Japan Airlines Brings First Class To Sydney (With Awards!)

Filed Under: Japan Airlines

While Japan Airlines operates flights between Tokyo and Sydney year-round, typically the route is operated by a Boeing 787, featuring economy, premium economy, and business class. This will be changing as of September.

Japan Airlines will offer first class to Australia

As noted by Executive Traveler, as of September 1, 2020, Japan Airlines will begin flying a Boeing 777-300ER daily between Tokyo Haneda and Sydney. The flight will operate with the following schedule:

JL51 Tokyo Haneda to Sydney departing 7:20PM arriving 6:10AM (+1 day)
JL52 Sydney to Tokyo Haneda departing 8:15AM arriving 5:05PM

The flight covers a distance of ~4,900 miles, and is blocked at 9hr50min in each direction.

Japan Airlines 777-300ER

Japan Airlines’ 777-300ERs feature a total of 246 seats, including:

  • Eight first class suites, in a 1-2-1 configuration
  • 49 business class Apex Suites, in a 2-3-2 configuration
  • 40 premium economy seats, in a 2-4-2 configuration
  • 147 economy seats, in a 3-3-3 configuration

Japan Airlines’ business class Apex Suites

Japan Airlines first class awards available

Now that Japan Airlines has loaded the 777-300ER into the schedule for Sydney, award seats are readily available.

Ordinarily finding first class award seats to Australia can be really tough, but Japan Airlines seems to be making two first class award seats available virtually every day in the market.

This is an amazing opportunity to fly JAL first class to Australia during the start of the high season.

You can read a review of Japan Airlines’ first class here.

Japan Airlines first class seat

Best way to redeem miles for first class

If you want to redeem miles for this flight, the best value by far is to book through American AAdvantage. They charge 60,000 miles for a one-way first class award between Japan and Australia.

There are no carrier imposed surcharges, and you can add on connections within Australia on Qantas for not additional miles, assuming you can find award availability.

Japan Airlines has great food in first class

If you’re originating in the US you’d have to book this as two awards, so you’d have to book one award ticket from the US to Japan, and then a separate one from Japan to Australia. That’s because American AAdvantage doesn’t let you route from the US to Australia via Japan.

While Alaska Mileage Plan also has an excellent partnership with Japan Airlines that allows mileage redemptions, unfortunately the agreement doesn’t cover travel to & from Australia. You can fly Japan Airlines between North America and Asia, and you can travel within Asia, but you can’t travel to Australia.

See this post for the best credit cards for earning American miles.

Japan Airlines first class seat

Bottom line

It’s exciting to see Japan Airlines bring back first class to Australia. They flew a 777 to Sydney a few years back, but it’s not otherwise something that they’ve done regularly.

Japan Airlines first class is phenomenal, and just 60,000 AAdvantage miles for this ticket in first class is a bargain.

Anyone plan to redeem miles for this flight in JAL first class?

  1. I believe this is a return of First class back to SYD which they stopped 2-3 years ago – at that time it was to/from NRT.


  2. At least some of the space is phantom. I just tried booking some of business class seats tokyo to melbourne/sydney.

    Once I selected the flights, and tried to continue i got the familar message of “flights no longer available”.

    Any suggestions?

  3. yes, thanks!! Avios actually worked. Twice as expensive as using AA miles. I’ll use the next 24 hours to see if I can piece together the rest of my trip before deciding whether to keep or cancel the reservation.

  4. I’m guessing all JAL ex US awards will dry up. Anyone using One World from US to Asia via HKG is rebooking via Japan, per the AA phone agents when asked about the very long hold time.

  5. @Ben – what is the trick to being able to use the “old” AA award search tool (which you seem to have done here)? I always end up with the new one, which is nearly useless.

  6. Ok – my final update on this.

    I called into the American service centre. I feed the agent the flight numbers and initially, the agent had the same trouble booking the flight as I did. Then she called the internal help desk and the help desk was able to create the reservation. The agent also waived the phone booking fee given that it could not be booked online.

    So now I have a AA reservation on hold until Feb 5, and a BA reservation ticketed. The BA is the preferred direct flights. I wonder if I cancel the BA when/if the seats will go back into the pool and if I could move my AA reservation over to them.

  7. JAL also upgraded their second HND-LHR flight from 787 to 777 (JL41/42), adding First Class to this flight and more business class seats, which is great news given that I really like the timings of this flight. Plenty of award availability on these as well, although AA doesn’t show First as even existing on some of the days (even though they list 777)

  8. First class SYD-TYO-CDG going for $Aud 10,200 ( bit over $6000 USD) return right to May 2021 which although expensive is a fantastic bargain given you also can get 350% minimum with Alaska miles = approx. 70,000 miles. That’s enough for an additional Oceania to Hong Kong business class return. Too much money for me but a really good deal. Would be an excellent way to nest first class into multiple trips

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