When I started collecting points and miles I knew flying in premium cabins was expensive, but as someone who never imagined they would one day fly First Class from LA to Tokyo I had never even bothered to research the cash price.
Enter All Nippon Airways. ANA, a Japanese carrier, is well known for providing exceptional service. You may recognize ANA as the airline with Star Wars planes!
As part of the Star Alliance, ANA shares availability with a number of airline programs such as United, Virgin Atlantic, Avianca, and Air Canada.
In our case I found Round Trip ANA availability (and it must be Round Trip) from LAX to NRT in First Class on the United website, and then called Virgin Atlantic to hold the flights. Virgin Atlantic allows you to hold the flights for 24 hours while you transfer your points from Chase Ultimate Rewards, American Express, Citi, or Marriott.
For our flights I transferred 220,000 Chase Ultimate Rewards points to Virgin Atlantic. The transferred was complete in a matter of minutes. After that I was able to call Virgin Atlantic and requested to book the flights using the points in my account and paid $532.86 for the taxes and fees.
When the booking is complete the Virgin Atlantic rep will provide the record locator/e-ticket number for the flights. This allows you to choose your seats online on the ANA website. This is also the way to select special meals, if you want/need them.
As a quick recap here are the steps to follow:
1) Search round trip availability on the United website (must show ANA as the airline) & must be an airport that ANA flys in/out of.
2) Call Virgin Atlantic to hold the flights. Make sure you already have a Virgin Atlantic Flying Club account. The flights will be held for 24 hours for you.
3) Transfer points from Chase, American Express, Citi, or Marriott. Make sure you know the transfer ratio before transferring!
4) Call Virgin Atlantic once the transfer is finished to complete the booking!