Japan Airlines announced an equipment change on their San Francisco to Tokyo Haneda route today. Per airlineroute.net, they’ll be upgrading the route from a 787-8 to a 777-300ER as of December 1, 2014.
The departure time for the eastbound flight will remain the same:
JL002 Haneda to San Francisco departing 12:05AM arriving 4:25PM (-1 day)
Meanwhile the departure time for the westbound flight will be moved back several hours, from:
JL001 San Francisco to Haneda departing 6:00PM arriving 10:25PM (+1 day)
JL001 San Francisco to Haneda departing 12:35AM arriving 5:00AM (+1 day)
That’s theoretically better for onwards connections from Haneda.
But that’s not what’s exciting about this change. What’s truly exciting is that Japan Airlines’ 787s feature angled flat business class as the top cabin, while Japan Airlines’ 777-300ERs have both fully flat business class and eight first class suites.
Naturally what I was excited about was the potential award availability that would be added from the additional eight first class seats per direction each day.
And there’s plenty of reason to be excited — I see two first class award seats in each direction every day through the end of the schedule.
Japan Airlines first class award space can be extremely difficult to come by, so if you want to try out their product, I’d suggest booking something as soon as possible.
How to redeem miles for Japan Airlines first class
Hands down the best way to redeem miles for Japan Airlines first class is by booking through American AAdvantage or US Airways Dividend Miles.
- 62,500 miles for one-way first class between the US and Asia 1 (which includes Japan)
- 67,500 miles for one-way first class between the US and Asia 2 (though you can connect in Asia 1 on such an award)
Also keep in mind that American allows you to hold AAdvantage award reservations for five days, so you can lock something in now, even if you’re not ready to ticket yet. Lastly, American allows you to change the dates, times, and routings on AAdvantage award tickets at no additional cost. Even if you have a business class award right now, you can upgrade to first class by just paying the mileage difference and not any change fee.
Meanwhile US Airways charges:
- 120,000 miles for roundtrip first class between the US and North Asia (which includes Japan)
- 160,000 miles for roundtrip first class between the US and South Asia (though you can connect in Japan on such an award)
Japan Airlines has a phenomenal first class product. Add in American’s very attractive award redemption rates to both Asia 1 & Asia 2 (and the lack of fuel surcharges), as well as the amazing availability even over peak dates, and you have yourself a deal!