Thank you, air miles…
It doesn’t matter where you are, how much you’re worth or what you’re into – as humans, we all have cravings. One frequent one for me: sushi. Living in London, I feel deprived of quality sushi after life in New York, but for the “real thing” there’s no place quite like Tokyo. Thanks to air miles, a love of nerdy plane things and a quest for the perfect sushi rice, wasabi and toro combo, I’m going to Tokyo for dinner… and then coming back. I’d imagine you have questions…
I, like many people around the world was genuinely stunned when All Nippon Airways (ANA) unveiled their new business and first class seats with privacy doors on both. I was even more excited when I saw that the exclusive new seats would debut on the London to Tokyo Haneda route. For weeks, I’ve been looking to see if the airline would open any seats on the inaugural flights up for points bookings – and yesterday, at long last, they did.
Using a stash of Virgin Atlantic miles, I paid 95,000 points and £350 for a round trip in ANA business class with direct flights from London Heathrow to Tokyo’s more convenient Haneda at the last minute to make this happen, and I couldn’t be happier. Tokyo is a treat, but a brand new seat which no other commercial passenger has flown in is rare air.
Thanks to Virgin Atlantic’s text message customer service, I made the reservation while watching a movie, just by texting my desired flights and entering a few details to complete the booking. You really can’t ask for much better value, or ease of booking. I’d always go to Tokyo for one night of sushi, but to combine it with my love of travel is a rare pleasure.
I’d argue that there’s no singular pleasure in eating greater than a perfect piece of sushi. Perhaps it’s the immaculate texture of the rice and fish, or the flavour balance between delicate vinegar, soy and spice, but when it’s done right, it’s just wow. As noted, I feel deprived of good sushi in London, and all aviation geek reasons to visit Tokyo aside, I can’t wait to have a true, proper sushi meal in the place that does it best.
Thanks to the wonderful network of kind readers I’ve met on here, a new friend named Jason hooked me up with a very hard to get sushi reservation at a place which will remain anonymous until I’ve had a chance to experience it. I’ve done some of the best in Tokyo, and it’s always such a wild indulgence to see how the very best compare.
Every once in a while, it’s cool to pinch myself and think about how the thing that I write about really can make a difference and change the parts of the world that people are able to see. I’m living proof that miles are more than a hobby. Speaking of which…
This is an example of how something I could never personally do using cash is possible thanks to points. I’m very lucky to earn a nice living wage which allows me to travel well constantly and provide for my family, but I’m not tech entrepreneur rich. Being able to jump on an opportunity to live both my aviation and Japan nerd dreams at once is entirely thanks to points and miles, and it re-kindles my love for the basics.
I recently wrote about how Virgin was offering a 40% bonus on Mileage Booster, and I’ve written for years about how earning transferrable currencies, which allow you to turn credit card points into the airline miles of your choice is a savvy play. This was a perfect storm where they all came together to get me the points I needed to experience a seat on its very first day, and also stuff my face with sushi to hold me over until the next time I’m lucky enough to visit Japan.
If anyone’s ever told you miles are pointless, or you’ll never collect enough to really enjoy them, please remember a few things. You absolutely can collect miles at home every day, without travelling. Furthermore, you can earn 100,000’s of miles by maximizing your spending with the right cards and welcome bonuses, and you can always earn miles on things you’d be buying anyway, if you kick the lazy habits most consumers have.
Being able to say “flying to Tokyo for dinner” is cool, and I can only get away with it thanks to miles.