If there’s one silver lining to the coronavirus pandemic for travelers, it’s a nearly unprecedented amount of award space to fly first and business class. Seats that are typically hard to lock down using miles are suddenly wide-open.
And that’s just what we’ve found with Japan Airlines business class, which can be hard to snag far in advance. Yet there are at least two business class seats available (and some with four seats!) from several U.S. cities to Tokyo-Haneda (HND) most days from April through mid-June 2021 – an amazing time to visit Japan. There’s some scattered availability earlier in 2021, too.
While there are a handful of ways to book these seats (more on that later), using just 60,000 American Airlines AAdvantage miles to fly business class to Tokyo each way should be your go-to. If you’ve got Alaska Mileage Plan miles, using 60,000 miles is another strong option, too.
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It may seem like a big gamble, as Japan is currently still closed down to travelers – and there’s no guarantee U.S. tourists will be welcome by next spring. But using American Airlines miles is absolutely risk-free, as any AAdvantage awards can changed or canceled to get your miles back for free so long as you do so at least 60 days before departure.
That makes this a great opportunity to lock down a luxurious trip to Tokyo next year, then cancel penalty-free down the road if need be.
Availability on these business class flights is fairly wide-open from New York City (JFK) and Chicago-O’Hare (ORD), with scattered availability from other cities like Los Angeles (LAX), Dallas-Fort Worth (DFW), and San Francisco (SFO). But the best part is that this works nationwide – just start your search from your home airport with AA service, and you should be able to connect to one of these hubs before heading to Tokyo in JAL business class – all for just 60,000 AAdvantage miles one-way.
There’s pretty decent award availability on the return flights back to the U.S., too, if you want to make a round-trip out of it.
If you ask us, Japan Airlines has one of the world’s best business class seats in the sky. The service and food are unparalleled for business class. And JAL’s SkySuites on the 777 and 787 are a near-perfect blend of space and privacy.
Read our full review of Japan Airlines business class from Chicago-O’Hare (ORD) to Tokyo-Narita (NRT)!
How to Book
There are a handful of different ways to book these flights, thanks to Japan Airlines’ various partnerships and its place in the Oneworld alliance.
Of course, you could use Japan Airlines’ own Mileage Bank miles, but those are hard to come by unless you’ve got a boatload of Marriott points you can transfer.
Alaska Airlines is another compelling option, as it will run you 60,000 miles and you’ll be able to cancel it and get your miles back free. But those miles are harder to come by these days, too. Other Oneworld partners like British Airways and Cathay Pacific Asia Miles will charge a pretty penny to fly JAL business across the ocean.
That leaves us with using American AAdvantage miles, which is easily your best bet anyway. At 60,000 miles each way for business class, it’s a bargain. Taxes and fees are reasonable, too: Just $5.60 for a one-way to Tokyo, or $50 to $60-ish for a round-trip booking.
But the additional flexibility of booking AAdvantage awards with free change and cancellation is invaluable here, given all the uncertainty surrounding international travel.
With this much award availability, it shouldn’t be hard to find the business class flights on Japan Airlines you want next spring. You can get an easy view of all this award space by using this link and doing a multi-city search. That’s the best way to get around American’s new (and inferior) award search tool and get a quick look at the dates that will work.
Just begin your search from a Japan Airlines hub like Chicago-O’Hare (ORD) to Tokyo, then add on a throwaway segment like Tokyo-Haneda (HND) to Seoul-Gimpo (GMP). Don’t worry what shows up for that second result.
If you don’t live in one of JAL’s outstations, just start your one-way award search from your home airport with American Airlines service, like Minneapolis-St. Paul (MSP) or Cincinnati (CVG) to Tokyo. It’s still just 60,000 AAdvantage miles for the entire one-way journey, though you may have to make your first flight in economy based on what domestic award space is available.
One important note: American’s new award search tool buries non-AA flights on partners like JAL. So you may have to scroll to find the Japan Airlines flight you want – or just filter for them in your results.
How to Earn American AAdvantage Miles
Few credit cards offer a better, more lucrative welcome offer bonus than the AAdvantage Aviator Red World Elite Mastercard. Just for opening the card, making a single purchase, and paying the $99 annual fee, you can earn 60,000 American Airlines AAdvantage miles. These are some of the easiest miles you will ever earn.
Click Here to apply for the AAdvantage Aviator Red World Elite Mastercard (this is not an affiliate link)
Additionally, American Airlines is unique in the fact that they have co-branded credit card relationships with both Citi and Barclays thanks to the merger of American and U.S. Airways a few years ago.
So you can also apply for the Citi AAdvantage Platinum Select Card, which is currently offering 50,000 AAdvantage Miles after spending $2,500 within the first three months. The card’s $99 annual fee is waived in the first year.
That one-two punch is significant because you can earn the welcome offer bonus on each card, netting you 110,000 American Airlines miles after paying one annual fee (the Barclays AAdvantage Red Aviator Card) and spending $2,500 on the Citi AAdvantage Platinum Select Card in the first three months of card membership. And that’s almost enough to get you to Japan and back in business class.
You don’t see this much Japan Airlines business class availability every day. Planning a business class trip for two (or more) to Tokyo nearly a year in advance can be tough to pull off.
And while traveling to Japan next spring is no sure thing, the ability to book these awards with American AAdvantage miles and then cancel for free later on takes the risk out of the equation.