When booking awards on ANA via Virgin Atlantic Flying Club, you will need to pay ANA’s fuel surcharges along with the usual collection of taxes and airport charges.  For a First Class flight from London to Tokyo you’d pay this:

Those items total roughly £385. Add in the £1,305 you paid for your miles, and your return trip to Tokyo in First Class would cost you just £1,690.

If you prefer Business Class, the taxes and surcharges would be the same, but you’d simply require 25,000 fewer miles.

How to Find Award Space

Finding award space often requires some flexibility, perhaps “positioning” to a different ANA destination within Europe. ANA flies these premium cabin offerings (along with an economy cabin of course) between Tokyo and:

  • London Heathrow (First Class and Business Class)
  • Frankfurt (First Class and Business Class)
  • Paris (Business Class)
  • Dusseldorf (Business Class)
  • Munich (Business Class)
  • Brussels (Business Class)
  • Vienna (Business Class, starting in early 2019)

I believe you are able to open-jaw (i.e. fly out of Frankfurt and back to London) and to mix cabins (one-way in First and the other in Business, splitting the mileage cost difference).

The best way to search for award availability on ANA is to use the United Airlines website – you don’t need to be a MileagePlus member to make award searches. United has a helpful calendar function where you can limit the search to non-stop flights.


An interesting element to keep in mind is that it is often EASIER to find First Class award space (than Business Class) on ANA, but unfortunately you will usually only find one seat available in First.

ANA’s flights to Brussels, Germany and Vienna often have decent availability in Business Class, if you can’t find availability from London and/or find it more convenient / cheaper to hop over to the Continent…

How to Book

You cannot book most partner rewards online at Virgin Atlantic Flying Club. Instead, you must call Flying Club to book. Fortunately the agents are usually very competent; in particular, most agents in the US are very familiar with booking ANA partner rewards.

The Bottom Line

If an airline offered First Class flights to Japan for £1,700, I suspect that a fair few readers would rush to the booking page. Unfortunately this travel hack requires a bit more effort, but you can still receive a great deal on First or Business Class flights to/from Japan, simply by buying Virgin Atlantic Flying Club miles during the month of November 2018…

P.S.  ANA First Class would be one of the highlights of your travel hacking life. 😉


  1. Ian McDowall says

    I don’t even have a flying club account yet, but this seems crazy to miss out on. I wouldn’t be able to use the points until 2020 due other bookings. So my question is do the points expire or is there any other problem that might cropbup due to the delay in using the points I might buy in November?

    • Craig Sowerby says

      I definitely wouldn’t buy miles speculatively at that price. The offer comes around a couple of times per year, and there are other ways to obtain Virgin miles cheaper (many of which we highlight when we can). So if you are thinking about 2020, don’t buy today… There’s also the chance that Virgin will devalue this award, since it is a quite popular sweetspot, especially in the US.

  2. Voltron says

    Are the £385 taxes for the return or single?
    Seems very good compared with typical BA taxes for CW approx £550/£600 etc

    • Matt B says

      You can generally get better ANA F availability from the East Coast of the US. It tends to be single seats from the UK.

      Plus taxes are less from the US. Japan regulates surcharges by law so it changes each quarter depending on the oil price.

  3. Sharon Croome says

    Ah, but is this into HND or NRT? When I’ve searched it seems that some are out of HND whilst others are out of NRT, some availability is better than others too and it seems difficult to get into and out of the same airport. So does that matter? How open jaw is it at the Japanese end?

    • Craig Sowerby says

      As far as I know there’s no issue whatsoever with flying into Haneda and out of Narita. It’s all TYO as far as the airlines are concerned. Haneda is certainly more convenient for central Tokyo, which is why some international flights are being permitted to move back to HND.

      I wish there were more long-haul options into Osaka… 🙂

  4. JB says

    Looking for a pair of F from LHR to HND for my honeymoon in December 2019. There is tons of availability for single seats – has anyone ever seen two out of London? Are ANA likely to release more closer to the time or shall I just give up now and fly Business from another European destination like Brussels / Munich / Dusseldorf etc.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *