Japan Airlines Mileage Bank is a lucrative frequent flyer program for travel on partner airlines thanks to their distance based award chart. They have reasonable award costs and also allow lots of stopovers, which is a nice combination for those looking to visit multiple destinations on a single trip.
Unfortunately they recently announced that they’re devaluing their award chart for bookings as of November 20, though even with that the mileage redemption rates aren’t that terrible. Here’s a comparison of their old and new rates:
Historically one of my favorite uses of Japan Airlines miles has been for travel on Emirates. Unfortunately the value of those redemptions got significantly worse last November, as JAL began to impose fuel surcharges on many Emirates tickets. For example, a roundtrip first class ticket from New York to Dubai now comes with over $1,600 per person in fees, which is insane.
When you combine those fuel surcharges with the upcoming award chart devaluation, the value of redeeming JAL miles on Emirates isn’t what it once was.
While it’s mostly bad news when it comes to redeeming Japan Airlines miles on Emirates, there is one positive development. It’s now possible to book Emirates award tickets directly on Japan Airlines’ website. Previously you had to call to book, meaning that you also couldn’t officially see online how high the fees would be. Now you can easily see the total cost of an Emirates award ticket on JAL’s website.
The process of searching online is quite easy. Just enter your origin and destination, dates, number of travelers, and preferred cabin.
Then you can select your flights in both directions.
Then the final page will show you a summary of the cost. A roundtrip New York to Dubai flight in first class will cost you 135,000 miles, which isn’t bad, but the $1,716 in taxes and fees are a real killer.
The good news is that these fees aren’t as high out of all markets. For example, there are no fuel surcharges out of Hong Kong, so a roundtrip from Hong Kong to Dubai in first class will cost you 100,000 miles plus $78 in taxes.
As before, one of the big problems with JAL miles is that they’re quite tough to earn. They partner with Marriott Rewards, Starwood Preferred Guest, and Barclays, though not with Amex Membership Rewards, Chase Ultimate Rewards, or Citi ThankYou.
Unfortunately JAL Mileage Bank redemptions on Emirates aren’t the deal that they used to be, given the high surcharges and the pending award chart devaluation. For a while, booking Emirates awards through JAL was a sweet spot, given that Alaska Mileage Plan devalued Emirates redemptions a couple of years ago.
On the plus side, at least now it’s possible to book these awards online, and also to quickly see how much the fees will be for an award ticket.
(Tip of the hat to Jeff)