Japan Airlines First Class Award Space, Spend Your American Miles Before Devaluation

Points With a Crew mentioned plenty of first class award space on Japan Airlines and in particular New York JFK – Tokyo on a handful of dates in February and March.

What’s going on is it seems that first class awards are wide open over the next 6 weeks for both New York and Chicago – Tokyo. Here’s a search of those two routes for two passengers in First in February, for Chicago throughout the month and for New York for the first two thirds of the month.

Availability seems to extend to the first week or so into March:

(As a bonus you’ll also see Japan Airlines first class award space open Los Angeles – Tokyo as well)

When there’s first class available it’s on JAL’s Boeing 777-300ER which has their new first class suites. American charges 62,500 miles each way between the US and Japan (as well as Korea). Make Tokyo your connection and continue on in Asia and first class awards are 67,500 miles each way. (These award prices go up for bookings made March 22 onward.)

Search for Japan Airlines award space using the BA.com British Airways website, note that American’s website doesn’t show JAL award space. I am using Award Nexus to search a month’s availability at a time and display it in calendar format.

Incidentally I find that American Airlines appears to be releasing business and first class awards for at least two passengers Dallas – Tokyo many days in February and then for both Dallas – Tokyo and also Los Angeles – Tokyo on Wednesdays across much of the calendar and indeed many days there are 4 or more award seats.

About Gary Leff

Gary Leff is one of the foremost experts in the field of miles, points, and frequent business travel - a topic he has covered since 2002. Co-founder of frequent flyer community InsideFlyer.com, emcee of the Freddie Awards, and named one of the "World's Top Travel Experts" by Conde' Nast Traveler (2010-Present) Gary has been a guest on most major news media, profiled in several top print publications, and published broadly on the topic of consumer loyalty. More About Gary »

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  1. Thanks for the update. Are award space availability for mile upgrades the same as for using all mile redemptions?

  2. Today, I was able to change my LGA-ORD-NRT-BKK in early March to JFK-NRT-BKK in First. I love not having to fly that extra segment to ORD.

  3. @Cathy, did you book that trip using AA miles? Or is it a paid fare? I currently have EWR-DFW-NRT booked in JAL biz using AA miles, and am eyeing trying to change to the direct JFK-NRT. But AA said that i would be charged a change fee because JFK and EWR are separate airports and thus constitute a change of origin. I’m curious, if you booked with AA miles, how you got away with your routing change without paying a fee?

    @Gary Leff, I was under the impression that if you book a partner award using AA miles, you can upgrade to the next class of service (if avail) simply by paying the mileage difference. No?

  4. I have a CAE-DFW-NRT business class seat reserved this summer. Keep wondering if I should change it to a first class seat, if that becomes an option.

  5. JAL 1st is wonderful. I’m booked in JAL First ORD-NRT/HND-LHR for this year’s RTW trip n Oct. course have to do LHR-IAD in crappy BA 1st Home But hopefully refurbished 744. Least it’s the shortest segment. Wish BA had limes to go with its Tangery Ten

  6. Also lots of SFO-HND availability. I’ve done that flight the other way and we had F to ourselves. We both actually preferred Krug to their super expensive Salon offering. We did HKG-HND CX F and then HND-SFO in JL F and both were great, though we were dead asleep after coming from BKK early in the morning. We had 30+ hours in transit getting back to Denver from BKK.

    Now if only CX/JL would open up F for March/April.

  7. Did JAL F last year out of SFO-HND. Didn’t care for the very, very early a.m. departure time. Did a better daytime flight this year NRT-ORD F. Have a CX J west coast (as no F available at this time) to HKG before devaluation. In the past I was able to upgrade from J to F award without the change fee as I was upgrading, and origin-destination were unchanged although the in-between connecting cities were different. Generally AA has very good and friendly agents. Also, when booking CX at first the agent put in the booking fee but after I told her that you can’t book CX on AA’s website she took it off.

  8. Dear Gary,
    Does this sort of thing happen often: award seats being released 6 weeks beforehand? Because we’re having a hard time pinning down our children’s schedules enough to find a summer vacation date so this might help us a lot.
    Thank you for your wisdom,
    Karin

  9. Thanks tiara. Yup that one segment is. Most seem only business: bkk, kul, sin, sgn.

    Not that business is crappy at all.

  10. @karin – JAL is quite consistent in releasing seats closer to departure, usually within a couple of weeks of departure, so 6 weeks out is a bit unusual.

  11. @matt I used AA miles. My original flight to ORD was from JFK. AA had a schedule change and I would miss my connection to NRT if I flew from JFK. The agent moved me to an LGA flight with a note in my record that my original flight was out of JFK, therefore no change fees. However, I was able to change my return to JFK from my originally booked flight to EWR with no charge. I was lucky and just got a nice agent. Hang up and try again.

  12. Gary,

    Please help. AA is saying that our schedule change is too short to allow a free change or redeposit of miles. Is there a minimum schedule change requirement? They’re saying that they can’t accommodate a change also bc I would like to change class of travel (biz to first).

    Is there anything else I can do?

    Thank you so much.

    Emily

  13. @Emily — American’s contract of carriage says they will allow free change/redeposit with a 2 hour schedule change.

    However the contract of carriage also says:

    IF A CANCELLATION OR A CHANGE IN EITHER AIR
    OR TOUR ITINERARY IS INITIATED EITHER BY AA
    OR IT’S TOUR OPERATORS WHICH IS UNACCEPTABLE
    TO THE PASSENGER, THE PASSENGER WILL HAVE THE
    OPTION OF CANCELLING WITHOUT PENALTY, OR
    REROUTING ON DIFFERENT FLIGHTS TO/FROM THE
    SAME OR DIFFERENT DESTINATION. HOWEVER, THE
    PASSENGER MUST PAY ANY ADDITIONAL AMOUNTS
    RESULTING FROM THE REROUTING.

    So you could argue the change is unacceptable. But it’s an argument.

  14. It’s sad when a company as large as AA doesn’t have editors that understand the difference between “its” and It’s”. Probably half the population thinks that “it’s” does not equal “it is”. It’s sad. Sorry for the pet peeve nitpick.

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