a row of seats with screens

Just about everyone who reads a blog knows about one of the best mileage redemptions still going, which is for first class or business travel on All Nippon (ANA) and booked via Virgin Atlantic Flying Club Miles. I’ve done it many times, love it every time and have also written about it for years, along with everyone else. But today I learned that you could do something I didn’t previously know, and I find it quite exciting, even if it’s a bit niche.

You can “open jaw” these ANA First and business class awards which means you can go 2/3 of the way around the world on one simple ticket. It turns an already cool way to travel into a practically around the world trip for 95,000 or 120,000 points respectively. You may have known that, but the open jaw  may be able to extend a bit wider than you previously thought…

a row of seats with screens on the sideCan You Open Jaw ANA Awards With Virgin Atlantic

Yes, you can. Many people already considered this as a great option for flying out of and into different US cities to help with availability, but a reader recently informed me that they booked something a bit more exotic. They booked London-Tokyo-New York for the exact same price as a London – Tokyo trip, or a New York – Tokyo – New York trip.

Personally, I’d always wondered if this were possible. I suppose I could’ve just asked. Either way, the best part of this (quasi job?) is that you really can learn something every day, and I now have renewed inspiration to book one.

a map of the worldBut what this means is that you get nearly around the world in ANA First Class (including the new seat) for 120,000 miles, and if you want you can combine it with business class. The same kind reader sent me their itinerary which came out to 107,500 miles and £390 in taxes and surcharges (it’s lower if you avoid London) for one leg in first and one in business. Both in first would be 120,000 and both in business would be 95,000.

You can stop in Tokyo in the middle as long as you like…

I was on the first ever flight with the new business class suites from London, and I have to say, even though first class is amazing, doing this in a business class this outstanding – I’d argue world’s best seat – is pretty tempting too. Here’s a preview of business class on “The Room”.

a crowd of people crossing a streetThis Is Such A Cool Redemption, With Easy Points

People love to bang on about ANA around the world tickets using ANA miles, but unless you have a boat load of Marriott Bonvoy Points, or Amex Points in the USA, you’re out of luck there. However, with Virgin Atlantic, you’ve got so many transfer partners from whom you can instantly create Virgin Atlantic Flying Club Miles, including Chase, Citi, Amex, Marriott, Hilton and Hyatt.

It’s also worth noting that those in the USA can earn up to 80,000 Virgin Atlantic Flying Club Miles with the limited time Virgin Atlantic World Elite Mastercard bonus. That gets you more than 2/3 the way without a whole lot of effort…

a seat in an airplaneBanks in the USA quite often have 20-40% bonuses on transfers to Virgin Atlantic, which means you can actually use under 95,000 credit card points to book one of these. Imagine a trip that leaves New York, spends a few days in Tokyo and then flies onto London after that – all for 120,000 Virgin Atlantic miles for sublime ANA first class.

You can start on either side of the pond, and really, you’d just need one more flight to connect the dots between New York and London to finish, whichever side you’re on at that point. The same would work for Los Angeles, San Francisco, etc. I’m sure many of you are more savvy with these things than I, but I hadn’t ever seen this possibility noted, and going nearly around the world in total style sounds like fun to me…

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. Hi, if you call VS to boost your miles is it processed by the airline itself, making it eligible for airfare/travel multipliers?

  2. Technically possible? Yup…Realistic? probably not. a search for saver award yielded one…ONE ..seat available between now and August Tokyo to London. Turning that into a East coast (or west coast) Tokyo to London and back again is a miracle…Good find who ever did it!!!!

  3. I had no idea this would be possible and it is pretty awesome that it is. I wouldn’t mind an LAX-NRT-LHR trip! Does NH have other destinations in Europe that they service with F that would price out the same? I’m just wondering if this would be a good fit for one of those cheap ex-EU fares that constantly pop us (and that us Americans don’t get access to).

  4. I was interested and checked it out myself. Looks like NH also flies their F cabin to FRA. There is considerably more availability to FRA from TYO in F than there is to LON, although it looks like there’s only ever one F ticket and one J ticket available as awards on HND-FRA (and this is looking far out, close to end of schedule).

    There seems to be much more availability in the other direction, FRA-HND, but still not a ton (and only one seat a flight, although oftentimes one seat on each of the two daily).

  5. @gilbert..ouch!!!. I must’ve missed your other article but if you say so. Maybe I’m just sour grapes because I NEVER seem to be able to find these deals! Glad for the other people who have though

    1. Haha naughty corner for you 😉. I find ANA avail comes in waves. We just had one, right now we’re paddling out and enjoying the surf. Set up ExpertFlyer alerts etc, and I have full faith you will get exactly what you are hoping for 🤞.

  6. I was lucky enough to use the Virgin / ANA redemption in May for First and Business Class seats – and it was amazing – after seeing your orig article on the deal. I have read the article above again and am missing something – how would you “ask” how to do this on the phone to Virgin?

    Also, is it (in theory) London – Tokyo – New York and back to London on the same return ticket – or would the NYC leg to London be another booking / ticket – is the London – Tokyo – New York the “first leg” of a return flight, with just a stop-over in NYC?

  7. What are the taxes like on nyc-tyo-lon in business/first Vs the other way around as usually ex UK award flights are expensive with APD?

  8. Hello.

    I plan to book for my wife and I so have been checking availability on and off for the past few months.

    US routes often have 2 or more F seats available, but Europe (LHR, FRA) seem to only ever have 1 F seat available per flight.

    So you ever see Europe flights with 2 or more F seats available?

    1. Rarely in F at the same time, but quite often it works well to grab one in business, one in first and ANA typically opens up another one at some point so you can just pay difference in miles.

      1. Hi Gilbert

        Thanks again for this great article.

        As Benito says though, it does seem that in reality it’s based at the solo traveller? i.e. you just never really see ANA open up 2 X F seats at once on a Europe flight? Where have you usually seen 2 X F before, since you have lots of experience of booking this ANA award?

        And how do you suggest that it works in practice for booking an F return via Virgin ? Surely by the time you have waited say, for example, one or two weeks for the inbound space to open up and to call Virgin to book it … the F (even C) availability for your outbound would have likely gone?


  9. Also a tip for people asking about calling to book this with Virgin you are can use there SMS/Text service which is super awesome and very convenient rather than having to spend so long on the phone with some one.My preferred option of interacting with Virgin just hope more airlines where to offer such a convenient option.Am also booked in for my LHR-TOK-NYC in June in J and F so I can experience both the cabins.Thanks to Gilbert’s post about dates available it was super easy to book.Keep the good stuff coming G

  10. I just tried this and failed. Had the availability LHR-HND-ORD on the United site, but when I called Virgin to book, the agent said that the trip had to start and end in London as one way trips were not permitted and I was booking a trip from London to Chicago with a stopover (of 3 weeks!), so it was not a return ticket and couldn’t be booked. He didn’t even try – just told me it wasn’t possible. I’ll try again in the hope of getting a different answer. Has anyone had any success or know how I need to ask for this to get the agent to book it?

  11. Yup. Got it booked just now. I asked for an open jaw yesterday, but the agent was adamant that I could only book LON-TYO-LON (wouldn’t even allow inbound to FRA). The guy yesterday also said that he couldn’t check live inventory and it would be up to 48 hours.
    Today I spoke to Jack who was brilliant and within 11 minutes (including all the pre-recorded preamble and little post-booking discussion of the saga) I’m booked LHR-HND-ORD with PNRs for VS and NH.

    For anyone who wants to know, Jack read me the fare rules.

    Open jaws are permitted where the start and end destinations are in the same mileage zone. Where the start and end destinations are in different mileage zones, the higher mileage must be charged for the entire trip. Single fares are not permitted.

    Thanks Gilbert – great tip 🙂

      1. Hi Gilbert,
        Long time reader here.
        I want to let you know as I just got a off the phone with VS to change the booking I had on NH.
        I was booked TYO-LHR / FRA-TYO and I’ve flown TYO-LHR already.
        Was able to change my return from FRA-TYO to ORD-TYO!
        So, a Toyko-europle / US-Tokyo open jaw should work depending on the agent you get.

  12. Another data point on this: I just booked ORD-HND, HND-JFK in F, as a round trip, Virgin people had no trouble at all with it. Excited to get the new config on the return at least.

  13. Do you know if with VS redemption on NH, if RT mixed cabin combineability is allowed? ie: HNDJFK in F then JFKNRT in J..etc.?

    1. It absolutely is, but you’ll pay higher price in miles I believe. Best way is to book the mixed cabin and then set alerts for when they inevitably open another f seat, or downgrade to J etc.

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