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How to book Japan Airlines flights with American AAdvantage miles

by on Wed July 27, 2016 • 6 Comments
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Japan_Airlines,_Boeing_787-9_JA861J_NRT_(19455285040)

As an American oneworld partner, Japan Airlines is ideally positioned for redeeming award flights to Japan or connecting to Asia 1 and Asia 2 destinations via Tokyo or Osaka with your AAdvantage miles.

Prices are reasonable, there are no fuel surcharges to worry about, and Japan Airlines offers a great, comfortable product in all classes.

Routes from the US

Japan Airlines flies to 6 cities in the Continental U.S.: Boston, Chicago, Dallas, Los Angeles (Narita, Osaka), New York (JFK), and San Francisco (Haneda). Further connections in Japan unlock dozens more destinations all over Japan and Asia.

via GCMap.com

Where to Search for Space

Since American Airlines doesn’t show Japan Airlines availability, you’ll need to utilize other options to find award space online.

You can search using the Qantas website, but we prefer the British Airways website due to the simplicity and reliable results. If you do use BA.com, make sure to search each segment separately, as the British search engine can’t always handle complex itineraries.

There is another free way to search for award flights called the Award Flight Finder. It’s a Chrome extension that allows you to semi-automate your search. You can search for several dates and add your parameters (number of stops, connection places, etc.).

If you are flexible and search a lot of dates at the same time, the search can take a long time, however, it’ll work on the background. If you want to know more about this great tool, you can check our review here.

Japan Airlines award availability between the U.S. and Japan is decent.

Finding one seat in business and first is not hard if you are searching far in advance, but two or more can be a little tricky. However, if you are a little bit flexible, you will find it, and Japan is a little bit unusual as it apparently values Business Class seats more than First.

JL JFK-NRT

Here you have a choice between AA Business Class and Japan Airlines First.

JL LAX-NRT

And on the LAX – Osaka flight, 4 seats together in Business Class is possible.

JL LAX-KIX

Remember that AA will only let you book an award seat 331 days out regardless of what BA.com shows.

Routing Rules when Booking with American AAdvantage Miles

You are good to 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 (which is where Japan is located). So wherever in Asia you go, you can get there on one award.

Here are the countries you can fly to on a Japan Airlines award to and from the U.S.:

Asia Region 1

  • Japan
  • Korea

Asia Region 2

  • Brunei
  • Cambodia
  • China
  • Hong Kong
  • Indonesia
  • Malaysia
  • Myanmar
  • Philippines

Check our full guide to using American Airlines miles.

This is what you pay one-way for awards between the U.S. and Asia, via the American AAdvantage partner award chart.

AA CHART JAPAN

What’s interesting about the product

JAL First and Business class seats are coveted and for a good reason. JAL’s Sky Suite is among the most private business class seats in the world. Grab a window seat, and you won’t see anyone except an FA unless you want to.

JAL BIZ

The JAL First Class Suite is not fully enclosed, but according to multiple reports it’s super comfortable and feels perfectly private.

JAL FIRST

The JAL Economy Class seat pitch is a generous 34 inches, which is two inches more than the most long-haul accepted pitch of 32 inches. There are airlines that call a 34-inch pitch “economy plus” or similar and charge premium for that space.

All in all, JAL has exceptionally strong hard product with the service to match.

Key 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 what you pay:

U.S. – Asia 1: 35,000 in Economy; 60,000 in Business; 80,000 in First.

Paying 60,000-80,000 miles for an 11-13-hour flight in an excellent Business or First Class suite is a good value proposition.

Availability between Japan and other Asian countries is usually very good in all classes. The sweet spot here is business class for 70,000 miles.

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.

How to Book

You’ll have to call AAdvantage on 1-800-882-8880. Since the flight can’t be booked online you won’t have to pay the phone booking fees.

 

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6 thoughts on How to book Japan Airlines flights with American AAdvantage miles

  1. Tony

    Thanks for the info! In fact, I am trying to redeem 2 J awards from LAX to Tokyo. However, the search only shows 1 J award even if the travel dates are 331 days out. Do you know when will JL release more seats? Will JL release another J award after I book the first one?

    Strangely, BA search suggest that I can do LAX-SFO-NRT and there are 7 J awards available! Any idea why that is the case?

    Reply
    1. MileCards.com

      @Tony – Hard to say if they will – might be best to call AA and see if they see the same availability. Are you sure the LAX-SFO-NRT with 7 awards isn’t just showing the LAX-SFO segment in J, and the remainder in Economy?

      Reply
  2. Kelse

    Hi, I am trying to book a business class flight from TYO-BOS (round trip) for my father using AA mileage. However the dates for the JAL flight is available on JAL website (using JAL mileage it would be 100,000) but not available on the AA website for the same set of dates. Does this mean that AA does not allow us to book it or that we’d have to call and book? Thanks!

    Reply
    1. MileCards.com

      @Eva – Unfortunately AA doesn’t yet let you book premium economy awards. That may change as they roll out their own premium economy class.

      Reply

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