Note: As a result of the Russia-Ukraine conflict, JAL is currently experiencing many restrictions on airspace and may temporarily suspend flights to/from Europe.
Japan Airlines (JAL) is Japan’s original and oldest international airline. It maintains its international hubs at Tokyo-Narita (NRT) and 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 Bonvoy Credit Cards
You can earn Marriott Bonvoy 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-mile bonus.
Recommended Marriott Bonvoy Cards
Cathay Pacific Asia Miles
Cathay Pacific Asia Miles, a program that shares a lot of partners with Japan Airlines, can be transferred from American Express Membership Rewards and Citi ThankYou Rewards (both at a rate of 1:1) or from Marriott Bonvoy at a transfer rate of 3:1.
Recommended American Express Cards (Personal)
If you’re a business owner, see our list of the best Amex business credit cards.
JAL U.S.A Card
The JAL U.S. card 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. The $70 annual fee version earns at a better ratio of 1 point per $1.
The 14 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. Emirates Business Class
Flying Emirates using Japan Airlines miles used to be the holy grail of points travel. This method has since been devalued and Emirates will no longer allow partner redemptions for first class awards on JAL as of September 1, 2021, but it still represents the most points-effective way of flying on Emirates business class.
Japan Airlines employs distance-based award pricing. If you intend on flying Emirates to/from the U.S., here are some great example routes you can take:
- Hong Kong (HKG) – Dubai (DXB) – San Francisco (SFO) one-way in Emirates business class for 100,000 miles + $7 in taxes and fees
- Melbourne (MEL) – Dubai (DXB) – Boston (BOS) one-way in Emirates business class for 110,000 miles + $7 in taxes and fees
- New York (JFK) – Dubai (DXB) round-trip in Emirates business class for 110,000 miles + $7 in taxes and fees
2. JAL First Class to Japan
This has to be one of the absolute best ways to redeem JAL miles: to 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.
3. Upgrade to JAL Premium Economy, Business, or First
Paid tickets on JAL can be upgraded for a 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 a paid business class to upgrade to first for 45,000 miles in advance (30,000 at the airport).
4. 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 U.S. 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:
- Boston (JFK) – Tokyo-Narita (NRT)
- Los Angeles (LAX) – Osaka (KIX)
- New York (JFK) – Tokyo-Haneda (HND)
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 our review of Japan Airlines 777 business class from LA to Tokyo.
5. JAL Economy to Japan
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 one of the best in the world!
6. JAL Domestic Flights From 6,000 Miles
One-way awards on JAL’s domestic flights are extremely reasonably priced, compared to how expensive a simple domestic economy ticket can be. With superb award pricing, these tickets can get low as 6,000 miles one-way.
Here’s the award chart:
Use them to island-hop around Okinawa!
7. 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 a few exceptions, which are as follows:
- Korean Air: a maximum of 2 flight sectors are permitted
- China Eastern: a maximum of 4 flight sectors are permitted
- China domestic sectors are permitted for a maximum of 2 flight sectors
- Hawaiian Airlines: a maximum of 4 flight sectors are 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 are permitted).
Remember that 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:
8. 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:
For this entire route, you’d only pay 25,000 JAL miles. This specific routing would allow you to visit Montreal, Chicago, and Miami from New York on 1 ticket.
9. 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.
10. Save Big When Touring South America (LATAM)
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:
11. Thai Beaches and Angkor Wat (Bangkok Airways)
Bangkok Airways is not a Oneworld airline. Fortunately, with its partnership with JAL, you can book awards on this airline with your miles.
Flights up to 1,000 miles in distance are just 12,000 miles. That is enough for a round-trip Bangkok (BKK) to any of the following:
- Chiang Mai (CNX)
- Koh Samui (USM)
- Krabi (KBV)
- Phnom Penh (PNH)
- Phuket (HKT)
- Siem Reap (REP)
- 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 shockingly low 23,000 miles.
12. Cheap Way to the Maldives (SriLankan Airlines)
The Sri Lankan Colombo (CMB) to Malé (MLE) shuttle is 12,000 miles, and starting all the way from London (LHR), Paris (CDG), or Frankfurt (FRA) is only 50,000 miles in economy or 100,000 miles in business.
13. Russia on Discount (S7)
S7 is a JAL partner with no fuel surcharges. In addition to prices as low as 12,000 miles in economy and 24,000 miles in business for trips up to 1,000 miles, you won’t be paying high cash fees on your award.
14. 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 (HNL) – Papeete (PPT) for 37,000 miles economy or 60,000 miles business (round-trip)
- Tokyo (HND/NRT) or Sapporo (CTS) – Honolulu (HNL) – Kauai (LIH) or Maui (OGG) for 45,000 miles economy or 80,000 miles business (round-trip)
- Honolulu (HNL) – Sydney (SYD) for 50,000 miles economy or 100,000 miles business (round-trip)
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 Family Club
JAL Family Club allows families to pool miles for awards. This program is only available to families residing in eligible regions outside of Japan. Register here.
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; the 1,000 miles will be 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 a 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.
All domestic one-ways will be half the round-trip price.
Japan is categorized into Zones A to C; see the domestic award chart.
Booking Guidelines for JMB International Awards on Japan Airlines
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 the 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 are counted as the same country area
- The U.K. and Europe are counted as the same country area
- China, Hong Kong, and Taiwan are not counted as the 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:
- Lowest level award availability
- 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 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 the origin country
- Cannot backtrack or return to the country of origin mid-trip
- 1 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, China Eastern, and Finnair. 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.
How Much Do JAL Mileage Bank Awards on Partner Airlines Cost?
The JMB Partner Airline Award Chart is:
Book Flights on JAL Partner Airlines
JAL is a Oneworld alliance member and has several additional airline partners.
Oneworld Airline Partners
|JAL Partner Airline||Award Bookable Online?|
|Alaska Airlines||No, search aa.com|
|Finnair||No, search britishairways.com|
|Iberia||No, search britishairways.com|
|Malaysia||No, search britishairways.com|
|Qatar||No, search britishairways.com|
|Royal Jordanian||No, search britishairways.com|
|S7 (temporarily suspended)||No, search britishairways.com|
|SriLankan Airlines||No, search britishairways.com|
Other Airline Partners
When booking non-Oneworld partner airlines you cannot mix multiple airlines.
|JAL Partner Airline||Award Bookable Online?|
|Bangkok Airways||No, call JAL|
|China Eastern||No, search airfrance.com|
|Hawaiian Airlines||No, call JAL|
|Jetstar||No, call JAL|
|Korean Air||No, 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 at 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 have a strong partnership, which adds another excellent option for award flights on Japan Airlines.
The way Alaska Airlines works with partners is that only routes published on its 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:
|US – Northeast Asia||35,000||60,000||70,000|
|US – Southeast Asia||40,000||65,000||75,000|
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|
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 Japanese domestic flights are 6,000 Avios.
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 Amex Gold card.
The Cathay Pacific Asia Miles/JAL Partnership
Cathay Pacific Asia Miles is a transfer partner of American Express Membership Rewards, Citi ThankYou Rewards, and Cathay Pacific Asia Miles.
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 Pacific.
A round-trip award to Japan from the continental U.S. is 80,000/150,000/240,000 miles in economy/business/first.
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 offered what we think to be some of the best ways to use JAL miles.
Distance-based awards with 3 stopovers are one of the greatest mileage values in the world. Why visit 1 destination when you can visit 3 for the same price?!
The information regarding the JAL U.S.A Card was independently collected by Upgraded Points and not provided nor reviewed by the issuer.
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