Now Live: Use Alaska Miles on Japan Airlines Flights

It’s no secret that I consider Alaska miles to be just about the most valuable airline currency out there. Alaska has a good number of high quality partners, like Emirates, Korean Air, and Cathay Pacific. They have flexible routing rules (like routing from the US to Europe via Dubai), and allow a stopover even on one-way flights. Their miles are relatively easy to accrual, considering they do not impose a limit of the sale of miles, and frequently run promotions for buying miles outright.

Back in May of this year, Japan Airlines announced a new partnership with Alaska Airlines. With this partnership, Alaska will provide feed service to Japan Airlines’ gateways, most notably on the West Coast. Customers will, of course, be able to take advantage by connecting in Tokyo and Osaka.

Codeshare routes between Japan Airlines and Alaska Airlines

Codeshare routes between Japan Airlines and Alaska Airlines

This codeshare agreement, which started on June 29, As part of the partnership, customer can credit their JAL flights to Alaska, and vice versa. The earning rates with Alaska is actually pretty similar with those of American, JAL’s oneworld partner. Reciprocal redemptions, however, was not available at the beginning of this partnership.

Alaska Airlines’ Mileage Plan Award Chart for Travel on Japan Airlines

Alaska has finally revealed the award chart for travel on Japan Airlines this afternoon. (I was literally on the phone with an agent at 3 pm when it still wasn’t available!).

Anyway, here it is, in all its glory:

  • Continental US to Asia
    • Economy Class: 35,000 miles one-way
    • Premium Economy: 40,000 miles one-way
    • Business Class: 60,000 miles one-way
    • First Class: 70,000 miles one-way
  • Continental US to Southeast Asia
    • Economy Class: 40,000 miles one-way
    • Premium Economy: 45,000 miles one-way
    • Business Class: 65,000 miles one-way
    • First Class: 75,000 miles one-way
  • Intra-Asia
    • Economy Class: 15,000 miles one-way
    • Premium Economy: 17,500 miles one-way
    • Business Class: 25,000 miles one-way
    • First Class: 35,000 miles one-way

While the award chart doesn’t show under “Hawaii to Asia,” you can redeem miles for flights to/from Hawaii in practice. Just use the “Continental US” chart.

Unfortunately, unlike other Asian carrier partners, like Cathay Pacific, you cannot use Mileage Plan miles on Japan Airlines to regions other than Asia/Southeast Asia. Their redemption rates are also a bit higher. That being said, the rates are still better than say, using American Airlines miles for award travel on Japan Airlines.

With Alaska Airlines’ routing rules, you can also incorporate a free stopover onto your trip. For instance, you can fly, in First Class from the US to Tokyo, spend a few days, and then head on to Bali, all for 65,000 miles in Business Class one-way.

I had the opportunity to experience Japan Airlines First Class a few times, and was very impressed. Both their hard and soft products were extraordinary, from the “customizable” mattress pad to the attentive service, where an eye contact was as effective as the call button.

Japan Airlines First Class Bed - With Soft or Hard Memory Foam Mattress Pad

Japan Airlines First Class Bed – With Soft or Hard Memory Foam Mattress Pad

Japan Airlines First Class Caviar Service

Japan Airlines First Class Caviar Service

How Do Redemptions with Alaska Stack Up with American?

Let’s compare the Alaska award chart to American Airlines’ redemption chart for travel on Japan Airlines and other oneworld and partner carriers:

  • Continental US to Japan/Korea
    • Economy Class: 35,000 miles one-way
    • Business Class: 60,000 miles one-way
    • First Class: 80,000 miles one-way
  • Continental US to Rest of Asia
    • Economy Class: 37,500 miles one-way
    • Business Class: 70,000 miles one-way
    • First Class: 110,000 miles one-way

American Airlines’ routing rules do not allow stopovers, period. You are also not allowed to route from the US to the Middle East and India via Japan. Assuming that you have enough of both American and Alaska miles, it is clearly more favorable to use Alaska miles for travel on Japan Airlines.

However, do keep in mind that you cannot combine partners with Alaska Airlines (other than Alaska itself). For example, you can fly from Seattle to Los Angeles on Alaska, and continue to Tokyo on Japan Airlines. However, you cannot fly from Seattle to Los Angeles on American, and then continue on Japan Airlines. As a result, you may have to purchase a separate ticket to position yourself to a gateway city.

What do you think of Alaska’s award chart for redemptions on Japan Airlines?

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