Most of the great ways to use points aren't very obvious. I mean, who would think of using American Airlines miles to fly Etihad, or miles from a Japanese Airline (you may have never flown), for flights on Emirates? They don't make it easy, but if you do your homework there are some brilliant values out there. Round trip business class from the US to Europe or vice versa in the comforts of Emirates A380 business class works for me...
You can use Japan Airlines Mileage Bank miles to book Emirates First and Business Class. You only need 42,000 miles one way between the US and Europe, or Europe and the Middle East to book Business Class. For round trip, they even give you a break, requiring just 65,000 miles. The key is to book direct routes which keep the mileage low, which essentially limits you to the New York to Milan (or vice versa) route. That's incredible value. So now, how the heck do you get Japan Airlines Mileage Bank miles?
How To Accumulate Japan Airlines Miles
You can earn Japan Airlines miles from two major sources: flying or transferring points. You can transfer Starwood Preferred Guest (SPG) points at a 1:1 ratio into Japan Airlines, with 5,000 bonus miles for every 20,000 you transfer. Second, you can earn Japan Airlines miles flying on any OneWorld airline and entering a Japan Airlines frequent flyer number, which of course, anyone can sign up for, for free. OneWorld Airlines include Qatar, American, British Airways, Iberia, Finnair, TAM, LAN and Qantas, giving you tons of flight opportunities to slowly build up a Japan Airlines balance.
Taking The Trick A Step Further
You get a 5,000 point bonus for every 20,000 Starwood points you transfer to an airline. Through this deal, you'd only need to transfer 37,000 Starwood Points for a one way, or 55,000 for a round trip, given that you get 5,000 points for each 20,000 transferred. That means you can actually fly Emirates business class round trip for just 55,000 points. Oh, and for those that don't find business class good enough, a mere 100,000 miles is all you need for the same round trip in Emirates A380 First Suites, yes, the ones with the showers.
Booking + Tips
Since Japan Airlines Awards work on distance, and not segments, this is real opportunity. The best way to search for the space is by searching for seats using miles on Alaskaair.com on the direct routes like New York to Milan. If there's space you can book it with JAL. You can have up to two stopovers on a round trip, so for the same amount of miles, you can probably make some stops in other destinations if you keep the mileage low.
To book, you'll need to call Japan Airlines Mileage Bank program, as awards can't be booked online. For just a bit more, a mere 85,000 miles, you can go round trip from US to Dubai or vice versa. Of course, you could probably stopover in Milan along the way anyway, getting two wonderful destinations and a whole lot of luxury for just 85,000 miles. God Save The Points!