Maximise your Avios, air miles and hotel points

Why using Virgin Points on ANA is the best way to use air miles to get to Japan

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

If you are considering travelling to Japan next year as the country starts to reopen, the obvious options – especially if you want to earn Avios and British Airways tier points – are British Airways and Japan Airlines.

(Japan Airlines is a member of the oneworld alliance, alongside BA, so you can earn Avios and Executive Club tier points, and spend Avios, on its flights.)

using Virgin Points on ANA is the best way to use air miles to get to Japan

There is another option ….

There is a third airline flying directly from Heathrow to Tokyo – ANA.  ANA runs a daily service, departing at 7pm from Heathrow Terminal 2, to Tokyo Haneda, the nearest airport to the city.

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.  

How to use Virgin Points 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 points for tickets on ANA. 

Even better, the rate is VERY attractive, especially when compared to an Avios redemption.

You can also earn Virgin Points when booking cash tickets on ANA, if you want to steer your next business trip their way.

Using ANA miles on Virgin Atlantic to Japan

How many Virgin Points do I need to fly ANA?

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 Points
  • Business return flight (London to Tokyo) – 95,000 Virgin Points
  • First return flight (London to Tokyo) – 120,000 Virgin Points

One way redemptions are possible for half of the above cost.

Availability seems to be limited to ONE First Class seat per flight, especially on the aircraft with the new ‘THE Suite’ product which we discuss below. This is not a great option for a couple unless you book one seat and wait to see if another is released later.

You cannot book ANA redemptions online. You need to call Virgin Atlantic which is, unfortunately, not always easy at present.

Virgin Atlantic lets you book 331 days in advance

Virgin Atlantic only allows you book rewards 331 days in advance.

Whilst this does not sound like a problem, ANA itself opens up its flights for booking at 355 days before departure.

This puts an additional squeeze on reward availability using Virgin Points, since reward seats can be snapped up by ANA’s own frequent flyers or members of partner programmes which work on a 355 day basis before you have a chance to book.

Use Virgin Points on ANA

How does this compare with Avios pricing?

These are exceptionally good rates in Business and First.  For comparison, this is what you pay using Avios for a British Airways redemption using the ‘middle price’ which is usually the best value:

  • 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 Points is stunning.  Even with a British Airways American Express 2-4-1 voucher, it is STILL a better deal to use Virgin Points most of the time when travelling in Business or First Class.

Historically there were no fuel charges added to ANA redemptions using Virgin Points which kept taxes and charges from the UK at around £250. During the pandemic, however, ANA has had a couple of rounds of surcharge increases. From 1st August 2022, the surcharge alone will be £281 return when travelling from the UK (€315 from Europe). I haven’t seen a recent example but you should expect to pay nearer £700-£800 return in taxes and charges in total.

ANA has various European route options

If you can’t find availability on the ANA flights from London, they also flew – pre coronavirus – to Tokyo from Frankfurt, Munich, Dusseldorf, Brussels, Vienna and Paris.  It is not clear how many of these routes will eventually return.

The current schedule for Autumn 2022 is:

  • Frankfurt – 10x weekly on a Boeing 787-9
  • London Heathrow – 7x weekly, split between a Boeing 787-9 and 777-300ER
  • Paris CDG – 3x weekly on a Boeing 787-8
  • Brussels – 2x weekly on a Boeing 787-9

Virgin Flying Club appears to have access to the same availability as Star Alliance partners. The Aeroplan (Air Canada) and United Airlines websites are both decent places to search for seats before calling Virgin Flying Club to book.

Is ANA any good?

Oh yes.

In 2019, ANA launched a new Business and First Class seat on its Boeing 777-300ER aircraft, and the London route was the first to get it.  It looks rather good, to put it mildly.

Note that some flights from London are currently operated with a Boeing 787-9. These aircraft do not have First Class or the new business class product. You need to look for flights marked 77W.

The First Class suites, known as ‘THE Suite’, are arranged in a 1-2-1 configuration.  Finished in dark woods, there are two only rows which make this an intimate cabin:

ANA first class the suite

The seat almost takes the full width of the suite, with only a thin slither along the side given over to storage or as an armrest. There is also an exceptionally large 43” screen which has a 4K display.

THE Room is ANA’s new Businesss Class product.  Club World style, half of the seats face forwards and half face backwards.

If you look at the photo below the first thing that will strike you is how disproportionately wide the seat is.  Look at the head rest.  You can see the protective cover, which is about what you’d expect the seat width to be. THE Room looks like it is twice as wide – more sofa-like than a seat! ANA says that THE Room has twice the width of their old business class seat (click for Anika’s flight review) which is not hard to believe.

Of course, this is business class and the trade-off is that it does taper into a cubby hole where your feet end up.  Nonetheless, the extra width at torso and shoulder height makes sitting and sleeping in this seat feel a lot less cramped.  It is a very clever piece of design.

ANA business class the room

I haven’t flown THE Room but I have sat in the seat at a media event.  It is, genuinely, huge.  At one point there were two of us sat side by side on the seat and we were able to have a normal conversation, with a decent bit of space between us.

Not content with a sliding door, THE Room also has a second opening which slides up and down.  This allows the crew to pass food to you whilst the door is closed, getting around one of the biggest issues with Club Suite and Qsuite.  The 24 inch 4K TV also looked very impressive, although it was not operating.

ANA business class the room

Conclusion

If Japan is on your radar for a post-covid break, you should be seriously considering flying ANA using your Virgin Flying Club points.

Remember that flying out of Frankfurt may make it easier to find availability, but you won’t be able to experience the new Business Class and First Class suites this way.

Comments (35)

  • MarkSX says:

    I’m based in Singapore these days, assume I can use Virgin points to redeem ANA as well out of Singapore?

  • Howard says:

    This looks brilliant, especially for a Tokyo to Heathrow flight where the fees are miniscule!
    Is it possible to use a Virgin Companion Reward Ticket against an ANA flight Please?
    Thanks

    • Waribai says:

      It is brilliant until you are in Tokyo and ANA cancels/changes flight number and your booking is cancelled. They won’t put you on another flight as your journey originates in Tokyo and they have given you 7+ days notice. This is Virgin’s problem. You are then left looking for a way to get back home!

      • Andrew says:

        I just found myself in that situation. I mean, there’s buyer beware and then there’s that. They can cancel routes and suffer no implications whatsoever. I’d really think twice before banking on these reservations.

        Also, about that award availability…

  • John says:

    No way Japan will reopen in 2023

Leave a comment

Your email address will not be published.

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

The UK's biggest frequent flyer website uses cookies, which you can block via your browser settings. Continuing implies your consent to this policy. Our privacy policy is here.