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Earlier this year Alaska Airlines and Japan Airlines announced a partnership, with a reciprocal frequent flyer relationship and a codesharing agreement.
Some of the mileage earning and redemption rules were published right away, including:
- Alaska Mileage Plan earning rates for travel on Japan Airlines
- Japan Airlines Mileage Bank earning rates for travel on Alaska
- Japan Airlines Mileage Bank redemption rates for travel on Alaska
After months of anticipation, we finally know the Alaska Mileage Plan redemption rates for travel on Japan Airlines. There are some surprises in the chart, but the prices in general are at least as good as we’d expected!
Alaska’s award chart for JAL
Alaska Mileage Plan is unique in that they have a separate award chart for each partner carrier. Both the origin and destination country have to be listed on the award chart for that specific carrier, otherwise it’s not a valid redemption. That’s why you can’t use Alaska miles to fly Emirates between Australia and New Zealand, for example.
Japan Airlines awards will be available as either a one-way, or a round trip, and as usual you’ll be able to have a stopover at the partner hub (Tokyo, in this case). The one-way rates are as follows:
|One-way award price||Economy||Premium Economy||Business||First|
|US to/from Asia|
(Japan, South Korea, and India)
|US to/from Southeast Asia|
(Technically Indonesia, Singapore, Malaysia, Vietnam, Hong Kong, Thailand, Philippines, and Cambodia, but in practice China and Taiwan as well)
That’s right, somehow India and Japan are in the same region as far as this partnership is concerned.
Which is great, because that means you can fly business class from Delhi to San Francisco with a stopover in Tokyo for just 60,000 miles per person and no fuel surcharges.
I’m a bit disappointed that Australia and the South Pacific aren’t included on the chart, as Japan Airlines has some of the best first class availability to Australia, but that is an incredible price for India, so I guess it balances out?
There are no fuel surcharges on these awards, and it looks like most awards should be bookable online.
Award availability on Japan Airlines
JAL is less consistent than other carriers in terms of when they release award space. Sometimes you’ll see space right at the window, and sometimes you’ll see them release additional space about a week before departure, but for the most part it’s fairly random.
If you don’t mind angled-flat seats in business class, however, availability is fantastic out of Vancouver, San Diego, and on the Los Angeles to Osaka route. It’s not uncommon for us to see 4+ seats on those flights.
JAL also tends to make a generous amount of space available on short-haul flights, which is particularly nice when combined with Alaska’s stopover rules. I typically prefer to take the train within Japan, but if you’re continuing on to elsewhere in Asia this could be a great option.
Earning Alaska Mileage Plan miles
Alaska Mileage Plan is a Starwood transfer partner, meaning you can transfer Starpoints at a 1:1 ratio, with a 5,000 point bonus for every 20,000 points transferred. So you can easily rack up these miles through the Starwood Preferred Guest® Credit Card from American Express and Starwood Preferred Guest® Business Credit Card from American Express. Starwood is also selling points at the moment for a mystery discount of up to 50%, which is potentially a good opportunity.
Beyond that, Alaska frequently offers a bonus on purchased miles. Through December 31, 2016, for example, Alaska Mileage Plan is offering up to a 40% bonus on purchased miles. At that rate you’ll end up paying ~2.11 cents per mile, making a round-trip first class ticket between the US and Asia ~$2900, with the option to have a stopover in Tokyo both directions.
That’s a very good value, though I still wouldn’t make a speculative purchase.
Overall, I think these prices are the best we could have hoped for.
Business class awards are slightly more expensive than what Alaska charges for Cathay Pacific awards, and there’s a bit of a premium for flights to “Southeast Asia,” but in general I think these are great rates. Being able to book online is fantastic, and this definitely improves the value proposition of Alaska Mileage Plan as far as I’m concerned.
What do you think about the new JAL redemption options?