Japan Airlines First Class Award Space WIDE OPEN!

Filed Under: Awards, Japan Airlines

Japan Airlines announced an equipment change on their San Francisco to Tokyo Haneda route today. Per airlineroute.net, they’ll be upgrading the route from a 787-8 to a 777-300ER as of December 1, 2014.

The departure time for the eastbound flight will remain the same:

JL002 Haneda to San Francisco departing 12:05AM arriving 4:25PM (-1 day)

Meanwhile the departure time for the westbound flight will be moved back several hours, from:

JL001 San Francisco to Haneda departing 6:00PM arriving 10:25PM (+1 day)


JL001 San Francisco to Haneda departing 12:35AM arriving 5:00AM (+1 day)

That’s theoretically better for onwards connections from Haneda.

But that’s not what’s exciting about this change. What’s truly exciting is that Japan Airlines’ 787s feature angled flat business class as the top cabin, while Japan Airlines’ 777-300ERs have both fully flat business class and eight first class suites.

Japan Airlines new first class

Japan Airlines new business class

Naturally what I was excited about was the potential award availability that would be added from the additional eight first class seats per direction each day.

And there’s plenty of reason to be excited — I see two first class award seats in each direction every day through the end of the schedule.



Japan Airlines first class award space can be extremely difficult to come by, so if you want to try out their product, I’d suggest booking something as soon as possible.

How to redeem miles for Japan Airlines first class

Hands down the best way to redeem miles for Japan Airlines first class is by booking through American AAdvantage or US Airways Dividend Miles.

American charges:

  • 62,500 miles for one-way first class between the US and Asia 1 (which includes Japan)
  • 67,500 miles for one-way first class between the US and Asia 2 (though you can connect in Asia 1 on such an award)

Also keep in mind that American allows you to hold AAdvantage award reservations for five days, so you can lock something in now, even if you’re not ready to ticket yet. Lastly, American allows you to change the dates, times, and routings on AAdvantage award tickets at no additional cost. Even if you have a business class award right now, you can upgrade to first class by just paying the mileage difference and not any change fee.

Meanwhile US Airways charges:

  • 120,000 miles for roundtrip first class between the US and North Asia (which includes Japan)
  • 160,000 miles for roundtrip first class between the US and South Asia (though you can connect in Japan on such an award)

Bottom line

Japan Airlines has a phenomenal first class product. Add in American’s very attractive award redemption rates to both Asia 1 & Asia 2 (and the lack of fuel surcharges), as well as the amazing availability even over peak dates, and you have yourself a deal!

Happy booking!

  1. Is it possible to book JAL with US miles now? I remember at some point it wasn’t possible….

  2. Can us airways miles be used for that? Or it’s better to wait when they be changed into AA miles next year? And were you using BA site for looking? Thank you

  3. @ Lana @ TGPang — Yep, great point, you can indeed use US Airways miles for this as well. I was looking on the BA site, yes.

  4. @ Lantean — I find service on ANA to be a bit better, but they’re both really solid products.

  5. @ Flip — To North Asia, 100,000 miles on American or 110,000 miles on US Airways, while to South Asia, 110,000 miles on American or 120,000 miles on US Airways.

  6. Great to hear! Is it ok to book SFO-HND and then NRT-CGK as one booking? Or does it have to be SFO-NRT-CGK? Do you think JAL First has better champagne than ANA First?

  7. Great news, but how about transportation from HND to NRT? Does JAL provide that if you’re in F? If it’s anything like getting from LGA to JFK, not sure I want to go through that šŸ˜‰

  8. @ Joey — They’re co-terminal, so that should be fine. As far as champagne goes, ANA has Krug as their top champagne, while JAL has Salon. Six in one hand…

  9. I’ve never done international F before, and still have US miles left to burn. Maybe this is a good opportunity!

  10. actually that’s a great question… how easy/difficult are HND/NRT or NRT/HND transfers estecially at these late hours?

  11. I have to say that of all the US carriers, American seems to be the most consistently great when it comes to mileage programs and particularly redemption options. Lucky, would you agree?

    Delta is at the opposite end of the spectrum. The only thing I ever use my Delta miles for is the ‘pay with miles’ option.

  12. I’ve got to goto Wuxi, any good way to take advantage of this?
    best I can tell is SFO-HND-SHA-WUX (not including getting from ATL-SFO). That’s a lot of stops. might just have to do IAD-PEK….. WUX

  13. @ David — In theory you should still be able to change flights as you’re not changing the routing, but that might take a few calls.

  14. Of course the one day in January that I’m scheduled to fly HND-SFO in business is not available in F. šŸ™

  15. I’ve booked(rather blocked) HND-SFO about 2 hrs ago, got the confirmation # but I’m still not seeing the itinerary under ‘My Trips’ on AA.com. Do you know how long it will take before it shows up?

    Great find btw, thanks for posting!

  16. having done both, i would honestly save the miles and do J in the JL 773. it’s a great biz class product and the F cabin isn’t much different, just more attentive service of course. the food in either class is FANTASTIC.

  17. @jay, AA’s “My Trips” is really wonky, I’ve found. Sometimes it displays all my upcoming flights, sometimes only a fraction. Especially on the AA app. Best bet is to manually look up your record locator in a day or so to make sure it was fully ticketed.

  18. In F, the seat config is 1-2-1. Is it weird to sit in the middle section next to a random person? (I think my travel companion would like the window.)

  19. Thanks a bazillion! Nailed it! Now to go read your JAL F trip reports! If only NH had wide open F award availability between the Bay Area and Tokyo….

  20. Lucky assuming indifference to mileage and taxes would you rather travel ANA J or JAL F? thx

  21. Lucky – I don’t see it. The JAL site is still showing their SFO-HND flight departing at 18:00? I checked for late December when I’m planning to travel.

  22. Looks like F is going fast. Do you think they’ll release some business seats as well if the business capacity is also better with the change? Btw, any way to waive the $35 per person phone booking fee with AA?

  23. A question on JAL booking using AA miles: do you get Premium Economy seat on JAL with AA’s economy booking class? Both JAL and BA websites only showed Premium Economy but not Economy class available.

  24. Ben: Asked this of Gary but I am curious of your thoughts of the comparison of JAL F to CX F. And if you think what I want to do is possible. This was my comment to Gary:

    “Your thoughts please. I currently have one BKK-HKG-JFK all in J and one other ticket the same itinerary with the HKG-JFK in F. Obviously checking religiously to see if the other F ticket will open up. What would you do? Book BKK-HND-SFO-JFK to get the JAL F or stay with my current routing. (I assume I can do this without change fees through AA since my origin and destination will be the same and I am only going up in class or staying the same.) Or do you think there is better hope for a CX F seat opening up closer to the date?”

  25. AA won’t load in either chrome IE or Firefox maybe folks are crashing it šŸ™‚ BA still shows 787 but JAL schedules say 77W

  26. @ billndc — The American site doesn’t show JAL award space, so you’ll have to call to book.

  27. @ Heather @ pass the dressing — They’re both great options. If it were me, I’d go with the routing through San Francisco and monitor for two Cathay Pacific first class seats, but both are great.

  28. @ JW — No, there’s no way to redeem American miles for premium economy on Japan Airlines.

  29. Just curious. How is the First Class availability on Japan Airline from HNL to NRT, say, April of 2015? Can USAir miles be used to book that now?

  30. Right on needing to call, but I wanted to check AA routing dca-jfk-sfo šŸ™‚ so now have AA reservations JFK-SFO-HND-SFO-JFK but times shown on website not same as what agent confirmed plus while class of service says First, equipment still B787 The agent’s computer was slow (she kept apologizing) and the site was down earlier this afternoon. After my earlier post, the site had an announcement of being down. I’ll get the resv squared away (Thanks to AA for generous holds on award travel), but how can I change my Record Locator? it’s very close to EBOLA šŸ™

  31. @ Bill n DC — I suspect it’ll be a day or two before the schedule is finalized, so if you have a five day hold I’d hold off a bit and I’m sure it will sort itself out.

  32. Very welcome news. I switched out of my CX direct flight to HKG-HND-SFO. CX F is good but I must give JL F a try.

    Worth noting that this route connects very well to CX F onwards to/from HKG, with the HKG-HND direction arriving at 21:35 and HND-HKG departing at 10:35.

  33. quick question. just want to confirm that i can make unlimited changes to my flight schedule as long as origin and destination don’t change correct? (assuming i stay on the exact same flights or can i even change flights as long as origin and destination are the same?)

    i assume the latest i can change the departure date to is 1 year from the date of booking (aka today if i do so). so theoretically i could book a flight from Asia 2 to SFO in Jan and later change it to june or later when schedule opens up as long as it is within 1 year of ticketing from today right?

    would i be able to make the changes online after calling in the place the reservation or would i have to call in each time to change the flight date? would i be subject to the $35 tix service charge each time i call in?

    sorry for the loaded question and thanks in advance!

  34. @ AC — Correct. As long as your award type and origin and destination remain the same thereā€™s no fee for making the change. You would have to call in though, as neither JAL or Cathay Pacific are bookable through the American site.

  35. Thanks for the tip, needed a way to get back from SE ASIA next year to complete an RTW. Have the HND-SFO on hold w/ AA miles shows as booked in F on 788, I know it will sort out. IF you look into your crystal ball, do you think this is temp or long term, wondering if a MAy 2015 will change back to 788.

  36. The United agent charged me $100 for changing destination from hkg-bkk-fra-muc-yyz to hkg-bkk-fra-sfo, is the charge correct?

  37. lucky, im actually on the phone with usairways right now trying to book these flights…..the rep can see the space but says it cant be booked

  38. @ Adam Drucker — They have to go into a different system for JAL sometimes. A supervisor should be able to help.

  39. Following up on AC’s post about changing the award flights – can you change from an economy award to business/first without a fee? Does this constitute a change in “award type” or does that only refer to changng from milesaaver to aanytime awards?

  40. Same question as Andy: “Does American allow SFO-LAX-NRT to be changed to SFO-HND as a free routing change?”

  41. Called US today, their system still displayed th old schedule. Although the agent was able to see the availability, she said it was somehow ‘locked’ and she was not able to grab it. Did anyone else encounter this issue?

  42. I am so glad that JL rescheduled its flight! I originally booked yvr sea lax nrt with overnight layover at LAX and will arrive NRT at 1755. Now I have extra day to walk around Tokyo as arrival time is 0500, not to mention is is HND which is far more covenient to go to Shinjuku!

    Y award space is wide open as well in peak season!

  43. Ben – So I tried changing my award reservation from SFO-LAX-NRT to SFO-HND and the rep said they would need to charge the standard change fee of $150 to make this modification. The rep said the change fee is based on the fact that I was changing airports so the fact that Haneda and Narita are both in Tokyo doesn’t matter.

    Based on your answer and some of the other comments left on this post, I get the impression that I should be able to make this change without incurring a fee. Am I missing something here? Do you think it’s just a matter of calling back and trying a different rep?

  44. @ Eddy — Hmmm, I don’t believe there should be, even though the computer seems to want to charge it. I’d hang up and call again.

  45. I had a really good schedule booked around JL flight 0001 and I just noticed they changed the SFO-HND times from 12:45am-5am to 6pm-10:25pm.

  46. “I had a really good schedule booked around JL flight 0001 and I just noticed they changed the SFO-HND times from 12:45am-5am to 6pm-10:25pm.”

    Actually I booked the flight with AA miles and saw a Kayak alert about the schedule change. Kayak and AA are both showing the new times but JAL and British Airways are showing my original flight times.

  47. Lucky, I’m thinking of booking this JL flight on SFO-HND but, noticing the flight times, I wonder what the service will be like? Looking at dates in Sept 2015, the flight departs SFO at 1:50am and arrives HND 5:00am. Part of the F experience is the food and drink, but do you think they will serve a full meal after takeoff?

    I could see them offering some kind of light menu option since most people probably won’t want to eat something at 2am local time. And since you arrive at 5am, I could see a breakfast option prior to landing. That would be a big disappointment for me flying in F and not getting the full dining experience of a dinner with all the accompaniments.

    Granted, I normally wouldn’t want a meal at 2am either, but I would definitely force myself to do it to take full advantage of the JAL first service!

    The return is similar with a departure from HND at 12:05am. I could see them offering something light to eat, assuming most people will sleep. And then maybe a lunch option prior to landing, since you get to SFO at 5:45pm. I may be wrong, but it’s easy to see this return flight also not having a full dinner service.

    I was planning to book F in both directions, but if you think one direction is less likely to benefit from a full dinner service, I might consider booking J on one of the legs. Your advice here is appreciated.

  48. @ Scott — That’s a good question, not sure. It might indeed be an abbreviated meal service. Guess we’ll find out soon, when first class service launches on the route.

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