ANA First Class Awards are open April, May through June

    Drive Chris Willer emphasizes that ANA First Class Awards are available in both directions between San Francisco and Tokyo (Haneda and Narita airports) through April, May and the first third of June.

    Hurry, I don’t expect this availability to last. Seeing three seats – not just one or two – is very common and sometimes more. In general, ANA did not release first class seats at all for redemption.

    Here is a search for 2 or more first class seats in April:

    You can, of course, book connecting flights and travel not just within Japan but elsewhere in Asia using those flights as your starting point.

    Book with a variety of miles

    The best way to reserve these seats is via Virgin Atlantic / Virgin Red Aero Club. They only charge 55,000 miles each way more supplements but the point savings make the extra ~$300 worthwhile. Note that this price only applies to non-stop ANA flights, connections require separate rewards.

    Call to book, and when the agent sets up the booking, you can transfer points instantly from American Express, Capital One, Chase, Citi or Bilt. (Previously, you could put ANA rewards on hold 24 hours a day with Virgin, but I haven’t been able to get them to do that recently.)

    Most other programs will charge about twice as many miles. For example,

    • Air Canada Aeroplan charges 110,000 points per trip with no fuel surcharge. Points are transferred instantly from American Express, Capital One, Chase and Bilt. If there is saver award seats available on United, you should be able to add them to your itinerary to connect to and from San Francisco from another city in the United States.

    • United MileageMore bills 121,000 miles each way and points usually instantly transfer from Chase, but sometimes delay, and also transfer from Bilt. There is no fuel surcharge. United can offer more connection space to/from San Francisco than other Star programs, and more for elite and co-branded credit card customers.

    • Avianca LifeMiles bills 120,000 miles each way with no fuel surcharge. Points transfer from American Express, Citibank and Capital One. If there is saver award seats available on United, you should be able to add them to your itinerary to connect to and from San Francisco from another city in the United States. LifeMiles is great as long as there are no route changes.

    Check your flight for ANA’s new first class “The Suite”

    Generally speaking, San Francisco hasn’t seen ANA’s Boeing 777-300ERs that feature the new “The Suite” seat. It was mainly in Los Angeles, Chicago and New York. But now I see it on the San Francisco – Tokyo Haneda road (not Narita).

    An easy way to find out is to look at the business class seat map. If it has 64 business class seats, it is a converted aircraft. In planes equipped with the new product, business class ends at row 20 (and not, for example, at row 21).

    Still, the old seat is a first-class private flat product.

    Either way, you get exceptional service and food – one of my favorite soft goods in heaven.

    Thanks Chris!

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