Alaska Airlines Mileage Plan miles can now be redeemed for flights on Japan Airlines (JAL) as of December 6, 2016. Alaska Airlines and JAL entered into a partnership and code-share agreement in the May of 2016. Yet until today, JAL miles could only be used for travel on Alaska Airlines. Starting today, Alaska miles can now be earned and redeemed on select Japan Airline flights.
Booking JAL Mileage Plan awards is now easy because of Alaska Airlines online award search function. All JAL flights with award seats are bookable via AlaskaAir.com using Mileage Plan miles. Agents can also book JAL flights, but the cheapest and easiest way is to book the flights online.
Alaska Airlines Award Chart for JAL flights
Alaska Airline has a unique award chart for each partner airline. Flight pricing for JAL is similar to other Alaska Airline partners such as Cathay Pacific, but slightly more expensive than Hainan. The only difference is JAL charges more for flights to Southeast Asia than North Asia. Southeast Asia flights require two longer flights versus just one to Japan, so it makes sense that it’s more expensive. Fortunately, most of Alaska Airline partners lump all of Asia into one award region. JAL and Korean Air award charts on Alaska Airlines divide Asia by region.
|US to/from Northeast Asia
|US to/from Southeast Asia
For JAL Award flights, Alaska’s award chart includes Japan, Korea, and even India as part of “Asia” — or as I define it as “Northeast Asia.” Meanwhile, “Southeast Asia” pricing is in effect for China, Hong Kong, Taiwan, Thailand, Vietnam, Malaysia, Singapore, and Indonesia. Awards are not offered beyond Asia on JAL. Flights on JAL to/from Hawaii awards are the same price as tickets to and from North America. Unfortunately, there is no cost saving for shorter flights to Hawaii.
JAL flights do not incur a fuel surcharge. Unlike some Alaska Airline partners, only airport taxes and fees are added to the final price.
How to Search for Award Space
Japan Airline flights can be booked using Alaska Airline Mileage Plan miles online or over the phone with an Alaska Airline agent. Phone reservations will incur a $15 call center fee unless you are Alaska Airlines MVP Gold or Gold 75k. All partner awards are assessed a $12.50 partner fee, this fee is not waived for anyone, and applies if booked online or over the phone.
To search Japan Airline flight availability on Alaska Airlines’ website first select the “use miles” box and then enter the destinations. An example would be Los Angeles (LAX) to Osaka (Kix). It is important that “Use Miles” is selected before entering the destination, as Alaska Airlines does not sell revenue flights on oversea partner airlines. If use miles is not selected, the computer system will not recognize the airport code or will not allow the search to oversea designation.
After clicking “Find Flights” Alaska computers will begin to search award flight availability on all partner airlines. The ability to filter results by airline is possible on the left side of the screen after results are displayed. If looking for a specific award on JAL, deselect partners which do not apply.
When looking for flights to Asia on JAL, it is important to know where Jal serves. Alaska Airlines does not allow mixing partner awards, therefore if you want to book a JAL Mileage Plan award, start by looking for flights from airports Japan serves. In the USA/North America JAL serves Los Angeles, San Francisco, San Diego, Vancouver, Chicago, Boston, Dallas, and Honolulu. Only an Alaska Airline or Horizon Air flight be combined with a JAL award.
Next, choose the final destination. Remember that Alaska Airlines does allow one free stopover in route. Even on a one way award, a stop in Tokyo, Osaka or another destination is legal, as the route doesn’t double back on itself. Los Angeles – Osaka, one week stop, Osaka- Tokyo – Bangkok is legal routing! It is best to start the award search by origin to Tokyo or Osaka and then search the next segment and then to piece it together. Tokyo and Osaka are the only two cities in Japan with Transpacific service.
Alaska Airlines online search function is very smart and will search for long connections. If an overnight is required, the website will highlight long connections in red.
If searching for a free stopover, use the multi-city search function. Enter each segment, such as Vancouver to Tokyo, and then Tokyo to Singapore. The award will display as one ticket. To see flight details, click “1 stop” to see flight details with the free stopover.
Alaska Airlines search function will search all Tokyo/nearby airports. Alaska Awards are fantastic because Alaska allows co-terminals/connections between both Tokyo Airport, allowing for more award choices on flights.
Award options are plenty on JAL using Alaska Miles. With free stopovers, co-terminals, and limited backtracking allowed, award options are nearly limitless. Finally, if you need help booking an award, don’t hesitate to reach out.
Final Thoughts of JAL Awards
In conclusion, the ability to earn and use Alaska miles on JAL is a big win. Alaska Airline now has four partners in Asia including JAL, Korean Air, Cathay Pacific and Hainan. JAL and Alaska Airlines partnership dates back to June 2016 without the ability to redeem Alaska miles on JAL flights, therefore today’s announcement was very much anticipated. It is also great to see an award chart that offers similar award prices to other Asian partners. Additionally, the ability to book award flights in all cabins.
A major downfall to JAL awards is that Alaska Airline miles cannot be used to book travel between Europe and Asia or to/from Australia and the Middle East. JAL Mileage Plan awards are limited to Asia and North America. All award travel on JAL must be within Asia or between North America/Hawaii and Asia and not beyond. Global travel awards on Alaska Airlines partners is a major downfall of the Alaska Airlines Mileage plan program, but I will cover that in more detail on a future post this Thursday as JAL Mileage Plan awards are not the only issue. For now, let us just celebrate another way to travel to Asia using Alaska Airline miles.