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

Japan Airlines First Class Seat

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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.

(We’ve also covered in-depth the top ways to fly to Japan using points and miles!)

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.

Self-Pouring Beer Machine
The self-pouring beer machine that comes with chilled glasses is pretty awesome! Image courtesy of Stephen Au.

Hot Tip: The lounge at Tokyo Haneda also has been known to provide self-serve Laurent Perrier champagne.

Once onboard, you can expect top-notch service throughout your flight. The Japan Airlines crew members will happily 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 drinks, including Louis Roederer Cristal Champagne, which retails for around $270 a bottle.

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

Hot Tip: 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 reservation.

JAL Partner Award Chart
Although the JAL partner award chart was recently devalued, there is still solid value to be had. Image courtesy of jal.co.jp.

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.

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 70,000 Alaska Miles for a one-way ticket in first class.

Hot Tip: Alaska Airlines Mileage Plan intra-Asia awards on Japan Airlines must be booked at least 72 hours in advance. Other routing is not affected and can still be booked last minute.

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

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

Cathay Pacific Asia Miles

With the new Asia Miles prices effective June 22, 2018, you’ll need to check mileage by partner airline using their calculator.

As an example, New York City (JFK) to Tokyo-Haneda (HND) first-class round-trip is 240,000 miles.

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 and Citi ThankYou Points.

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.

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

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. One of our writers did just that! Check out his JAL 777 FC review (Tokyo—LA)

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 240,000 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 120,000 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.!

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 a round-trip 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 220,000 Asia miles.

Hot Tip: If you’re interested in Tokyo as your main destination, check out our in-depth travel guide to Tokyo for the best things to do, see, eat, etc!

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.

Marriott Credit Cards

You can earn Marriott points and transfer those to Japan Airlines, American Airlines, Alaska Airlines, and Cathay Pacific at a transfer rate of 3:1. Plus, for every 60,000 Marriott points that you transfer, you’ll receive an extra 5,000 miles bonus.

Marriott Bonvoy Boundless™ Credit Card - Earn 5 Free Nights after spending $5,000 on purchases in the first 3 months from account opening. Get automatic silver elite status each account anniversary year; and a free night award (valued up to 35,000 points) every year after account anniversary. Plus, earn 6X points per $1 at over 7,000 participating Marriott Bonvoy hotels, and 2X points per $1 on all other purchases. Annual Fee is $95.
Marriott Bonvoy Bold™ Credit Card - Earn 30,000 bonus points when you spend $1,000 on purchases in the first 3 months of account opening. Earn 3X points per $1 at participating Marriott Bonvoy hotels, earn 2X on other travel purchases, then 1x on all other purchases. A solid card for Marriott loyalists looking for a no-annual-fee card offering Marriott Bonvoy Silver Elite status.
Marriott Bonvoy Business™ American Express® Card - earn 100,000 bonus points when you spend $5,000 on purchases in the first 3 months of account opening. A solid card for business owners who will get complimentary Marriott Bonvoy silver elite status. Annual fee is $125. Terms Apply. For rates and fees of the Marriott Bonvoy Business Card, click here.
Marriott Bonvoy Brilliant™ American Express® Card - Earn 125,000 bonus points! Earn 100,000 bonus points after you spend $5,000 in purchases on your new Card in your first 3 months. Plus, earn an additional 25,000 bonus points after your first anniversary of Card Membership. Offer Expires 1/13/2021.

Earn 6x per $1 at participating Marriott Bonvoy hotels plus 3x at U.S. restaurants and flights booked directly with airlines. Annual fee is $450. Terms Apply. For rates and fees of the Bonvoy Brilliant card, click here.

Cathay Pacific Asia Miles

Cathay Pacific Asia Miles can be transferred from American Express Membership Rewards and Citi Thank You Rewards (both at a rate of 1:1), or from Marriott at a transfer rate of 3:1.

Recommended American Express Cards (Personal)

The Platinum Card® from American Express - There's currently a welcome bonus of 60,000 points after spending $5,000 in your first 3 months, worth up to $600 towards travel.

However — you may be eligible for a welcome bonus of up to 125,000 points using the CardMatch Tool.

This is our #1 card for accessing 1,200+ airport lounges worldwide (including Priority Pass). We leverage ~$3,000+ in benefits and perks from the card every year. Terms Apply. For rates and fees of the Amex Platinum Card, click here.
American Express® Gold Card - We love using this card as it earns 4x points at restaurants worldwide, including takeout and delivery, and 4x points at U.S. supermarkets (up to $25,000 per calendar year; then 1x. Terms Apply). There's no better card in our opinion if you eat out and/or shop at supermarkets regularly; and you'll have access to many benefits and perks.

With a welcome bonus of 60,000 points after you spend $4,000 in your first 6 months and up to $100 airline fee credit per calendar year, it's a strong choice. For rates and fees of the Amex Gold Card, click here.

Recommended American Express Cards (Business)

The Business Platinum Card® from American Express - Right now, there's a welcome bonus of up to 75,000 points after you spend $15,000 within the first 3 months. Terms Apply.

See how we get ~$5,525+ in value per year by leveraging many of the benefits & perks, including access to 1,200+ airport lounges worldwide. For rates & fees of the Business Platinum, click here.
American Express® Business Gold Card - probably our favorite Amex business card because we earn 4x points across the top 2 select categories that we spend the most money in each month, such as Facebook or Google ads. The 4x points applies to the first $150,000 in combined purchases from these 2 categories each calendar year. After that, you earn 1x. Terms Apply. For rates & fees of the Business Gold Card, click here.
The Blue Business® Plus Credit Card from American Express - This card is offering a welcome bonus of up to $300 back to boost your business. You can earn up to $100 in the form of statement credits at each of the following merchants: Dell Technologies, DocuSign or FedEx after you make an eligible purchase on your new Card within the first 3 months of Card Membership. A super simple, no annual fee card that earns you 2x points on any business purchase, up to $50,000 annually. After that, then 1x. Terms Apply. That makes for an easy 100,000 points per year. For rates & fees of the Blue Business Plus, click here.

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: Louis Roederer Cristal 2009

Speaking of champagne, several airlines around the world serve Dom Perigon, Krug, etc. But Japan Airlines stands alone in serving Louis Roederer Cristal 2009, which retails for $300+ per bottle. Needless to say…you won’t be disappointed.

Phenomenal Whiskey: Hibiki 17

Hibiki 17
If you are a fan of high-end whisky, you’ll have a chance to try the discontinued and legendary Hibiki 17 whisky in Japan Airlines first class. Image courtesy of Stephen Au.

Another huge perk of Japan Airlines first class is the liquor selection. You’ll have the opportunity to try Hibiki 17, which is an increasingly rare and world-class whisky. Because Hibiki 17 has been discontinued, the demand is extraordinary now.

Bottles can retail anywhere from $750 to $1,000.

First Class Suite

Japan Airlines First Class Seat
The Japan Airlines first class seats feature an industry-leading 33 inches in width! Image courtesy of Stephen Au.

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!


For rates and fees of The Platinum Card® from American Express, click here.
For rates and fees of the American Express® Gold Card, click here.
For rates and fees of The Business Platinum Card® from American Express, click here.
 For rates and fees of the American Express® Business Gold Card, click here.
For rates and fees of The Blue Business® Plus Credit Card from American Express, click here.
For rates and fees of the Marriott Bonvoy Business™ American Express® Card, click here.
For rates and fees of the Marriott Bonvoy Brilliant™ American Express® Card, click here.


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Best Ways to Book Japan Airlines First Class Using Points

Frequently asked questions

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 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.

Spencer Howard

About Spencer Howard

Always a fan of flying, it was only natural that Spencer was drawn to finding a way to improve the travel experience. Like many, he started this journey searching for cheap flights to take him around the world. This was fun for a while, but Spencer was intrigued by the idea of flying in business and first class! Throwing himself into what became an extensive research project, Spencer spent 3-4 hours per night learning everything he could about frequent flyer miles over the course of several months (he thinks this is normal).

Disclaimer: Any comments listed below are not from the bank advertiser, nor have they been reviewed or approved by them. No responsibility will be taken by the bank advertiser for these comments.

7 comments

  1. Can I combine points from different cards into one account, say Amex and Citi? Also what’s the best way to bank these points into a one world partner account where I can use them to fly first class to Japan from NY on JAL. Will my Amex Plat card concierge service take care of this for me if I call them? Thanks again, love your posts.

    Reply

    • If there is a partner that both Amex and Citi transfer to, then yes – you can definitely transfer points to that partner from both Amex and Citi. There are partners that all of the transferrable programs are aligned with, such as Singapore Airlines so you could technically transfer in from all 4 (Chase, Citi, SPG, Amex).

      SPG transfer to all of the OneWorld partners so that would be the best way to start banking points if you’re looking for maximum options.

      Here’s info on their cards: https://upgradedpoints.com/best-chase-marriott-rewards-credit-cards/

      Reply

  2. “Japan Airlines has an amazing first class suite and a cabin crew that is second to none.”
    My wife and I flew JAL First Class from San Francisco to Tokyo this past September. Unfortunately, the First Class suite was not amazing (unless you are comparing it to economy class) and the service was just average. Half of the stewardesses barely spoke English and none of them addressed me by name. I also took a Business Class flight on Singapore Airlines and the service was much better and they all addressed my by name.
    The First Class suite on JAL is old and way inferior to ANA’s brand new First Class suite.

    Reply

  3. I’m trying to get a JAL flight using AA points. Conveniently this is now possible from the AA site. However, I also am trying to get a stopover in NRT on the way to PVG. Is this possible with points? I was able to put the flight together on the JAL website but AA site does not have the same options.

    It’s tough to find out if this type of redemption is possible. Any way to do this? Thanks!

    Reply

    • Tom,

      You cannot redeem AA miles and get a free stopover; it’s not allowed in their rules. You can only make connections. If you want to add that, you’ll need to pay separately for the 2nd segment using AA miles as well. Thanks for reading.

      Reply

  4. I’m on British Airways’ website and I literally can’t find any JAL flights that aren’t in economy for a flight from SFO to NRT in May. Am I too late to book travel for May in Jan?

    Reply

    • Hi Jason,

      That is a possibility. Japan Airlines First Class space is very sought after so it can be hard to come by. I assume since you were searching on BA that you were hoping to book your ticket with AA miles, do you have any other miles you could use? Perhaps Alaska Airlines miles? If not, there are many other great booking options for your AA miles!

      Reply

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