JAL Mileage Bank is the frequent flyer program for Japan Airlines, the Tokyo based Oneworld alliance member.
- Extremely competitive reward pricing
- Reward program based on regions
- Oneworld reward chart offers many opportunities for extended travel
- Additional partner airlines beyond Oneworld carriers
- One-way rewards now available for all programs
- Waitlisting system that notifies availability sooner than flight date
- Few blackout dates
- Very reasonable service fees
- Low surcharges to Japan
- Stopovers allowed on round-trip tickets
- Program is transparent with all information on website
- Multiple types of searches allowed including calendar, stopovers and multiple destinations
- Proactive in providing special reward programs designed to save points
- Only 8 gateway cities from North America
- Levies surcharges on all reward tickets
- Strict ticket rules allowing only family members
- Infants and children pay same as adults
- Website is confusing to navigate
- Searches can return unintended class of service tickets
- Upgrades are expensive compared to rewards
- Difficult to earn non-flying points with only one transfer partner
JAL International rewards are region, or area based. All international flights, regardless of the final destination will transit or terminate at either Narita or Haneda airports in Tokyo. This Areas table defines the areas and cities JAL operates at.
JAL flights can only be boarded from 8 North American cities. No Oneworld connections are provided for rewards based on this chart. You can use the Oneworld chart to get connections with JAL flights or any other Oneworld flight that may be available. Using Oneworld carriers in the itinerary means you can not take advantage of any JAL special reward programs.
These are round trip-rewards. One-way rewards are available for 50% of the amount, effective on all routes 3/31/2017. The blurred column reflects past reward redemptions that are no longer effective.
* Vancouver to Guam is the only valid route.
The Oneworld reward chart can be viewed as a potential round the world, or multi-segment trip chart as well as a standard round trip chart. Specifics regarding these options are defined under Routing Rules. The chart is distance based. One-way trips are allowed. Each flight segment must be totaled to determine the applicable Zone. JAL provides a sector mileage calculator to determine the exact distance categorized in the 10 zones. The blurred column is for redemptions that are no longer applicable. You could use this chart to combine an American connection to a JAL gateway city.
The Partner chart is also distance based and similar to the Oneworld chart. In addition to all Oneworld carriers, this chart adds Alaska, Emirates, China Eastern and Bangkok Airways.
JAL has specific itineraries for each partner that can be redeemed in all service classes. The itineraries typically involve at least two stopovers, sometimes more, in the region of the partner airline. Special point reductions are also occasionally available on select itineraries. Click on this link and then click on a partner's logo at the bottom of the page to view the current itineraries/promotions.
Tickets are good for 12 months from the time they are issued.
One-way travel is available for 50% of the round-trip reward. You can not combine a standard JAL reward and special reward such as the JALCARD reward (defined in Sweet Spots).
Reservations can be made starting 330 days from departure up to 4 full days prior on the website and 2 full days prior via the call center. The day of departure does not count as one of the days. If departing on a Friday you have to make the reservation by Sunday midnight. In the case of the United States, midnight Pacific time.
Changes to flight number and date are allowed when reward space is available until boarding time. The only charge is any discrepancy in taxes and fees.
Charges downgrading the points require forfeiting the difference while upgrading requires the additional points.
Route changes require cancellation, redeposit fee and reissue.
Once a ticket has been partially used, if it is cancelled, the points are forfeited but after a refund fee is paid taxes and surcharges are credited back for the unused portion of the ticket. Completely unused tickets may be cancelled for full refunds after the refund charge is paid.
Failure to board a reward flight voids the ticket and forfeits the points.
You must cancel a ticket by the end of the day subsequent to the first flight. Cancellations are not accepted afterwards.
Changes on partner tickets are limited to Date/Time changes and must be made a minimum of 3 days prior to departure.
Often you will need to waitlist for a flight. Waitlisting is common with JAL flights and sufficient notice is given if your preferred fight clears.
- Waitlisting 90-330 days out you are notified by 82 days prior to departure
- Waitlisting 89 days out or less you are notified 7 days after making the request or 8 days before departure, whichever is earlier
There are a few blackout dates for JAL International rewards:
- From Japan: 2017: May 3,4
- To Japan 2017: January 2,3 and May 6,7. 2018: January 2,3.
- To Japan: 2017: January 1,2 and May 5,6. 2018: January 1,2,3.
JAL has reasonable service fees.
- Website: No charge
- Call Center: 2,160JPY or about $20USD
- Ticket centers worldwide: 2,000JPY or about $19USD
- 3,100JPY or about $30USD or 3,100 points. Effective 4/1/2017 all cancellation fees must be paid in cash, point forfeiture is not accepted for payment after this date.
JAL levies carrier surcharges to their reward tickets for all Oneworld and Partner carriers that impose these fees. At this time JAL has discontinued their own surcharges. These surcharges go under periodic review and could be reinstated at a later date.
JAL posts the fees and taxes per reward ticket on this reward chart. A round-trip reward ticket from North America to Japan has fees and taxes less than $100 per ticket.
JAL has strict rules for who may receive a reward ticket from the member's account. The possible recipients are limited to family relation by blood or marriage.
JAL's terms and conditions state that family members can not pool points for reward ticket. But family members of the JALCARD Family program can. If you fly JAL with a family, use this link to learn about the JALCARD Family Program.
Infants / Children
Both infants and children require the same number of points as adults for reward tickets.
Points expire on the last day of the 36th month from when they were earned.
Effective April 1st, 2017 reward ticketed passengers other than the members's account whose points paid for the ticket must present one of the following items upon check-in.
For JAL flights results from online searches are the only eligible itineraries for reward tickets. A maximum of 3 flight sectors with 1 sector in Japan is allowed. Stopovers and open jaws are applicable as described below.
Using the Oneworld mileage chart offers some interesting opportunities.
- 8 flight sections are permitted (you can fly a maximum of 50,000 miles on a single ticket)
- Open jaws are not considered a sector, but distance counts in mileage calculation
- 2 domestic flight sectors inside Japan are allowed
- 7 stopovers are allowed
- You can transit a single city a maximum of 3 times with one being a stopover
- 1 open jaw is permitted
- One-way trips are permitted
- Origin and destination may be in different countries
- You can not backtrack to point of origin and continue to a different region
A valid route is: New York - Tokyo Narita - Osaka JP (stop 1), Tokyo Haneda (Stop 2) - Hong Kong (Stop 3) - London - (Stop 4) - Madrid (Stop 5) - Sao Paulo (Stop 6) - New York
The total mileage for this journey is 25,789 miles. You could book this trip for 140,000 points in economy or 190,000 in business, a fantastic deal.
An invalid route would be this: JFK-LHR-JFK-NRT-OSA-HND-JFK-MAD-GRU-JFK
Stopovers are 24 hours or more between connections. Stopovers are not permitted on one-way rewards.
- When a trip originates in Japan stopovers are not permitted.
- When a trip originates outside of Japan and the destination is Japan, 1 stopover is allowed. For example New York to Osaka, you could have a stopover in Tokyo.
- When a trip originates outside of Japan and the destination is outside Japan, 2 stopovers are allowed.
- For oneworld reward tickets a maximum of 7 stopovers are permitted
- For partner reward tickets a maximum of 3 stopovers are permitted
Open Jaws are allowed as long as they are in the same region. For rewards that originate from North America, this means you can start and return to any of the 8 cities JAL flies to; Boston, New York, Chicago, Dallas, San Diego, Los Angeles, San Francisco or Vancouver.
Hong Kong and China are considered to be in different countries.
When calculating a Oneworld or Partner reward using the respective mileage zones, surface sectors are counted as miles within the trip. Exceptions to this rule are when a city has two airports, such as Seoul with Icheon and Gimpo.
Backtracking is not allowed except in Japan on domestic routes. An exception is when the route makes it necessary. For example; London to Seoul South Korea must go through Japan which means it backtracks from Tokyo to Seoul. Vancouver to Guam via Tokyo is another example.
When two different award levels are involved in a journey, one-way or round-trip, the higher level reward price is charged. So LAX-NRT in first and NRT - HKG in business is charged a first class redemption of 80,000 points each way.
However in a round trip journey when the outbound and inbound are in different classes you are charged 1/2 the sum of the round-trip reward for each class.
- New York to Tokyo in economy = 50,000 R/T or 25,000 OW
- Tokyo to New York in premium economy = 65,000 R/T or 32,500 OW
- Total Multi-Class fare: 57,500
The JAL website is very confusing. Getting to the search engines can be a mystery. Here are some options.
Logging in through JAL.com, after selecting language, country and Mileage Bank you will get you this screen.
You can search for JAL rewards two different ways; a one sector calendar view or region to region search transiting through Tokyo. You must be a JAL Mileage Bank member to search for rewards.
1. This is an international sector search that doesn't include international connections. You can view availability for the 330 days rewards are available. Enter your departure area, specific JAL gateway city and class of service. If you enter North America as the Area, the grid will only show Japan. Click to expand. Dates are horizontally shown. Click on a month then move the slider for days. If the grid shows a circle then seats for your class are available. A diamond indicates the flight is waitlisted. You can use this calendar tool to piece together segments for connections outside Japan. To build the full itinerary select the link at the top of the page or #2 from the main menu.
#2: Fill in the blanks for a normal round-trip or one-way ticket. If you want a stopover click on one of the two boxes at the bottom, either a stop in Japan when Japan is your destination or a stop in Japan before continuing on to your final destination outside Japan.
Using the Dallas to Tokyo calendar availability as a guide, this trip goes on to Bangkok. You can change class of travel at the top and toggle different dates. If seat are available a number will be shown when 1-4 seats are open, a triangle when 5-15 seats are open, a circle with more than 15, a diamond to waitlist and an x when no seats are available.
This result makes it appear that there are 2 outbound options and 3 inbound options. But all flights are the same.
The other issue is there is no exit from this screen, not even to the main menu. If you toggle with days and use the back button you will get an error.
Oneworld / Partner
For most Oneworld and Partner reservations you must contact the call center. Worldwide numbers are here.
#3: Click this to search online for: Qantas, American, Cathay Pacific, British Airways and Air France.
This search tool allows for simple round-trips as well as more complicated multi-destination, multi-stopover, open jaw journeys.
The problem with these searches is if a segment is not available then the whole search fails, or you get a class of service you don't want. In this example the search is on partner Qantas with 3 destinations as well as an open jaw. The route is Los Angeles to Sydney (stopover), other transportation to Brisbane (stopover), Brisbane to Melbourne (stopover), Melbourne to Los Angeles.
The search was for Business class. The results returned the proper 100,000 point redemption but the flights were LAX-SYD in economy, BNE-MEL in business and MEL-LAX in economy. Changing the search to economy class brought up the same results, except for 60,000 points and the BNE-MEL flight in economy.
It is best to search for individual segments before entering into these complicated searches.
The JAL International program on JAL aircraft when compared to other programs flying across the Pacific from North America is extremely competitive. While JAL imposes surcharges, to Japan most all surcharges are minimal. To other areas it is wise to compare, but the point savings are impressive.
Both Japan carriers have very low round trip redemptions to Japan. With ANA you must get a round-trip ticket (however they have even less expensive off peak redemptions), with JAL you can get one-way tickets. First class to Tokyo for 70,000 points, anyone?
Both JAL and Asia Miles have a mileage based chart for multi-segment itineraries. Without comparing routing rules, stopovers, etc., just the point requirements, the programs are very similar. The biggest difference is the number of zones. JAL has 10 and Asia Miles has 13. These are great programs for creating custom itineraries to travel the world. This is a sample comparison.
The Discount Mileage program is available on routes out of North America in economy class for these dates:
- Select travel dates in April 2017
- Select travel dates in January 2018
The discount is up to 10,000 points. You must book online. Link to promotions details. All conditions:
If you hold a JALCARD you can get an additional 1,000 points discount off economy fares.
A restricted time period promotion offering a 50% discount on economy rewards (25,000 RT!) is available to JALCARD members. Details with this link.
Limited Days - Business / First Class
This promotion is for premium class travel. Limited Day means the flight must leave on the following days of the week.
- Departing to Japan: Mondays, Tuesdays, Wednesdays, Thursdays
- Departing from Japan: Tuesdays, Wednesdays, Thursdays, Fridays
This promotion is available through March 31, 2017 and has blackout dates as indicated in the table. Extended to March 31, 2018.
The major restriction is that you must travel round-trip on this promotion. Yet 110,000 points to Japan in first class is unbeatable.
Upgrades are available on JAL International flights. One class upgrades are allowed.
- Economy to Premium Economy: Codes: B/H/K
- Economy/Premium Economy to Business: W/E/Y/B/H/K
- Business to First: Codes J/C/D/X
Upgrades are for one sector to/from Japan. So North America to Singapore would require 2 upgrades.
In addition to the standard upgrade level, JAL has a promotion that allows an upgrade on the day of departure granted at the airport during check-in. This is valid until March 31st, 2017. Based on availability to/from Japan and North America you would save 6,000 points per sector.
Purchase, Upgrade or Reward?
Comparing an outright purchase, upgrade or reward shows the reward is best for premium travel which is not unusual. Purchase fares were taken from JAL's website for flights 6 months out. Fares used for upgrades were only fares you could upgrade with. Comparisons of fares to rewards were based on the lowest available fares for each class. In all cases a reward was better than an upgrade by a significant amount.
Available only on JAL International reward tickets, same day upgrades are possible based on space availability. Payment is the standard number of points for the higher class redemption. For example, upgrading from business to first requires 20,000 points which is the everyday difference between business and first rewards.
Use this link for more information.
Available until March 31st, 2018 Japan Mileage Bank members can take advantage of lower upgrade redemptions. These discounts are similar to the Airport discount program, only they are available prior to day of departure. The link to the promotion.
JAL uses flight distance for point accumulation along with booking fare class. This link is to a calculator that will determine the number of points you may earn on any flight. Here is the booking class fare table.
You can also earn points and status by flying oneworld / partner flights while crediting to you JAL Mileage Bank account. For these returns click on this link and locate your airline.
JAL has a US branded credit card administered by the Bank of Omaha. This card currently has a minimal earn bonus of 10,000 points. However it also includes an additional; 5,000 bonus after your first JAL international fare purchase as well. There may be additional benefits such as the JALCARD reward discount that is currently available. Click here for more information.
JAL only has a single credit card transfer partner in SPG. In addition you can transfer from some major hotel chains.
- SPG: 1 : 1.5 (20,000 bonus is at 1 : 1.5 as well)
- Hilton: 10 : 1
- Hyatt: 5 : 2 (Plus potential bonus)
- IHG: 5 : 1
- Marriott: 6.66 : 1 to 4:1
You can earn JAL points from over 15,000 participating hotels. This convenient search tool helps you find a hotel and the earn rate.
You can also earn points from hotel booking sites, click on these links to get the correct referral links for JAL credit:
You can also earn JAL points from Hertz and Avis car rentals.
JAL does not sell points for reward tickets.
There is no question JAL has one of the best reward programs available today. And they are the most proactive with offering specials to save points and make reward flying less expensive. Their Oneworld and Partner network is excellent as are the redemption values. Plus they are the only program that allows day of departure upgrades on reward tickets. While they levy carrier imposed surcharges, currently those fees to Japan are very low. The downside to the program is earning points. With only SPG as a transfer partner and a US card with a small bonus, getting into the program without flying is difficult. However if you do fly with oneworld or any of the JAL partners, this program would be a top choice for future reward tickets.