How To Fly To Japan For The Rugby World Cup On Points


Immanuel Debeer | 11/02/2019

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Did you win one of the ballots to purchase a ticket to a game in Japan for the Rugby World Cup? If yes you’re probably figuring out step 2: how to get there in comfort without breaking the bank…which you will be doing when you go to look for accommodation – prices are obscene!

For this article, we’ll be looking at ways to get to Tokyo Haneda and Narita (for simplicity), even though the games are spread around the country, it’s relatively easy to get around once you’re there.

A few weeks ago I was in that situation, and since I’m based in Perth, we’ll start there!

Perth to Tokyo Options

Even though we might be pretty isolated in Perth, there are a few good options available to savvy points collectors!

Option 1 (this is what I booked): Singapore Airlines + Japan Airlines

Even after the recent KrisFlyer devaluation, flying from Perth to a lot of places in Asia is still a bargain with KrisFlyer for only 73,000 miles return.

I’m a big fan of the Alaska MileagePlus program because you can simply buy miles when they are on sale (e.g. right now!) and use them to redeem a bunch of partners including Japan Airlines.

Japan Airlines Business Class

This itinerary will see you make 2 separate bookings, one with KrisFlyer on Singapore Airlines and one with Alaska Airlines on Japan Airlines.

One of the best Alaska MileagePlus redemptions is arguably SIN-NRT/HND-KUL. It’s priced as a one-way ticket when you book it via the multi-city tool on Alaska Airlines website but considering Kuala Lumpur and Singapore are so close; you might as well call it a return. The price you may ask? A whopping 25,000 Alaska miles + US$82.1 in taxes.

Your Singapore KrisFlyer redemption will be as follows: PER-SIN (one way for 36500 KrisFlyer miles and for the return KUL-SIN-PER which is the same price; 36500. You’ll have the choice of flying it on the brand new Boeing 787 in business, A330 or 777-200.

Singapore Airlines B787
  • Class: Business Class
  • Total cost: 98,000 miles + $283 in taxes

Option 2: Singapore Airlines with KrisFlyer

Option 2 is a bit more straightforward and can be redeemed with your KrisFlyer miles. The cost comes in at 132,000 KrisFlyer miles with for the PER-SIN-HND route return. If you don’t have Alaska miles or simply want a more straightforward redemption, this is a good choice.

Singapore Airlines New A380 Business Class
  • Class: Business Class
  • Total Cost: 132,000 miles + $186 in taxes

Option 3: ANA Direct to Tokyo from Perth

If you missed the news, ANA will start direct flights on its 787-800 Dreamliner between Tokyo and Perth from September 1, 2019.

Award space has just come online, so if you’re quick you can snap up some seats and enjoy the Japanese hospitality all the way to Tokyo!

The price is rather reasonable as well. That is IF you have either Avianca LifeMiles (another excellent program to purchase miles through) or Virgin Atlantic Flying Club miles (transfer partner for American Express Membership Rewards collectors!).

If you have a stash of LifeMiles, a ticket can be yours for only 80,000 miles return + taxes. Bargain!

If you’re not in that position, no problemo! ANA is a partner on Virgin Atlantic’s (not Virgin Australia) Flying Club which happens to be a transfer partner for those with an Amex card that earns Membership Rewards. For only 90,000 miles the seat is yours in business.

If you have United MileagePlus miles, the ticket can be yours for 100,000 miles + taxes. Singapore Airlines KrisFlyer is also an option, but the price is outrageous, clocking in at 166,000 for a return flight in business. Ouch.

  • Class: Business Class B787 ANA
  • Cost: 80,000 LifeMiles or 90,000 Flying Club miles or 100,000 MileagePlus or 166,000 KrisFlyer + taxes

From Melbourne and Sydney

Flying from Melbourne or Sydney offers plenty of choices on points. Here are a few options you might want to consider..

Option 1: Singapore Airlines to Tokyo

Not exactly cheap but a great option if Qantas Classic Rewards or JAL award space is full for your dates. In addition, it gives you the possibility to go full luxe and book yourself into first class.

  • Class: Business Class
  • Price: 182,000 miles + $188 in taxes
Singapore Airlines B777-300 Business Class

Bonus tip: Want to mix and match? You’re in luck; if you do a mixed Star Alliance award (meaning you’re not flying Singapore Airlines exclusively on one itinerary), you can save a few miles. You can fly the exact same itinerary but swap out the Singapore to Tokyo flight with one operated by ANA on their B787 in business class. The result is that you will only pay 166,000 KrisFlyer miles in business but more in taxes (approximately $358), the choice is yours!

Option 2: Save miles and combine with Alaska MileagePlan

Scroll back up and read how I booked my flights from Perth to Singapore and then onto Tokyo with Japanese Airlines using Alaska MileagePlus.

You will be saving a chunk of points by doing so! Here’s how the itinerary would look: MEL/SYD – SIN – NRT – KUL – MEL/SYD.

  • Class: Business Class
  • Price: 149,000 miles (124k KrisFlyer + 25K Alaska) + $285 in taxes

Option 3: Qantas Or JAL via QF Classic Rewards or AAdvantage

If you can find availability, Qantas is going to make sure you pay for it. Get ready to open your wallet for their extortionate fuel surcharging, but you will get to enjoy a direct flight to Tokyo Haneda.

JAL Business Class

While Qantas will charge you 144,000 Qantas Points + $547.24 in taxes (ouch!!), our American friends over at AAdvantage require only 80,000 AA miles return; best of all, you can buy these miles during a promo (check out my full guide on how that works here).

Option 4: Thai Airways Business or First Class on the 747

If you’ve been collecting American Express Membership Rewards, you’re in luck! Thai Airways Royal Orchid is an Amex transfer partner, and for 130,000 miles you can fly business between Australia and Japan via Bangkok.

Thai Airways First Class Champagne

However, for “only” 58,000 more Royal Orchid miles, you can luxe it up in Thai Airways first class and enjoy the outstanding service, food and drinks Thai Airways has to offer. Of course, these flights can be booked cheaper if you have United or LifeMiles, but since you can’t earn them via your credit card in Australia, we’ll leave this out of the example.

Since you can’t search for Thai Airways award availability through their website if you don’t have the required miles, it’s best to do your research through the United Airlines website and then phone Thai Airways to confirm the seats are there before transferring any miles from your Amex account.

  • Class: First Class
  • Price: 185,000 miles
  • Class: Business
  • Price: 130,000 miles

From Brisbane

Brisbanites looking to head over for the Rugby World Cup also have a few options. Even cash fares in business class can be had for $2882 return in business class with EVA Air which gives you the opportunity to explore Taipei on a stopover. It’s not the most luxurious cabin with angled flat beds, but it sure beats flying in economy!

Option 1: Qantas via Sydney

If Qantas frequent flyer or AAdvantage miles are your bread and butter, scroll up a bit as the pricing is exactly the same when flying from Brisbane. Considering there are no direct flights from BNE, this might even be a better option compared to connecting somewhere in Asia.

Qantas A330 Business Class to Tokyo

Option 2: Cathay Pacific via Hong Kong

Another option is to fly Cathay Pacific direct to Hong Kong and then onto Tokyo Haneda. You can book this a few ways; either by using American Airlines AAdvantage miles, Qantas Frequent Flyer points or Cathay Pacific’s own program: Asia Miles.

Cathay Pacific A350 Business Class

Using Asia miles, this itinerary will come in at 65,000 miles one way or 130k return. Taxes on this route should also be acceptable.

  • Class: Business Class
  • Price: 130,000 miles + taxes

Option 3: Singapore Airlines Star Alliance Partners

Considering it’s cheaper to fly Star Alliance partner airlines on the KrisFlyer award chart, there are really two solid options here. The first one is flying Singapore Airlines’s A350 from Brisbane to Singapore, before connecting on the B787 from ANA direct to Tokyo Haneda.

Singapore Airlines Business Class

The other option is Air China direct to Beijing and then onto Tokyo with either Air China or ANA; the choice is yours! If there are no flights, you can also opt to fly Singapore Airlines all the way for 182,000 KrisFlyer miles and around $204 in taxes.

The other options I mentioned earlier (flying Singapore Airlines + ANA), however, will only cost you 168,000 KrisFlyer miles but the taxes will be more than double, coming in at around $428. The choice is yours less miles but more cash or less cash and more miles…

  • Class: Business Class
  • Price: 168,000 miles + $428 in taxes

Australia to Japan Conclusion

As you might have noticed, having frequent flyer miles in a variety of airline currencies really pays off in terms of giving you more options. Even if you’re a diehard Qantas Frequent Flyer, it’s handy to know that programs such as American Airlines AAdvantage can offer a real value proposition especially on routes to Asia (and these miles can be purchased by anyone!). Of course, there are many more routes and options available, but I hope the flight ideas I mentioned will help you lock in a trip to Japan; even if you’re not heading over for the Rugby.


Immanuel Debeer

Chief points nerd and travel hacker at Flight Hacks

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