35k-Award Drop to Tokyo (insane value!)

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📋 In the realm of air travel, every procedure serves a purpose—even things like dimming cabin lights during takeoff and landing. Former flight attendant Sue Fogwell told Travel + Leisure about the safety rationale behind this practice – and you can read more about it here 

Ciao, friends! I’m back for one more round as your mid-week pick-me-up 💁🏻‍♀️ But not to fear—you’ll be in Mike’s trusty hands tomorrow.

Let’s get to today’s travel goods:

✈️ 35k-Award Drop to Tokyo (insane value!)

The Daily Drop team just stumbled upon these CRAZY last-minute deals, so I’m getting straight to the point.

There is a ton of business class award availability from varying U.S. and Canadian cities to Tokyo for the month of May… and all for just 35,000 points!

This process may seem intense for some of you, but let me show you how I typically go about it.

My search starts off with going to seats.aero and using the free version that allows you to search for routes that are less than 60 days out.

Because my two main home airports are Seattle and Vancouver, I’m always monitoring routes from there, and here’s just two results out of dozens that I found throughout May 👇

55k points for economy and 110k points for business

I’m also seeing TONS of options from other cities like Chicago, JFK, Houston, and Los Angeles.

I’m interested in the flight from YVR to HND, but the 110k points for business class don’t excite me. However, the fact that United (a Star Alliance member) is listed as the airline piques my interest for a very specific reason…

I first want to verify that the award redemption is available, so I go to United’s website, find the exact flight, and see that there is availability for that route 👇

But the most important detail here is what’s in the red highlighted box—that flight is actually operated by the oh-so-luxurious and fantastic All Nippon Airways.

Now the 787-9 model listed may not feature “The Room,” but the staggered business class seats found on this aircraft are still bougie AF in my opinion.

Four images showing ANA's business class

But here’s where it gets good… 😏

Virgin Atlantic’s Flying Club loyalty program offers a very niche sweet spot specifically when redeeming on ANA.

Virgin uses a zone-based award chart for travel on ANA where you can fly business class from the mainland U.S. starting at 45,000 points one way (the chart below shows round-trip values).

Virgin Atlantic's award chart for ANA

Virgin’s award chart for ANA

But… the annoying thing about this is you can’t search for or book ANA award redemptions on Virgin’s website using Virgin’s points 😅

Please, just bear with me.

But since ANA is a Star Alliance member, I would suggest using another program, like United or Air Canada, to search for all Star Alliance award availability online (as I first demonstrated above).

If you’ve found a route that you want and there appears to be availability, now it’s time to call Virgin Atlantic to confirm this and book it—yes, you must call them 😩

As a bonafide millennial, I will do anything I can to avoid talking on the phone to another human. But I’ll put my social anxiety aside for this and just freaking call them.

Virgin’s reps are quite lovely, to be honest, as I’ve done this in the past. You can reach them from the U.S. by calling 800-365-9500.

An image of Virgin Atlantic staff standing in uniform

Give the rep the exact flights and class of service you want, and in many cases, they should be able to confirm this for you within a few minutes.

If not, they’ll provide you with instructions on how to get in touch again while they wait to hear from ANA.

If availability has been confirmed, Virgin can actually hold ANA award seats for up to 48 hours. This is important because…

There is currently a 30% transfer bonus from MR points to Virgin Atlantic. 🎉

That means you have plenty of time to transfer over some points to Virgin while they hold your spot with ANA for the next two days.

THIS ALSO MEANS that with this 30% bonus, you’ll only need to transfer over 35,000 MR points to yield 45,000 Virgin Atlantic points to book yourself a business class seat across the Pacific.

*And exhale*

That was… a lot.

But totally worth it because instead of paying over $3,400 for this flight, it will only cost you 35,000 MR points!

🛍️ Earn a 10% cash-back boost with Rakuten

One of our favorite shopping portals is running a nice little bonus right now!

Through May 13, 2024, Rakuten will offer a 10% cash-back boost (up to $50) on purchases made within the first seven days after signing up. This applies to new members only.

Screenshot showing Rakuten's new offer on a purple background

Plus, this 10% boost will be applied on top of any cash-back that you’d already be earning 🤗

So for example, if you went to make a purchase through a retailer that offered 5% cash-back, you’d actually get a cool 15% back.

And if you’re already a Rakuten member, you can still get in on the action by referring a friend.

You’ll earn $40 if that referred friend meets their spending requirement within the first 30 days of signing up.

But perhaps what we like most about Rakuten is the ability to turn your cash-back earnings into valuable MR points!

This means that the extra 10% cash-back boost could actually be 10X MR points per dollar to put towards future travel 👀

It’s an excellent way to accelerate how you earn MR points, and in fact, we’ve got a new YouTube video that dives into how you can maximize this in the best way possible 👇

Thumbnail for a YouTube video that says Rakuten 21X points

😂 Meme

A travel meme with Jennifer Aniston making a "deep thoughts" face

I am guilty of this…

Thanks for spending the last two mornings with me! We’ve got some great stuff planned for the rest of the week, so stick around for that 😊


Tiffany Eastham
Writer & editor, Daily Drop

52°22'35.4"N 52°15'17.4"W

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