Advertiser Disclosure

flights to japan

6 of the Best Ways to Book Flights to Japan with Points & Miles

This post contains references to products from one or more of our advertisers. We may receive compensation when you click on links to those products. The content on this page is accurate as of the posting date; however, some of the offers mentioned may have expired. For more information check out our Advertising Disclosure.
Terms apply to American Express benefits and offers. Enrollment may be required for select American Express benefits and offers. Visit americanexpress.com to learn more.

More than a year after it reopened to international travel, it seems like everyone is heading for Japan … and for good reason.

Now's an incredible time to make your move if you want to plan a trip to Japan – not just because cherry blossoms are blooming up and down the island, but because the U.S. dollar goes 40% further than it did before the pandemic. That excellent exchange rate means your sushi and ramen will be cheaper than ever!

Flights to Japan, though, can break the bank. That's where points and miles come in.

There are tons of options to book flights to Japan using credit card points or airline miles. Whether you're looking for the best budget option to fly economy, fly in style in business class, or splurge for first class, we've got you covered.

Whether you head there this year or next, these are some of the best ways to redeem your points and miles for a trip to Japan.


Fly Japan Airlines Economy Using AA Miles

When you're flying across the Pacific Ocean at the back of the plane, you want to be comfortable. And while economy seats across airlines may seem identical, every extra inch of space counts.

Few airlines do economy better than Japan Airlines (JAL). We're convinced this Japanese flag carrier offers the best economy seat to fly to Asia – or anywhere, really. JAL calls these seats “Sky Wider” economy, and they live up to that name.

At up to 19 inches across, these seats are substantially wider than what airlines like American fly on many of the same long-haul routes. An inch or two of extra width is the difference between relaxing and worrying about rubbing shoulders with your neighbor. Look for JAL's Boeing 787 Dreamliners on these routes, as they configure the economy cabin with just eight seats across – most airlines squeeze nine seats into the same space.

japan airlines economy seats 

Read our full Japan Airlines economy review!

Want legroom? You're in luck there, too. JAL gives you up to 34 inches of pitch on these planes, which is at least 2 inches more than you'd get on most airlines. Factor in JAL's tasty food and sterling service, and you've got one of the best ways to fly economy to Japan – or anywhere in Asia, really.


How to Book

There are a handful of ways to book flights to Japan on JAL. You've got several partner airlines to choose from.

But we think the best way to get there is using American AAdvantage miles. A one-way flight between Tokyo and the U.S. will run you just 35,000 AAdvantage miles. And thanks to how American prices out awards, it works out at that price whether you're flying nonstop from one of JAL's many U.S. outposts or adding a connecting flight from your home airport flying American before the long transpacific jaunt.

flights to japan 

When it comes time to book, it couldn't be easier. You can book these flights with your AAdvantage miles directly on AA's website. Finding economy flights on JAL at 35,000 miles is usually a cinch as award space tends to be wide open: Just search on AA.com and make sure you select “redeem miles.”

chicago to tokyo jal economy 

Read our full walkthrough on finding the best deals with your AAdvantage miles!

If you're on an economy budget with your points, it's tough to beat 70,000 AAdvantage miles and minimal fees for roundtrip flights to Japan. But there's a way you can cut that mileage rate in half.


Hop on a Cheap Delta SkyMiles Deal

Unlike American's concrete award chart which means you'll pay 70,000 miles for roundtrip flights to Japan, Delta's award pricing system is unpredictable. Sometimes, the pricing to fly Delta can be good … and other times, it's exorbitantly expensive.

But when the Delta deals are good, they're unbeatable. And deals to get to Japan just don't get any better than Delta SkyMiles flash sales. Case in point: We've previously sent Thrifty Traveler Premium members roundtrip Delta fares to Tokyo for as low as 30,000 SkyMiles. That's less than most airlines charge for a one-way fare!

flights to japan 

While SkyMiles flash sales have made a resurgence over the last year with some incredible deals like 27,000 SkyMiles to Europe or 37,000 SkyMiles to New Zealand, deals that good to Tokyo haven't made a comeback just yet.

But they're out there, like this find from last summer with flights as low as 42,000 SkyMiles roundtrip.

delta skymiles tokyo deal 

Delta has shifted all its flights to Japan into Tokyo-Haneda (HND), rather than Tokyo-Narita. Given how much closer Haneda airport is to town, that's a good thing. And the flight itself should be fairly comfortable, as many of Delta's long-haul planes are far more passenger-friendly in economy than its competitors.

Delta air lines economy seats
Photo courtesy of Delta via Flickr


How to Book

Patience. And flexibility.

The trick with using Delta SkyMiles is waiting for the right deal, and being flexible enough to wait for it to come to you. That means this option likely won't work if you've got a specific time period in mind.

There's just no telling when the next great deal will pop up. But Thrifty Traveler Premium will get the first heads up about the next Delta SkyMiles deal to Japan. Premium members get award alerts including deeply discounted Delta SkyMiles routes as well as cheap international and domestic cash fares.

Just how many SkyMiles you'll need to fly to Japan and back will depend on the sale – and where you live. If you're in a Delta hub like Atlanta (ATL), Minneapolis-St. Paul (MSP), or Detroit (DTW), expect to pay more thanks to Delta's hub penalty. But these deals can bring the price down between 30,000 SkyMiles to 50,000 SkyMiles roundtrip, no matter where you live.

And that makes this option is tough to beat. Read up on how to earn the Delta SkyMiles you need to book one of these insane deals. Delta's suite of co-branded credit cards with Amex is a natural place to start, especially with welcome bonuses of up to 100,000 SkyMiles currently available.

Otherwise, you can pile up Amex Membership Rewards from cards like the *amex gold* or *amex platinum*. Delta is an Amex transfer partner, which means you can wait for a great deal to Tokyo and when you get one, transfer some points to your SkyMiles account and book!


Take a Flight Deal and Make it Free

What's better than a cheap flight to Tokyo? A free flight to Tokyo.

If you're not up for studying airline award charts to find the best way to book with airline miles, one of the easiest ways to do it is by redeeming credit card points through travel portals like Chase Travel℠. The cheaper the flight, the fewer points you need to book. It's that simple.

Whether you find a cheap flight on your own using Google Flights or get an alert through Thrifty Traveler Premium, it's easy to book through Chase Travel℠. And it's the only way to book a flight to Tokyo for completely free – normal award flights will always tack on additional cash fees of $50 or more.

Take a previous deal from Los Angeles (LAX) to Tokyo-Haneda (HND) for under $600 roundtrip, for example.

thrifty traveler premium deal to tokyo 

Get flight deals like this sent to your inbox with Thrifty Traveler Premium!

If you've got the *chase sapphire preferred* you can book one of these flights with points to make it free. Because every point from the Preferred Card is worth 1.25 cents, that same deal would work out to roughly 46,800 Chase points for your trip to Tokyo.

Got the *chase sapphire reserve* It's even cheaper because every point is worth 1.5 cents apiece, which means you can book that same flight for just over 39,000 Chase points! 

Want an even easier route, booking directly with the airline and making it free using your points? If you've got Capital One Venture Miles, you can just use your miles to cover the cost of your flights.

Every mile is worth 1 cent, so that same $586 flight would take 58,600 Venture Miles.


How to Book

You'll probably want some Chase points to make this happen.

The *chase sapphire preferred* is easily one of the best cards for points and miles beginners, thanks to the different ways you can redeem these points. If you're a frequent traveler, the *chase sapphire reserve*  is tough to beat – especially as your points will be worth even more toward your cash fare.

Then, it's time to find your cheap flight to Tokyo. Forget online travel agencies like Expedia or Kayak: Use Google Flights to find the cheapest flight possible. Or just wait for a Thrifty Traveler Premium flight deal to hit your inbox!

From there, follow our guide to book flight deals using Chase points. It's pretty simple, and the price via Chase's portal should match what you've already seen – with some exceptions. And remember: You'll still earn frequent flyer miles on flights booked with credit card points.

It's even easier with the Capital One. So long as you've got some Venture Miles and a card that earns them like the *capital one venture card* or the *venture x*, you're set. Just find a flight, pay for it with your card, and go back to cover the cost with miles within 90 days of your purchase. That's it.


Fly ANA Business Class from 75K Miles RT!

Here's your chance to fly business class to Japan for the price of economy. And on one of the world's best airlines, to boot.

Most airlines charge at least 160,000 miles for a roundtrip in business class to Japan. Booking flights on All Nippon Airways with ANA Mileage Club, it starts at just 75,000 miles. For flights there and back. In business class.

That's not an error – though come mid-April 2024, those rates will be going up to at least 100,000 miles. But even so, this is one of the cheapest ways to get to Japan using miles. The trick is timing it right, as ANA carves out different pricing during low (L), regular (R), and high (H) travel seasons.

ana award chart with dates 

You'll want to focus on the low season if you can, as that's when a business class roundtrip from the U.S. to Tokyo will cost you just 75,000 miles. A trip during the regular season will jump to 85,000 miles – and 90,000 miles during the high season.

No matter how you time it, this is a great deal. United Airlines, a partner carrier through the Star Alliance, would charge at least 220,000 miles for the exact same roundtrip flights.

And while all of ANA's business class seats are excellent, the new ANA The Room business class suites are out of this world. They may just dethrone Qatar Airways' Qsuites for the mantle of the best business class in the world.

ana business class seat

How to Book

First things first, you need some ANA miles. And you don't need to fly ANA a bunch to earn them.

Instead, just transfer those points from American Express Membership Rewards straight to ANA. If you're eligible for a whopping 150,000-point bonus on the Amex Platinum Card via CardMatch, you can book these flights in one fell swoop. Just beware that these transfers tend to take about 48 hours or so.

But before you do, be sure to head to ANA's website and scope out award availability to make sure the flights you want are available. Or better yet, start by searching via United.com – one of the best sites for finding award availability – for nonstop flights from some of the U.S. hubs ANA flies to and from like Los Angeles (LAX), Chicago-O'Hare (ORD), Houston-Intercontinental (IAH), New York City (JFK), and many more.

ana route map 

If you find a flight bookable for 110,000 United miles each way, that's the key to a flight you can book through ANA. But these days, it'll come down to the wire: ANA typically only releases award availability within two weeks or so of departure. ANA also allows you to “waitlist” for many business class awards, but that's incredibly hit or miss.

ana award ticket 

Most importantly, you need to find roundtrip fares – ANA does not allow one-way bookings when using its own miles.

Once you've found the flights, head back to ANA's website and search for an award booking. You'll need an ANA frequent flyer account to search, so log in, plug in your dates, and get to booking.

One of the biggest downsides of booking with ANA is that the airline ANA can pass on some hefty taxes and fees in addition to that low mileage charge. As of publication, every roundtrip ticket gets hit with about $560 or so in taxes and fees. But those surcharges are always changing, so (hopefully) it won't always be so steep.

Read our complete guide to booking flights with ANA Mileage Club!


Back on Japan Airlines … in Business for 60K

So maybe we have a soft spot for Japan Airlines. Can you blame us when their business class seats looks like this?

finding award space 

Read our full review of flying Japan Airlines business class!

Welcome to SkySuites. These seats are the best of both worlds, offering tremendous privacy while giving you near-limitless room to stretch your legs and store your bags. But it gets better, with some outstanding service and some of the tastiest food you'll have – in the sky or on the ground.

It gets even better. Japan Airlines recently began flying a brand-new business class suite to and from select flights from New York City (JFK) complete with closing doors, new technology, and tons of other bells and whistles.

japan airlines new business class
Photo courtesy of Japan Airlines

After a few flights in Japan Airlines business class over the years, I'm convinced JAL business class is one of the best ways to get to Asia in style. Just as with JAL economy, you can book these flights with American AAdvantage miles. And you only need 60,000 AAdvantage miles to do it. 

How to Book

American charges just 60,000 for a one-way business class flight from the U.S. to Tokyo-Narita (NRT) or Haneda (HND). There are other options to book, but this is the most cost-effective way to get to Japan in style on JAL. Plus, American makes it easy to cancel and get your miles straight back for free if plans change!

Award availability comes in waves: Sometimes you can find plenty of seats months in advance, while other times you'll only see award space to book Japan Airlines business class to Tokyo just a few weeks in advance. A few weeks back, we tipped off Thrifty Traveler Premium members to some wide-open award availability for two (or more!) travelers to fly from Dallas-Fort Worth (DFW) to Tokyo this spring, summer, and fall!

thrifty traveler premium alert to tokyo 

Whether you live near one of JAL's U.S. outposts or have to make a connection on American (or Alaska Airlines) to get there, flying business class from cities nationwide to Tokyo for just 60,000 miles and a few bucks is tough to beat.

aa award to tokyo 

Read up on the best ways to earn American AAdvantage miles!


Flying First Class on ANA from 72.5K Points

We saved the best for last. And it combines two airlines you're already familiar with – Virgin Atlantic and ANA – for one of the best points and miles redemptions, period. Not just to get to Japan – in the world.

This one took a hit last year when Virgin Atlantic suddenly raised first class award rates for ANA … and yet it's still a darn good deal: as low as 72,500 points each way. Compared to the exorbitant rates you'll pay on other airlines, it's a steal.

Flying first class on All Nippon Airways is a treat in and of itself. These suites are almost too private – if that's a thing. You'll have one of the most comfortable beds available in the skies. Amazing dining, comfortable pajamas, top-notch amenities, and seemingly bottomless glasses of Krug champagne will help put you to sleep.

ANA first class seat 

Read our full review of ANA First Class on the flight from Chicago-O'Hare (ORD) to Tokyo-Haneda (HND)

You could book this seat through ANA itself or use United MileagePlus miles … but they would charge you 121,000 miles for flights from the U.S. to Tokyo – each way, not roundtrip. You can do much better.


How to Book

Using Virgin Atlantic Flying Club miles, you can book roundtrip flights from the West Coast to Tokyo for 145,000 miles.

Live in the Midwest or on the East Coast? That'll be 170,000 miles, roundtrip. And unlike when you use ANA miles, you can book one-way flights on ANA when redeeming Virgin points – they're half the cost.

Much like booking ANA business class, the hardest part is finding award availability. But it's not impossible: In the last year alone, we've sent Thrifty Traveler Premium members a half-dozen alerts to fly ANA First Class to Tokyo and back. That includes this recent alert with plenty of availability from San Francisco (SFO) … including many flights in the airline's newest suites!

ana first class alert 

These flights are long gone now – get the next alert with Thrifty Traveler Premium!

Read our full guide to booking ANA flights using Virgin Atlantic miles. And keep in mind that you can transfer points to Virgin from Chase, Citi, American Express, Capital One, and even Bilt.

Thrifty Tip: We regularly transfer bonuses of 30% to Virgin Atlantic from banks like Chase, Amex, and Capital One. With a 30% transfer bonus, you could book these flights for as few as 56,000 credit card points each way!

Just to underscore how good of a deal this is: these flights typically sell for more than $20,000!

jal tokyo flights

Bottom Line

This is just a small sliver of the possible ways to get to Japan using points and miles. But in our opinion, they're the best ways to make that bucket list trip happen.

Whether you're fine flying economy or pine for the comfort of first class, booking flights to Japan doesn't have to be expensive.


Editorial Disclaimer: Opinions expressed here are the author’s alone, not those of any bank, credit card issuer, airlines or hotel chain, and have not been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by any of these entities.

Disclaimer: The responses below are not provided or commissioned by the bank advertiser. Responses have not been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by the bank advertiser. It is not the bank advertiser’s responsibility to ensure all posts and/or questions are answered.

6 Responses

  • We have a family of 4 trying to book a flight from LAX to NRT but I have heard from the virgin Atlantic rep (using Virgin points to book ANA) and on ANA’s direct website both show that the taxes and fees is $900+ per person right now. That’s $3600+ along with 360K points to fly business class round trip. There must be a better option if we dont want to use that much $$$. The best I have found is Singapore airlines at about 830K points with about $193 taxes/fees.

    • I’m curious if you were able to book. I am in a similar situation, but I want to fly out of SFO. Please share any tips.

  • I flew SEA- NRT, three week stopover, then KIX- BKK last September for 62,500 Alaska miles and approximately $50. Not sure what they go for now.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *