a piece of raw tuna on a plate

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…

a seat in a plane
Note to self: this is ANA’s new 777-300er business class, not first class.


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.

a piece of raw tuna on a plateSushi

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…

a crowd of people crossing a streetMiles

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.


Gilbert Ott

Gilbert Ott is an ever curious traveler and one of the world's leading travel experts. His adventures take him all over the globe, often spanning over 200,000 miles a year and his travel exploits are regularly...

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  1. if you’re going to fly that far and pollute that much, don’t you think you could bother to stay for just a little more than a sushi dinner?

    at least we know who to blame for climate change…

    not visiting your site any more and going to write to your advertisers too…

    1. Everyone is pretty high and mighty on this stuff until they need to go somewhere. I booked this trip 2 days ago, at which the plane was 100% going to be flying with or without me.

      I also…

      1) don’t drive a car.
      2) take mass transit to airports.
      3) buy local fruit and vegetables.
      4) recycle as much as possible and avoid plastic.
      5) donate money to conservation initiatives.

      Are you 5/5?

      1. I’m 5/5 and I’m going to call you on this. Those five are effectively cancelled out by this one thing. Superfluous international trips make you an ass where the climate is concerned. And I don’t care if it’s for a review. If you’re going to do it, then just do it, and at least own it. We all do things that aren’t the right thing in the big picture, but it’s worse when we hide behind excuses. My cousin is a massive Trump supporter but always brags about teaching at an inner city school. Guess which part of that equation rings louder in the real world?

    2. The fashion industry pollutes more than aviation and shipping combined, and not lets even discuss agriculture!
      Plus I’m fairly sure the flight would go without GSTP being onboard…

  2. Have fun. The last time I was in Tokyo, it was for 12 hours and for one uber eats sushi delivery. Don’t take the above posters personally.

  3. Gilbert you have to live with that. Finally we have found the caise of global warming. LOL. Poor bob i think he is just envy.

  4. I’m a sushi lover myself and would absolutely fly to Tokyo for a day for sushi alone. A month ago I tried Sushi Ginza Onodera and thought it was pretty good. Where have you made reservations for this trip?

  5. I don’t get the view some people have. The extra weight of one person on the flight is negligible. The flight is going to go regardless. I for one am flying to New York on CX J from YVR for the night, just because I can with points.
    Have fun in Tokyo, I’m envious and hope to acquire that amount of miles some day.

  6. Nothing wrong with flying to Tokyo for sushi, but at least have 2 sushi meals. Just a single sushi meal is a bit wasteful, lol

  7. So jealous of this trip!

    What are your must do Tokyo sushi spots? I’m heading in Sep for the first time. Any ones that are amazing, traditional and not impossible to get a reservation at would be greatly appreciated! Thanks Gilbert!

    1. Hey Peter, a lovely reader hooked me up with one on this trip so assuming it’s as good as everyone says, I’ll pass it along. Email me!

  8. Enjoy your trip ! Japan and a brand new C seat is awesome ! I did a couple years ago a 3-day weekend trip following a “flash/error fare” on QR from AMS for 550€ and it was one of my best flying memories ! I guess you will do a nice flight review for all of us staying on the ground right ?

  9. Fantastic!!!

    Bob is clearly a troll and green with Envy. Total plonker.

    Looking forward to reading the review as I am flying with them in December first class and whilst you are not booked in first, it will still give me a good idea of it all!

  10. Is there any updated info on when JFK will get these new seats? I can’t find any updates regarding the rollout.

  11. Well it’s been a few days and the brouhaha about your travel to Tokyo has died down a bit. All I’ll say is that it’s not the sort of extravagance in which I would engage, but I am not you.

    It does sound like you have a real awareness of the privilege you enjoy, to be able to fly overseas for a meal, and you do what you can to offset the burden a trip like that places on the environment. Personally, I couldn’t ask for anyone to do more than that especially considering, as you note, it’s kind of your job to travel. If trips like yours became impossible or utterly impractical due to (someday) worldwide regulation of pollution, I’d be glad yet sad at the same time.

    Until then, though, I’m happy to have read your article, and will continue to enjoy visiting your site.

    1. Thanks Chris for an extremely fair and balanced take here. It’s not perfect, but I really do care about the issue and hope more will be done to counteract our effects on the environment. Best regards, Gilbert.

  12. This is great, I actually did something similar in June, flew from Melbourne to Hong Kong, in J, using points, for a night, because I fancied having drinks while watching the lights over Victoria Harbour. I had the same thoughts, that it’s a level of luxury and extravagance that I’m ridiculously lucky to be able to experience.

    The environmental thing did come to mind to, like you I booked very close in, that plane was flying regardless. I also endeavour to recycle whatever I can (ignoring the issue Australia’s having with recycling at the moment), minimise my waste and I’m overly anal when it comes to making sure things are turned off (less gas/electricity used, etc.). I do drive, and a significant distance, given my job, and also live in a huge, sparsely populated country, so that’s not something I can change easily, but I’m not driven a Range Rover Sport to the shops, or picking the kids up in a Lambo, so it could be worse.

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