The Best Ways to Fly to Japan With Points and Miles [Step-by-Step]

Fujiyoshida Japan

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Temples, palaces, bullet trains, skiing, and gourmet restaurants are a few of the things that come to mind when you think of Japan. With its capital in Tokyo, Japan offers a number of cities to visit including Okinawa, Kyoto, Osaka, and Sapporo.

There are 2 major airports that travelers can fly nonstop to Japan from the U.S.: Haneda (HND) is south of Tokyo with less nonstop options from the U.S., while Narita (NRT) is located east of Tokyo with more nonstop options from the US.

Best Programs to Use to Book Flights

For U.S. travelers, you’ll have no problem booking flights to Japan with a number of flight options no matter where you live in the U.S.

Airline members in the Oneworld, SkyTeam, and Star Alliance all offer flights between the U.S. and Japan — great news as you’ll have a number of ways to use your miles and points.

It’s important to note that award pricing in this article is shown as round-trip. ANA Star Alliance and Virgin Atlantic ANA flights must be booked round-trip, however, all other flights can be booked one-way. With that said, let’s dive into the award options to book your next flight to Japan!

Virgin Atlantic Flying Club

ANA First Class Cabin, Boeing 777,
Use Virgin Atlantic miles to fly ANA first class to Japan. Image Credit: Alex Miller

Virgin Atlantic, a non-airline alliance member similar to Alaska Airlines and Etihad, is a program that offers insane value when booking partner airline flights to Japan. The airline has partnerships with a number of airlines, including ANA, that will help you to unlock a ton of value.

Cabin ClassANA Miles Cost Taxes & Fees
Economy60,000-65,000$272+
Business90,000-95,000$272+
First110,000-120,000$272+

The 2 downsides to this redemption are that ANA award flights can’t be booked on the Virgin Atlantic website and must be round-trip. For those wanting the flexibility of booking one-way flights, there are other programs like Alaska Airlines that you can use to book one-way flights from the U.S. to Japan.

Hot Tip: If you’re looking to receive amazing value, watch for the 30% American Express to Virgin Atlantic transfer bonus. Instead of using 110,000 Virgin Atlantic miles to fly ANA first class from the West Coast to Japan, you’ll only need 85,000 Virgin Atlantic miles to book ANA round trip first class!

Here are a couple of ANA award flight options, among many, that you can use Virgin Atlantic miles to book:

  • Los Angeles (LAX) – Narita (NRT) for 90,000 Virgin Atlantic miles in ANA business class
  • New York (JFK) – Haneda (HND) for 120,000 Virgin Atlantic miles in ANA first class

With the Virgin Atlantic miles in your account, use these steps to help book the flight:

  1. Search for ANA flights on United Airlines.
  2. Write down the flight details.
  3. Call Virgin Atlantic at 800-365-9500 to book the flight.
  4. Pay the taxes and fees.

Earning Virgin Atlantic Flying Club Miles

Earning Virgin Atlantic miles is easy because of the partnerships the airline has with American Express, Chase, Citi, and Marriott Bonvoy. In addition, Virgin Atlantic has co-branded credit cards that earn miles directly with your spend.

If you want to use transferable points, keep these transfer ratios and transfer times in mind: Amex point transfers take 1-2 days at a 1:1 ratio, Chase points transfer instantly at a 1:1 ratio, Citi point transfers take 2 days at a 1:1 ratio, and Marriott point transfers take 1 day at a 3:1 ratio. With every 60,000 Marriott points that you transfer, you’ll receive 5,000 bonus miles.

Recommended Chase Cards (Personal)

Chase Sapphire Preferred® Card - This is our favorite beginners travel rewards card which has a 60,000 point bonus (highest ever) after you spend $4,000 on purchases in the first 3 months from account opening.

This sign up bonus is worth $750 in travel purchases (flights, hotels, car rentals etc) when you redeem your points through Chase's travel portal, which works like Expedia. The bonus alone could get you multiple round-trip flights or hotel stays.
Chase Sapphire Reserve® - Consider this premium card if you want to get into a lot of airport lounges. The current sign up bonus is 50,000 points after you spend $4,000 on purchases in the first 3 months from account opening. You'll also get a $300 travel credit per year which wipes away a big chunk of the $550 annual fee.
Chase Freedom Unlimited® - A simple, no annual fee card that earns you a $150 bonus after you spend $500 in your first 3 months. Easy earning at 1.5% on all purchases. Just know that you won't get any travel benefits or the ability to earn bonus points with this card.

Recommended Chase Cards (Business)

Ink Business Preferred℠ Credit Card - This is our #1 recommended business card and comes with a whopping 80,000 sign up bonus after you spend $5,000 on purchases in the first 3 months after account opening. This bonus is worth $1,000 when you redeem through Chase Ultimate Rewards for travel purchases (flights, hotels etc). Also, if you pay for your cell phone bill with this card, you can get up to $600 in cell phone insurance coverage per year.
Ink Business Cash℠ Credit Card - earn $500 bonus cash back after you spend $3,000 on purchases in the first 3 months after account opening. In addition, get up to 5% cash back on a range of business expenses such as office supply stores, internet, cable, and phone services. This is one of the best no annual fee business cards.

Bottom Line: Booking ANA award flights with Virgin Atlantic miles during the American Express 30% transfer bonus is the way to go. Even if the timeline of the American Express transfer bonus doesn’t line up with your travel schedule, you can still fly round trip business or first class from the U.S. to Japan with only 90,000-95,000 or 110,000-120,000 miles respectively. 

Alaska Airlines Mileage Plan

Greg Stone - Cathay Pacific Airbus A350 Business Class
Use Alaska Airlines miles to fly Cathay Pacific business class to Japan. Image Credit: Greg Stone

Alaska Airlines’ Mileage Plan is an incredible award program that you should consider using to book award flights to Japan. Alaska Airlines is not in an airline alliance and instead has individual airline partnerships.

Cabin ClassAirlineMiles CostTaxes & Fees
EconomyAmerican Airlines65,000$110+
Business120,000$110+
First160,000$110+
EconomyJapan Airlines70,000$110+
Business120,000$110+
First140,000$110+
EconomyCathay Pacific60,000$338+
Business100,000$338+
First*140,000$338+

*Cathay Pacific only flies First Class between Hong Kong (HKG) and Haneda (NHD)

The challenge with using Mileage Plan is that Alaska Airlines miles can be tough to earn. If you can find ways to earn Alaska miles, you’ll be able to unlock value for not only flights to Japan but across the world.

Hot Tip: The way to unlock the most value when redeeming Alaska Airlines miles is to book a stopover. This is where the Alaska Airlines program really shines. Not only can you book one-way partner airline flights, but you can also book a stopover on each one-way flight that you book. 

With enough Alaska Airlines miles in your Mileage Plan account, here are a couple of flights to consider booking:

  • New York (JFK) – Haneda (HND) for 120,000 Alaska miles in Japan Airlines business class
  • Dallas-Fort Worth (DFW) – Narita (NRT) for 140,000 Alaska miles in Japan Airlines first class
  • Los Angeles (LAX) – Hong Kong (HKG) – Haneda (HND) for 140,000 Alaska miles in Cathay Pacific first class

When you’re ready to book your flight, follow the steps below to help with the booking process for American Airlines and Japan Airlines flights:

  1. Search for award flights on Alaska Airlines.
  2. Book the flight online.
  3. Pay the taxes and fees that include a $12.50 partner award flight booking fee.

For those of you booking Cathay Pacific award flights, the process is slightly different:

  1. Search for award flights on British Airways or Qantas.
  2. Call Alaska Airlines at 800-252-7522 between 5:00 a.m. – Midnight PST.
  3. Book the flight over the phone.
  4. Pay the taxes and fees.

When asked to pay the phone booking fee for Cathay Pacific award flights, simply ask the agent to waive the fee.

Hot Tip: Cathay Pacific award flights can’t be booked online, so the phone agent should be able to waive the phone booking fee.

Earning Alaska Airlines Miles

It can be difficult to earn miles on Alaska Airlines miles as they only partner with 1 transferable point program in Marriott Bonvoy and co-branded credit cards don’t come with sizable welcome offers.

For those of you wanting to transfer Marriott points to Alaska Airlines, point transfers take 4 days at a 3:1 ratio. Separately, you’ll receive a 5,000-mile bonus with every 60,000 Marriott points that you transfer to Alaska. With that said, these are the Marriott cards we recommend:

Marriott Bonvoy Boundless™ Credit Card - Earn 100,000 bonus points after spending $5,000 on purchases in the first 3 months from account opening. Get automatic silver elite status each account anniversary year; and a free night award (valued up to 35,000 points) every year after account anniversary.
Marriott Bonvoy Bold™ Credit Card - Limited Time Offer: Earn 50,000 bonus points when you spend $2,000 on purchases in the first 3 months of account opening. Earn 3X points per $1 at participating Marriott Bonvoy hotels. A solid card for Marriott loyalisty looking for a no-annual-fee card offering Marriott Bonvoy Silver Elite status.
Marriott Bonvoy Business™ American Express® Card - earn 75,000 bonus points when you spend $3,000 on purchases in the first 3 months of account opening. A solid card for business owners who will get complimentary Marriott Bonvoy silver elite status. Annual fee is $125. For rates and fees of the Bonvoy Business Card, click here.

Bottom Line: Alaska Airlines offers competitive pricing for American Airlines, Cathay Pacific, and Japan Airlines economy, business, and first class flights to Japan. When you factor in the ability to book a stopover, it’s easy to see how much value you can get out of your Alaska Airlines miles. 

American Airlines AAdvantage

AA 777 Business Class
Use American Airlines miles to fly American Airlines to Japan. Image Credit: American Airlines
Cabin ClassPartnerMiles CostTaxes & Fees
EconomyAmerican Airlines65,000$110+
Business120,000$110+
First160,000$110+
EconomyOther Oneworld Partners70,000$110+
Business120,000$110+
First160,000$110+

American Airlines is in the Oneworld Alliance, so you can use American Airlines AAdvantage miles to fly both American Airlines and Oneworld airline flights from the U.S. to Japan.

One of the main drawbacks of American is that you’ll pay a premium, relative to other programs, to fly business class. With that said, you’re better off using Etihad and/or Japan Airlines to fly American and/or Oneworld business class flights to Japan.

Hot Tip: American Airlines and Oneworld partner flights can be booked on the American website. This reduces the amount of time needed to book an award flight. 

Here are 2 flights to consider when you have the required number of AAdvantage miles in your account:

  • San Francisco (SFO) – Haneda (HND) for 120,000 American miles in Japan Airlines business class
  • Chicago (ORD) – Narita (NRT) for 120,000 American miles in American Airlines business class

You’ll want to follow these steps when you’ve decided to book a flight:

  1. Search for flights on American Airlines.
  2. Book the flight online.
  3. Pay the taxes and fees.

Earning American Airlines Miles

You’ll have no problem earning American Airlines miles because the airline offers a number of co-branded credit cards and partners with Marriott Bonvoy.

If you’re looking to transfer points from Marriott, the point transfers take 2 days at a 3:1 ratio. With every 60,000 points that you transfer, you’ll receive a 5,000-mile bonus.

Bottom Line: In addition to booking award flights to the Middle East, using AAdvantage miles for flights to Asia represents one of the best ways to use your miles

ANA Mileage Club

Japan Airlines Business Class Sky Suite
Pick a window seat to have the best business class experience on Japan Airlines. Image Credit: Japan Airlines
Cabin ClassPartnerMiles CostTaxes & Fees
EconomyANA40,000-50,000$272+
Business75,000-85,000$272+
First150,000$272+
EconomyOther Star Alliance Partner60,000$97+
Business95,000$97+
First180,000$97+

The first Star Alliance program to consider is ANA Mileage Club. What you’ll find with ANA is that the program has high-value award redemptions to a number of places including Japan.

One of the main drawbacks of booking an ANA partner flight is that the flight must be booked round-trip. If you book direct on ANA (not via a partner), you can book one-way award flights.

Hot Tip: The way to receive the most value with ANA is to book award flights during off-peak dates. January 7 – February 28 and April 1-25 are the lowest off-peak award price dates, followed by March 1-31, May 8 – July 24, and August 20 – December 17 as the second-lowest off-peak dates in 2019. 

Below are a couple of options to consider when you have Mileage Club miles in your ANA account:

  • Houston (IAH) – Narita (NRT) for 40,000 ANA miles in ANA economy during Low Season
  • Los Angeles (LAX) – Haneda (HND) for 75,000 ANA miles in ANA business class during Low Season

With the required number of ANA miles in your account, follow these steps to book your next award flight:

  1. Search for flights on United.
  2. Confirm the same availability on ANA.
  3. Book the flight online.
  4. Pay the taxes and fees.

Earning ANA Miles

It’s relatively easy to earn ANA miles because ANA has partnerships with American Express and Marriott Bonvoy. The points earned in these programs can be transferred directly to ANA. Unfortunately, ANA doesn’t offer a co-branded credit card for the U.S. market.

For those of you with American Express and/or Marriott points, the Amex point transfers take 2-3 days at a 1:1 ratio and Marriott point transfers take 7 days at a 3:1 ratio. If you’re looking to earn Amex points, here are the Amex credit cards that we recommend:

Recommended Amex Cards (Personal)

The Platinum Card® from American Express - There's currently a welcome bonus of 60,000 points after spending $5,000 in your first 3 months, worth at least $600.

This is our favorite card for getting into 1,200+ airport lounges worldwide (including Priority Pass) and we get about $2,700+ in value from the card every year.

The card can get you up to $200 in Uber credits annually ($15 per month and a $20 bonus in December) — and up to $200 in annual credit for airline incidental charges (e.g. baggage or seat selection fees). There's even a $100 Saks Fifth Avenue credit, annually. For rates and fees of the Platinum Card, click here.
American Express® Gold Card - We love using this card as it earns 4x points at restaurants worldwide and 4x points at US supermarkets (up to $25,000; then 1x). There's no better card in our opinion if you eat out and/or shop at supermarkets regularly.

With a welcome bonus of 35,000 points after you spend $4,000 in your first 3 months and a $100 airfare credit per year, for many this is an easy addition to your wallet. For rates and fees of the Gold Card, click here.

Recommended Amex Cards (Business)

The Business Platinum Card® from American Express - Right now, there's a welcome bonus of up to 75,000 points. Earn 50,000 points after you spend $10,000 and an extra 25,000 after you spend an additional $10,000, on purchases within the first 3 months.

We get ~$5,525+ in value per year by leveraging many of the benefits & perks.

This is the best business card for lounge access as you'll get into 1,200+ airport lounges worldwide. For rates and fees of the Business Platinum, click here.
American Express® Business Gold Card - probably our favorite Amex business card because we earn 4x points across the top 2 select categories that we spend the most money in each month. The 4x points applies to the first $150,000 in combined purchases from these 2 categories each calendar year. This means you'll max out at a (whopping) 600,000 points per year. After that, you earn 1x. For rates and fees of the Business Gold Card, click here.
The Blue Business® Plus Credit Card from American Express - This is a simple card that earns you 2x points on any business purchase, up to $50,000 annually (then 1x). That makes for an easy 100,000 points per year! The card has no annual fee. For rates and fees of the Blue Business Plus, click here.

Bottom Line: Aeroplan, Avianca, Singapore Airlines, and United are additional programs that you can use to search Star Alliance award flights. Of all these websites, United Airlines is the best website to use to search for Star Alliance award flights. 

Etihad Guest

Use Etihad Guest miles to fly American Airlines business class to Japan. Image Credit: American Airlines

Joining Alaska Airlines as an airline that is not in an airline alliance is Etihad and its Etihad Guest program. Etihad has partnerships with a number of airlines but for this redemption, you’ll want to focus on American Airlines flights.

Cabin ClassAmerican Airlines Miles Cost Taxes & Fees
Economy Off-Peak50,000$110+
Economy65,000$110+
Business100,000$110+
First125,000$110+

The award rates to fly American Airlines are competitive, however, the main drawback with Etihad is that these flights can’t be booked on the Etihad website. Instead, you’ll have to call Etihad to book the flight.

Hot Tip: The Etihad Guest agents are competent so you should have no problem booking its airline partner flights over the phone. 

If flying American Airlines using Etihad miles makes sense for you, here are a couple of flight ideas to check out:

  • Dallas (DFW) – Narita (NRT) for 50,000 Etihad miles in American Airlines economy
  • Los Angeles (LAX) – Haneda (HND) for 100,000 Etihad miles in American Airlines business class

When you’re ready to book an American Airlines award flight, here are the booking process steps:

  1. Search for American Airlines flights on British Airways.
  2. Write down all of the flight details.
  3. Call Etihad at 877-690-0767 to confirm award availability.
  4. Book the flight over the phone.
  5. Pay the taxes and fees over the phone.

Earning Etihad Guest Miles

You’ll have no problem earning Etihad Guest miles because the airline has partnerships with American Express, Capital One, Citi, and Marriott Bonvoy. The points earned in all of these programs can be transferred directly to Etihad. Separately, Etihad doesn’t offer a credit card for the U.S. market so transferable points will be one of the main ways to earn Etihad miles.

Keep the transfer ratios and transfer times in mind if you’re using points: American Express points transfer instantly at a 1:1 ratio, Capital One point transfers take 36 hours at 2:1.5 ratio, Citi point transfers take 6 days at a 1:1 ratio, and Marriott point transfers take 5 days at a 3:1 ratio.

With that said, below are some of the Capital One and Citi credit cards we recommend:

Recommended Capital One Cards (Personal)

Capital One® Venture® Rewards Credit Card - This card is packed with a lot more benefits and perks. Earn a 50,000 mile sign up bonus (worth $500 toward travel) once you spend $3,000 on purchases within 3 months from account opening. We recommend this as a no-brainer card if you even semi-regularly stay at hotels.
Capital One® VentureOne® Rewards Credit Card - This is an excellent card for those looking to earn 1.25x miles per $1 on every purchase. With a 20,000 mile sign up bonus (worth $200 toward travel) after spending $1,000 within the first 3 months and no annual fee, it's a strong choice.

Citi also have a number of business cards.

Recommended Citi Cards

CREDIT CARDCARD INFO
Citi ThankYou® Premier Card
  • Earn 60,000 bonus ThankYou® Points after you spend $4,000 in purchases within the first 3 months of account opening. Redeemable for $750 in Airfare at ThankYou.com
  • 3 ThankYou® Points per $1 spent on Travel, including Gas Stations
  • 2 points per $1 spent on dining/entertainment
  • Annual Fee: $95
Citi Prestige® Card
  • Earn 50,000 bonus points after spending $4,000 within 3 months of account opening. Redeemable for $500 in Airfare at ThankYou.com
  • 5 ThankYou® Points per $1 spent on Airfare and Restaurants
  • 3 points per $1 spent on Hotels and Cruise Lines
  • Annual Fee: $495

Bottom Line: Etihad should be one of the first award programs you look at to fly American Airlines flights at competitive award rates. 

Japan Airlines Mileage Bank

japan airlines first class
Use Japan Airlines miles to fly Japan Airlines first class to Japan. Image Credit: Japan Airlines

The second Oneworld member to consider using for flights to Japan is Japan Airlines. Using Japan Airlines miles is a great option because you have the option to fly either American Airlines or Japan Airlines flights.

Cabin ClassAirlineMiles CostTaxes & Fees
EconomyAmerican Airlines60,000+$110+
Business110,000+$110+
First160,000+$110+
EconomyJapan Airlines50,000$110+
Business100,000$110+
First140,000$110+

Japan Airlines miles are challenging to earn, which is one of the main downsides of using the Mileage Bank Program. If you can find ways to earn the miles, you’ll expose yourself to competitive award pricing for flights around the world.

Hot Tip: We recommend using Great Circle Mapper to calculate the distance of your flight and the number of miles that you’ll need when using Japan Airlines. The reason being is because Japan Airlines uses a distance-based award chart. 

For flights to Japan, here are a couple of American Airlines and Japan Airlines flights that you can book with your miles:

  • Boston (BOS) – Narita (NRT) for 50,000 Japan Airlines miles in Japan Airlines economy
  • Los Angeles (LAX) – Haneda (HND) for 100,000 Japan Airlines miles in American Airlines economy

The booking process with Japan Airlines is straightforward:

  1. Search for flights on British Airways.
  2. Confirm the same award availability on Japan Airlines.
  3. Book the award flight online.
  4. Pay the taxes and fees.

Earning Japan Airlines Miles

As mentioned earlier, it’s tough to earn Japan Airlines miles as the airline only partners with Marriott Bonvoy. On top of that, Japan Airlines doesn’t offer a co-branded credit card to the U.S. market with a sizeable welcome offer.

The transfer time for Marriott points to Japan Airlines takes 2 days at a 3:1 ratio. Separately, for every 60,000 Marriott points that you transfer, you’ll receive a 5,000-mile transfer bonus.

Bottom Line: Japan Airlines offers one of the cheapest ways to fly Oneworld airline flights between the U.S. and Japan. 

Korean Air SKYPASS

Korean Air first class
Use Korean Air miles to fly Korean Air first class to Japan. Image Credit: Stephen Au

The lone SkyTeam partner making the list is the Korean Air SKYPASS program. Korean Air is known for a couple of things: the quality of its business and first class cabins and offering competitive award pricing on select routes, including round trip flights in Korean Air business class flights to Japan from the U.S.

Cabin ClassKorean Air Cost Taxes & Fees
Economy70,000$290+
Business125,000$290+
First160,000$290+

Similar to Japan Airlines, many of you will find it difficult to earn Korean Air miles. However, if you can find a way to build a sizable Korean Air mileage balance, you’ll be able to book competitive award flights.

Hot Tip: Korean Air uses region-based award charts. This means that it will cost the same number of miles to fly from any city in the region of your departure to any city in the region of your arrival. 

Korean Air is the airline you’ll fly between the U.S. and Japan on flights like these:

  • Atlanta (ATL) – Seoul (ICN) – Narita (NRT) for 70,000 Korean Air miles in Korean Air economy
  • Dallas (DFW) – Seoul – Haneda (HND) for 160,000 Korean Air miles in Korean Air first class

Here are the steps to book an award flight with Korean Air:

  1. Search for flights on Air France, Delta, or KLM.
  2. Confirm the same award availability on Korean Air.
  3. Book the award flight online.
  4. Pay the taxes and fees.

Earning Korean Air Miles

A combination of co-branded credit cards and Marriott points will likely make it easier to earn Korean Air miles. Korean Air has a partnership with Marriott and also offers a co-branded credit card to the U.S. market.

For those looking to transfer Marriott points directly to Korean Air, the transfer time takes 2 days at a 3:1 ratio. You’ll also receive a 5,000-mile bonus with every 60,000 Marriott points that you transfer.

Bottom Line: Korean Air offers competitive award pricing to Japan. The problem many travelers will face is earning enough miles to book an award flight

Final Thoughts

With the 2020 Summer Olympics in Tokyo coming up, you may be looking for the best way to book an award flight to Japan. As we covered in this article, there are 7 excellent programs to use to book an award flight.

To give you the most award flight flexibility, we recommend earning transferable points from American Express, Capital One, Chase, Citi, and Marriott Bonvoy. These points will help you to unlock value in any of the programs that we discussed.


Frequently asked questions

How do I use AAdvantage miles on JAL?

American Airlines and Japan Airlines are members of the Oneworld Airline Alliance. This means that you can redeem American Airlines AAdvantage miles to fly not only Japan Airlines but other Oneworld airline members like Qatar Airways.

Is it better to fly to Haneda (HND) or Narita (NRT) in Tokyo?

Haneda is much closer to the Tokyo city center making it a shorter commute than from Narita. However, Narita offers more nonstop international flights from the U.S. and may be a better option for most travelers.

What is the best airline to fly to Japan?

It’s hard to beat the experience you’ll find when flying Cathay Pacific, Japan Airlines, or Korean Air. Although not listed in this article, Asiana Airlines and Singapore Airlines are additional airlines that would be fantastic to fly to Japan.

Michael McHugh

About Michael McHugh

Born and raised in Mobile, Alabama, Michael took his first international trip in 2013 with friends to the Bahamas. Although he didn't travel much in his younger years, on that trip, he caught the travel bug and has been hooked ever since. Michael first caught wind of the points and miles game in 2014 while at a bar in Washington, DC where the conversation amongst friends was quickly derailed because of an alert on a friend's phone about a mistake fare.  That's where the love affair with points and miles began.

Disclaimer: Any comments listed below are not from the bank advertiser, nor have they been reviewed or approved by them. No responsibility will be taken by the bank advertiser for these comments.

22 comments

  1. Chris Moore May 3, 2018

    I believe there are two errors in the ANA mileage chart shown: (1) I believe the required number of miles shown is Round Trip, not One-Way and (2) The required number of miles required for Business Class ranges is 75K-90K, not 75K-95K from the US.

    Reply

    • Michael McHugh May 3, 2018

      Hi Chris!

      We appreciate you catching these errors and you are correct on both. The post has been updated.

      Reply

  2. Peter Kuehnel May 4, 2018

    I noticed no mention of Singapore Airlines and KrisFlyer, although in my mind they are a great way to get to Asia. Not so for Japan?

    Reply

    • Michael McHugh May 4, 2018

      Hi Peter

      I could not recommend KrisFlyer as their redemptions rates are not as competitive. For RT on Singapore metal, you’re looking at 70/170/190k E/J/F SQ miles from the West Coast and 116/230/300k E/J/F SQ miles from Houston/East Coast. For RT on Star Alliance metal, you’re looking at 108/210/250k E/J/F. Here’s the SQ metal chart and Star Alliance Chart if you want to check it out.

      Reply

  3. Good article Michael especially the FAQ,s at the end! TY!

    Reply

    • Michael McHugh May 7, 2018

      Appreciate it James. Please let us know if we can help answer any additional Q’s!

      Reply

  4. Hi Michael,

    Thanks for this article. This is extremely helpful. I am planning to travel to Tokyo end of this year and would like to book an United flight via ANA using my Amex points (my home airport is SFO). I will be traveling with an Infant and I am curious how this will work when booking an award ticket. Could there be any problems?
    Secondly, will I be able to select my seats on the United flight when going through the ANA booking system?
    Thank you!

    Reply

  5. Hi Mike,

    You have United listed as 85k round trip business class to Japan flying on ANA metal but I just checked their website and its 85k one way. Am I looking at something wrong?

    Reply

    • Michael McHugh August 15, 2018

      Hi Kyle

      ANA charges 88k RT to fly United from the US to Japan. Here’s the award chart Scroll down to the Japan (Zone 1-A, 1-B) in the “Confirm mileage required” section.

      Reply

  6. Hi Mike,

    Thanks for all that information. I’ll admit that I’m overwhelmed in figuring out the best way to get to Japan with my family of 4 with both Ultimate Reward points and lots of Capital one miles. Is there a particular airline where I can combine the two for a good redemption?

    Reply

    • Stephen Au July 2, 2019

      Hi Kathy,

      One of the best ways to fly to Japan using Chase Ultimate Rewards points is to transfer them to Virgin Atlantic and book ANA business or first class round-trip to Japan. The redemption prices are nearly unbeatable.

      Other options include transferring Capital One Miles to Air Canada Aeroplan or Avianca LifeMiles to book ANA or other Star Alliance partners. Thanks for reading.

      Reply

  7. Hi Mike,

    Thank you for this detailed article!

    I’m planning to travel to Tokyo in late April 2020. I currently have just over 40,000 American Airlines points with their Citi MasterCard. I would like to apply for another card with transferable points, to add to my 40,000. My husband and I will be traveling. We have excellent credit scores. My closest international airport is Orlando (MCO). We already have Chase Sapphire but have long used our bonus points for past travel.

    Questions:

    1. Which card would you recommend and which airline would you recommend I use, once I have the points from this second card.
    2. If we want to fly 1st class, would you recommend my husband get the same two cards, so we each have enough points?
    3. If we want to take our two college-aged children, how would you recommend we accomplish this? (Not necessarily first class)

    Thanks again!

    Jacqu’e

    Reply

    • Andrew Kunesh October 2, 2019

      Hey Jacqu’e! Thanks for reaching out. While American Airlines doesn’t partner with any of the transferrable points credit card currencies, there are a few good cards you can sign up for that will let you and your husband fly to Tokyo in business class.

      Per our beginner’s guide, we recommend that you and your husband start with the Chase Sapphire Preferred. If both of you sign up for this card and get the welcome bonus, you should have enough points for two people to fly to Tokyo in business class on Delta. You’d do this by transferring 60,000 points per person to Virgin Atlantic (after calling in to find award space). Note that the welcome bonus fluctuates from time to time, so check out the linked beginners guide for up-to-date info.

      Further, American Airlines also charges 60,000 points to fly business class from the U.S. to Tokyo, so you could then open two American Airlines credit cards to cover your return ticket in business class. The welcome bonus on these cards varies, so check out our full guide to American credit cards for more info.

      We recommend checking cash tickets for your children’s economy tickets to and from Tokyo. Airfare to Asia has been cheap lately, and we’ve seen tickets as low as $500 round-trip from select U.S. cities.

      Hope this helps!

      Reply

  8. Hello! Me, my sister, and my parents are planning to fly business class from LAX to Japan (Japan/Korea) and return from Korea to LAX next Spring. Does flying ANA thru Virgin Atlantic sound like a good plan? I was going get a few Citi Premier cards for the 60,000 points bonus. We currently have 107,000 Marriott Bonvoy and 12,000 Chase Ultimate Rewards points (as well as 75,000 Korean Air SKYPASS miles). Thank you in advance.

    Reply

    • James,

      You can theoretically book the return flight from Korea to LAX via Virgin Atlantic on ANA if you intend on connecting in Japan. Otherwise, they will charge you for the short flight from Korea to Japan. There are too many ways to approach this from a route planning perspective. Also, if you’re planning on booking travel for that many people, it’ll take a significant amount of planning and strategy in opening credit cards. For your exact plans, it’s best to pursue getting more Marriott points, Korean Air miles, or Delta SkyMiles for your Korea returning flight. For your Japan flight, you can only book round-trips if you use Virgin Atlantic. Otherwise, you can use United miles for ANA and AA miles for Japan Airlines.

      Reply

  9. I found one flight leaving LAX to Japan via ANA Business Class, but on the return flight, there was a First Class ANA flight available. Can you mix classes when booking a round trip? Also, I’ve looked into September 2020 (on the United site) and there are practically no ANA Award Business nor First Class flights available. Is this typical or do you think the Summer Olympics is affecting travel? Thanks.

    Reply

    • Michael McHugh October 25, 2019

      Hi Ruby,

      For your first question, you can mix cabin classes but will pay the number of miles required for the higher fare class.

      For your second question, I’ve noticed the same on the United website. In my opinion, the Olympics is affecting award availability.

      Reply

  10. William Barlow November 28, 2019

    Has Japan airlines stopped offering premium awards to advantage members? I have been checking for first class awards from ORD to NRT over the last few months for travel near the end of 2020. A few months ago I was finding plenty of awards available. I checked today and I literally found almost nothing available from different cities over the next year or so.

    Reply

    • Hi William,

      I do not believe that to be the case. It might just be that the availability you were seeing before has been booked already. Are you still seeing limited availability?

      Reply

  11. Can my wife and I use points for business class from Atlanta to Toyko? How many points would it be in April? Delta flys non-stop from Atlanta.

    Reply

    • Hi Manning,

      What type of miles are you hoping to use to book your trip? Delta miles? Or do you have miles with a transferable program as well?

      Reply

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