Act fast: How to see the Rugby World Cup final in Japan this weekend on points and miles

Oct 29, 2019

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England will take on South Africa this Saturday, 2 November at International Stadium Yokohama, Yokohama, Japan, just outside Tokyo, in the Rugby World Cup final. The match will kick off at 6 p.m. local time in Japan — or 9 a.m. UK time.

Rugby fans in the U.K. have been scrambling for flights this week, and as a result, cash fares are sky high, with direct flights selling for £1,000 per person in economy — or more.

But there’s good news if you’re both a miles and points collector and a diehard rugby fan desperate to get to Japan. There are some great options left for award redemptions, which might just be the best use of your points.

Oneworld

British Airways and Japan Airlines operate direct flights between London (LHR) and Tokyo airports (NRT and HND). Unfortunately, while there is award availability in economy on Tuesday’s BA flight leaving at 1:50 p.m., unless you are already at, or close to Heathrow right now, you probably won’t be able to book or check-in in time.

There are some connecting options to Tokyo using Avios leaving the U.K. on Friday — even in business class. However, they don’t land in Tokyo until just a few hours before the match, which may be cutting it too close for such an important event.

As they are connecting flights, they’ll cost you many more Avios. Here’s an option connecting via Frankfurt (FRA) leaving Friday on a combination of BA and Japan Airlines in business class for 106,750 Avios + £299 one-way:

But there’s some great news in that British Airways operates a new nonstop from London to Osaka, Japan (KIX), and there are plenty of seats available leaving Wednesday (economy and premium economy) or Friday (economy, premium economy and business class). You’ll need the following Avios to book these flights, one-way per person:

  • World Traveller (economy): 30,000 Avios + £229
  • World Traveller Plus (premium economy): 60,000 Avios + £389
  • Club World (business class): 90,000 Avios + £383

While it’s a very convenient direct flight from the U.K., be aware that the actual match is much closer to Tokyo than to Osaka. You can connect either on a domestic flight on the likes of Japan Airlines or ANA (you can use Avios on Japan Airlines) or the excellent Shinkansen bullet train to travel by land. It’s a few hours journey whichever option you choose.

Star Alliance

If you have miles to use on Star Alliance airlines, now could be a great time to use them. There’s good availability in both economy and business class, leaving Wednesday and Thursday to Tokyo (HND and NRT), which is close to the stadium where the final is being played.

Here is a search of availability (using United miles), one way per person. You can snag one-stop business-class flights from 75,000 miles + £271 or economy awards from just 45,000 miles + £185 nonstop one-way:

There’s also availability in business class from Manchester (MAN) to Tokyo from 75,000 miles + £286 one-way in business class.

Skyteam

Unfortunately, we’re not seeing any award availability with SkyTeam carriers to get you to Japan in time for the match this weekend.

Which miles to use?

If you have a transferrable currency like American Express U.K. Membership Rewards points, you have the option of transferring them to a number of different programmes if you wish to book these flights. To book those British Airways or JAL flights, you can transfer MR points to:

  • British Airways Executive Club
  • Iberia Plus
  • Finnair Plus
  • Cathay Pacific Asia Miles

Depending on which route and class you book, each programme is likely to offer similar redemption value. I’d probably pick Executive Club, as you can book them online right now and they are likely to be snapped up very quickly.

For Star Alliance, the amounts from the screenshots above are using United Miles, as the carrier offers a good platform for searching availability. Unfortunately, you can’t transfer Membership Rewards points to United. If you do have Membership Rewards points, you could transfer them to:

  • Singapore Airlines KrisFlyer
  • SAS Eurobonus

If you do have United miles, I’d recommend using them, as you’ll need slightly more for the same flights using KrisFlyer miles or Eurobonus miles.

Featured photo by Ashley Western/Getty Images.

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