Regular readers will know from my hotel reviews that I was out in Hong Kong, Japan and China over Easter. By coincidence, Anika was also in Tokyo for a few days as a guest of Japanese airline ANA / All Nippon Airways.
If you are considering travelling to Japan, the obvious options – especially if you want to earn Avios and British Airways tier points – are British Airways (two flights per day) and Japan Airlines (one flight per day).
There is a third airline flying directly from Heathrow to Tokyo – ANA. ANA runs a daily service, departing at 7pm. It flies to Tokyo Haneda, which is substantially more convenient than Tokyo Narita, used for one of the BA services.
ANA is a member of Star Alliance. This means that you can credit ANA flights to Lufthansa Miles & More, United MileagePlus, Singapore Airlines Krisflyer, ANA’s own Mileage Club or whichever other Star Alliance airline you prefer. You can also credit ANA flights to Virgin Flying Club.
ANA offered us a complimentary return Business Class ticket to Tokyo to review their seat and service. You can read Anika’s two part review tomorrow. As usual, Head for Points paid for all of its other expenses including hotel costs in Tokyo.
Using Virgin Flying Club miles to fly ANA
You can obviously redeem miles from any of the Star Alliance airlines for reward tickets on ANA.
You may not know, however, that ANA is also a Virgin Atlantic partner. You can redeem your Virgin Flying Club miles for tickets on ANA.
Even better, the rate is VERY attractive, especially when compared to an Avios redemption.
You can also earn Virgin Flying Club miles when booking cash tickets on ANA, if you want to steer your next business trip their way.
Assuming you are based in the UK, these are the key numbers you need to know:
Economy return flight (London to Tokyo) – 65,000 Virgin miles
Business return flight (London to Tokyo) – 95,000 Virgin miles
First return flight (London to Tokyo) – 120,000 Virgin miles
Note that one way redemptions are not possible.
These are exceptionally good rates in Business and First. For comparison, this is what you pay using Avios for a BA or JAL redemption:
Economy return flight (London to Tokyo) – 39,000 Avios off-peak / 60,000 Avios peak
Business return flight (London to Tokyo) – 150,000 Avios off-peak / 180,000 Avios peak
First return flight (London to Tokyo) – 204,000 Avios off-peak / 240,000 Avios peak
The price gap between Avios and Virgin miles is stunning. Even with a British Airways American Express 2-4-1 voucher, it is STILL a better deal to use Virgin miles most of the time when travelling Business or First Class.
Even better, there are no fuel surcharges added to ANA redemptions using Virgin miles. You will have to pay the usual Air Passenger Duty, Heathrow departure taxes etc.
If you can’t find availability on the ANA flights from London, they also fly to Tokyo from Frankfurt, Munich, Dusseldorf, Brussels and Paris. Virgin appears to have the same availability as Star Alliance partners and the Aeroplan (Air Canada) and United Airlines websites are both decent places to search for seats before calling Virgin to book.
So …. if my recent reviews have made you consider Japan for your next holiday, you should be seriously considering flying ANA using Virgin Flying Club miles. Anika’s review tomorrow will give you a good idea of what to expect in Business Class.
(Want to earn more Virgin Flying Club miles? Click here to see our recent articles on Virgin Atlantic and Flying Club and click here for our home page with the latest news on earning and spending other airline and hotel points.)