There’s no denying that booking first class awards to Asia using American AAdvantage miles is getting more and more difficult. Nowadays Cathay Pacific doesn’t release much first class award space in advance, and there are even rumors of Cathay Pacific soon completely shutting off members of partner frequent flyer programs from redeeming for award tickets.
The one other excellent partner American AAdvantage has for first class awards to Asia is Japan Airlines. I recently reviewed Japan Airlines’ new first class, and had two incredible flights:
The flights were fantastic, from the seat to the service to the food to the onboard wifi.
Japan Airlines first class cabin 777-300ER
Japan Airlines first class dinner — caviar
If you’d like to fly Japan Airlines first class, there’s some great news:
Japan Airlines first class award space is wide open!!!
Japan Airlines first class award availability is wide open at the moment, in particular for travel this fall.
Some of you may remember that when JAL announced they would operate a 777-300ER on the San Francisco to Tokyo Haneda route last year, first class award availability was wide open (since this meant the introduction of first class service). Well, the situation right now is very similar, except across most of their routes.
Right now Japan Airlines has a ton of first class award space, in particular for travel this fall and next spring (there are even quite a few seats over summer). JAL first class award space is especially good between Chicago and Tokyo Narita as well as between San Francisco and Tokyo Haneda.
For example, between Chicago and Tokyo Narita there are tons of dates with four first class award seats:
The same is true between San Francisco and Tokyo Haneda:
First class award avaliability is also quite good between Los Angeles and Tokyo Narita, though not nearly as consistently as on the above two routes:
The only route on which space isn’t great is between New York and Tokyo Narita — lots of dates have two seats, though I’m not seeing much more than that:
By the way, in many cases there are even more than four first class seats per flight. British Airways’ website will only show four seats at a time, but once you hold those seats with American, you’ll sometimes see more seats show up immediately. It does require creating a reservation, “holding” the seats, and then having the agent go back into the system, though. Japan Airlines will correctly display the flights which have more than four first class award seats, so it could make sense to search through their site.
Japan Airlines 777-300ER
How many American miles?
American’s award rates between the US and Asia are exceptional. For travel in first class, you’ll pay:
- 62,500 miles for one-way first class between the US and Asia 1 (which includes Japan and Korea)
- 67,500 miles for one-way first class between the US and Asia 2 (which includes most other points in Asia)
So for 62,500 miles you could fly just between the US and Japan in first class, or for 67,500 miles you could fly between the US and Japan, and then connect onwards to other points in Asia.
Do keep in mind that Japan Airlines award space can’t be booked on aa.com, so you have to call American to book. And be sure to request that they waive the phone ticketing fee, since this award can’t be booked through their website.
This is a fantastic use of American miles, and this value won’t last. In many cases every single first class seat left for sale is also available on miles.
Japan Airlines first class is a fantastic product, one I like just about as much as Cathay Pacific first class. So being able to redeem American miles for it in advance — in many cases even for the whole family — is a value that’s tough to argue with!
Japan Airlines first class bed 777-300ER
So, who’s locking in some Japan Airlines first class awards?
(Tip of the hat to Forrest)