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

Links on Head for Points may pay us an affiliate commission. A list of partners is here.

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.

How to earn Virgin Atlantic miles from UK credit cards

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

Click here to read our detailed summary of all UK credit cards which earn Virgin Flying Club miles.  That page is regularly updated with the latest special offers and will still be accurate even if you are reading this article months after publication.

(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
New kids pool opens at Four Seasons Hampshire

Click here to join the 15,000 people on our email list and receive the latest Avios, miles and points news by 6am.

Amazon ad
Get points worth 15,000 Avios as a sign-up bonus!
15,000 Avios with Capital on Tap Mastercard
About Head for Points

We help business and leisure travellers maximise their Avios, frequent flyer miles and hotel loyalty points. Visit every day for three new articles or sign up for our FREE emails via this page or the box to your right.


  1. 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).

  2. 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?

  3. 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…..

  4. 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?

  5. 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

  6. 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….

Please click here to read our data protection policy before submitting your comment.