Redeem US Airways Miles On Japan Airlines More Than 90 Days Out?

US Airways Dividend Miles has been adding several footnotes to their award chart lately, some of which make sense, and some of which don’t. They’re also not always consistently enforced, so that only makes them more complicated to some.

One of the recent updates which left me puzzled was the following footnote on US Airways’ award chart:

“Awards booked on Japan Airlines are valid for the next 90 days starting from the following day of the Award Ticket issuance. Reservations for domestic JAL Award Flights within Japan must be made no earlier than 0930 Japan time, two months prior to travel.”

That’s a rather odd restriction, given that American AAdvantage doesn’t have a similar policy. I reached out to a contact at American for clarification, and they confirmed that it was in fact an error — the chart has already been updated to reflect that. The 90 day restriction applies to wholly domestic travel within Japan. All other Japan Airlines award travel is valid for one year from the date of issue.

Japan-Airlines-New-First-ClassJapan Airlines new first class suite

I know many people have issues redeeming US Airways miles for travel on Japan Airlines, though that’s unrelated to this. The issue is that Japan Airlines awards have to searched on a separate screen, so that availability won’t come up if they’re just searching in the standard award “system.” If US Airways reservations agents look up award availability in the “normal” system,  Japan Airlines flights will show zero availability.

Beyond that, there are still some glitches with redeeming Dividend Miles. Sometimes there are just communication errors between systems whereby certain flights just can’t be seen by Dividend Miles agents, and there’s nothing that can be done.

That being said, there should be no widespread issue with booking for travel on Japan Airlines, and it’s good to know that the 90 day rule for international Japan Airlines travel was in fact an error.

Comments

  1. Have you been successful in booking JAL awards with US Air in the past 6 months or so? I’ve been calling almost daily for weeks to book an itinerary where JL shows 4 First Class seats on the BA website. I know the “separate screen” trick, and I’ve had many agents who seem knowledgable, and I advise them of what to do, and no availability comes back. The space never shows up. If you are actively booking JL awards with US, what’s the trick? (apart from patience, which I have exhibited in abundance)

  2. I booked using US miles mix of CX and JL where CX was international and JL domestic. The issue was more than different screen. They also needed to use a different booking code. I got lucky with my agent. Not that she knew how to do this but that she believed me that there was space and kept looking through notes and finally asked someone for help and was finally able to book it.

  3. Seems like a complete crapshoot.

    I’ve have been able to book a couple of JAL flights recently on USDM, but it takes lots of patience and HUCA. I agree with Lucky in that the agents are helpful in general and knowledgeable about the different screen, but still unable to see certain flights.

    Most recent experience was 2 different agents unable to find availability on a certain flight segment (trying to help for a while) and then finally a 3rd agent had no issues whatsoever getting the space, all within 2 hours.

  4. I booked 2 last minute tickets RIC-ORD-HKG-FUK-NRT-ORD-RIC last week & am in Japan now. B-class on CX & 1st on JAL both international and domestic. I spent probably 5 total hours on the phone with agents. The issue was the JAL
    Domestic flight needed a paper ticket and it took quite some time to figure it out. I literally drove to the airport to have the tickets printed which caught the US agents off guard as well. They had to find paper tickets to print. Crazy that a major carrier would not have an e-ticket even if it is a regional JAL
    Express.

  5. See no evil, hear no evil, book no evil award tickets…..

    I’m just so relieved it doesn’t have anything to do with, what’s that word again, oh yeah, blocking awards.

  6. @Josh

    if you’re booking NRT-SYD or back, sadly they still can’t see F on those flights… see FT thread about that issue.

  7. I managed to book a LHR-HND on December, by JL in F.
    I found just one seat at ba.com and I also look for it on KVS.
    I had to tell the agent to search for it in another screen.

    Got lucky, I think

  8. instead of spending countless hours on the phone, you guys can hire one of the many award booking service providers out there. I will not suggest any one in particular but they have a lot of experience dealing with booking complex awards and difficult agents.

  9. Not a bad idea Jeremy, but RT to Japan is far from complex, just easier as I was familiar with ANA and Star Alliance when booking through US Air before. The agents Finding the flights went smooth, they were the ones that found the CX flight from ORD -HKG – FUK as I thought it was an illegal booking in AA rules. It was the actual “ticketing” process that held things up in my case.

  10. Another tip for domestic japan flights if you use UA miles for ANA domestic flights, you must book at least two days before departure. So not last minute domestic award flights on ANA with UA miles. I don’t believe that this applies to domestic connections with international flights. Strange rule.

  11. @ Norman — I usually look up fare classes on expertflyer.com and then use matrix.itasoftware.com to price out tickets.

  12. Tickets for domestic travel on Japanese airlines typically only go on sale two months beforehand; it doesn’t seem terribly surprising that a restriction that applies to revenue bookings would apply also to mileage redemption.

  13. Last month I used USDM to book JL NRT-ORD F in March. Had no issues, the first agent I got was able to issue the whole ticket with no complications. DEN-LAX-HKG/HKG-PEK/PEK-NRT-ORD-DEN.

  14. @Josh

    I stand corrected, as of a few days ago, NRT-SYD and back F is bookable with DM. I just changed my flight, got the last F seat on my day… so there will be at least 3 other mile enthusiasts… can’t wait! 😉
    DM agent was very proficient, it took all of 5 min.

  15. @Lucky Totally unrelated but it looks like Qatar took delivery of the A380, and it turns out airbus is not to blame…”Meanwhile, Al Baker seemed keen yesterday to smooth over earlier disputes with Airbus, saying the plane maker was not to blame for the delays to the delivery of the aircraft. Backtracking on previous remarks made in July, he added that that the postponement was due to Qatar Airways’ commitment to quality.”

  16. Lucky, was booking intra award flight in Japan Sapporo to Haneda using dividend miles (prob not able to do it as it is intra-region booking) , the agent said its available but couldn’t book, told me to call back, held the return flight to hkg. is it the problem with opening a new screen when booking JL?

  17. Another question, I asked how many points is required, they said its still 40 k return each HK return as the return flight is first. I thought the points are split if one way is business and the other is first. Can you confirm this?

  18. I’m looking to fly in June in F class on JL, BA.com shows available, US agent says she’s aware of the need to use different code and whatnot for JL but it still comes back unavailable.

  19. Just wanted to update my post above. I was looking to book a US Airways award for June 2015 including first class seats on JL from LAX-NRT-BKK. BA.com showed award availability. I called US and the agent told me the seats were not available, she checked with her supervisor, came back and said they were not bookable. We discussed that she might have to open new screen or use different booking code, she still couldn’t book the seats, she began reading from a script “We may not have seamless award availability with other airlines and just because the seats are available on other websites doesn’t mean they are available to US Airways.”

    I called back, got a different agent, she talked to he supervisor, they we able to find the availability and put them on hold for me while I looked for other segments.

    I had to cancel the held itinerary the next day and start over. Called in, got a great agent who could immediately find the JL award space and said “Sure, Japan Airlines, I know how to do that, here it is.” No supervisor needed.

    One of the first two agents did try to cite the 90 day limit on “intra-Japan” flights with me, we had to go back and forth a bit with me explaining that LAX-NRT-BKK did not include an intra-Japan flight.

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