13 Best Ways To Redeem Japan Airlines (JAL) Mileage Bank Miles for Max Value [2017]

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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. Let’s explore where JMB shines!

CONTENTS

Table of Contents

The 13 Best Ways To Use Your JAL Mileage Bank Miles

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!

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!

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

JAL, J Class Seat
JAL J class seats are the peak in luxury and comfort, made with real leather and including leg rests when reclined! Image courtesy of jal.co.jp

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).

Earn SPG Starpoints® (& Transfer Them to JAL)
  • Earn 25,000 bonus Starpoints® after you use your new Card to make $3,000 in purchases within the first 3 months.

3. Save on JAL First or Business With the Limited Days of the Week Discount

You can save year-round on JAL first or business to Japan just by flying certain days of the week. Only certain flights to/from Japan are eligible, and not connecting itineraries.

To take advantage, depart the U.S. Monday-Thursday, and schedule your return departing Japan Tuesday-Friday. Round-trip to Japan at these saver rates is just 80,000 miles in business or 110,000 in first.

Only a few dates are blacked out each year.

Check details here.

4. JAL Off-Peak Economy to Japan

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

JAL off-peak awards are just 40,000 miles round-trip 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!

Here are the North America dates for 2017:

  • Jan 10-Feb 9, 2017
  • Apr 1-May 31, 2017 (excludes Apr 27-May 10)
  • Jan 10-Feb 28, 2018

See JAL International Award Tickets Discount Mileage Promotion for more. These are economy only.

5. JAL Domestic Flights From 5,000 Miles

On April 1, 2017, one-way awards on JAL’s domestic flights will be reduced to 50% of round-trip prices. With seasonal discounts, these can get low as 5,000 miles one-way.

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 are some fantastic possibilities for tickets with stops in up to 3 cities. 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.

Go to JMB Partner Airlines Award Ticket Reservation and scroll down to Other Itineraries. Have at it!

JMB Partner Other Itineraries Search
Using the Other Itineraries search you can get up to 3 stopovers on the way to your destination!

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:

JMB American East Coast
Using JAL’s stopovers, you can explore many cities on the East Coast of the U.S. before returning home!

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

With Alaska Airlines added as a partner in 2016, 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.

JMB Alaska Award Chart
Now that Alaska Airlines is a JAL partner, you can redeem for mixed award flights between the airlines.

9. Save Big Touring South America (LATAM)

LAN Discount Mileage Promotion
Use the great prices on LATAM airlines to find award travel to South America.

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.

The LAN and TAM Discount Mileage Promotion currently runs through March 31, 2017, and hopefully will be extended!

Trips up to 1,000 miles start at 10,000 miles with the discount. Like on airberlin, you can have up to 3 stopovers…think Easter Island, Iguazu Falls and more!

10. Super-cheap Thai Beaches and Angkor Wat! (Bangkok Airways)

JAL has extended their long-running discount mileage promotion with Bangkok Airways.

Flights up to 1,000 miles in distance are just 5,000 miles. That will get you from Bangkok to Angkor Wat!

You can even have stopovers! How about Bangkok→Phuket→Siem Reap→Bangkok for just 10,000 miles?

Even flying from Bangkok all the the way to Maldives tops out at a paltry 18,000 miles.

Bangkok Airways Discount Mileage Promotion
Fly around Thailand and Cambodia at some great prices on JAL.

11. Discounted Maldives (Sri Lankan)

Sri Lankan Discount Mileage Promotion
Get cheap flights to the Maldives when you fly Sri Lankan Airlines!

Sri Lankan has its own Discount Mileage Promotion too.

The Colombo-Maldives shuttle is 10,000 miles, and starting all the way from London is only 40,000 miles.

12. Visit 3 Europe Cities on 1 Ticket (airberlin)

On 1 airberlin ticket, you can have stopovers in up to 3 cities. With the airberlin Discount Mileage Promotion, that’s a crazy good deal to see Europe!

Unlike British Airways and Finnair, fuel surcharges are minimal.

Tickets are 9,000-15,000 miles depending on distance traveled. You can fly Dusseldorf→Vienna→Zurich→Berlin→Frankfurt with stops to visit each city, all for just 12,000 miles. You can stop as long as you want up to a year!

airberlin Discount Mileage Promotion
Discounted tickets are available on airberlin when flying around Europe.

13. Russia on Discount (S7)

S7 is another JAL partner with no fuel surcharges. The S7 Discount Mileage Promotion takes you around that vast country with ease.

S7 Discount Mileage Promotion
Fly S7 Airlines from Russia for great award prices.

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.

Hot Tip: Frequent JAL flyers are familiar with earning FLY ON points along with their JMB elite status. Through 2017, JAL is running a FLY ON promotion that adds up to 400 points per paid ticket. Register here.

You can earn even more JMB miles by using the right credit card!

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.

Click here to find the current sign-up bonus as well as terms and conditions.

JAL USA Card
The card only earns 1 point per every $2 spent, and is a poor value compared to alternate cards. Instead, the $70 annual fee version earns a better 1 point per $1.

Starwood Preferred Guest Credit Cards

A better value than JAL’s own card, the Starwood Preferred Guest credit cards can be used to transfer SPG Starpoints to JMB miles at a 1:1 ratio.

You’ll receive a 5,000-mile bonus for every block of 20,000 points you transfer.

Loyalty Program Credit Card Review
Starwood Preferred Guest Loyalty Program Starwood Preferred Guest® Credit Card from American Express
  Starwood Preferred Guest® Business Credit Card from American Express

American Express Membership Rewards Credit Cards

JAL is not a direct airline partner of American Express Membership Rewards, but JAL does partner with Asia Miles that are redeemable for flights on JAL. Note that Asia Miles awards are subject to Asia Miles prices and terms, which are different from Japan Airlines Mileage Bank.

Loyalty Program Credit Card Review
American Express Membership Rewards Loyalty Program The Amex EveryDay® Credit Card from American Express
The Amex EveryDay® Preferred Credit Card from American Express
The Platinum Card® from American Express
The Enhanced Business Platinum Card® from American Express OPEN
Gold Card from American Express
Premier Rewards Gold Card from American Express
American Express® Green Card
Business Green Rewards Card from American Express OPEN
The Business Gold Rewards Card from American Express OPEN
Blue from American Express®
Blue for Business® Credit Card from American Express
Mercedes-Benz Credit Card from American Express (review coming soon)

Citi ThankYou Rewards Credit Cards

Citi ThankYou Rewards also has Asia Miles as a transfer partner. Earn Citi ThankYou Points with the following cards and transfer to Asia Miles for use on JAL:

Loyalty Program Credit Card Review
Citi ThankYou Rewards Loyalty Program Citi ThankYou Preferred Card
Citi ThankYou Premier Card
Citi Prestige Card

See Ways To Earn TONS of Japan Airlines Mileage Bank Miles for more!

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.

JAL JMB Loyalty Program
You must join JAL Mileage Bank before you can earn any miles or transfer them from partners.

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. (There is a separate program for families residing in Japan.)

JAL Family Club
The JAL family club allows you to share your miles between members of your family (up to 9).

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

Hot Tip: JAL Family Club is not only for pooling miles – there are regular bonus mile offers, too! Until March 31, 2017, every member earns 300 bonus miles for international flights. Register here.

JMB Award Booking Guidelines

Award tickets can be booked up to 330 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.

Starting April 1, 2017, all domestic one-ways will be half the round-trip price. Until then, one-ways are slightly more than the 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 since 2014 have been 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:

JMB North America Award Chart
North America to Japan’s award chart. Note that discount mileage is not widely available.

Standard Mileage:

  • Available year-round on all routes

Discount Mileage:

  • Specific dates and routes
  • Must book online
  • North America routes:
    • Jan 10-Feb 9, 2017
    • Apr 1-May 31, 2017 (excludes Apr 27-May 10)
    • Jan 10-Feb 28, 2018
  • Check offers for all regions here
JAL Limited Days of the Week
Discounts are available during certain days of the week.

Limited Days of the Week Discount:

  • Available year-round
  • Depart Japan Tue-Fri
  • Depart outside Japan Mon-Thu
  • Excludes:
    • Apr 28-May 7, 2017
    • Jul 28-Aug 31, 2017
    • Dec 23-Jan 7, 2018
  • Check offers here
JMB Limited Days of the Week Award Chart
The cost for the Limited Days Discount varies depending on the region you are flying from/to.

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. See upgrade discount routes through March 31, 2017 and upgrade discount routes April 1, 2017-March 31, 2018.

The upgrade award chart for North America to Japan is:

JMB Upgrade Chart North America to Japan
You can upgrade your seat starting at 15,000 miles.

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! The easiest way is to use the Starwood Preferred Guest® Credit Card from American Express and transfer Starpoints to JMB.

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.

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

The JMB Partner Airline Award Chart is:

JMB Partner Award Chart

Book Flights on JAL Partner Airlines

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

JAL JMB Partner Airlines
JAL is part of Oneworld, which includes all the airlines listed above.

Oneworld Airline Partners

JAL Partner Airline Award Bookable Online?
Air Berlin No, search britishairways.com
American Airlines Yes
British Airways Yes
Cathay Pacific Yes
Finnair No, search britishairways.com
Iberia No, search britishairways.com
LATAM No, search britishairways.com
Malaysia No, search britishairways.com
Qantas Yes
Qatar No, search britishairways.com
Royal Jordanian No, search britishairways.com
S7 No, search britishairways.com
Sri Lankan No, search britishairways.com

Other Airline Partners

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

JAL Partner Airline Award Bookable Online?
Air France Yes
Alaska Airlines Search alaskaair.com
Bangkok Airways No, call JAL
China Eastern No, search airfrance.com
Emirates No, search emirates.com
Jetstar Japan No, call JAL
Korean Air No, search airfrance.com

Fees, Changes and Cancellations:

JMB has reasonable award fees:

  • Telephone ticketing service fee: ¥2,000 (≈$17), 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 4 days prior to departure.
  • Refund: ¥3,100 (≈$26); can be processed up to 24 hours prior to departure (until April 1, 2o17 you can alternately pay 3,100 miles).

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:

Route Economy Premium Economy Business First
US <-> Northeast Asia 35,000 40,000 60,000 70,000
US <-> Southeast Asia 40,000 45,000 65,000 75,000
Intra-Asia 15,000 17,500 25,000 30,000

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: Economy Business First
Asia 1 35,000 60,000 80,000
Asia 2 37,500 70,000 110,000

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 4,500 Avios.

British Airways Avios JAL HND-CTS
Use the British Airways search engine for greater visibility into available award travel on JAL.

Give British Airways a pass for long-haul fares, though, which are noncompetitive.

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

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.

An award to Japan from the continental U.S. is in Award Zone D, meaning round-trip is 60,000/120,000/180,000 in economy/business/first.

Asia Miles Awards Chart
Asia Miles is a great award program and allows you to book flights on JAL!

Conclusion

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 courtesy of CNN.com

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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?
Enroll in JMB here.

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, 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?
Log in to the Japan Airlines Mileage Bank here.

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).

Because JAL is a Starwood Preferred Guest partner, you can also earn Starpoints with the Starwood Preferred Guest credit cards and then transfer them to JMB.

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 Premier Rewards Gold Card from American Express.