13 Best Ways To Redeem Japan Airlines (JAL) Mileage Bank Miles for Max Value

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Japan Airlines (JAL) is Japan’s original and largest international airline. JAL’s international hub is at Tokyo-Narita (NRT), and it has a domestic hub at Tokyo-Haneda (HND).

JAL is a member of the Oneworld alliance and has additional partners such as Bangkok Airways, Emirates, and Philippine Airlines.

Members of JAL Mileage Bank (JMB) can use miles for JAL and partner airlines flights. JMB is a distance-based mileage program that has interesting values compared to traditional zone-based programs.

How to Earn Japan Airlines Mileage Bank Miles

You can earn JMB miles by flying Japan Airlines and its partner airlines like American Airlines and Alaska Airlines.

Marriott Credit Cards

You can earn Marriott points and transfer those to Japan Airlines 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.

Recommended Marriott Cards

Marriott Bonvoy Boundless™ Card - earn 75,000 bonus points after spending $3,000 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.
Marriott Bonvoy Business™ American Express® Card - earn 75,000 bonus points (terms apply). A solid card for business owners who will get complimentary Marriott Bonvoy silver elite status. Annual fee is $125. For rates and fees of the Bonvoy Business Card, click here.

Cathay Pacific Asia Miles

Cathay Pacific Asia Miles, which is a program that shares a lot of partners with Japan Airlines, 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 Amex 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. This is our favorite card for getting into 1,200+ airport lounges worldwide (including Priority Pass) and we get about $1,500+ in value from the card every year.

Plus, get up to $200 in Uber credits annually ($15 per month and a $20 bonus in December) — and up to $200 in annual credit for airline incidental charges (e.g. baggage fees). For rates and fees of the Platinum Card, click here.
American Express® Gold Card - We love using this card as it earns 4x points at restaurants worldwide and 4x points at US supermarkets (up to $25,000; then 1x).

With a welcome bonus of 35,000 points after you spend $2,000 in your first 3 months and a $100 airfare credit per year, for many this is an easy addition to your wallet. For rates and fees of the Gold Card, click here.

Recommended Amex Cards (Business)

The Business Platinum Card® from American Express - Even though this card carries a hefty annual fee, we get ~$1,250+ in value per year by leveraging as many of the benefits/perks card.

Get access to 1,200+ airport lounges worldwide, $200 in airline fee credits for incidentals (e.g. baggage fees) and a lot more. Also, earn a welcome bonus of up to 75,000 points (terms apply). For rates and 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. The 4x points applies to the first $150,000 in combined purchases from these 2 categories each calendar year. This means you'll max out at a (whopping) 600,000 points per year. After that, you earn 1x. For rates and fees of the Business Gold Card, click here.
The Blue Business℠ Plus Credit Card from American Express - This is a real simple card that earns you 2x points on business purchases up to $50,000 annually (then 1x). There's no annual fee. For rates and fees of The Blue Business Plus, click here.

Recommended Citi Cards

JAL USA Credit Cards

The JAL USA MasterCard earns miles and discounts on in-flight purchases. This $20 annual fee card only earns 1 point per every $2 spent, though, and is a poor value compared to alternate cards. You can choose the $70 annual fee version to earn a better 1 point per $1.

The 13 Best Ways To Use Your JAL Mileage Bank Miles

The following are what we believe are some of the best ways to use JAL miles. These, of course, aren’t the only ways, so once you’ve learned a few, feel free to get creative and come up with your own!

Once known as the premier frequent flyer program for some of the world’s most aspirational airlines including Emirates, Japan Airlines has suffered from back-to-back devaluations, resulting in a program that isn’t what it once was.

Nonetheless, let’s get into some of the best redemptions you can make with JAL miles.

1. JAL First Class to Japan

Rest easy in your pod in the sky with Japan Airlines. Image courtesy of jal.co.jp.
Rest easy in your pod in the sky with Japan Airlines! Image courtesy of jal.co.jp.

This has to be the #1 option: experience the exquisiteness of JAL first class on a flight to its home city of Tokyo.

For 140,000 miles round-trip, you can fly to Japan in ultimate style. With limited discounts on certain days of the week, you can reduce that to 110,000!

Need help booking? See our step by step guide for booking Japan Airlines first class.

What’s all the fuss about? Check out this JAL 777 First Class Review – Tokyo to LA.

2. Upgrade to JAL Premium Economy, Business, or First

Japan Airlines 777 Business Class Seat 5G
It’s a beautiful sight to see that you’ll be able to enjoy a fully lie-flat bed, excellent food, and amenities in Japan Airlines’ business class aboard the 777-300ER. Image Credit: Stephen Au

Paid tickets on JAL can be upgraded for reasonable miles price.

North America to Japan from economy to premium economy/business is 20,000/30,000 miles each way. If seats are available, you may be offered those upgrades at the airport for 15,000 and 24,000 miles, respectively.

You have to be in paid business class to upgrade to first for 45,000 miles in advance (30,000 at the airport).

3. JAL Business Class to Japan

Book JAL business class is a great way to enjoy lie-flat seats and gourmet dining en route to Japan. For as little as 50,000 miles each way, you can fly between Japan and the United States in business class.

This represents a savings of 10,000 miles each way compared to American Airlines AAdvantage.

Here are some great example routes you can take:

  • New York City (JFK) – Tokyo-Haneda (HND)
  • Los Angeles (LAX) – Osaka (KIX)
  • Boston (JFK) – Tokyo-Narita (NRT)

Need help booking? See our step by step guide for booking Japan Airlines business class.

Hot Tip: Want to know more about JAL business class? Don’t miss this review: Japan Airlines 777 Business Class Review — Los Angeles to Tokyo

4. JAL Economy to Japan

JAL Economy Class Meal
JAL economy class meals come in Japanese bento box style! Image Credit: jal.co.jp

JAL off-peak awards start at just 25,000 miles one-way from the U.S. to Japan in economy. For only a few miles more, you can continue to JAL’s many Asian destinations.

For being in the back of the plane, economy on JAL is a one of the best in the world!

5. JAL Domestic Flights From 5,000 Miles

One-way awards on JAL’s domestic flights are periodically reduced by a significant amount. With seasonal discounts, these can get low as 6,000 miles one-way.

2019-2020 dates are:

  • Dec 1, 2019 – Feb 29, 2020 except Dec 21, 2019 – Jan 5, 2020

You can redeem for a one-sector flight for as little as 6,000 miles. Here’s the award chart:

JAL Discount Period 2
JAL Discount Period 2. Image Credit: jal.com
JAL Discount Period 2 continued
JAL Discount Period 2 continued. Image Credit: jal.com

Use them to island hop around Okinawa!

6. 3 Stopovers on Partner Awards

Partner award tickets are distance-based for up to 6 flight segments, meaning you’ll pay for the total distance you fly. There area few exceptions, which are as follows:

  1. Korean Air: a maximum of 2 flight sectors is permitted
  2. China Eastern: a maximum of 4 flight sectors is permitted
    • China domestic sectors are permitted for a maximum of 2 flight sectors
  3. Hawaiian Airlines: a maximum of 4 flight sectors is permitted
    • Hawaiian inter-island sectors are permitted for a maximum of 2 flight sectors

There are some fantastic possibilities for tickets with stops in up to 3 cities, with the exception of international travel originating in China on China Eastern (no stopovers in China permitted).

Remember these are stops, not connections, meaning you can stay in each place as long as you want within the ticket validity. Add many partner-specific discount promotions, and you have some of the best mileage deals anywhere!

To learn how this works, you can practice online with the group of partners available on the JMB website: Air France, American, British Airways, Cathay Pacific, and Qantas. For more information on using these partners, check out our guide to searching for award availability for OneWorld Alliance partners.

There are a few rules surrounding back-tracking, which cannot be done back to the point of origin and country of origin as shown here:

Backtracking on JAL
Backtracking on JAL is not permitted. Image Credit: jal.com

7. Hop Around the U.S. East Coast (American Airlines)

Let JAL inspire your trip around the U.S. East Coast on its partner American Airlines:

JAL AA Short-haul
Short-haul flights on American Airlines using JAL miles are an awesome way to save cash. Image Credit: GCMap.com.

For this entire route, you’d only pay 25,000 JAL miles. This specific routing would allow you to visit Montreal, Chicago, and Miami on one ticket.

8. Hop Around the U.S. West Coast (Alaska Airlines)

With Alaska Airlines you can book ultra-cheap multi-city trips around the West Coast on Alaska. You can also mix Alaska with American Airlines flights on the same ticket.

Alaska Airlines is a JAL partner, and you can redeem for mixed award flights between the airlines. Image Credit: JAL.com

9. Save Big When Touring South America (LATAM)

LATAM Short Haul Itinerary using JAL Miles
Using JAL Miles for ultra short-haul itineraries is an awesome redemption. Image Credit: GCMap.com.

Flights in South America are expensive, meaning this is a great chance to use your miles.

LATAM does not have the best award availability, but if you can find it you can create some incredible trips around the continent.

Trips up to 1,000 miles start at 12,000 miles. You can have up to 3 stopovers…think Easter Island, Iguazu Falls and more! Here’s the rest of the award chart for LATAM when using JAL miles:

LATAM JAL Business Award Chart
LATAM JAL Business Award Chart. Image Credit: JAL.com.
LATAM JAL Economy Award Chart
LATAM JAL Economy Award Chart. Image Credit: JAL.com.

10. Thai Beaches and Angkor Wat (Bangkok Airways)

Bangkok Airways is not a Oneworld airline. Fortunately, with their partnership with JAL, you can book awards on the with your miles.

Flights up to 1,000 miles in distance are just 12,000 miles. That is enough for a roundtrip Bangkok to any of the following:

  1. Koh Samui (USM)
  2. Chiang Mai (CNX)
  3. Krabi (KBV)
  4. Phuket (HKT)
  5. Siem Reap (REP)
  6. Phnom Penh (PNH)
  7. Yangon (RGN)

You can even have stopovers! How about Bangkok→Phuket→Siem Reap→Bangkok for just 15,000 miles?

Even flying from Bangkok all the way to the Maldives tops out at a paltry 23,000 miles.

11. Cheap way to Maldives (SriLankan Airlines)

The Sri Lankan Colombo-Maldives shuttle is 12,000 miles, and starting all the way from London, Paris or Frankfurt is only 50,000 miles in economy or 100,000 miles in business.

12. Russia on Discount (S7)

S7 is a JAL partner with no fuel surcharges. So in addition to prices as low as 12,000 miles in economy, 24,000 miles in business for trips up to 1,000 miles, you won’t be paying high cash fees on your award.

13. Hawaii to Japan, Tahiti, or Australia (Hawaiian)

Hawaiian is also a Japan Airlines partner. Short-distance flights cost a relatively high amount of miles. There are interesting values on longer flights:

  • Honolulu – Tahiti (Papeete) for 37,000 miles economy / 60,000 miles business (roundtrip)
  • Tokyo (Haneda/Narita)/Sapporo (New Chitose) – Honolulu – Kauai (Lihue) or Maui (Kahului) for 45,000 miles economy / 80,000 miles business (roundtrip)
  • Honolulu – Sydney for 50,000 miles economy / 100,000 miles business (roundtrip)

Japan Airlines Mileage Bank Program (JMB)

Join JMB Frequent Flyer Program

Sign up for JAL Mileage Bank (JMB) to earn miles and redeem for award flights.

Japan Airlines Enroll Page
You must join JAL Mileage Bank before you can earn any miles or transfer them from partners. Image Credit: JAL.com.

JAL Family Club

JAL Family Club allows families to pool miles for awards. This program is only available to families residing in eligible regions outside Japan. Register here.

Japan Airlines Family Club
The JAL family club allows you to share your miles between members of your family (up to 9). Image Credit: JAL.com.

A family can register up to 9 members, including the primary member’s spouse, children, parents, and spouse’s parents. Each member must be age 12 and above with their own JMB account.

JAL Family Club fees:

  • 1,000-mile initial registration fee, credited back once the primary member flies a paid JAL international flight (accounts with no miles are allowed to be set up, then the 1,000 miles deducted once earned by any means).
  • 1,000-mile renewal fee charged every 5 years, also credited back once the primary member flies a paid JAL international flight in the following year.
  • 1,000-mile fee to add new family member

JMB Award Booking Guidelines

Award tickets can be booked up to 360 days in advance.

You must book awards online 4 days prior to departure; by phone you can book up to 2 days prior to departure.

How Much Do JMB Domestic Awards on Japan Airlines Cost?

JAL Domestic Award Tickets start at 12,000 miles round-trip. Off-peak periods throughout the year bring that down to as low as 10,000.

All domestic one-ways will be half the round-trip price.

Japan is categorized into Zones A-C; see the domestic award chart.

Booking Guidelines for JMB International Awards on Japan Airlines

JMB Partner Airlines Award Tickets
There are a few rules for using JMB internationally, but they shouldn’t prevent you from booking an award flight!

One-way awards are allowed and are charged at half the round-trip price.

Mixed cabin awards are also allowed; these are priced to match the highest cabin on the itinerary.

Round-trip flights must return to same country as your departure, but they can arrive in a different city (book 2 one-ways if you’re planning to return to a different country). Also note the following country definitions:

  • U.S. and Canada counted as same country area
  • U.K. and Europe counted as same country area
  • China, Hong Kong, and Taiwan not counted as same country area

A maximum of 3 flight segments are allowed each way, and no stopovers are permitted within Japan.

Generally, you’ll find better JAL availability for JMB members than on partner airlines.

How Much Do JMB International Awards on Japan Airlines Cost?

JMB has multiple pricing options for international awards on Japan Airlines. A great place to start is the Mileage Calculator, and you can also study the full JAL International Award Ticket Chart.

Here’s the award chart from North America to Japan:

JAL Award Chart North America to Japan
JAL Award Chart North America to Japan. Image Credit: JAL.com.

Base Miles:

  • Lowest level award availability

PLUS*1:

  • A variable award surcharge that can be applied to reflect a higher level award availability

International Upgrades on Japan Airlines

Paid tickets on JAL can be upgraded using miles. Upgrades are offered in advance, and at the airport for a discount (subject to availability).

Economy tickets can upgrade to premium economy or business, but you can only upgrade to first from a paid business class ticket.

JAL runs upgrade discount promotions on select routes. You’ll want to check back with Japan Airlines for these deals.

See the full JMB upgrade chart for other regions.

Hot Tip: See our article on earning JAL miles if you need more miles to earn an upgrade!

Booking Guidelines for JMB Partner Airlines Awards

JMB Partner Airlines Award Tickets
Some general booking guidelines will help make sure are redeeming your miles for the highest value!

JMB Partner Airline awards are distance-based and incredibly flexible!

Instead of thinking of these in traditional one-way/round-trip terms, think of this as an additive trip: the more distance you fly, the more you pay.

You can have up to 6 flight segments per ticket, and you are allowed up to 3 stopovers per ticket (stops of 24+ hours).

If you seek to visit multiple destinations in a single trip, this is one of the best mileage values available: 3 destinations for the price of 1!

There are some key rules:

  • No requirement to return to origin country
  • Cannot backtrack or return to country of origin mid-trip
  • One city can be transited a maximum of 3 times
  • Maximum 1 stopover per city
  • No domestic China, Hong Kong, or Macau stopover allowed on tickets originating in China
  • China Eastern: maximum 4 segments per ticket
  • Korean Air: maximum 2 segments per ticket
  • Non-Oneworld partner airlines cannot be mixed
  • Mixed cabin awards price at the highest cabin of the itinerary, meaning even just 1 of 6 segments in business and the rest in economy will price the whole ticket as business

Fuel surcharges are charged on some carriers and can be substantial. Alternate carriers may fly the same route and save you cash. The highest fuel surcharges are usually on Air France, British Airways, Emirates, Finnair, and Qantas. Other carriers on most round-trips should be under $200.

Hot Tip: For more information, check out our article dedicated to the topic — The Ultimate Guide to Airline Fuel Surcharges (Including Those That Charge The Most & The Least)

How Much Do JAL Mileage Bank Awards on Partner Airlines Cost?

The JMB Partner Airline Award Chart is:

JAL Partner Award Chart
There is solid value to be had when using JAL miles to book partner awards. Image Credit: jal.co.jp.

Book Flights on JAL Partner Airlines

JAL is a Oneworld alliance member and has several additional airline partners.

JAL Airline Partners
JAL Airline Partners. Image Credit: JAL.com.

Oneworld Airline Partners

JAL Partner AirlineAward Bookable Online?
American AirlinesYes
British AirwaysYes
Cathay PacificYes
FinnairNo, search britishairways.com
IberiaNo, search britishairways.com
LATAMNo, search britishairways.com
MalaysiaNo, search britishairways.com
QantasYes
QatarNo, search britishairways.com
Royal JordanianNo, search britishairways.com
S7No, search britishairways.com
SriLankan AirlinesNo, search britishairways.com

Other Airline Partners

When booking non-Oneworld partner airlines you cannot mix multiple airlines.

JAL Partner AirlineAward Bookable Online?
Air FranceYes
Alaska AirlinesSearch aa.com
Bangkok AirwaysNo, call JAL
China EasternNo, search airfrance.com
Hawaiian AirlinesNo, call JAL
EmiratesYes
JetstarNo, call JAL
Korean AirNo, search airfrance.com

Fees, Changes and Cancellations:

JMB has reasonable award fees:

  • Telephone ticketing service fee (varies by region): $50 (North America), applicable to phone bookings except partners/itineraries not available online
  • Change: no fee to change flight or date, except bookings that were originally subject to a ticketing service fee will be charged again for each change; can be processed up to 48 hours prior to departure.
  • Refund: ¥3,100 (≈$29); can be processed up to 24 hours prior to departure.

Mileage Expiration in JAL Mileage Bank

JMB miles expire the end of the 36th month from when they were earned, regardless of subsequent activity.

The Alaska Airlines Mileage Plan/JAL Partnership

JAL and Alaska Airlines became partners in 2016, adding another excellent option for award flights on JAL.

The way Alaska Airlines works with partners is that only routes published on their award chart are available for booking with Alaska Mileage Plan. For example, you can book U.S. to Japan but not Europe to Japan.

The award chart is:

RouteEconomyBusinessFirst
US – Northeast Asia35,00060,00070,000
US – Southeast Asia40,00065,00075,000
Intra-Asia15,00025,00030,000

The American Airlines AAdvantage/JAL Partnership

American Airlines AAdvantage is a strong alternate to JMB for booking award travel on JAL.

You can redeem for economy, business, and first, but not premium economy.

On these awards you cannot mix multiple partners, but you can add connections.

From the continental U.S., the one-way award chart is:

Continental U.S. to:EconomyBusinessFirst
Asia 135,00060,00080,000
Asia 237,50070,000110,000

The British Airways Executive Club/JAL Partnership

British Airways is not just a great tool for checking online award availability; the Avios distance-based chart also has the cheapest short-distance awards available on JAL. Most Japan domestic flights are 6,000 Avios.

British Airways JAL Domestic
Use the British Airways search engine for greater visibility into available award travel on JAL. Image Credit: JAL.com.

Give British Airways a pass for long-haul fares, which are non-competitive.

Hot Tip: Earn additional Avios by transferring from Chase Ultimate Rewards using the Chase Sapphire Preferred® Card or from Amex Membership Rewards using the American Express® Gold Card.

The Cathay Pacific Asia Miles/JAL Partnership

Cathay Pacific Asia Miles is a transfer partner of American Express Membership Rewards and Citi ThankYou Points.

The Asia Miles award chart is distance-based and has some competitive values for short and long-haul flights.

You must be traveling round-trip on JAL and cannot mix with airlines other than Cathay.

A round-trip award to Japan from the continental U.S. is 80,000/150,000/240,000 in economy/business/first.

Asia Miles North America to Japan
Asia Miles is a great award program and allows you to book flights on JAL! Image Credit: asiamiles.com.

Final Thoughts

Japan Airlines Mileage Bank is a niche program little-known outside Japan. There are tremendous award values both on Japan Airlines and partner airlines, and we gave you what we think to be some of the best ways to use JAL miles.

Distance-based awards with 3 stopovers is one of the greatest mileage values in the world. Why visit 1 destination when you can visit 3 for the same price!

Find Out How to Earn JAL Mileage Bank Miles >

Photo Credits:
Japan Airlines Featured Photo: Image Credit: CNN.com

FAQ

What is Japan Mileage Bank? Why should I join?

Japan Mileage Bank (JMB) is the free loyalty program of Japan Airlines (JAL).

Members earn miles from flying JAL, traveling with their airline and hotel partners, and utilizing various credit cards and shopping offers.

JMB miles can be used for flights and upgrades on JAL or its partners.

How can I join JMB?

Do JMB miles expire?

Miles earned in the Japan Mileage Bank program are valid for 36 months.

Is Japan Airlines a member of an airline alliance?

Japan Airlines is a member of Oneworld and has additional airline partners Emirates, Air France, Jetstar Japan, China Eastern Airlines, Bangkok Airways, Hawaiian Airlines, and Alaska Airlines.

JAL is also a member of Asia Miles.

How can I contact Japan Airlines from the U.S.?

From the U.S., call the JAL Mileage Bank Center at 1-800-JAL-FONE (1-800-525-3663).

What is the login for JMB?

Is there a credit card to earn JMB Miles?

Earn up to 2 pts/$1 spent with the JAL USA MasterCard (depending on which annual-fee version you choose).

You can also transfer points to Asia Miles for use on JAL through American Express Membership Rewards cards like The Amex EveryDay® Preferred Credit Card from American Express or American Express® Gold Card.

Alex Miller

About Alex Miller

Alex has been traveling for over 25 years and from a young age was lucky enough to set out on numerous family trips all over the world, which gave him the travel bug. Alex has since earned millions of travel points and miles, mainly through maximizing credit card sign-up bonuses and taking every opportunity to earn the most points possible on each dollar spent.

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4 comments

  1. Chuck Hong · March 8, 2019 · Reply

    Didn’t Alaska Airlines kill redemption of their points for JAL premium economy back in mid March of 2017? Just checked the Alaska Airlines website and it still shows redemption for only First, Business and Economy. You may want to update your table in this article.

    • Toby Plumb · March 13, 2019 · Reply

      Hello Chuck and thank you for spotting that. You are correct. We have updated the table.

  2. Hubert · July 5, 2019 · Reply

    You seem to be implying that you can transfer Asia Miles 1:1 to JAL Mileage Bank. Is that right? I haven’t seen that anywhere else. Thanks!

    • Hi Hubert,

      You cannot transfer Asia Miles straight to JAL Mileage Bank. However, since the two are both partners, you can use Asia Miles to book award flights with JAL.

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