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A few months ago I was lauding American Airlines award space to Asia because partners Cathay Pacific and Japan Airlines were releasing tons of award space in Business and First Class at the last minute. Yesterday I checked in on Cathay Pacific award space and found it greatly diminished at the last minute (though not non-existent.)

Today let’s check in on Japan Airlines premium award space at the last minute.

Award Prices

American Airlines awards to Asia are way under-priced compared to United and Delta awards. For one way awards, American charges:

  • 25,000 miles in economy to Japan, Korea, and Mongolia from October to April each year
  • 32,500 miles in economy to Japan, Korea, and Mongolia the rest of the year
  • 35,000 miles in economy to the rest of East and Southeast Asia
  • 50,000 miles in Business Class to Japan, Korea, and Mongolia
  • 55,000 miles in Business Class to the rest of East and Southeast Asia
  • 62,500 miles in First Class to Japan, Korea, and Mongolia
  • 67,500 miles in First Class to the rest of East and Southeast Asia

Taxes to East Asian countries are low, mostly in the $50 to $100 roundtrip range. There are no fuel surcharges on any American Airlines awards from the United States to Asia. There is no phone fee for booking Japan Airlines and Cathay Pacific flights by phone. There is a $75 fee for ticketing an American Airlines award within 21 days of departure, which is what this post focuses on.

The Product

Japan Airlines serves the United States with 777s and 787s. Japan Airlines First Class on its 777-300ER is a world class flat bed enclosed in a suite.

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I haven’t flown the product personally, but everything looks top notch and Asian airlines have the best service in my experience.

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Here’s a tour of the plane.

Japan Airlines made the terrible choice of putting angled beds on its original 787s. Its new 787s feature fully flat beds and the old ones are being retrofit.

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Where JAL Flies

Japan Airlines flies from seven American cities to three Japanese cities with connections throughout Asia.

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Award Space

I searched yesterday for award space through November 14 on all the routes to Tokyo in First and Business Class.

Here is all the First Class award space. It appears on just 3 of about two dozen flights.

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Business Class award space showed up on six flights, although three are on Honolulu flights which are served by inferior 777-200 and 767-300s without flat beds.Screen Shot 2015-11-11 at 1.01.59 PM Screen Shot 2015-11-12 at 12.47.54 PM


Bottom Line

Japan Airlines last minute award space also isn’t as strong as a few months ago.

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This is a shame because it is very cheap to book with American Airlines miles, and right now the Citi® / AAdvantage® Platinum Select® MasterCard® and CitiBusiness® / AAdvantage® Platinum Select® World MasterCard® are each offering 50,000 bonus American Airlines miles after $3,000 in purchases made with your card in the first 3 months the account is open. Don’t be thrown off by the word “Platinum.” Both cards have no annual fee the first 12 months, and then $95.

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Get both cards and meet the $6,000 total spending requirement to have over 106,000 American Airlines miles, enough for a roundtrip in Japan Airlines Business Class.

Earn 75,000 bonus points after you spend $4,000 on purchases in the first 3 months from account opening.

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With a bonus of 75,000 points after $4,000 spend in the first 3 months, 5x points on travel booked through the Chase Travel Portal and 3x points on restaurants, streaming services, and online groceries (excluding Target, Walmart, and wholesale clubs), this card truly cannot be beat for getting started!

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