Why using Virgin Atlantic miles to book ANA is the best way to get to Japan

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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 and Japan Airlines.  If you don’t mind a longer journey, you can also use Finnair via Helsinki, Qatar Airways via Doha or Cathay Pacific via Hong Kong amongst other options.  These indirect flights are likely to be cheaper and will get you MORE BA tier points because you are taking multiple flights.

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 – Narita is about 40 miles from the city centre.

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.

We did a full review of ANA’s business class service to Tokyo in 2017, which you can read here.


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.  Ever since the amazing Virgin Atlantic redemption deal on Air China was killed off last year (see this article) I think that ANA is the best ‘sweet spot’ in Flying Club.

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.

You can see the Virgin Flying Club earning and spending chart for ANA on this page of the Virgin Atlantic website.

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 you are considering Japan for a 2019 holiday (get in before the 2020 Olympics creates a rush), you should be seriously considering flying ANA using Virgin Flying Club miles.  Take a look at our review if you want to learn more.

(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.)

HFP's full list of British Airways Avios redemption pricing by route
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  1. Don’t forget if you are tagging on Kyoto to your trip (which you really should) – you’ve only got a couple of months to redeem at the wonderful Ritz Carlton Kyoto for 60k points – just got 2.1p per Marriott point later this year 🙂
    Note the reward calendar on the Marriott site doesn’t seem accurate – make sure you check your specific dates for availability

  2. Christian says:

    I booked the ANA first class redemption last summer to fly this March – 120k miles plus £384. Used United to find availability and then phoned Virgin to book.

    • Any idea if it is same taxes for biz?


    • Did the same! Wanted 2 seats so trip to Washington DC first, and then to Tokyo and return to New York. 240k miles and £343 miles.

      Got fleeced on the flight LHR-IAD though. 90k miles and £900 for Virgin in PE!

  3. Does anyone who has booked the Europe routes know if the Taxes are much lower? Germany comes out cheapest usually I believe. Will the Taxes on United be correct?

    Going to the Rugby World cup so will be looking for 6 seats which means take what we can get!

    • You’ll be lucky for the RWC.

      Pretty much all ANA redemption to HND or NRT ex-UK and Europe in Bus and First are all gone or on the dreaded ANA waitlist – purgatory for a redemption play…

      • Waribai says:

        I was going to say…has anyone actually managed to successfully book this from LHR? I remember it used to be a running joke that even though the chart was there for all to see. There was zero availability 365 days per year…

        • Yep, booked for Oct (although probably going to be too busy seeing Japan to go to RWC!)

        • I booked last year for March from LHR. Reasonable availability in F – on two pairs of flights within a week of when I wanted to travel. I even switched dates a couple of times

  4. The ANA evening flight is very popular in our office as it allows a full UK days work, and arrives at in Tokyo mid afternoon at a more civilised time than the BA flights which are early morning.

    I think there may be a BA or JAL flight which now leaves Tokyo around midnight to get to London early in the morning, but previously the office strategy was to take ANA via Frankfurt as this allowed one to leave Tokyo late Friday night after a full day at work and be back in the UK for 9am Saturday.

  5. Antony Jackson says:

    I have done this for May this year with the VA miles earned, mostly via a VA credit card and a flight or two to the US, based on your earlier articles on this 🙂

    My partner is in First Class both ways, and I am in Business out and Economy back – but hope for further reward seats to become available – I keep checking – so can join them in First.

    Cost me £702 in taxes and fees as memory serves.

    • Antony, my question was going to be if it is possible to do mixed class redemptions as I have miles Y out and J back for two of us as the last of my credit card miles!

      Presumably this was easy over the phone?

  6. Can you use VFC 2-4-1 vouchers on ANA? If yes, with any class of booking or do you need Virgin tiers to match?

  7. Yep, it’s stunning value (and I’ve probably bored folk stupid in the comments with mentioning I’d booked it!).

    There are some YQ charges nowadays though – thankfully not as much as BA, but still noticeable…

    Base Fare
    USD 0.00
    Carrier-imposed Surcharge (YQ)
    GBP 165.60
    United Kingdom – Air Passenger Duty (APD) (GB)
    GBP 172.00
    United Kingdom – Passenger Service Charge (UB)
    GBP 46.62
    Japan – Passenger Service Facilities Charge (SW)
    GBP 17.70
    Total Amount
    GBP 401.92

    • Alan – love the detail, great score on your redemption.

      The YQ element isn’t as bad as BA/VS metal for a US trip.

  8. Oh wow.. i didn’t know about this!! Very good to know.

    Rob – perhaps one for the future but an article on good value Virgin partner redemptions would be super appreciated.

    • Agree. I’d value this too.

    • From London there isn’t much else. You can’t redeem Singapore Airlines from the UK due to the restrictions in the small print on aircraft types. The Air China deal is now very pricey.

      What IS also worth a look is Air New Zealand (but not from the UK as almost never availability, but for other routes – eg perhaps ANA to Tokyo and then Air New Zealand from Tokyo to Auckland) and Singapore Airlines for regional intra-Asia redemptions.

  9. barry cutters says:

    For me the biggest issue with ANA (via VFC) is the lack of availability . Having looked at this option a few times i seem to always have the same problem .
    Looking at the whole year i cant find any dates at all with 2x F seats , and only a handful with 2x J. -all midweek either late December/end Jan.
    My method of finding seats is by using the united website, Am i doing something wrong?

  10. O/T Virgin I need 2x upper returns for next December,the outgoing leg is available but the incoming leg is not available yet(T355).
    The taxes on one ways are ridiculous compared to returns.I am worried in a couple of weeks waiting that availability on the outgoing leg is gone.
    Anyone any ideas?

  11. I just the other day booked our trip to Japan with BA, Economy.
    I had a 2-4-1 voucher that I was unlikely to use on anything else before it expired so I used it on the economy flight (Don’t judge me!).
    So we got 2 return flights direct from London to Tokyo for 49500 points and £700. The cash value was £2000 with BA so I feel we got decent value from both the Avios and the 2-4-1. Pretty rare to get more than 1p value per avios on an economy flight so I was pleased.
    I can’t shake the feeling I have “wasted” my 2-4-1 though!

    • barry cutters says:

      Look at it this way – You have spent as follows;

      £195 card fee. (assuming this got you 25k avios & 241 voucher)
      25k additional avios = £250 worth of value
      £700 cash

      = Total spend of £1150 .
      To save yourself paying £2000 cash.
      Good value i would say.

      • Ah thanks that’s reassuring!
        In my head I was looking at the real cash value of the flights = £2000
        Economy return = 50k Avios + £350, so for two it is 100k avios + £700, which is roughly £1700. (Just over 1p per avios)
        Using 2-4-1 this reduces to 50k Avios + £700, which is roughly £1200. (Around 2.6p per avios)
        So the 2-4-1 “saved” me £500 (of avios).

      • Genghis says:

        And a 241 that is not going to otherwise be used should really be valued at zero.

  12. When you book on ANA out of Europe with VS Miles, can you add a connecting flight to the same ticket and pay for that in cash? Or would you have to book separate tickets and collect your luggage and re-check it?

    • You can never mix miles and cash bookings on the same booking reference. That said, ANA may be more flexible than BA on checking through bags IF the other airline is in Star Alliance.

    • Sadly no connecting flights possible as they won’t do redemptions and can’t mix cash and redemption in same PNR. Same issue when doing SQ redemptions, even though for a cash ticket for VS or SQ you would get it on Flybe (from EDI at least).

    • Richard says:

      If you’re looking to connect to a domestic flight within Japan, no point in interlining anyway. You always have to collect your baggage at Haneda and re-check for the domestic flight (at the ANA or JAL domestic terminal).

  13. O/T On the Flying Club site it says you can earn 2 miles per £1 spent on Virgin Experiences:

    I’ve been through the checkout process for a Virgin Experience and can’t find anywhere to enter my FC number.

    Any suggestions?

  14. Was hoping to pick up a couple of the 120,000 point deals purely on incidental spending at Waitrose via the Virgin tie up. Only another 116,000 to go unless they pull this deal like China and it’s in the bag…..

  15. Has anyone received the points from the life insurance offer half a year ago?

    • Nothing as of this morning, have kept the premium running for the time being just in case of any issues.

    • Nope – not yet! Still within the 60 day time frame.

    • Scallder says:

      Not yet – was due within 60 days of 6th payment, and my 6th payment was start of January so have it noted for 2nd March is my 60 days after my 6th payment.

    • Not due for another month IIRC?

  16. Perfectly timed article Rob!

    During the Rugby World Cup I got:

    LHR – HND Outbound
    NRT – BRU Return

    then separately for £50 BRU – BHX.

    95k miles + £410 for Business on ANA.
    Real bargain! Especially during the World Cup.

    • fantastic – what dates?

      WIth uber restricted dates I am having to go….

      LHR-ICN with 2-4-1 in Bus, then local hop ICN-TYO

      HND-CDG FIrst – but 240k – ouch – then hop to UK

      Some ok ex-EUR cash J fares still available

  17. funkypigeon says:

    OT: Some inspiration needed.

    I have a BA 2-4-1 voucher and 193,000 Avios in my household account.

    Really want to go to Tokyo but noticed this is around 444,000 Avios return First Class (no issue with the 2-4-1 voucher) but around £1100 in taxes.

    I don’t know if there is another place that’s excellent to visit but would cost less Avios and less taxes? It might be an option to go FC and return CW. Is there a massive difference between the two?

    Some advice and inspiration as to how you would spend the above would be appreciated.

    • barry cutters says:

      in to Beijing and out of Hong Kong.
      Free 144h visa.

      visit the wallall etc. then few days in Hong Kong


      Use 241 and stopovers, separate Avios redemptions in Business, no issue with time diff.

      Or LHR-GRU, good availability in F and J, little time diff and amazing beaches north of São Paulo.

      • ….and if you want to watch the rugby, and have time, and want F, consider going to TYO via Canada…..

      • funkypigeon says:

        Thank you for the recommendations! Would the 2-4-1 only be used on the LHR-JNB and then the JNB-LHR coming back? So that’s South Africa and Zimbabwe? I’m not clued up on my airport codes ;). Why would you recommend?

        • yep, that’s right. Plenty to see in Cape Town and Vic Falls.

          Or don’t use 241 as the £1200 BA Club fare with car hire still works….

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