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As an American Airlines oneworld alliance partner, Japan Airlines is ideally positioned for booking award flights to Japan or connecting to Asia 1 and Asia 2 destinations via Tokyo or Osaka using AAdvantage® loyalty program miles.
The miles needed to do this are reasonable and Japan Airlines offers a great, comfortable product in all of its cabin classes. JAL is one of only 10 carriers with a certified 5-star Airline Rating from independent UK-based aviation consultancy Skytrax.
Below we outline how best to use your AAdvantage miles to book award travel on Japan Airlines in all cabin classes.
In this article
- Routes to the U.S. and Canada
- Where to search for space
- Good booking opportunities
- Japan Airlines’ cabins
- The bottom line
Routes to U.S. and Canada
Japan Airlines flies from Tokyo at Narita International (NRT) and Haneda International airports (HND) to 10 cities in the U.S.: Boston, Chicago, Dallas/Fort Worth, Honolulu, Kona, Los Angeles, New York-JFK, San Diego, San Francisco and Seattle and also to Canada via Vancouver. Further connections from Japan unlock 349 destinations in 52 countries. The route map is shown below.
Where to search for space
Since American Airlines doesn’t show Japan Airlines flight availability, you’ll need to use other options to find award space on that carrier online. Here’s what you would see on American’s site for a flight from New York to Tokyo:
The only options that show up in the example above are on American Airlines flights since JAL flights don’t show up on the former’s website.
If you go to JAL’s website, members of its Mileage Bank loyalty program can redeem a flat 25,000 miles for award travel from North America and 20,000 from Hawaii to Japan in economy class. Fees from North America total $87.60, while Hawaii fees are $63.63.
Sometimes JAL award travel seats on a specific date you request may not be available, so you’re put on a waitlist and hope that space frees up. However, if you’re willing to redeem an additional 111,000 to 135,000 miles, depending on your departure city, under JAL’s International Award Ticket Plus program, you can book the reward travel you choose.
Or you can redeem your AAdvantage miles on Japan Airlines for flights to Asia for as low as 35,000 miles in coach, each way, plus $5.60 in taxes. Here’s the award chart for using AAdvantage miles one way on oneworld partners, including Japan Airlines:
+If the award includes travel on an aircraft that offers lie-flat seats in the U.S. and Canada, the Business/First Levels will be 7,500 miles higher than what is shown in the chart above
#Any flight within Hawaii requires a separate award and is only valid on Hawaiian Airlines
++Any flight to/from Easter Island (Chile) requires a separate award and is only valid on LATAM Airlines
~Trans-Pacific travel to the Indian subcontinent permitted via Hong Kong only. Travel for the trans-Pacific sector to Hong Kong is permitted only on Cathay Pacific or American Airlines. Travel from Hong Kong to the Indian subcontinent permitted on Cathay Pacific, SriLankan and Jet Airways. Travel on other partners to the Indian subcontinent is trans-Atlantic only.
You can use Japan Airlines to fly anywhere in Asia (except the Indian subcontinent) because American Airlines’ routing rules allow you to fly to Asia Region 2 via Asia Region 1. So wherever in Asia you go, you can get there on one award.
Asia Region 1
Asia Region 2
- Hong Kong
Another alternative is to search for award travel on Japan Airlines using oneworld partner Qantas’ website. But note that if you want to check reward travel availability on the site, you must pay $70 USD to join the Qantas Frequent Flyer program. The example below illustrates what you would pay in cash for a Qantas economy seat round trip between Los Angeles to Tokyo.
LAX-Sydney is 7,488 miles, while Sydney-Tokyo is 4,846 miles, both one way.
The Qantas award chart below shows the miles needed for a round-trip flight using mileage-based zones since you must be logged into its loyalty program website to see exact numbers.
Based on miles, the Los Angeles-Sydney Tokyo as a round-trip flight would fall under Zone 10, at 24,668 miles round trip.
Another option is checking British Airways’ website, which gives you a better picture of award flight availability. Here’s an example of what came up for a Los Angeles-Tokyo flight:
And below is what the flight would cost in Avios:
Since British Airways doesn’t have flights between these two cities, the American Airlines option shows up instead.
Good booking opportunities
Reasonable first and business class availability, combined with reasonable redemption levels between the U.S. and Asia 1, make redemptions to Japan and Korea a very good deal.
Here is how many Avios you would need to redeem for flights one way to these two countries:
U.S. – Asia 1: 35,000 miles in economy; 60,000 in business; 80,000 in first. Redeeming 60,000-80,000 miles for an 11- to 13-hour flight in an excellent business or first class product is a good value proposition.
Here is what you pay to go beyond Japan:
U.S. – Asia 2: 37,500 in economy; 70,000 in business; 110,000 in first.
If you want to book these flights on Japan Airlines, you’ll have to call AAdvantage customer service at 800-882-8880. Since the flight can’t be booked online, you won’t have to pay the phone booking fee.
Japan Airlines’ cabins
JAL first- and business-class seats are coveted by elite travelers for good reason. The airline’s first-class suite is among the most private in the world. While not fully enclosed, it does have a retractable privacy partition.
The suite features wood grained furnishings with a storage compartment and power for your laptop. The seat becomes a full bed with your choice of hard or soft pillows. The MAGIC in-flight entertainment system comes with Bose noise-canceling headphones so you can enjoy movies, videos, audio programming and games.
First-class meals are curated by top Japanese chefs under the airline’s BEDD in-flight dining program. Western meals and premium wines are also available.
The business-class Sky Suite offers fully flat seats with plenty of room. There’s a 17-inch screen for in-flight entertainment, a movable table for work or dining, a privacy partition, a USB port and power outlet and a flexible armrest that doubles as additional storage space. BEDD Japanese and Western meals are available, along with premium wines.
The bottom line
Booking reward travel on Japan Airlines is a great way to use your American Airlines AAdvantage miles. You can experience the Tokyo-based airline’s five-star services in all of its cabins.
Thanks to both carriers belonging to the oneworld alliance, you have options when it comes time to redeem your AAdvantage miles, including on partners British Airways and Qantas. Note that you will need to either join the Qantas Frequent Flyer loyalty program — at $70 — or call AAdvantage customer service, to redeem your miles for award travel. But it’s worth it, especially if you use your miles to experience Japan Airlines’ business and first class.