ANA is Making Some of its Fantastic First Class Available for Awards in Advance

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.

(HT: Lucky)

About Gary Leff

Gary Leff is one of the foremost experts in the field of miles, points, and frequent business travel - a topic he has covered since 2002. Co-founder of frequent flyer community, emcee of the Freddie Awards, and named one of the "World's Top Travel Experts" by Conde' Nast Traveler (2010-Present) Gary has been a guest on most major news media, profiled in several top print publications, and published broadly on the topic of consumer loyalty. More About Gary »

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  1. Return in F on Air China? I think I’d rather fly United. As bad as United is, Air China is worse. Probably the worst transpacific First on any Asian carrier that I’ve experienced.

  2. And yet Ken reads this blog. Who is the one that has a problem?

    I see Lucky crediting Gary at least as often as Gary writes what Lucky does. I read them both, sometimes they have a different take, but I’m sure a lot of people read only one or the other.

  3. Ken- Take it easy. Chill out. Both Ben (lucky) and Gary have a good blog and offer good advice. I’ve racked up a huge amt of ff flyer and hotel pts because of both.

    Gary actually holds a FULL TIME job in addition to blogging and traveling. People like Ben and TPG blog and travel full time. It is amazing that Gary writes such detailed posts while holding a full time job. Which is harder? I think Ben and TPG live the cushy life. Gary actually lives in the real world and has a real job.

  4. obviously there are award spaces now…united has increased the award level for a N. America to SE Asia 1-way in first (the route I would consider using this service) from 70000 to 130000 miles(85%!!!). I’m sure that had something to do with scaring away a few potential first class pax.

  5. Ken,

    You are a loser. Whether one blogger has an issue with another blogger “copies” (if true) is not your concern. Its entirely between them.

    Just stop reading if you don’t like it.

  6. I can’t wait til I see you at the frequent flyer university. I would like to give you a creampie to the face.

  7. Gary, this is very useful information, thanks!

    Also – “Ken” is a troll who gets off on people reacting to him. He has nothing to contribute of any value. He’s wasting your time and the time of those who enjoy reading your blog. Why don’t you just ban him?

  8. Gary, Keep up the good work.
    Your no ban policy is admirable, but please do all your readers a favor and reconsider in this case.

  9. Ken, I think the observation above is correct, that Lucky credits me at least as often as I’m inspired by one of his posts. And I always do my best to give credit where due. It’s unsurprising that we’ll cover the same sorts of things, one of us will be first in any given instance, we’re both covering miles and points and he and I probably agree on more than most bloggers. Sounds to me like you only need to read one of us, and you enjoy his blog more, sticking to that would be a better decision for you I think.. but I will hold back from criticizing your decisions. Or your palate.

  10. Gary;

    Can you tell me the YQ for LAX to Narita? Is RT double one way?

    As long as you don’t go Hello Kitty on me, I don’t mine stuff that’s on other blogs. And I love the Thai food coverage.

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