Best Ways to Book Japan Airlines First Class With Points [Step-by-Step]

Japan Airlines First Class Seat

If Japan Airlines first class isn’t near the top of your list of first class experiences to try, you might want to reconsider. From the first class lounge to your first class seat to the amazing service, this is a chance to enjoy pure luxury. If you enjoy champagne, flying first class on Japan Airlines will be a particularly special treat.

Before we dive into the best ways to book this amazing experience, let’s discuss what you can expect when flying first class.

A Look Inside Japan Airlines First Class

Japan Airlines First Class Lounge Haneda
From champagne to wine to sake, you’ll have some amazing choices at Japan Airlines first class lounge at Tokyo Haneda. Image courtesy of ausbt.com.au.

If you’re flying out of Tokyo Narita (NRT) or Tokyo Haneda (HND), your first class journey will start in a Japan Airlines first class lounge. Whether you’re looking for a place to relax, have a drink, enjoy some food, or do some work with fast Wi-Fi, you won’t be disappointed.

Their first class lounges even have self-pouring beer machines that have become a favorite of many luxury travelers. The lounge at Tokyo Haneda also has been known to provide self-serve Laurent Perrier champagne.

Once on board, you can expect top-notch service throughout your flight. The Japan Airlines crew members will happily do what they can to make your flight as enjoyable as possible by doing things such as preparing your bed with the mattress pad of your choice (hard or soft).

Japan Airlines also goes to great lengths to ensure you enjoy all of your food and drink, including one of the most expensive champagnes in the world (we’ll discuss this later).

Japan Airlines First Class Suite
Relax in your first class suite and enjoy your flight on Japan Airlines.

Finally, the Japan Airlines first class suite provides you with ample privacy. While it doesn’t have doors like those of Emirates first class, Singapore Suites, or the Etihad Apartments, the dividers provide plenty of privacy so you can feel right at home.

How to Fly Japan Airlines First Class Using Points

Japan Airlines North America Award Chart
Japan Airlines uses a simple region-based award chart for its own flights between the U.S. and Japan.

You can book first class award tickets on Japan Airlines through their own Mileage Bank program, Alaska Airlines Mileage Plan, or one of their Oneworld partners. Let’s dive into the best ways to book this flight.

Japan Airlines Mileage Bank

The Japan Airlines Mileage Bank program uses a region-based award chart for its own flights, unlike the distance-based chart if you’re booking flights on partner airlines.

You can book flights on Japan Airlines online by following the steps below:

  1. Go to the Japan Airlines website
  2. Log into your JAL Mileage Bank account
  3. Select JAL International Award Ticket Reservation
  4. Select round-trip or one-way
  5. Select your desired Area of Departure and Area of Arrival
  6. Select your travel dates, departure and destination airports, and first class
  7. Select Designate Date if your travel must be on the specific dates you have selected, or Award Reservation Calendar if you have flexible travel dates
  8. Click Next
  9. If you selected Designate Date, you’ll be taken directly to your flight options
    • Make sure the flights you select have seats available and do not require waitlisting.
  10. If you selected Award Reservation Calendar, you will see 7 dates for your departure and 7 dates for your return. Select the dates and you will be taken to your flight options for those dates.
  11. Confirm the Mileage Bank miles and taxes/fees required
  12. Select your desired flights and hit Next (assign seat now) so you can select your seat and complete the booking process

When you select your flights, make sure there is availability since Japan Airlines will also list flights you can be waitlisted for.

Japan Airlines Seat Availability
Make sure there is award seat availability before you book your first class flight on Japan Airlines.

The image above provides a guide to what you should see under the Seat Availability column when selecting a flight. Let’s take a look at an example:

Japan Airlines First Class Award Availability Example
If you see a diamond under Seat Availability, that means there is only waitlist space available.

In the example above, you can see the first flight from New York to Tokyo has 1 seat available and the other flight has 2 seats available. On the return, the second flight has 1 seat available while the other flight only was waitlist space.

If your booking involves a connection on a partner of Japan Airlines (such as American Airlines), your booking will fall under their partner award chart, and you will need to call to complete the booking.

Japan Airlines Mileage Bank Chart
Japan Airlines made 3 subtle changes to its Mileage Bank partner award chart that will take effect in October 2017.

For example, if you fly from Philadelphia (PHL) on American Airlines to Chicago (ORD) to catch a Japan Airlines flight to Tokyo Narita (NRT), you will need to look at the partner award chart to determine how many miles will be required.

If you need more Japan Airlines Mileage Bank miles, you can transfer SPG Starpoints, but be warned: it takes around 7 days to complete the transfer from SPG to JAL, and Japan Airlines does not hold award tickets.

Remember: You can only transfer 79,999 SPG Starpoints to a particular airline each 24 hours. To ensure you receive the 5,000-mile bonus on each transfer of 20,000 SPG Starpoints, do not transfer more than 60,000 SPG Starpoints to an airline per 24-hour period.

For other ways to earn Japan Airlines miles, read our best ways to earn JAL miles. If you need some other ways to use your Mileage Bank miles, check out our best ways to redeem Japan Airlines miles.

Alaska Airlines Mileage Plan

Another good way to book Japan Airlines first class is through the Alaska Airlines Mileage Plan program. Flying between North America and Japan will cost 75,000 Alaska Miles for a one-way ticket in first class.

To book, go to Alaska’s website and follow these simple steps:

  1. Go to the Alaska Airlines website
  2. Sign in to your account
  3. Search for your desired route (make sure you select Use Miles)
  4. Select your desired flight and click Add To Cart
  5. Pay the necessary taxes/fees and complete your booking

You can book a stopover on a one-way award ticket booked with Alaska miles.

If you need more Alaska miles, you can transfer SPG Starpoints to your account. Keep in mind that transfers to Alaska Airlines often take a couple of days.

If you need some other ideas for using your Alaska miles, check out our best ways to redeem Alaska miles.

Cathay Pacific Asia Miles

Cathay Pacific’s frequent flyer program, Asia Miles, provides an easy way to book online. Additionally, you can book a stopover and an open-jaw to really take your trip to the next level. However, this can change the required miles for the booking.

Cathay Pacific Award Chart
Cathay Pacific uses a distance-based award chart.

To book a flight on Japan Airlines, you will need to call Cathay Pacific.

  1. Go to British Airways
  2. Log in to your account
  3. Select Spend Avios
  4. Click Book A Reward Flight
  5. Scroll over “Redeem Miles”
  6. Enter your travel dates, city pairing, and select first class
  7. Find your desired flight
  8. Note the flight numbers, departure dates, and flight times
  9. Call Cathay Pacific at 1-866-892-2598
  10. Provide the flight details and complete the booking process

If you need more miles to complete a booking, Cathay Pacific has several credit card partners including American Express Membership Rewards points, Citi ThankYou Points, and SPG Starpoints.

These partners each transfer to Asia Miles at a 1:1 rate. Citi ThankYou Points generally transfer within 24 hours, and transfers from Membership Rewards can take 3-7 days.

SPG Starpoints will usually transfer within a couple days.

Hot Tip: Check out our Transfer Partner Tool to easily calculate how many miles you’ll need to transfer for your award.

American Airlines AAdvantage

American Airlines Partner Award Chart
Japan Airlines first class can also be booked with your American miles.

American Airlines AAdvantage is one of the most commonly used programs for booking Japan Airlines first class.

It was more popular before they devalued their award chart in early 2016, but it’s still very useful if you need to connect to an airport in the U.S. where Japan Airlines operates.

To book with American miles, you will need to call after searching on the British Airways site. Here’s what you need to know.

  1. Go to British Airways
  2. Log in to your account
  3. Select Spend Avios
  4. Click Book A Reward Flight
  5. Scroll over “Redeem Miles”
  6. Enter your travel dates, city pairing, and select first class
  7. Find your desired flight
  8. Note the flight numbers, departure dates, and flight times
  9. Call American Airlines at 1-800-882-8880
  10. Provide the flight details and complete the booking process

Transfer SPG Starpoints at a 1:1 ratio if you need some American miles to complete your booking. Transfers take about 2 days, so American’s 5-day hold policy can be really helpful. If possible, you should put the flight on hold and then transfer SPG Starpoints.

If Japan Airlines isn’t your thing right now, there are great other options for redeeming your American AAdvantage miles.

Hot Tip: The ability to put award seats on hold makes using American miles one of the easiest ways to book Japan Airlines first class.

Other Options for Booking Japan Airlines

You can also book flights on Japan Airlines with any of their other Oneworld partners including British Airways. Unfortunately, the redemption rates on these other carriers are often quite poor.

Great Japan Airlines First Class Redemptions

Japan Airlines
Look for Japan Airlines’ “Limited Days of the Week” awards to save a ton of miles on first class flights.

First, let’s take a look at some standard awards between the U.S. and Japan. After that, we will look at some more creative ways to book Japan Airlines first class.

If you’re flying from New York City (JFK), Chicago (ORD), or Los Angeles (LAX), your cheapest option is 140,000 Japan Airlines miles or 140,000 Alaska miles. You could also book with 160,000 American miles or 180,000 Asia Miles.

Here’s where it gets fun. Japan Airlines has what it calls “Limited Days of the Week” awards for first class flights between the U.S. and Japan. With the exception of some blackout dates, you can fly from the U.S. to Japan in first class for 110,000 miles on Mondays, Tuesdays, Wednesdays, and Thursdays, or return from Japan on Tuesdays, Wednesdays, Thursdays, and Fridays.

This is as good as it gets when booking Japan Airlines first class from the U.S.!

Cathay Pacific Multi-Carrier Award Chart
Award bookings that include two or more Oneworld partners will require you to use a different Asia Miles award chart.

Another interesting twist when booking Japan Airlines first class is what happens if you book a connection on American Airlines. If you do this, your award booking is governed by a different award chart.

For example, if you book an award that has you fly American Airlines from Philadelphia to Chicago then on to Tokyo via Japan Airlines first class, your total mileage cost would be 155,000 Asia miles.

How to Earn Enough Miles for Japan Airlines First Class

If you are ready to book a flight in Japan Airlines first class but don’t have enough miles for the itinerary you want, there are plenty of ways to earn more.

You can transfer SPG Starpoints to Alaska Airlines, Cathay Pacific, Japan Airlines, and American Airlines. You can also transfer Membership Rewards or ThankYou Points to Cathay Pacific.

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When Should You Search for Award Space

Finding a first class award seat on Japan Airlines is not always easy, but if you’re flexible with your travel dates you can put together an amazing trip.

As soon as you have an idea about when you’d like to travel, start searching. You might be able to find space many months prior to departure, but Japan Airlines might not release award space until days before you want to depart.

What Makes Japan Airlines a Great Redemption

Flying first class with Japan Airlines is a special experience thanks to a great seat and top notch service. If you’re a fan of champagne, the chance to enjoy one of the most expensive champagnes in the world will make your flight even better.

First Class Service

The cabin crew in Japan Airlines first class is second to none. They take great pride in creating an amazing flight experience for passengers, so you can sit back, relax with a glass of champagne, and enjoy the flight.

Amazing Champagne: Salon Blanc de Blancs 2002

Speaking of champagne, several airlines around the world serve Dom Perigon, Krug, etc. But Japan Airlines stands alone in serving Salon Blanc de Blancs 2002, which retails for $400+ per bottle. Needless to say…you won’t be disappointed.

First Class Suite

Your first class suite provides a comfortable seat that converts into a very nice lie-flat bed. Additionally, you’ll have space to move around and privacy to make you feel right at home.

Final Thoughts

When you fly with Japan Airlines, you can expect an amazing first class experience. Whether you’re at the first class lounge at Tokyo Narita or Tokyo Haneda, you’re going to enjoy yourself.

Once on board, it only gets better when you settle into your suite and see the first class cabin crew in action.

While it’s not always an easy award ticket to book, you will be very happy to put in that little bit of extra effort!

Starwood Preferred Guest® Credit Card from American Express

Starwood Preferred Guest® Credit Card from American Express

FAQ

What is the best way to book Japan Airlines first class?
If you are booking first class on Japan Airlines, check Japan Airlines Mileage BankAlaska Airlines Mileage PlanCathay Pacific Asia Miles, or American Airlines AAdvantage.

Japan Airlines and Alaska Airlines will have the best redemption rates, but booking with American Airlines can be much easier since you can put awards on hold. It’s also much easier to earn Asia Miles and book with Cathay Pacific.

What credit cards can help me fly Japan Airlines first class?
You can earn SPG Starpoints and transfer them to Alaska Airlines, Japan Airlines, Cathay Pacific, and American Airlines.

Additionally, you can transfer Membership Rewards or ThankYou Points to Cathay Pacific.

Bank of America also provides co-branded cards that earn Alaska miles if you need to top off your Mileage Plan account, while Citi provides co-branded American Airlines cards.

Synchrony Bank provides the Cathay Pacific Visa as well.

What do I get when flying Japan Airlines first class?
Japan Airlines has an amazing first class suite and a cabin crew that is second to none. You’ll also get to enjoy one of the most expensive champagnes in the world.

If you depart from Tokyo Haneda (HND) or Tokyo Narita (NRT), make sure you enjoy one of Japan Airlines’ first class lounges.