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On Straight To The Points, I share great business and first class award flight opportunities to help you use your miles and points via my private Award Alerts newsletter. Today, I wanted to share a fun opportunity to book Japan Airlines business class.

To receive alerts about premium cabin award flights for 4+ people that you can book with miles, make sure you sign up for Award Alerts. Right now, these alerts are focused on awards to/from the U.S. and Canada.

Now, let’s get into it!

Japan Airlines Business Class Space for 4

Well, it sure has been awhile since I sent an Award Alert newsletter. Forgive me, I was hopping around Asia for a couple of weeks and have been in the process of moving since I returned. Hopefully, you haven’t missed me too much in the last few weeks!

Fortunately, just as I was about to start digging for something fun to send, my friend Kyle Potter from Thrifty Traveler mentioned to me last night that there’s a ton of dates with business class space for 4-8 people on Japan Airlines this summer. Since JAL business class has an amazing reputation, I knew I needed to dig into all the dates possible. In fact, there are even more dates with space for 4 people if you look in early 2020. We’ll get into both below.

Straight to the points:

Routes: ORD/SEA/JFK/LAX-NRT
Operating airline: Japan Airlines (JAL)
Class of service: Business class
Dates: July – September 2019, January 2020 – April 2020
Seats available: 4+
Cabin layout: 2-2-2/2-3-2
Book with (per person, one-way):

  • Alaska Mileage Plan: 60,000 miles
  • American AAdvantage: 60,000 miles
  • Asia Miles: 50,000 miles (SEA), 70,000 miles (LAX), 75,000 miles (JFK/ORD)
  • British Airways Executive Club: 77,250 Avios (LAX/SEA), 92,750 Avios (ORD), 108,250 (JFK)
  • Flying Blue: 115,000 miles
    • 105,500 miles from SEA, 107,500 miles to SEA
  • JAL Mileage Bank: 50,000 miles

Taxes/fees (per person):

  • One-way: $5.60
  • Round-trip: ~$50

Alaska adds a $12.50 partner award booking fee.

Asia Miles, Flying Blue and JAL will have taxes/fees ~$90-115 on the outbound and $150-170 on the return.

Bank transfer partners:

  • Amex – Asia Miles, British Airways, Flying Blue
  • Capital One – Asia Miles, Flying Blue
  • Chase – British Airways, Flying Blue
  • Citi – Asia Miles, Flying Blue

Details

If you’re new to Japan Airlines (JAL) then there are a few things you should know about business class: Great service, great seat, great food. Honestly, I don’t know why I haven’t made it a priority to try. I really need to do that.

Now, keep in mind business class on JAL varies by aircraft. On the 777-300 which you’ll find out of JFK, LAX and ORD, business class is arranged in a 2-3-2 layout with Apex Suites. While that might seem like some nightmare you’d find on United, each seat actually has direct aisle access and is lie-flat. In fact, window seats provide an amazing amount of privacy and are a favorite of many.

On the 787s out of ORD and SEA, the layout is 2-2-2 with Apex Suites. Again, the window seats are a favorite.

Now, let’s get into it the good stuff. Here are the dates with space for four people:

ORD-NRT
July: 3-7, 9, 11, 16, 18, 19, 21, 23, 25, 26, 28, 30
August: 1, 2, 4, 6, 8, 9, 12-16, 19-23, 25-30
September: 1, 3, 4, 11, 18
January: 1, 6-8, 13-15, 19-22, 26-29
February: 3-5, 10-12, 17-19, 24-26
March: 2-4, 9, 11, 17, 18, 25, 30, 31
April: 6-8, 14, 15, 20-22, 25, 27-29

There’s solid return space in January and February. Other months, it’s a bit more scattered.

SEA-NRT
July: 2, 3, 5-9, 11, 14, 16, 21-23, 27-31
August: 1, 2, 4-8, 18-20, 27-29
September: 3-5, 9-12, 18
January: 1, 6-8, 12-15, 18, 20-23, 25-29
February: 2-5, 9-12, 17, 18, 24, 25
March: 1-3, 9-11, 16-18, 24
April: 6, 7, 13-15, 19-22, 26-28

Lots of return space in July and August.

LAX-NRT
July: 2-4, 14, 17, 21, 22, 28, 29, 31
August: 1, 4, 5, 7, 8, 18, 19, 28

Non-stop return space isn’t available but there are lots of dates with connections via ORD and SEA.

JFK-NRT
January: 7, 10, 12-15, 17, 19-22, 25-28
February: 2-5, 11, 17, 18, 25

Best Ways To Book With Miles

If you want to keep the cash cost of your ticket to an absolute minimum, American and Alaska miles are the way to go. Personally, I find American miles a bit easier to earn through a variety of credit cards so that gives them the edge for me since both require 60,000 miles for a one-way award. Also, American allows you to hold awards for 5 days so that’s a plus if you want to transfer Marriott points to your account.

If you don’t mind taxes/fees that can exceed $100 each direction, Asia Miles is a great way to book from SEA at only 50,000 miles one-way. From LAX and JFK/ORD you’ll need 20,000 and 25,000 more miles, respectively, for a one-way. However, Asia Miles might be the easiest to earn for many of you as it’s a partner with both Amex, Capital One and Citi.

Just remember that Asia Miles uses a different award chart if you fly on more than one partner airline. You can use GCmap to calculate your flight distance with connections and then check the oneworld Multi-Carrier Award Chart to see how many Asia Miles you’d need.

JAL Mileage Bank also allows you to book one-way business class for 50,000 miles but they’re just so hard to earn unless you have a bunch of Marriott points to transfer.

Britsih Airways Avios are easy to earn so 77,250 from SEA and isn’t terrible but it only gets worse as you move east to ORD and JFK. Flying Blue has garbage award rates unless you just happen to have a ton.

Make sure you know all the rules to booking award tickets with Alaska miles, American miles and Asia Miles.

Booking Process

Other than American, each of these programs will allow you to book online so the process is pretty simple.

  1. Search with your desired program – use BA or Alaska if you want to book with AA miles
  2. Enter desired dates
  3. Select your desired flight
    • If booking with AA, call to hold or book the ticket
  4. Pay the taxes/fees

It’s that easy.

If you want to include a connection on American when booking with Asia Miles, you’ll need to call to book. Just be prepared for some long hold times.

Final Thoughts

Tokyo is full of amazing things to do and things to eat — plenty with Michelin stars. If you have time, there are plenty of other places to explore in Japan. I loved my bullet train ride from Kyoto to Tokyo and highly recommend giving that a try wherever you visit.

Happy booking!

Don’t forget, if you’d like me to keep an eye on award space to a particular destination or on a particular airline, let me know!

If you book or would like me to keep an eye out for award space to a particular destination, let me know in the comments!

Spencer Howard

Spencer Howard is a credit card rewards and award travel expert. He’s living proof that points and miles can unlock many of the greatest travel experiences and uses his skills to tick off new bucket...

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12 Comments

  1. Darn! Booked for 2 on JAL last night for May2020. Paid cash because I thought the price was a pretty good deal at $751 RT for the dates I needed! I am very new to travel hacks and I wanted to keep the points I have for a trip to Fiji in Oct 2020. Can you advise as to what cards would be best for me/us to apply for to be able to fly First/Business Class to Fiji? We have accomodations for 7 nights in Fiji already and are not opposed to hitting New Zealand and/ or Australia before or after to make a 2 week trip out of this 25th anniversary vacation!
    My current point status is:
    AA 39,100 (me) Citi Platinum Select
    AA 58,930 (hubby) Citi Platinum Select
    AMEX Gold (hubby, I am AU) 158,000
    Marriott Rewards – 46,000
    Delta 22,500 (If combine entire family points)

    THANK YOU!

    1. First, congrats on the 25th anniversary! Second, we’ve all missed award booking opportunities so don’t fret. 🙂

      Keep in mind that biz class award space to Fiji can be very tough to find so flexibile travel dates makes things much easier. Fiji Airways flies non-stop from LAX and SFO and can be booked with AA miles and Alaska miles. It’s 80k and 55k per one-way, respectively.

      As to which cards would be best going forward, it’s great that you have some time before you big trip to earn the necessary points.

      Assuming you’d like to continue traveling after Fiji, I suggest taking a long-term view on which cards to get. If you’re under 5/24, that means starting with cards that earn Chase Ultimate Rewards points such as the Sapphire Preferred or Sapphire Reserve and Ink Preferred (if you can get biz cards). If you’re over 5/24, Chase isn’t an option so you can go straight into earning AA miles with Citi/Barclays cards and/or Membership Rewards points with Amex cards.

      Happy to dive into a more detailed discussion if you’d like. Feel free to email me anytime (spencer@godsavethepoints.com).

  2. My partner and I are interested in going to Tokyo next spring. We’d fly from LAX. Is this deal you’re posting only for groups of 4 to 6? Or can 2 do this?

    I went to both Alaska and BA sites and I’m unable to see any availability in Business class when I try for any dates in early spring/late winter.

    1. You can absolutely book for 2 if there is space for 4+. Just a matter of whether there’s space on the dates you want to fly.

      1. I was checking Alaska – found a date on the strip that had 60k, clicked on it, saw JAL flight info for about a 10th of a second then a message comes up saying it’s not available.
        Guess I just have to keep clicking.
        Thanks!

        1. Someone must have grabbed it just before you! 🙁

          1. Those quick mouse clicks!

            Now I have to figure out how to use Amex MR for the return flight.

  3. Qatar Airways belong to Oneworld too but using their Privilege Club points to book Oneworld partners award flights seems to be extremely hard to find space. Any thoughts / tips ?

    1. I have limited experience with Qatar Privilege Club since it has poor award rates. As to award space, Qatar Airways should have access to the same space other Oneworld partners have. So, if JAL releases space that American Airlines can book, Qatar should be able to book it too.

    1. Hey Deepak – I’ve been getting a lot of requests for India recently. I’ll keep an eye out and, hopefully, I’ll find something good soon!

  4. Hi Spencer,
    It is so very true that Qatar Privilege Club has very poor awards rates, I have to use 63000 miles for a one way economy ticket from Singapore to Nice this summer. (what to do but burn them when they are expiring). Really enjoy this website and hope to see more deals for flights out of Singapore.
    Cheers !

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