Maximise your Avios, air miles and hotel points

Why Virgin Atlantic miles to book ANA flights is the best way to get to Japan in Business or First Class

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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

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.


How to earn Virgin Points from UK credit cards

How to earn Virgin Points from UK credit cards (May 2022)

As a reminder, there are various ways of earning Virgin Points from UK credit cards.  Many cards also have generous sign-up bonuses.

You can choose from two official Virgin Atlantic credit cards (apply here, one has a bonus of 30,000 points until 6th June 2022):

Virgin Rewards Plus credit card

Virgin Atlantic Reward+ Mastercard

30,000 points bonus (SPECIAL OFFER) and 1.5 points for every £1 you spend Read our full review

Virgin Rewards credit card

Virgin Atlantic Reward Mastercard

A generous earning rate for a free card at 0.75 points per £1 Read our full review

You can also earn Virgin Points from various American Express cards – and these have sign-up bonuses too.

American Express Preferred Rewards Gold is FREE for a year and comes with 20,000 Membership Rewards points, which convert into 20,000 Virgin Points:

American Express Amex Gold

American Express Preferred Rewards Gold

Your best beginner’s card – 20,000 points, FREE for a year & two airport lounge passes Read our full review

The Platinum Card from American Express comes with 30,000 Membership Rewards points, which convert into 30,000 Virgin Points.

The Platinum Card has doubled its sign-up bonus to 60,000 Membership Rewards points, which convert to 60,000 Virgin Points, if you apply by 1st June 2022.

American Express Platinum card Amex

The Platinum Card from American Express

60,000 points (SPECIAL OFFER) and an unbeatable set of travel benefits – for a fee Read our full review

Small business owners should consider the two American Express Business cards. Points convert at 1:1 into Virgin Points.

Amex Platinum Business American Express

American Express Business Platinum

40,000 points sign-up bonus and a long list of travel benefits Read our full review

American Express Business Gold

20,000 points sign-up bonus and free for a year Read our full review

Click here to read our detailed summary of all UK credit cards which earn Virgin Points

(Want to earn more Virgin Points?  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.)

Comments (55)

This article is closed to new comments. Feel free to ask your question in the HfP forums.

  • 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

      • funkypigeon says:

        Is Hong Kong extortionate? How would you get from Beijing to Hong Kong?

    • SB says:

      (AMS)-LHR-JNB-VFA/LVI-CPT-JNB-LHR

      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.

      • SB says:

        ….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?

        • SB says:

          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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