Sweet Spot Spotlight: R/T to Japan from 55k +$53

For just 55,000 miles plus $53 and taxes and fees, you can fly round trip from Seattle to Tokyo. You’ll be flying on Delta for this sweet spot — but you’ll be getting this price by booking your flight through their partner, Virgin Atlantic. If you leverage some transfer bonuses — like the 30% one Chase has right now for Virgin Atlantic, you can get it for even less! If you transfer just 39,000 points to Virgin Atlantic from Chase Ultimate Rewards, you’ll end up 55,000 Virgin Atlantic miles — enough for a round trip to Tokyo. Even better, I will show you a trick to find availability on these easily.

What makes this a sweet spot?

If you book directly on Delta, this flight often costs 100,000 points or more round trip. Other airlines charge 70,000 or more for a round trip from North America to Japan.

Side note: Even 70,000 points round trip is a great price. We plan to use American Airlines miles to fly from Chicago to Japan next year and will spend 70,000 points each.

Even though you would fly on Delta, you’ll be booking on Virgin Atlantic, which partners with Delta through SkyTeam Alliance.

When you use Virgin Atlantic miles to book a partner flight, Virgin prices it by distance. Seattle just happens to be in the distance that puts the flight at 27,500 miles each way, making it the cheapest option for flights from North America to Tokyo.

Which airports are best?

You’ll get the best pricing when you book on a nonstop Delta flight. This is because Virgin Atlantic prices by distance. Delta flies six routes from North America to Tokyo’s Haneda (HND) airport.

55,000 Miles Round Trip: SEA

Seattle is the shortest flight and short enough that this will cost just 27,500 miles each way. There are also flights from Portland PDX, but I did not see any availability to book via Virgin Atlantic.

70,000 Miles Round Trip: LAX, MSP

In the next distance/price band, you’ll find Los Angeles and Minneapolis. These flights will cost 35,000 miles each way.

90,000 Miles Round Trip: DTW, ATL

The most expensive would be the flights from Detroit and Atlanta. Bot of these would cost 45,000 miles each way.

What if I don’t live by those airports?

If you don’t live in Seattle, LA, Minneapolis, Detroit, or Atlanta, you could still use this sweet spot. You can book connecting flights wholly within Virgin Atlantic if you choose to. From Chicago, for instance, I could book for 42,500 miles each way. I saw flights from Boston for 46,500 each way. Because Virgin Atlantic miles are easy to earn, this still might make sense for a lot of people!

Another option, and the one we’d do if we were going to book this, is to book a separate flight to and from Seattle — with a day in between for wiggle room. We’d book on Southwest and use our Companion Passes and then use hotel points to stay at an airport hotel. We don’t like long travel days and find that an overnight layover is the easiest way to make long journeys more tolerable as a family.

Trick to find availability: Virgin Reward Seat Checker

Normally you’d have to search one week at a time to find availability for this — but there’s a simple workaround to allow you to see a month at a time.

You’ll be going to Virgin’s Reward Seat Checker and selecting Delta airlines with any of the airports listed. Then you’ll be changing the airport codes to reflect the routes you actually want to see pricing for. In the image below, you can see it says LHR and SEA for the airport codes.

We want HND and SEA instead. So if you edit this in the search bar (use all capitals!) it will give us the information we actually want.

Here’s a sample search I pulled for February 2024.

YouTube Walkthrough of Finding Availability

You can also follow along in this YouTube video of how to find availability

How to earn Virgin Atlantic miles

Transfer Points from These Banks

The following points all transfer to Virgin Atlantic at a 1:1 ratio: Chase Ultimate Rewards, American Express Membership Rewards, and Citi ThankYou Points. Capital One miles transfer to Virgin Red, which in turn lets you transfer to Virgin Atlantic.

That means if you have any of these transferrable points, you can transfer and book this!

Some banks even run bonus promotions — currently (As of May 10, 2023), you can transfer Chase Ultimate Rewards to Virgin Atlantic and earn a 30% bonus!

Open a New Credit Card

Any cards that earn those transferrable points would help you earn points for this flight. Here are a few of the top offers.

Chase Sapphire Preferred® Card: 60,000 points

Earn 60,000 Ultimate Rewards points after you spend $4,000 on purchases in the first 3 months from account opening.

  • $95 annual fee
  • No foreign transaction fees
  • $50 annual Ultimate Rewards Hotel Credit
  • $15 per quarter statement credit for Instacart
  • Great transfer options to Hyatt, United, Southwest, and more
  • Earn 3x on dining, select streaming services, and online grocery

The Chase Sapphire Preferred is one of my top beginner cards for miles & points. This limited time bonus can get you at least $1000 of travel. The travel insurance it provides is top tier, too! Get this card early in your travel points journey, it’s a keeper.

A publicly available online offer for 80,000 points ran from March 2023-May 2023. Another 80,000 point bonus ended in Fall 2022. Standard bonus is 60,000 points.

An offer for 100,000 points ended in Fall 2021.

Capital One Venture X
Capital One® Venture X Rewards Credit Card: Earn 75,000 bonus miles
  • Earn 75,000 bonus miles when you spend $4,000 on purchases in the first 3 months from account opening, equal to $750 in travel
  • $395 annual fee
  • $300 annual travel credit when booking through Capital One’s portal
  • 10,000 points every year on account anniversary (worth at least $100)
  • Statement credit for Global Entry or TSA Precheck
  • Easy airport lounge access for your whole family
  • Miles can be redeemed to erase any travel purchase. 75,000 miles = $750
  • Can be transferred to a variety of partners like Jet Blue, Wyndham, Avianca, Turkish Airways and more.
  • Get our downloadable checklist here so you can max your benefits
Citi Premier Offer
Citi Premier® Card – 75,000 bonus points (non-affiliate link)
  • $95 annual fee
  • Earn 75,000 bonus ThankYou® Points after you spend $4,000 in purchases within the first 3 months of account opening. Plus, for a limited time, earn a total of 10 ThankYou® Points per $1 spent on hotel and car rentals bookings on the Citi Travel portal through June 30, 2024
  • Thank You Points can be transferred to a variety of partners like Jet Blue, Avianca, Turkish Airways, Choice and more. Points double when transferred to Choice!
  • You can also cash out your points. 60,000 points = $600
  • See my full guide to the card here
  • My favorite redemptions on this card are Ascend Properties in the US, Choice Hotels in Europe, and redeeming for tickets to Hawaii.
American Express® Gold Card – 90,000 points + $200 credit offer via referral (non-affiliate link)

All information about the American Express Gold Card® has been collected independently by Katie’s Travel Tricks. The Gold Card® is no longer available through Katie’s Travel Tricks.

(not my referral link, this is just the best offer)

  • $250 annual fee (Terms Apply | Rates and Fees)
  • Earn 90,000 Membership Rewards® after you spend $4,000 on purchases on your new Card in your first 6 months of Card Membership.
  • $120 total annual Uber credits ($10 per month) and $120 total annual restaurant credits (to certain restaurants, $10 per month), enrollment required
  • 4x earning at restaurants worldwide, including Takeout and Delivery in the U.S.
  • 4x earning at U.S. Supermarkets, on up to $25,000 per calendar year in purchases

Learn More About Transferring Points

There are lots of different ways to transfer points to get more value out of your points. Sign up for my free transfer partner guide for a primer — it also includes a downloadable cheatsheet with the major programs and airlines they transfer to.

You’ll also find more information in my free course at learn.katiestraveltricks.com

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