The Tokyo-based carrier is the last of the oneworld airlines to be integrated into the Qantas Frequent Flyer portal, which means that using your Qantas Points for a redemption on this excellent airline has now become easier.
This is especially good news for points enthusiasts who are interested in including Japan Airlines in a oneworld round-the-world trip in Business Class for 280,000 Qantas Points.
In this guide, we outline the routes, aircraft and cabins; do a comparison of points pricing; give award availability tips; and provide links to reviews and other guides.
How to search for and book award seats
Reward seats in Economy Class are generally easier to find than those in premium cabins but it is definitely worth searching for Japan Airlines seats for trips to Asia and beyond.
If you are not able to book online, you will need to call the frequent flyer program to book. You may be able to argue the point and avoid the booking fee given that it is not showing online.
For more information, check out our guide on how to search for frequent flyer award space most efficiently.
Routes, aircraft and cabins
Japan Airlines unfortunately don’t fly to New Zealand, with their flights haven’t been terminated in the 90s. Though they do still service Australia, and are a useful partner to have in your arsenal for flights around Asia and also further afield.
The Sydney to Tokyo Narita flight is serviced by the larger Boeing 787-9 Dreamliner and the Melbourne flight by the smaller Boeing 787-8 aircraft—the only real difference is the number of seats.
The lie-flat ‘Sky Suites’ Business seats are in a 2-2-2 configuration but do offer direct aisle access to all passengers with its staggered layout:
The Premium Economy section is set up in 2-3-2 with a quite generous 42 inches of seat pitch between you and the person in front of you, plus a hard shell so you are not bothered by other passengers’ movements:
The Economy section is in 2-4-2 with 33 inches of seat pitch—try to snag a seat on the edges for more privacy if you can.
A comparison of points pricing
The five main points currencies New Zealand-based travellers can use on Japan Airlines flights are:
- Qantas Points
- Cathay Pacific Asia Miles
- American Airlines AAdvantage miles
- British Airways Avios
- Japan Airlines Mileage Bank
Mileage Bank offers the lowest redemption pricing across the board. You can transfer American Express Membership Rewards points to Starwood Preferred Guest, which can then be transferred to Mileage Bank or AAdvantage. You can also get hold of the latter through buy miles promotions.
Asia Miles and British Airways Avios offer good value for Premium Economy and Economy redemptions. Avios are also a great option for domestic flights within Japan, which can tend to be quite expensive. Note that Asia Miles redemptions on Japan Airlines must be for roundtrip travel.
Qantas Points offer the poorest value of the five options.
Here is a comparison of one-way pricing to Japan from Australia, noting that you’ll also need to factor in any Trans-Tasman leg if you’re flying from New Zealand:
|Route||Class||Japan Airlines Mileage Bank||AAdvantage||Asia Miles||British Airways Avios||Qantas Frequent Flyer|
|Sydney - Tokyo Narita||Business||30,000-40,000||40,000||(80,000 return)||75,000||78,000|
|Premium Economy||25,000||N/A||(54,000 return)||50,000||63,000|
|Melbourne - Tokyo Narita||Business||30,000-40,000||40,000||(120,000 return)||75,000||78,000|
|Premium Economy||25,000||N/A||(72,000 return)||50,000||63,000|
- Mileage Bank bizarrely discounts Business Class redemptions on certain days of the week
- AAdvantage does not allow Premium Economy redemptions
- Asia Miles does not allow one-way redemptions on Japan Airlines
- Alaska Mileage Plan does not allow routings from Australia to Japan
Taxes and surcharges on a one-way flight from Australia to Tokyo in Business Class are under $100; in the other direction, they are ~$150 AUD. As the fuel surcharge departing Australia is under $5 and returning under $100, the cash component on an award booking should be quite similar across frequent flyer programs.
Where to credit miles
If you are purchasing a cash ticket on one of these flights and want the most value out of the points you’ll get out of it, check out our guide on how to choose which program to credit your frequent flyer points to.
Japan Airlines is renowned for friendly, efficient customer service, and great onboard food.
This represents a great-value points redemption opportunity for flying in comfort to Japan and beyond.