Japan Airlines Awards are Now Bookable 360 Days in Advance for JAL Mileage Bank Members, and 355 Days in Advance for British Airways Executive Club members. This change went into effect April 1, 2019 at 9am Japan time, so as of 8pm ET yesterday, March 31, it was already in effect.
This will make it harder for those reserving Japan Airlines First Class and JAL Sky Suite Business Class flights with American AAdvantage miles, as the award calendar opens 331 days in advance, and for those using Alaska Mileage Plan miles, as the award calendar opens 330 days in advance.
JAL First Class and JAL Business Class are two of my favorite international first class and business class products, due to how comfortable their beds are. In fact, apart from Singapore Suites and ANA First Class, these are the only flights I don't need to use a portable mattress pad on, thanks to the very comfortable airweave mattress pad that JAL uses.
JAL Mileage Bank is not a transfer partner for Chase Ultimate Rewards, AMEX Membership Rewards or Citi ThankYou points, so the only transferable points currency is Marriott Bonvoy (previously SPG Starpoints) which transfers at a ratio of 3:1. If you transfer 60,000 Bonvoy points, you'll receive 25,000 JAL Mileage Bank miles. Transfers are NOT instant; expect it to take 3-4 days for the transferred points to appear in your JAL Mileage Bank account.
How Much Do JAL Awards Cost?
A Japan Airlines First Class one way award between NYC and Japan is:
- 70,000 JAL Mileage Bank miles
- 140,000 British Airways Avios
- 80,000 American AAdvantage miles
- 70,000 Alaska Mileage Plan miles
A JAL Sky Suite Business Class one way award between NYC and Japan is:
- 50,000 JAL Mileage Bank miles
- 105,000 British Airways Avios
- 60,000 American AAdvantage miles
- 60,000 Alaska Mileage Plan miles
For those hoping to visit Japan for its 2020 cherry blossom season or for the 2020 Summer Olympics, I highly recommend booking with JAL Mileage Bank miles, as award tickets will be in high demand and it will be much more challenging to find availability by the time the AAdvantage (let alone Alaska Mileage Plan) award calendars open.
Note that some Tokyo and Kyoto luxury hotels have blocked cherry blossom season dates in late March/early April, so it's advisable to have back-up hotels booked for stays during this period.
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Ugh. Good info thanks. I really enjoy your column unlike a lot of travel sites you always seem to come up with useful information. Like most i use Alaska air miles to book JAL. Luckily I reserved thru Alaska a long time ago for two first class seats out of Chicago. Mileage bank miles are just impossible to get! Obviously except for Marriott.
Glad you were able to reserve 2 JAL First Class awards with your Alaska miles; in my view it’s a great deal given the length of the flight and quality of the product. Given how many more British Airways Avios are required for awards, most likely the main competition for JAL First and Business Class awards will come from JAL’s own Mileage Bank members.
that makes sense…I am a member of Mileage bank and there is really good availability. Their web site is really wonky though. For what ever reason I can’t figure out how to get out of Japan. IE JFK to NRT to HKG.