I recently booked an awesome mileage redemption on ANA using Virgin Atlantic miles. For 110,000 miles I will be able to fly round trip from LAX to Tokyo in First Class!
Virgin Atlantic don’t let you search or book for these itineraries online, so it does require a little extra work to find. In this post, I share two ways to find ANA awards and an easy way to book without evening picking up the phone.
One way to search for ANA awards is to search using another Star Alliance partners such as United Airlines. In order to search on United.com you need to register for a MileagePlus account (its free and easy).
Once signed up, punch in the details for the first leg of your desired itinerary. In the below, I have begun a search for LAX to HND (Tokyo’s secondary airport) for June 2019. Be sure to check the ‘book with miles’ and ‘calendar shop’ options.
From here it gets a little tricky. United’s website is geared to show its own flights first, and there isn’t a way to filter to just see ANA space. But there a few steps you can do to make it easier. First, look for dates on the calendar view that have the blue dots (for ‘Saver Award premium cabin’).
Next, click on the ‘First Saver Award’ Column to sort the list to show available first class seats first. Because United no longer has a first class product, this will bring partner airlines (such as ANA) to the top of the list if space is available. For example, looking at June 1, you might think there is no availability upon first glance:
But after clicking the ‘First Saver Award’ column, an ANA seat shows itself!
Don’t pay attention to the cost in miles shown on United.com – if you book using Virgin Atlantic miles a round trip will cost you 110,000 miles from the West Coast or 120,000 from the East Coast or central US. A nice savings over the 110,000 miles United wants for a one way!. Make note of the flight number and times, and then search for your return flight.
The other (and somewhat easier) way to search for availability is by using ExpertFlyer. The service isn’t free (about $10/month), but the site provides a lot of useful tools for finding award space, looking up seat maps, and peeking at flight availability.
To find ANA First Class availability on ExpertFlyer, head to the ‘Awards & Upgrades’ section of the website. Enter your parameters and select ‘All Nippon Airways’ from the airlines, followed by ‘First – Award/Upgrade (O) from the classes. ExpertFlyer also lets you search for a range of dates at a time (+/- 3 days from any given date). This is useful for scanning through a bunch of dates at once. I also like to select the ‘Direct/Nonstop’ connection option to help filter down the results.
The search can take a while to run (especially if you select a date range), but once complete you will see lots of results. To quickly filter to available flights only, you can click ‘Filter Search Results’ followed by unchecking ‘Show Flights with No Availability’.
And voila! As you can see, there’s some decent availability ~6+ months out it seems, although I was able to book my seats about 5 months out so I am sure it varies.
Now all you’d need to do is search for return availability and you’ll be ready to book!
Pro tip – Virgin Atlantic SMS Booking Service
As mentioned, you can’t book ANA First Class award online. With that in mind, I had thought that would mean you needed to call the airline’s phone number. Of course, there is nothing wrong with that, but it does take time and can sometimes be a pain to have to tell the agent flight numbers, dates, etc.
I decided to Tweet Virgin to ask if they had any other ways to book, and to my surprise, they did!
Cool! Virgin has an SMS Team and a U.S. number to text them on. With that information, I was able to send a few texts back and forth and get my award booked in a matter on minutes!
I hope these tips were helpful to anyone looking to book ANA First Class awards with Virgin Atlantic miles! Do let me know if you have questions – I am happy to help!