Great Business Class Award Space To Tokyo And Beyond From 8 U.S. Cities

Years ago conventional wisdom was that you needed to book award travel exactly when flight schedules opened up, which for some airlines is 331 days prior to travel (others publish schedules up to 355 days out). That’s making something of a comeback with airlines like British Airways and Qatar Airways making a commitment to load award seats when flights become available for booking.

However many airlines don’t make award space available until closer to travel. They only want to let you spend the lowest number of points for seats they’re confident they will not sell. And they may not be sure what that looks like until closer to travel. That’s especially been true during the pandemic when it hasn’t been clear when countries would re-open for travel, or when travel demand would return.

Thrifty Traveler’s Premium Airfare Deals points out that Japan Airlines has returned to making business class award seats available at the start of the booking calendar, with great availability right now from all U.S. gateways to Tokyo for two or more passengers.

  • New York JFK; Chicago O’Hare; Dallas – Fort Worth; Los Angeles; San Francisco <-> Tokyo Haneda
  • Boston; San Diego; San Francisco; Seattle <-> Tokyo Narita
  • You can use this award space to connect beyond Tokyo, traveling elsewhere in Asia Pacific

Here’s a search for Chicago O’Hare – Tokyo Haneda for two passengers in business class in December, using and noting that it will not display flights more than 331 days into the future.

Here’s a similar search for San Francisco – Tokyo Haneda:

The best way to book these flights is either with Alaska Airlines Mileage Plan (60,000 miles and no fuel surcharges, stopover permitted) or American AAdvantage (60,000 miles if just to Japan or South Korea, 70,000 if onward for most of Asia, and no fuel surcharges).

I’m looking forward to returning to Tokyo in a few months, for the first time since before the pandemic. Some of you will use this space to connect to Thailand, Singapore, or elsewhere in the region.

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. Thanks as always, Gary.

    Just to confirm I have my notes correct, say if I’m wanting to get to Seoul but would also like to explore Tokyo:

    *60k Alaska miles could get you a stopover in Tokyo, with a destination elsewhere in N Asia (say, Seoul)?

    *70k AA miles could get you transit through Tokyo, with a destination elsewhere in N Asia (say, Seoul)? (no stopover with AA miles)

    Do I have that correct?

  2. @Thanks – South Korea is actually “Asia 1” for American as well, so you could connect there and keep the price @ 60k through AAdvantage. Alaska allows a stopover for no extra miles. American does not.

    Destinations in Asia other than Japan and South Korean cost 70K under AAdvantage.

  3. Or… go to Australia through Tokyo with AsiaMiles for 90k. People are always saying how impossible it is to find award space to Australia, but this is very doable with a lot of space. Unfortunately, AA or AS makes you book separate tickets.

  4. Note that has been having a lot of issues searching for connecting flights on JAL beyond the simplest flights to Tokyo. For example a very simple routing like JFK-HND-SGN has not been bookable for months now, even individual segments are available on and other OW sites. When calling up agents, they give a very weak excuse like that routing is complex, fares not available (even though they sell for cash), etc. On top of that is displaying awards that the agents are not able to see themselves, but are bookable on so not a phantom space. Really frustrating.

  5. I’d love to go to Japan for the first time since Covid, but watching NHK and videos on Youtube and everybody is masked, I think I’ll wait a while longer . . . realizing it might be a long while.

  6. Doesn’t AA require a round-trip booking? So you’d have to wait until the return flight opens up?

  7. strangely, I can get PAE-SFO-LAX-TOY first class in OCT, but I can’t get first from SEA, SFO or LAX. What gives?

  8. @Norman, this is the issue I mentioned above with If you called, you’d be given some obscure excuse like the fare is available PAE-TYO (via SFO and LAX) but the inside segment by itself is not available.

    It is bogus and very frustrating.

  9. Try booking anything beyond Tokyo to any city in Asia on AA and report back. Totally impossible. Been trying for several weeks now. Great as a news item but impossible in practice.

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