ANA’s first class service between the US and Tokyo is tough, tough, tough to get.
Through the first half of the last decade it was easy, but back then there were 12 first class seats per plane. Then they went to 8 and it became nearly non-existent.
Things thawed a bit 2008 – 2011 .. with space offered both within a week or two of flight and also far in advance for the winter months. Outside of those two periods, nothing. And more recently they stopped even opening up seats during the winter months.
But right now there is a ton of award space in first class for one passenger booked far in advance, including over the summer months. And there are even a handful of sporadic days where you’ll find two first class seats available especially on the Chicago – Tokyo route. (I momentarily thought availability for two passengers was good on San Francisco – Tokyo but that turned out to be flying United.)
If you can only find a date to work in one direction, return on the wide open Air China first class award space.
Service is fantastic (albeit very Japanese so Americans often find it quite formal).
Food is among the best in the sky, both the Western options and especially if you’ll enjoy a good example of a Japanese kaiseki meal. And they serve Krug.
Here’s my trip report flying alone in ANA first class Chicago – Tokyo. It’s their old first class, which used to be called New First to contrast with their recliner full flat ‘Super Style’ first class that I flew up until ~ 2006. Here’s Tokyo – Washington Dulles from 2011, with their first class lounge in Tokyo. Here’s Dulles – Tokyo in 2009.
These are examples of ANA’s 777 first class. Flights operated by ’77W’ will be their new ANA First Square product. Choose those when you can.
Here’s what various programs charge:
- Aeroplan charges 105,000 miles each way for first class between the US and their ‘Asia 1’ region. American Express points transfer instantly to Aeroplan. Aeroplan adds fuel surcharges to ANA awards.
- United charges 110,000 miles each way for (partner) first class between the US and Japan. Points transfer instantly from Chase Ultimate Rewards.
- Avianca’s Lifemiles charges 75,000 miles each way presently between the US and North Asia.
- ANA — which adds fuel surcharges to award tickets, and into which you can transfer Amex points but it’ll usually take ~ 48 hours — may charge the fewest miles especially if you’re just flying to and from Tokyo (110,000 miles roundtrip from the West Coast and 120,000 from Chicago or the East Coast).
You can continue onward from Tokyo of course, though generally just in business class for intra-Asia routes.
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