Wide Open Award Availability: Japan Airlines First Class

Via Lucky, Japan Airlines is swapping out a Boeing 787 (angled business class, no first class) for a Boeing 777-300ER on their San Francisco – Tokyo Haneda route effective December 1.

  • The Boeing 777-300ER has first class suites and true flat business class on this aircraft.

  • And first class award availability is wide open from the time they make this switch through the end of the schedule.

Your best bets for redeeming miles will be using American AAdvantage miles or using US Airways Dividend Miles.

  • American charges 62,500 miles each way between the US and Japan. Make Tokyo Haneda your connection and continue on in Asia (ideally to cities where JAL flies internationally from the closer-in Haneda) and first class awards are 67,500 miles each way.
  • US Airways charges 120,000 miles roundtrip for first class to Japan and North Asia which extends as far south as Hong Kong, and 160,000 miles if you connect farther south in Asia.

Search for Japan Airlines award availability when logged into the British Airways website. BA shows JAL award space. The American, US Airways, and Qantas websites do not.

Once you’ve found the space you want, call your mileage program (e.g. American, US Airways) to make the booking.

Don’t trust me that it really is available almost every day through the end of the year?

Here’s a calendar of availability for two passengers in first class between San Francisco and Tokyo Haneda, December 1 – 29.

(Award availability calendar via AwardNexus.com)

Here’s a calendar of availability for two passengers in first class between San Francisco and Tokyo Haneda, June 1 – 19 (current end of schedule).

(Award availability calendar via AwardNexus.com)

Both American and US Airways allow awards to be put on hold, the former for 5 days and the latter for 3 in most cases.

I’d grab these seats now as in general Japan Airlines does not release a lot of first class award space far in advance (although they’re pretty reliable in doing so in the days prior to departure). I imagine this level of availability will not last very long.

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 InsideFlyer.com, 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: Your thoughts please. I currently have one BKK-HKG-JFK all in J and one other ticket the same itinerary with the HKG-JFK in F. Obviously checking religiously to see if the other F ticket will open up. What would you do? Book BKK-HND-SFO-JFK to get the JAL F or stay with my current routing. (I assume I can do this without change fees through AA since my origin and destination will be the same and I am only going up in class or staying the same.) Or do you think there is better hope for a CX F seat opening up closer to the date?

    In any event, very interesting JAL developments!

  2. This is a bit off topic Gary, but by chance do you know how I can get last minute award seats from Asia to LAX? CX seems to only have 1 way availability. The return is hard to find. Many thanks if you have any suggestions.

  3. Just grabbed two F’s for my birthday in 2015 = 250K AA miles.


  4. Just few the new JAL suite ORD -> NRT two weeks ago.

    First time on JAL and I was impressed, not quite Cathay…but in my top 5.

  5. Nice! Best booking afternoon EVER. Got two r/t JL F SFO-HND with AA miles and two 2-month ADVANCE (!!) LH A380 F with UA miles under the OLD award chart! 🙂 🙂 🙂 I love United today (for a change).

  6. @Chris took me awhile to get the post up, i read about the offer late last night and have meetings and whatnot today but got it donethis morning. sorry if i wasn’t quick enough for ya!

  7. @Heather @ pass the dressing – I’m a bird in the hand kind of guy. Cathay does open up availability late… but only if the seats don’t sell out of course. If it were me I’d take the seats that are available together now, even though overall Cathay is probably my favorite product.

  8. @Gene – do you mind showing off how you booked the LH A380 as well? Would love to know 🙂

  9. Awesome! Thanks for this as I was looking for a trip home from the priceline one way deal a couple months back! Booked 2 First Class from HKG-NRT and HND-SFO in early January! Had to settle for an economy on the third ticket, but oh well, I’m not sitting back there! Transferring 60K star points for 90K AA miles to cover a big chunk of it! 170K miles for all three flights!

  10. @Thanh — No trick, just random luck. Very limited dates. Availability was right out in the open at UAL.com (although I thought it was phantom for sure) and at ANA.com. Apparently you can at least occasionally get LH F further out than 15 days.

  11. Gary, I have one on hold from BKK-HKG-HND-SFO in first. Are we sure that they will switch it to 773? On my reservation, it still shows 787.

  12. @doublejade that is the plan, and if the aircraft was still a 787 or planned to be there wouldn’t be any first class inventory. airlines can always substitute equipment but if they do and you’re downgraded you shouldn’t have a problem cancelling without penalty

  13. @Gene – yea, I was more curious how you got it under the old award chart. Is it the trick where you cancelled a ticket booked prior to Feb 3, and it retained the ability to book a new ticket without add’l miles?

  14. Gary, can you confirm if us airways can book these it not? They don’t seem to be able to see the space, or manually add it

  15. @Adam even United now seems to be having trouble based on some reports, haven’t verified if still live and will be on planes rest of the night.. sorry

  16. When booking AA awards for a single it is 62.5k miles each way (all F seats are available) but when booking for a couple they want 170k miles for the Tokyo to New York leg (same empty flights). Is this common and is there a way around it?

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