Well this is rough. Japan Airlines Mileage Bank is a useful niche frequent flyer program. They partner with Marriott Rewards, Starwood Preferred Guest, and Barclays, and they have a pretty lucrative distance based award chart that’s valid for travel on both oneworld airlines as well as some other partners.
In addition to being able to redeem miles for travel on their oneworld partner airlines, they also have some other partner airlines that are potentially useful, like Emirates. Back in the day booking Emirates tickets through Japan Airlines was the best value for securing those seats, though last November they added fuel surcharges to most Emirates redemptions, which can be as much as $1,600+ roundtrip in a premium cabin, so it’s not nearly as lucrative as it used to be. There’s now more bad news.
As of November 20, 2018, Japan Airlines Mileage Bank is adjusting their award rates for travel on partner airlines. This is the book by date rather than fly by date, so you can book travel by that date for travel on subsequent dates at the old mileage levels. On the plus side, at least they’re giving about six months notice of the changes, which is generous. That’s about the only good news, as this devaluation is rough.
Here’s a comparison of the old and new chart:
To look at the price increases in some of my favorite regions:
- For travel of 8,001-10,000 miles, we’re seeing prices go from 65,000 to 85,000 miles in business class, and from 105,000 to 135,000 miles in first class (this includes a roundtrip Emirates ticket from New York to Athens or Milan)
- For travel of 10,001-12,000 miles, we’re seeing prices go from 80,000 to 100,000 miles in business class, and 115,000 to 145,000 miles in first class (this includes a roundtrip American ticket from Los Angeles to Tokyo)
- For travel of 12,001-14,000 miles, we’re seeing prices go from 85,000 to 110,000 miles in business class, and from 135,000 to 165,000 miles in first class (this includes a roundtrip Emirates ticket from London to Dubai to Bangkok)
- For travel of 14,001-20,000 miles, we’re seeing prices go from 100,000 to 130,000 miles in business class, and from 155,000 to 190,000 miles in first class (this includes a roundtrip Emirates ticket from New York to Dubai to Bangkok)
These are some pretty significant cost increases, especially when you consider how hard it is to rack up JAL Mileage Bank miles, and when you consider that they imposed fuel surcharges on most of their partners.
I don’t want to say the JAL Mileage Bank program is now completely useless, but it’s certainly not the program it used to be.
It can still make sense to credit to Japan Airlines’ program if you’re a frequent flyer with the airline, but as a transfer partner I don’t view the program to be especially useful anymore.
It’s a real shame to see this devaluation, especially just days after Cathay Pacific Asia Miles announced changes to their award chart.
Will JAL Mileage Bank’s devaluation impact whether or not you earn miles with them?
(Tip of the hat to Dan’s Deals)