5 Award Sweet Spots Using Japan Airlines Mileage Bank Miles

A can't-miss sweet spot on Japan Airlines is to book stopovers in additional cities.
Michael McHugh
By Michael McHugh 
Edited by June Casagrande

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Even if you don’t fly to Japan, it might make sense to join Mileage Bank, the loyalty program of Japan Airlines. The reason: You can use this program to book flights on partner airlines that can get you almost anywhere in the world. Even better, JAL has one of the most generous stopover policies in the business. With a Mileage Bank partner award booking, you can visit multiple destinations on a single plane ticket, in some cases making up to seven stopovers on the same booking.

First, here's how to earn and redeem your miles from Japan Airlines, then, a look at five sweet spot itineraries you can book using JAL Mileage Bank miles.

How to earn JAL Mileage Bank miles

To earn JAL Mileage Bank miles for one of these trips, there are several options.

  • You can fly JAL.

  • You can fly one of its partners and specify JAL Mileage Bank as your miles-earning preference.

  • Or, if you don’t mind a low rate of return, you can transfer hotel points from Marriott Bonvoy, Hilton Honors or World of Hyatt.

Once you have some JAL miles, you can use the Japan Mileage Bank (JMB) Partner Airlines Award Ticket Chart or the Oneworld Award Tickets Chart, which show the number of miles needed for partner flights, to find deals on these partners:

  • Alaska Airlines.

  • American Airlines.

  • British Airways.

  • Cathay Pacific.

  • Finnair.

  • Iberia.

  • Malaysia Airlines.

  • Qantas.

  • Qatar Airways.

  • Royal Air Maroc.

  • Royal Jordanian.

  • S7 Airlines.

  • Sri Lankan Airlines.

  • Air France.

  • Bangkok Airways.

  • China Eastern Airlines.

  • Emirates.

  • Hawaiian Airlines.

  • Korean Air.

  • Latam Airlines.

  • Vistara.

For international award flights on JAL, the cost in miles is laid out on the JAL International Award Ticket Chart.

If you haven't flown it before, it's only natural to wonder "Is JAL a good airline?" The short answer is, yes. While JAL business class might not stack up to All Nippon Airways’ business class (which is so luxurious it’s called “The Room”), nor does it compete with Qatar Airways’ Qsuites business class, you more than likely will feel like you’re traveling in style in any of JAL’s cabins.

Best ways to redeem miles from JAL Mileage Bank

1. Alaska Airlines West Coast Hopper

Call this one the West Coast Hopper: Alaska economy flights from 6,001 to 8,000 miles in distance cost 45,000 Japan Airlines miles. This means you can board an Alaska Airlines flight in Seattle, fly to your first stopover in Maui, then stop over in San Diego and Cabo San Lucas before flying back to Seattle — all on the same ticket.

You’ll want to read through the Conditions for Using Awards to understand the routing rules as you build the itinerary.

2. American Airlines East Coast Hopper

For the East Coasters, the sample itinerary we’re calling the East Coast Hopper is a series of flights through American Airlines that’s priced from the Oneworld Award Tickets Chart. For 40,000 JAL Mileage Bank miles, you can depart Chicago-O’Hare to your first stopover in Portland, Maine. From there, head to Washington-National, then Miami before flying back to Chicago.

3. Cathay Pacific to Hong Kong in business class

Cathay Pacific is another Oneworld member that you can fly using Japan Airlines miles. The Oneworld Award Tickets award chart is what you want to reference when booking a flight like Chicago-O’Hare to Los Angeles to New York-JFK to Washington-Dulles to Hong Kong.

In the chart, you’ll see that business class flights totaling 14,001 to 20,000 miles in distance — like the Chicago-to-Hong Kong itinerary above — cost 120,000 JAL Mileage Bank miles.

4. Japan Airlines to Japan in business class

To find award ticket prices on Japan Airlines flights from your U.S. city to Japan, see the zone-based JAL International Award Ticket Chart. As the chart shows, no matter where you fly from in the U.S. — say Dallas-Fort Worth, Los Angeles, or New York-JFK — you need 100,000 miles for a round-trip business class flight to Japan on JAL.

To get an idea of the value of this ticket, compare it with the number of American Airlines AAdvantage miles you would need to book the same business class Japan Airlines flight: usually at least 120,000 AAdvantage miles.

5. Emirates U.S. East Coast to Southeast Asia in business class

Japan Airlines Mileage Bank is one of the best ways to fly Emirates. With JAL’s partner stopover allowance, a business class ticket on Emirates from Boston, Newark or New York-JFK to Bangkok via Dubai falls into the 14,001- to 20,000-mile distance category in the JMB Partner Airlines Award Ticket Chart. This flight can be booked with 130,000 miles round trip in business class.

If you want to splurge, it’ll cost 190,000 miles to make this trip in first class.

How do I book a flight with Japan Airlines?

Booking an award ticket using JAL miles is best done over the phone by calling 800-525-3663. See the Who Is Eligible for Awards graphic to confirm who you can book a flight for. Before calling, you can find if award seats are available on the partner airline you want to book by searching on partner airlines’ websites.

For example, to find out if Emirates flights have seats for partner bookings, search alaskaair.com or qantas.com. Want to know if partner award seats are available on a flight on Alaska, Cathay Pacific or JAL? Search aa.com. For partner flights on American Airlines, check availability by searching britishairways.com. That way, when you call JAL to book, you’ll know that your preferred airline is offering award seat availability through its partners.

If you fly Japan Airlines

One of the keys to the JAL program is studying the award chart rules and understanding how to maximize the distance-based partner award charts. Generally, the longer the distance of your flight, the more value you can find.

How to maximize your rewards

You want a travel credit card that prioritizes what’s important to you. Here are our picks for the best travel credit cards of 2024, including those best for:

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