American Just Introduced Online Booking for Japan Airlines Awards

The biggest mistake the average member of a frequent flyer program makes when it comes to using their miles for travel is believing that you just go to your airline’s website, enter the city you’re traveling from and where you want to go, and the website will spit out your options.

It’s a perfectly reasonable expectation in 2019, but it’s not how it works. Different airlines do better and worse jobs at this, of course. Some don’t have all their partners online. Some won’t show all possible combinations of flights.

American Airlines has been a laggard even compared to United and Delta. AAdvantage started talking about adding booking of partner airline awards to their website back in fall 2011.

Last August American made several partner airlines bookable online only to pull the availability the next day. Clearly it was a test, though perhaps not one meant to be made live yet. They brought web booking for a couple of those partners back a month later. Then in May they made it possible to book Etihad awards online.

Now American has introduced online booking for their transpacific joint venture partner Japan Airlines. Award space can be plentiful, and they’re quite good about releasing award space close to departure as well.

JAL flies a number of routes between the U.S. and Japan.

  • With business class as the top cabin: Boston – Tokyo Narita, Dallas Fort-Worth – Tokyo Narita, Honolulu (Narita, Nagoya, Osaka), Kona – Tokyo Narita, Los Angeles – Osaka, San Diego – Tokyo Narita, Seattle – Tokyo Narita

  • With a first class cabin: Chicago – Tokyo Narita, Los Angeles – Tokyo Narita, New York JFK (Haneda, Narita), San Francisco – Tokyo Haneda

AAdvantage pricing:

  • Flying between the U.S. and Japan runs 35,000 miles each way in coach, 60,000 in business, and 80,000 in first.
  • Flying between the US and most of Asia runs 37,500 miles each way in coach, 70,000 in business, and 110,000 miles in first.

You can fly between the US and Japan on Japan Airlines and then connect onward with another partner like Cathay Pacific.

This won’t be good news for everyone, though it’s certainly good news for the median American AAdvantage member. More members will be aware of more options to fly to Asia with their miles. Until today none of American’s partners between the US and Asia were bookable online, so you’d only see American flights which are almost never available in premium cabins.

Customers thought they just couldn’t use their miles. With this improvement of course means more competition for limited space for those of us who already knew what we were doing!

(HT: xJonNYC)

About Gary Leff

Gary Leff is one of the foremost experts in the field of miles, points, and frequent business travel - a topic he has covered since 2002. Co-founder of frequent flyer community, emcee of the Freddie Awards, and named one of the "World's Top Travel Experts" by Conde' Nast Traveler (2010-Present) Gary has been a guest on most major news media, profiled in several top print publications, and published broadly on the topic of consumer loyalty. More About Gary »

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  1. Gary –
    AA has been offering AADvantage partners seats – ahead of their own availability which is not what one would want – if I’m going to AA – and they fly the route – I want to fly AA not BA via LHR and be charged $800-900 fees ….
    If however – AA doesn’t fly the route – then I’m very happy to have the ability to use AADvantage miles to fly on AADvantage Partners.

  2. They’ve been showing British flights for quite a while, and, as @Louise says above, that’s not always a good thing. Recently I’ve seen a lot of Iberia flights on the AA award pages, but like the British flights, the fees are higher than on regular AA flights for the same routes.

  3. Can you use miles to upgrade a flight that is a marketed by AA but JAL? booked into full fare economy and want to upgrade to plus or business

  4. This is good news as long as it lasts. I’m currently flying ANA in F in February using MR, and I have to buy positioning flights between ATL and IAH. Much better to use AA miles and have connection included.

  5. what’s the timing on partner availability? Is it the same lag in availability between JAL and American (alaska, etc) or is availability now open at the same time?

  6. @Kirk
    This availability was always there for Aadvantage members. It just wasn’t online, so you had to call in. Since it wasn’t bookable online, availability was great and the call to book was free (instead of the normal phone booking fee).

    Glad I booked my JAL/CX/AA award routing already. Sucks now though (for me) because the First availability will be tougher to get since more people will be aware of it.

  7. @tim I been told you can not upgrade an award seat.

    We did a BOS – Narita on JL but there was not a return flight for over 30+ days later, so we had to use EXTRA points to get a return flight. RIP OFF.

    AA does NOT offer many reward tickets.

  8. I note that does not offer availability information for JAL. Are there any other services that provide automated scanning for JAL award seats?

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