Good Things About Japan Airlines
Business and First Class Awards– JAL has distance based award chart that is the cheapest of all the airlines.
Awards on Qatar Airlines and Air France– These airlines typically charge high fuel surcharges, but JAL currently does not pass on their high fuel surcharges.
High Point Value– Due to JAL’s great award chart, JAL leads all airlines in our cents per points calculations.
Stopovers– JAL allows you to book up to seven stopovers or eight flight segments. Therefore, look for expensive direct flights.
Bad Things About Japan Airlines
No Warning on Fuel Surcharge Changes– JAL previously did not pass on fuel surcharges on Emirates awards, but without warning, JAL decided to start charging the fuel surcharges, which increased the cost of an award from about $100 to $1,700. Several people who were in the process of transferring points from SPG to JAL successfully submitted a Department of Transportation Complaint against JAL for lack of notice.
One Major Transfer Partner– JAL has a great award program, but you can only transfer from Marriott.
Japan Airlines Information
North American Routes to Tokyo (NRT): Boston, Chicago, Dallas, Honolulu, Kona Los Angeles, New York (JFK), San Diego, Seattle, and Vancouver.
North American Routes to Tokyo (HND): New York (JFK) and Los Angeles
Points Expiration: 36 months from earning. No way to extend.
Seat Maps by Plane: SeatGuru
JAL Explorer Pass- Individuals residing outside of Japan with an international air ticket to and from Japan are eligible to purchase JAL Japan Explorer Pass Fares. Checked bags are included and can be a great deal if you are booking at the last minute (e.g., Tokyo to Okinawa is about $250 within a month of departure (only costs about $100 with pass), but the price two months in advance drops to $80).
- JPY 5,400 (~US$45-50): Routes within Hokkaido & Routes departing from/to Tohoku
- JPY 7,560 (~$65-70): Routes between Tokyo and Osaka, Tokyo and Nanki-Shirahama, Okinawa main island and outlying islands
- JPY 10,800 (~$95-100): Routes aside from the above.