Japan: Land of the Rising Sun

Japan: Land of the Rising Sun

When you think of Japan, budget travel is not what comes to mind. It may not be cheap to visit, but it is not extravagantly expensive either. And you only have to pay the taxes to fly to Japan if you are using miles. Here is how you do it.

Travel options to Japan from the U.S. are abundant. Since most people prefer non-stop flights, we’ve compiled a list of airlines and cities that you can redeem your miles from.

Star Alliance

United Airlines flies between Tokyo and the following U.S. cities:

Imperial Palace
Imperial Palace

  • Washington
  • Newark
  • Chicago
  • Denver
  • Houston
  • Los Angeles
  • San Francisco
  • Honolulu

All Nippon Airlines (ANA) flies between Tokyo and the following U.S. cities:

  • Washington
  • New York
  • Chicago
  • Los Angeles
  • San Francisco
  • Seattle

Oneworld

American Airlines flies between Tokyo and the following U.S. cities:

  • Chicago
  • Dallas
  • Los Angeles

Japan Airlines flies between Tokyo and the following U.S. cities:

Rainbow Bridge in Tokyo
Rainbow Bridge in Tokyo

  • New York
  • Chicago
  • San Diego
  • Los Angeles

SkyTeam

Delta Airlines flies between Tokyo and the following U.S. cities:

  • New York
  • Atlanta
  • Detroit
  • Minneapolis/St. Paul
  • Portland
  • Los Angeles
  • Seattle
  • Honolulu

China Airlines flies between Tokyo and Honolulu.

There are also flights between Kyoto and the following U.S. cities:

  • New York on China Airlines (SkyTeam)
  • Los Angeles on United (Star Alliance)
  • Honolulu on Japan Airlines (oneworld), Hawaiian (partners with American and Delta), and Delta (SkyTeam)

If you book with American Airlines, the cost of your redemption depends on the season. The carrier has seasonal discounts to Japan between October 1 and April 30, when the flight will only cost you 50,000 miles roundtrip. It will be 65,000 miles any other time of the year.

If you are flying with Star Alliance, the roundtrip will cost you 70,000 United MileagePlus miles. Availability is usually quite good, if you book well in advance.

View on Mt Fuji
Mt Fuji

SkyTeam will also charge you 70,000 miles, and availability is … well, it’s Delta. You can find a flight, but Delta just loves those long 15- and 20-hour layovers even if you are flying from its hub. Be patient, and you can make it work. Call the agent if their online engine is making you dizzy. You are not the first and you won’t be the last.

If you want to travel non-stop but can’t find availability, book a connecting flight to get there. Airline award inventory is very fluid. Book your flight as soon as you can and keep looking. If and when a non-stop flight shows up, you can change it for free with American or for a small fee with United. Don’t gamble with this stuff because you can lose out.