Update 1/27/23: IT’S BACK! ANA once again has incredible first class award space between San Francisco and Tokyo. Once again we are seeing many dates with 2-4 seats available and some dates with five seats in business class.
Here is a look at availability for at least two passengers from July to October via SeatSpy (if you aren’t familiar with SeatSpy, see SeatSpy: An awesome tool for finding awards. Understand that it isn’t built to show ANA availability, but as explained in the post below it works).
At four passengers, availability thins some with mostly Tuesday-Thursday and Friday availability, but it varies. SeatSpy does not show availability for more than four passengers, but I did find dates via United.com with space for 5 passengers.
This must have changed overnight in Tokyo because when I looked this morning (Eastern time) I only saw one seat on each flight, but then a reader in the comments pointed out the availability of multiple seats around 1pm Eastern time. We’re republishing shortly after 2pm Eastern time on 1/27 — I wouldn’t expect the space to last more than a couple of hours from that time, particularly with this being availability during popular school break time.
Also keep in mind that availability continues to October, when weather may still be warmer than you expect. I once visited Japan in October and learned that the 1964 Summer Olympics was actually held in October in order to escape the summer heat/humidity in Tokyo.
Speaking of Olympic games, as noted in the original post below, this is a moment to run, not walk. This is gold medal availability. The last time we posted this, everything was gone within an hour or two because the ability to book multiple passengers in first class at 55K miles (and about $450 one way or $730 round trip) is that rare. Do not transfer until you get Virgin Atlantic on the phone. Know that you’ll be competing with others against the clock, so space may disappear even while you’re searching. You have to be ready to move quickly. The original post follows.
A reader who shall go down as a legend in my book gave us a heads up that he noticed that ANA First Class is wide open between Tokyo (both Narita (NRT) and Haneda (HND) and San Francisco (SFO), with some dates in the coming months with as many as five award seats in first class, including on aircraft scheduled to feature the newest “The Suite” product. These seats can be booked for just 55,000 Virgin Atlantic miles one-way, which is a phenomenal deal for an experience that would cost $15,000 per passenger with cash.
- ANA has wide open first class award availability
between now and the beginning of Junenow between late June and October for up to 5 passengers between San Francisco and Tokyo (both Haneda and Narita, though I believe only Haneda is scheduled with The Suite product right now)
- Search via SeatSpy or United.com, call Virgin Atlantic to book for 55,000 miles one way
ANA First Class has long been a revered experience in their old first class product. The new First Class “The Suite” looks amazing. And it is notoriously difficult to book. So difficult, in fact, that View from the Wing recently wrote about how ANA first class awards seemed to be disappearing completely. (Long after publication, I noticed that Gary actually reported this new first class availability well before we did).
That trend has been officially bucked, but I don’t expect it to last. This is the type of availability that will very likely be gone in hours, not days, so if you have “flying in ANA First Class” on your bucket list, now is officially your moment.
That’s because we are seeing handfuls of days with four seats available in first class. We even found a few with five seats in first class!
That’s incredible availability considering the fact that there are only 8 seats in first class.
I believe that only the Haneda to San Francisco (not the Narita) flights are currently scheduled to feature The Suite. Keep in mind that aircraft swaps sometimes happen and there is no guarantee that they’ll fly the plane you booked. But I can confirm that, for example, the flight above is scheduled for The Suite and costs more than $12,000 one-way.
The best way to book this is with Virgin Atlantic miles. That will cost 55,000 miles each way between the West Coast and Tokyo. Adding connections adds to the price and frankly, if you can get this long-haul booked then you want to worry about this now and connections later. Keep in mind that you can now book one-way with Virgin Atlantic points. At this price, book whichever direction you can and figure the rest out later.
Unfortunately, you’ll be on the hook for ANA’s increasing surcharges. Those will set you back about $735 round trip — but paying 110K miles and $735 round trip for ANA First Class is a deal that I’m sure many people will be very happy to accept. One-way can be a bit more painful: we priced out flights from Haneda to San Francisco and fees came to $450 per passenger.
Interestingly, you can use SeatSpy to find these awards. I hadn’t realized it before, but on routes that are served by both United and one of their partners, SeatSpy returns results for both United’s flights and its partners.
For instance, here’s a look at availability via SeatSpy. When the price is 121,000 United miles, you know that’s not a business class saver award but rather a first class saver award. United doesn’t fly an actual 3-cabin first class, so you know this is space on ANA rather than saver-level United space.
Note that Seatspy is showing United’s price, but you’ll want to call Virgin Atlantic to book in order to pay just 55K miles each way. Transfer points from all of the major transferable currencies to Virgin Atlantic / Virgin Red.
Note also that SeatSpy’s inventory isn’t quite real-time. You’ll find some dates that show availability that have already been snapped up, so you’ll need to cross-reference with United.com to make sure seats are available. If you see seats available through United, they will be available to Virgin Atlantic — but wait until you get through the hold time and get to an agent before you transfer. Once you have an agent on the line and confirm the space, you can transfer instantly from any of the major transferable currencies and book on the same call.
Transfer from Amex Membership Rewards points, Capital One miles, Chase Ultimate Rewards, Citi ThankYou points, or Bilt Rewards.
Run, don’t walk. This won’t last.
I booked The Suite and am super excited! I was looking a little closer, and given the flight departure time at SFO (1:45am), the United Polaris lounge will be closed. On ANA’s website (link below) it says:
”Due to limited opening hours of United Polaris Lounge and United club, ANA offers an online meal voucher to customers with lounge access on NH107 flight via your registered email or SMS. The meal voucher can be used at the cafe inside the terminal.”
Anyone have any details on what this might include? Just curious!
[…] week there was a lot of excitement in the miles and points community when ANA airlines has released a ton of first-class a… Btw, we did share it on our Facebook and Twitter […]
5 seats in first is highly unusual amount of award seats! Prior to Covid, the most they released in advance was 2 seats. Having flown in ANA first, all 4 times only 3 seats out of 8 first seats were occupied. With my spouse and I, in award seats. I don’t know if this represents a change or what. In the last 3 years, ANA was releasing first seats to their own FF program, but no partners. Usually it was just 1 in first, 2 in J, and 4 in economy.
I know Japan Air has been releasing more seats than usual as well. Especially in the 2-3 weeks prior to flight departure. Which ANA seems to be matching, from the trends that I see on point.me. For readers who are desiring first, and cannot secure the award seats, take the business award seats now. Then 2 weeks prior to departure, check and see if any first seats have been released.
just grabbed what I think were the last two seats for October, when I checked initially, I saw seats from SFO to NRT on the 11th, 17th and 19th, the first two dates disappeared during the wait time, but the 19th was still available, HUGE thanks for the heads up
FYI if you thought you missed it, there are still a number of dates in September and October with 2 seats between SFO and Tokyo-Narita (NRT). Not the new “The Suite”, but still ANA first class for 55K. Several Facebook group members have reported successfully booking this today.
I don’t understand why I’m unable to see any partner First availability from the MileagePlus website. I clicked thru each day (every.single.day) from Sept 1 thru Oct 31 and not a single day showed a First Class column in the results. Any tips for an apparent noob like myself?
Seems like there are some dates for HNL-NRT route for summer if those dates work for you
i was able to book SFO-NRT LATE JULY and on the united website it said 777-300ER and also had the price on united for 121k and 5.60usd the only difference was that it was NRT instead of HND, so is that not the suite? or did i do something wrong? i have the ticket on my virgin atlantic app, where can i double check the airplane # also, do they assign your seat in the future? it says seat not assigned
i was lucky enough to pay 55k points and 360USD taxes
aThank you fro your help in advance,
They only have The Suite on select 777-300ERs. The plane currently scheduled to serve the NRT route does not have The Suite, it has their “old” first class product, which is still widely considered one of the best first class experiences out there. Don’t worry, you won’t be disappointed.
thank you, cant compain, do you know where i can find more information on this old first class product like a youtube video
Sure. I haven’t actually watched the whole video apart from seeing that it’s the old seat and I don’t know this YouTube channel, but this is what it is anyway:
i appreciate it, thank you for the help!! ✈️
Thank you Nick, to say the least. I was at lunchtime yesterday waiting for my pizza when I saw your headline. Immediately, I got on my phone and I was able to snag 3 seats for late June, HND=>SFO using Avianca (had miles burning up due to cancelled flights from Covid). I had no flexibility midweek and an unpleasant second day as a backup. After submitting my request, it was about ~5 minutes when my credit card was finally charged and I got my confirmation. This alone was nerve wrecking to wait and I can’t imagine waiting an hour on the phone (I have to give my hand out to those that did!). One odd in filling my credit card info was the asking of my card security code, followed by a personal code (PID)?
Like you said, I hope this holds and there isn’t a plane swap!!
For now, we are excited!
Your the man Nick, to say the least!!!
Observation: After digging out my ANA ticket numbers from Avianca, I was able to choose our seats. I noticed the flight currently has all of the Rooms available. Therefore, I suspect they will become available at some point.
BTW – we already had our seats SFO=>HND (1 first, 2 business) on JAL.
This sweetness is now complete and is icing on the cake for our tour!!
all im finding is NRT is this still a good deal for that?
the same 121k miles on united, but it isnt HND like in the screenshot
It’s still a ~$12,000 first class ticket for 55,000 Virgin Atlantic miles and $350 or $450. This was a long coveted redemption well before they debuted the new first class. I wouldn’t hesitate to book it – though I say that as someone who prioritized getting something booked from HND. Still, if I had time to fit in another trip this year and it were available, I’d be thrilled. 55K is far less than what most programs charge for *business* class to Asia.
I wouldn’t pay 121K via United though.
saw one! HND and they snagged it when i was on the phone with virgin ugh!
When I search on United, I’m requesting First in the search but the results don’t even have a First column, just Business @ ~200k miles. Tried on both UA app and laptop browser site. Am I doing anything wrong, or is the First column hidden when none available?
I assume the availability is gone at this point, but curious how to search in future.
Hidden on dates when none is available.
If I see a flight is available on United, is it for sure that the availability is bookable for VA?
How much were the fees for 2 people? I booked and it was $450 x 2 ($900) even though I booked in the same call. My friend booked for 2 and it was $721 flat. A little strange how this worked. Not sure if it’s worth waiting for 2 hours on hold to get this corrected
You booked from Japan to the US and I’m guessing your friend booked the opposite direction.
Yep! That is the case. Are the fees less if we fly out of US?
Yes. The United States doesn’t have a departure tax, but most other countries do. As a result, fees departing most countries are higher than depending the US. For example, use United miles to fly United from the US to Germany and you’ll pay $5.60. Fly United from Germany to the US and you’ll pay about $95 in fees. Depart Finland and it’s about $60. Those are just two examples. It really varies, but around a $100 departure tax is common. The rest of the fees here are surcharges.
ANA emailed me that fees on their awards will go down to $329 starting Feb 1 for the Feb1 to March 31 booking period. I get their Mileage Club emails.
After this frenzy I am placing the odds of Virgin devaluing ANA awards at 100%.
Still tons of availability left if you’re flexible.
Thanks Nick for the updated article! Just booked my family of three in F with NH HND-SFO using AV LM for 360k+$281.55. Google Flight is about $37k total. Just about 10 cpm. Pretty decent!!
That’s interesting.You decided to use 65K more points and pay $260 less in fees. Did you have a huge bank of points stuck in LM?
At 120k LM I am guessing they are connecting beyond HND or SFO.
Not sure, where you’re heading. Yes it’s 65K less, but $350 more in fess per ticket, which would come out about less then half cents. On top of that, I don’t want to spend time calling and waiting in line for VA call center to book the ticket, based on past bad experience. I need to secure the tickets for my family, right away. I don’t want to pay $1k+ in fess. Just not crazy in paying all those high fees, like NH charges.
Tipped off by Thrifty Traveler (just paid off my annual fee there).
Just booked F seats for my wife and I in Sept (to replace our JAL Biz already booked to SFO). VS 55k miles +$450 each. Flying Cathay Biz from LAX then Cathay onto SIN (AS free stopover). Now eyeing SIN-HND in SQ F.
Thank you Frequent Miler for all the tutorials.
How much does thrifty traveler charge?
noooooooooo… … I am too late. with times are so long no way the space will be there when its my turn.
I got on the phone and United showed 2 seats on both Oct 3rd and Oct 19… but the agent didn’t see it. I clicked refresh and they were gone. I will say Virgin Atlantic agents are definitely the best. He stayed on the line with me for 20 minutes as I searched day after day looking for availability for 2. Alas… no luck this time for me. but maybe I’ll look for last minute business class seats in Oct now that I have 110k miles in Virgin Atlantic….
Would it make sense just to use United MileagePlus to book versus waiting on Virgin Atlantic on the phone? Thanks
I mean, it’ll cost you 121K per passenger, but no surcharges. Better deal through Air Canada or Avianca I think.
I guess if you’re a gambler and you can accept the fact that this might be a losing bet that won’t actually cost you any money but might cost you your first class seat, what you could try doing is booking the seats you want through United and then waiting until the fever dies down and then like a week or two or three from now cancel since United would give you free cancellation and hope that the seats go back in inventory so you can call Virgin Atlantic and rebook them right away. It’s a big gamble because award seats don’t always go back into inventory and even when they do, they don’t always go into inventory immediately, but as you’ll hear on the podcast tomorrow, I have reason to think that might work in this case – and since you should be able to cancel the United Award for free, it’s not going to cost you any money.
Had I have enough points stuck at United or Air Canada, I wouldn’t hesitate to book with them instead of Virgin. I just happened to have 880k stuck with Virgin from all covid cancelations (and those days of booking transpacific delta one for cheap are all long gone).
Thanks for your thoughts! I did grab 4 seats in July but by the time I decided 4 was not left on the return. Hopefully as we get closer other options open up for the return flight. I look forward to the Podcast!
I was just hoping for one way in First and didn’t really care if I had to book the way there in economy if need be. ANA usually has some business class open up last minute so planned on booking a saver award economy through United and if I found business class cancel the United saver.
The wait time is now up to 90min via 800 number. lolols it’s the FM effect
Was able to grab 2 F from Hnd to sfo in august after about an hour of hold (called a few minutes after thrifty traveler sent out their notification).
I’ve been on hold for 45 min, still haven’t got through. Available dates are dwindling down quickly haha.
Virgin phone lines the few times I called were pretty fast. Always less than, say, 3 or 4 minute holding time. But obviously…things…have escalated, LOL.
Got through to VS in about an hour. Agent immediately asked if I was calling to book ANA from SFO to HND 😛
Virgin rep said there’s literally hundreds of people in line for the call, 95% of them are all trying to book ANA
Are lap infants charged 10% of the cash fare, or more than the taxes for adults? That may be a deal killer for a family.
No. VS charges 7K miles for a lap infant in first class.
On hold with the British number because the American number wouldn’t allow me to call! But they close in 45 minutes. Will the call just end if I’m still on hold?
I don’t know for sure, but that was a good thought. I often have better results calling foreign call centers.
If we an only find one way in First Class, would flying from HND to SFO or SFO to HND allow us to enjoy the product more?
I don’t know. I guess departing from the carriers hub maybe provides a better experience in general / less of a chance that they didn’t have enough of something to load, but I don’t know if and what difference there is in catering.
Generally speaking, from my exprience (Qatar, Etihad, Emirates, JAL, Singapore) departing from the carriers hub is always better… there is definitely a difference in food catering… the menu choice or quality plus the flagship lounge exprience. And SFO outbound departs just past midnight and arrives in Tokyo very early in the morning. I don’t know if you will get the full service.
I would say to depart from HND if you can, since you will be able to access the ANA first class lounge, if you are departing from SFO, you can access the Polaris lounge. Personal preference really
Thank you for the heads up. Currently have a JAL FC flight from HND to ORD on Nov 2. And I see that ANA is still showing 787 on October 29 and beyond. Hoping for an equipment change soon along with availability, cause I rather use the 60000 points that’s stranded in my VA account than the AA miles. It will suck paying the extra fees and having to get myself home from San Fran instead of Chicago but worth it since I have more opportunity to use the 80k AA miles in the future.
Found 5 seats for the date I needed… perpect I only need 4, currently booked on JL business but never been on an ANA let alone 4 in first suite.
On the phone for about 15 and it went down to 3 available and then all gone another page refresh. 55 min on hold… LOL good to know I didn’t even had a chance then.
Ouch. That hurts.
well, found 4 available departing 4 days earlier… well, for more days in Japan… not sure if it will work for us but we can worry about that later. called again. got busy signal like 4 times and got connected. it says wait time is now 60 min… it was 30 min earlier. Let’s see it’s a lucky day.
Probably better off using another miles currency that allows for immediate booking online… you’ll pay more miles but save on surcharges plus get ticketed right away.
Are you still on hold?
outbound was gone while on hold. Looking to try the return. on hold for 40 min now.
Every single outbound date was booked? I still see some availability on seatspy
probably not, haven’t checked. I already have the entire trip booked last year, just trying to replace outbound or inbound with this so only few days of wiggle room and need 4 seats. 2F and 2J would work but no Js on any dates. It has to be 7/14-7/18 but 0 dates available.
On hold for 1h12m… hoping to see if I can get on the return flight.
Finally got through after 1h 41m… hit the refresh and availability gone. oh well…I guess it’s better I didn’t get to book this. it would have made the trip a bit complicated… currently booked DPS-SIN-SEA on Singapore J… a simple 1 stop single carrier trip would have turned into a 3 stop milti carrier DPS-?-NRT/HND-SFO-SEA mess. It’s not like an suite with a shower. Done both Etihad apartment and Emirate F.
I keep getting a busy signal when trying to call Virgin!
I got busy signal several times on my mobile. Switched to my home phone (VOIP) and it worked first time. Odd.
I would love to book this, but I’ve been on hold with Virgin for 55 minutes lol
lol. Not that fast. I still see 5 seats on the example date used in the post.
Yeah sorry the United search page is just terrible for me. Found something nice but Virgin hold times will make it impossible for me to book before they sell out.
I’m just sitting on hold with Virgin…… 25 mins
Got through at about the 50 min mark, my preferred flights were gone but was able to book secondary dates, the HND to SFO fees really hurt….
Also I should learn to hold some points in Virgin from transfer bonuses in the future….
more F just now in their Jun-Oct schedules. Randomly searched July. 3-5 on the same flights. Just those Fridays/ Sats are gone fast or 1 left, even in Sep.
Eyeing Dec 🙂
It’s backkkkkk! Hopefully for Nov dates for next round.
Hey Nick, I am now seeing a bunch of first class seats available through June-Oct
Just a single seat though, right? I saw that this morning unless you’re seeing multiple seats?
Multiple seats, I am seeing as many as 5 seats for one flight
Most of them have 2+ seats per flight available
Aug 9th for example, HND to SFO 5 seats in first class available
Yes, thanks. I checked again immediately after responding to your comment and realized you were right. When I check this morning, it was one seat. Now I seem multiples. Must have changed around midnight Japan time. I updated the post and I’m about to republish it. Thanks for the heads up!
Oh well I passed yesterday. I’m holding out for JFK daytime flight over mountains and glaciers
They fly the new suite from JFK?
Yes, they do. But good luck finding availability.
Exactly. And VA is 30 days behind. Also check Chicago if it has new suites. Meanwhile let’s go to Frankfurt and Back with availability 😉
ORD usually has The Suite like every other day. Like they alternately an aircraft.
Paid more points by booking through ANA. I had points trapped there after a botched booking. Excited for my first trip to Japan!
Seats.aero is super helpful for finding/alerts on ANA space like this.
I can’t find any seats for the first 2 weeks of August
It’s probably gone now anyway, but you’ll see in the bullet point under the deal that I noted it was available until the first week of June. It was never available in August.
Book through Air Canada to avoid high fuel sub charges!
Saw this post about 1 hour after it went up and already slim pickings. Really wanted a round-trip experience (even if only 1 in the Suites), but only got one way. Now have to figure out how to get to Japan 🙂
Thanks for the quick post…definitely wanted to try ANA Suites for a while…let’s hope we can get to Japan to take the flight back!
Well….I got two seats TYO-SFO first class on May 4. Only one way. Now I gotta get there to fly home. 110K points for two seats. $900
Any idea how you’re going to handle Golden Week?
Previously had ANA business class seats with Virgin points. Was able to change outbound to first. But then I found out the inbound flight was canceled! Virgin tells me the points are currently in limbo. Told them to sit on it until I talk to ANA. Feel like both sides will play hot potato. Advice on how to handle this?
My experience: unless you get an automated rebooking from ANA onto the next flight, your only option will be to get a refund or rebook via Virgin (but only to a date where award inventory is available). ANA has never helped me on any booking that was made through Virgin
Thanks. This is pretty much what happened. ANA said it was out of their hands. Luckily was able to rebook first class through Virgin around original departure date. Unluckily had to split ticket – wife and I will be traveling different days.
The dates I wanted disappeared while on hold, should’ve called first and found the availability while on hold. But that’s an amazing tip on SeatSpy. Wondering if there’s some way to get SeatSpy to show United’s results for partner availability when United doesn’t fly the route.
I don’t think it’s by design, but a great discovery that it unintentionally works that way.
same, keeps disappearing like right after i make the booking request
I got through to Virgin and they said
“Unfortunately we put the request through to ANA and they returned no availability”
Asked to check other dates, and they said no unfortunately nothing.
We booked it. Hang up try again?
So hard to find anything on united.
Hate these deals. Great prices – but can’t get points there fast enough. Any tips ?
Points transfer to Virgin Atlantic instantly from all of the major currencies: Amex Membership Rewards, Chase Ultimate Rewards, Citi ThankYou Rewards, Capital One Miles, and Bilt
Just transferred some miles from Chase to Virgin to book this while on the phone with the agent. It did not happen instantly so the best they could do was put the reservation on hold. I hope that this has a positive resolution as it is a pretty sweet deal and I would hate to end up with a bunch of points stranded 🙂
UPDATE: My points transferred after 36 hours and I was able to call Virgin Atlantic and complete the booking! An oddity I noticed is that my miles balance hasn’t updated on Virgin Atlantic after the booking and it is still showing 110,000 miles (the amount I transferred). Is it normal for Virgin to lag in updating information? I am always anxious that stuff that is done over the phone may be done incorrectly and not actually go through.