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Japan borders open: How to get flights with Qantas or Velocity Points

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With Japan finally lifting its COVID border restrictions, frequent flyers have even more ways to use points.

International travellers were officially welcomed back to Japan on Tuesday 11 October.

For Australians, this means no COVID-19 testing requirements if you have a valid vaccination certificate that lists at least 3 doses of an approved COVID-19 vaccine.

There's also no visa requirement for short-term tourism and business travel from Australia to Japan.

To mark the borders opening, Jetstar has a sale with one-way fares from Cairns and the Gold Coast to Tokyo and Osaka from $289.

The sale ends at 11:59pm AEDT on Tuesday 11 October but if you miss out there are other ways to save money getting there – including frequent flyer points.

Qantas Frequent Flyer reward flights to Japan

To celebrate the re-opening of Japan's borders, Qantas announced that every Jetstar and Qantas economy seat between Australia and Japan will be available to book as a Classic Flight Reward from 11 May to 20 June 2023.

All economy seats on Jetstar flights between Australia and Japan from 11 October to 30 November 2022 will also be available as Classic Flight Rewards.

Qantas will also operate 2 Points Planes between Sydney and Tokyo (Haneda) on 10 May 2023, meaning every seat in every cabin can be booked as a Classic Flight Reward.

In a statement, Qantas Loyalty CEO Olivia Wirth said the business wanted to give frequent flyers every opportunity to use their points.

"Australians have been waiting to be able to return to Japan and having access to thousands of reward seats will help our frequent flyers travel to one of their most loved destinations," she said.

For this offer, you must book your reward seat by 13 October 2022, but there will be other reward seats to Japan available beyond this so you don't need to rush.

Two travellers sitting down, smiling with their suitcases next to them.

Qantas and Jetstar both offer direct and connecting flights from Australia to Japan. Image: Getty Images

How many Qantas Points do you need for a flight to Japan?

Qantas Frequent Flyer offers Classic Reward flights to Japan starting from 21,500 Qantas Points for a one-way economy Jetstar flight (e.g. from the Gold Coast to Tokyo).

We've also created a table to show one-way point options for flights between Australia's capital cities and either Tokyo or Osaka Kansai International Airport.

Departure cityQantas Points for a one-way flight to TokyoQantas Points for a one-way flight to Osaka (KIX)
AdelaideEconomy: 31,500 points (QF, JQ)

Business: 82,000 points (QF)

Economy: 26,000 points (JQ)

Business: 61,500 points (QF, JQ)

BrisbaneEconomy: 21,500 (JQ) or 25,200 (QF)
Business: 64,800 (QF, JQ)
Economy: 21,500 (JQ)

Business: 68,400 (QF, JQ)

CanberraEconomy: 31,500 (QF, JQ)

Business: 82,000 (QF)

Economy: 31,500 (QF, JQ)

Business: 82,000 (QF, JQ)

DarwinEconomy: 37,600 (QF)

Business: 94,900 (QF)

Economy: 37,600 (QF, JQ)

Business: 94,900 (QF, JQ)

HobartEconomy: 26,000 (JQ)

Business: N/A

Economy: 31,500 (QF, JQ)

Business: 82,000 (QF, JQ)

MelbourneEconomy: 26,000 (JQ) or 31,500 (QF)

Business: 79,900 (QF, JQ)

Economy: 31,500 (QF, JQ)

Business: 82,000 (QF, JQ)

PerthEconomy: 32,000 (JQ)

Business: 94,900 (QF, JQ)

Economy: 37,600 (QF, JQ)

Business: 94,900 (QF, JQ)

SydneyEconomy: 26,000 (JQ) or 31,500 (QF)

Business: 61,500 (JQ) or 82,000 (QF)

Economy: 26,000 (JQ)

Business: 82,000 (QF, JQ)

What you need to know about these Reward flights

These details are based on calculations from the Qantas Frequent Flyer website on 10 October 2022.

  • Qantas Points Reward flights were made up of a mix of flights with Qantas and Jetstar. We have used the airline codes QF and JQ to show points for each airline, or for rewards that include a combination of Qantas and Jetstar flights.
  • Transit locations included Cairns, Melbourne, Sydney and Brisbane.
  • Jetstar flies direct from Cairns to Osaka and Tokyo (Narita), as well as from the Gold Coast to Tokyo (Narita). Qantas flies direct from Sydney to Tokyo (Haneda) and will be launching direct flights from Brisbane and Melbourne to Haneda in December 2022 and March 2023, respectively. The distance from Australia to either Tokyo airport is similar and didn't affect point requirements when we checked.
  • The actual points needed for a Classic Rewards flight can be different when you're booking, but these are the base rates available on the Qantas website.
  • For a return flight, double the point values in this table (as they are one-way).

Want more Qantas Points? Check out the latest Qantas credit card sign-up offers.

Velocity Points for flights to Japan

With Velocity Frequent Flyer, you could redeem points for flights with partner Singapore Airlines, starting from 56,000 points one-way (e.g. Brisbane to Tokyo Haneda via Singapore).

Singapore Airlines has direct flights to Singapore from Adelaide, Brisbane, Melbourne, Perth and Sydney – we've focused on those routes to limit the number of potential stopovers.

Departure cityVelocity Points for a one-way flight to Tokyo
AdelaideEconomy: 50,000

Business: 92,000

BrisbaneEconomy: 56,000
Business: 104,000
MelbourneEconomy: 56,000

Business: 104,000

PerthEconomy: 42,000

Business: 78,000

SydneyEconomy: 56,000

Business: 104,000

What you need to know about these Reward flights

These details are based on calculations from the Virgin Australia website on 13 September 2022.

  • Virgin Australia only flies on a few international routes, so these Reward Seats were based on flights with Singapore Airlines and include a stopover at Singapore's international airport.
  • We calculated the points needed through the Velocity website, using the mileage calculator and points for flights tables to get point details (based on bookings made after 5 October 2022).
  • Singapore Airlines flies from Singapore to both Tokyo Haneda and Narita airports. The flight distance to both airports is 3,312 miles according to the mileage calculator on the Velocity website, so it doesn't affect the minimum points required for a reward flight.
  • The actual points needed for a Velocity Reward Seat can be different when you're booking.
  • For a return flight, double the point values in this table (as they are one-way).

Check out the latest Velocity credit card sign-up offers.

Two friends looking at a map in Japan, with cherry blossoms behind them.

Reward seat availability varies, so it's worth planning ahead to use Qantas, Velocity or other frequent flyer points. Image: Getty Images

Japan reward flight taxes, fees and carrier charges

Frequent flyer points cover the cost of your seat on the plane, but not the airport taxes, fees and carrier charges.

These fees typically cost a few hundred dollars for overseas reward flights, depending on airports, airlines and other factors.

For example, Qantas listed the one-way taxes, fees and carrier charges for a Classic Reward flight between Sydney and Tokyo (HND) are $147.09 in economy and $197.09 in business class when flying with Qantas.

In comparison, a Gold Coast to Tokyo (Narita) reward flight with Jetstar has taxes, fees and carrier charges of $131.45.

Velocity Frequent Flyer lists carrier charges of US$50 for Singapore Airlines economy reward flights and US$150 for business class flights, which are charged per segment.

Based on the examples we've included, this means the carrier charges would be between US$100 and US$300 for a one-way reward flight with Singapore Airlines.

Also keep in mind that the point values and these costs can change based on flights, demand and other factors.

How does this compare to paying for flights to Japan?

As travel has opened up, many airlines have had flight sales.

But the flipside of that is that demand has soared. Since the border reopening announcement Skyscanner has seen a 92% increase in searches to Japan week-on-week. This is based on searches from 12–18 September compared to those from 19–25 September.

On top of increased demand, ongoing challenges in the travel industry have driven some prices up.

Finder's travel editor Stephanie Yip said: "With a starting fare of $289 each way, Jetstar's latest sale is almost 50% more than sale fares in 2019.

"However, being one of the few low-cost carriers flying from Australia to Japan, they are still the cheapest flights available."

To keep costs down Yip recommends flying during the shoulder season.

"Travelling in late October or November can save you hundreds compared to flying during the peak season from December to January," she said.

Want to keep your frequent flyer points balance growing? Check out the latest credit card sign-up deals.

Images: Finder, Getty Images

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