Ultimate Guide to Booking Flights to Japan


Japan is on many people’s travel bucket lists! And for good reason. I loved my recent trip to Japan! Since so many people are interested in traveling there, here is the Ultimate Guide to booking flights to Japan. On points and miles, of course!

I like to check out nonstop options for the city I am flying to on Flight Connections. This is how to start building a flight and lets me search for the best options for positioning flights. I will look at the flights from the United States for my search.


Screenshot Flight Connections direct lights to Tokyo


All Nippon Airways (ANA)

One of the cheapest, but not easiest, ways to book a flight to Japan is through ANA. American Express Membership Rewards is the only transfer partner of ANA, but luckily, it is pretty easy to be approved for their credit cards that earn Membership Rewards.

If you want to fly on ANA, you must book almost a year out, as their award flights get snagged early. However, at only 75K miles roundtrip in business class and 40K miles in economy, they are a steal. One thing to note is that you have to book a roundtrip flight on ANA when you redeem miles. The fuel surcharge is relatively high, though, so keep that in mind. It was easy to find economy availability, but the dates I looked at for business class were waitlisted. Personally, I won’t book a waitlisted flight.



Screenshot ANA flight to Tokyo from Seattle


Japan Airlines (JAL)

Jess flew to Japan this year aboard Japan Airlines. She used American Airlines miles (they are part of the One World Alliance) and booked a flight from Tokyo to Chicago for 60K miles in business class on the AA site for her return trip. That is a great deal!

I suggest using the 30-day calendar to find dates – I found a few first-class dates for 80K each way.


screenshot award flight to Tokyo


Economy class on  AA is really easy to find at 35K miles each way!


Screenshot 30-day calendar on flights to Tokyo

Looking at a 30-day calendar makes booking award flights so much easier!


United Airlines

From my home airport of Denver, I can consistently find good flights in economy to Tokyo for 35K miles each way and $5.60 in taxes/fees. However, business was around 200K miles.


Screenshot United flights to Tokyo


But if I positioned to Chicago (ORD) or San Francisco (SFO), I found some business class flights for 88K miles – that is what I would do! Positioning flights helps me consistently find business class seats for under 100K in points/miles.


screenshot of united flight to Tokyo


Cathay Pacific

Cathay Pacific is also a member of the One World Alliance, as is American Airlines and Japan Airlines, so we should find availability here. All transferable currencies besides Chase Ultimate Rewards points transfer to Cathay Pacific.

I found availability in economy from JFK for 38K miles and in business, nonstop for 89K miles. Guess which one I would choose?




This is a flight on Japan Airlines and costs more than booking through AA, but it may be desirable because Cathay Pacific Asia Miles might be easier to come by than AA miles.


Aeroplan Miles

This is Air Canada’s mileage program, and every currency transfers to Air Canada, which makes it very doable. ANA business class flights can occasionally be booked on this site, but they are hard to find. They are more available for last-minute flights. Economy class is quite easy to find.


screenshot Air Canada site to Tokyo


Bottom Line

We hope this Ultimate Guide to Booking Flights to Japan will help you as you plan your trip to Japan on points/miles. Economy class seats are pretty easy to find on several airlines. Business class seats are harder to find, and you will want to book way ahead or at the last minute.

Bicycles parked outside building with Japanese signage

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  1. Amanda H says:

    Hi! This is great – couple questions / where can I find a step by step guide (like I’m a 5 year old) on how to transfer the points and find the flight. I need a flights for 6 people I have 360k American Express points. So economy is preferred.

  2. Hannah says:

    Looking into booking a Japan trip in 2025 from west coast US for business class! I’m currently only on blue bank currency.

    I’m surprised to not see ANA booking via United/Virgin here that I’ve seen talked about. Is that because it’s incredibly hard to find/make work?

    Is it possible to book AA or Japan with OneWorld Alliance via British Airways?

    Similarly, it looks like there are a few Delta routes; can Delta be booked via KLM/Flyingblue/SKy Team with blue bank points?

    Any advice/help more specific to bluebank bookings would be much appreciated and I’m sure could help others too. Thank you!

    • Pam says:

      There are a ton of other ways to book into Japan but some, like ANA, are so difficult that I couldn’t even find an example to put into the post so left it out.

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