The Ultimate Guide to Book Emirates First Class Using Japan Airlines JAL Mileage Bank

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Flying in Emirates First Class on A380 that features suite seats with privacy door, shower at 43,000 feet above, and hang out in the onboard lounge bar is one of bucket lists for aviator enthusiasts out there. This shower class suite can cost more than USD$20,000 a seat easily. Thanks to Japan Airlines Mileage Bank, you can redeem their miles for one of those seats and pay just the taxes.

Emirates First Class Onboard Lounge Bar
Photo Credit: Emirates

It’s worth noting that, currently JAL mileage program is the only one program out there that still offers the best values for Emirates flights redemption as Alaska Airlines Mileage terribly devalued its redemption program for Emirates flights in the past. If you consider redeeming JAL miles for Emirates & its other partner airlines, here are the things that you want to know about using JAL miles.

Devaluation Coming November 20, 2018
Japan Airlines is going to devalue their mileage program starting November 20, 2018 which reflects on the chart below. So you still have some time to take advantage of lower miles redemption before then for Emirates First Class. Changes to award booking with Japan Airlines is allowed free of charge as long as you do not change the origin and destination. Otherwise, approximately USD$28 fee apply. That $28 fee also applies too if you want to cancel the entire booking and redeposit the miles.

Distance Based Award
Japan Airlines’s award chart for partner airlines is distance based. It basically means that you redeem miles for the distance of each segment that you fly.

Partner Airlines vs. Oneworld Award Chart
Japan Airlines has 3 types of award charts: JAL, Partner Airlines, and Oneworld award charts. Don’t get confused with the partner airlines and oneworld airlines. Emirates, for example, is included in the list of the partner airlines, but is NOT included in the list of the oneworld airlines. So if you want to use JAL miles for Emirates First Class flight, you will look at the Partners Airlines Award Chart and not the Oneworld Airlines Award Chart.

The airlines that are NOT on the oneworld airlines list are in bold text.

Currently partner airlines are American Airlines, British Airways, Cathay Pacific/Cathay Dragon, Finair, Iberia, LATAM Airlines, Malaysia Airlines, Qantas, Qatar Airways, Royal Jordanian, S7 Airlines, SriLankan Airlines, Air France, Alaska Airlines, Emirates, Korean Air, China Eastern Airlines, and Bangkok Airways.

Oneworld airlines are American Airlines, British Airways, Cathay Pacific/Cathay Dragon, Finair, Iberia, LATAM Airlines, Malaysia Airlines, Qantas, Qatar Airways, Royal Jordanian, S7 Airlines, and SriLankan Airlines.

Distance Calculator
Great Circle Mapper is a great tool to help you calculate the distance from one airport to the next airport. You simply go to that site then put in each airport code into the input box. You must provide all the airport codes that you will be flying in, whether it’s just a connection or not, to calculate the distance. For example, you want to get from New York to Bangkok via Dubai with Emirates, you will put in JFK-DXB-BKK. Compare the shown distance with the Japan Airlines Partners Airlines Award Chart to see how many JAL miles needed.

Japan Airlines also has its own Japan Airlines Distance Scheme Award Calculator that I also find useful. I actually prefer it over the GCM as it’s developed by Japan Airlines and they will for sure use it to determine the distance. Take the JFK-MXP as an example. GCM shows 3,995 miles but Japan Airlines calculator shows 4,007 miles. So the miles required for that route is in the range of 4001 – 6000 distance and not less.

Either way, both tools are very useful in determining the distance. If you prefer Great Circle Mapper, make sure to double check with the Japan Airlines calculator as well.

Rules For Japan Airlines Partner Airlines Award Booking

  • One-way is allowed.
  • No requirement to return to origin country.
  • Cannot transit via the origin country.
  • Maximum of 3 stopovers allowed, but maximum 1 stopover per city. 
  • One city can be included or transited 3 times for the whole itinerary. 
  • One open-jaw is allowed.
  • Mixed cabin awards price at required miles for the highest cabin. 
  • Mixed partner airlines is not allowed. One airline per partner airlines award booking. 

I do want to mention too in regards to the last rule about the mixed partner airlines. With oneworld airlines award, you can mix airlines, but miles required will base on the Oneworld Airlines Award Chart and not the Partner Airlines Award Chart. If you want to fly Emirates, unfortunately you cannot mix airlines as Emirates is NOT on the list of oneworld airlines.

Miles Expiration & Surcharge Fees

  • JAL Miles expire after 36 months or 3 years. 
  • High fuel surcharges on award booking on Emirates if you originate from United States. Consider originating from other none or low fuel surcharge fees cities such as Hong Kong, Sydney, Colombo… The fee will then be based upon the origin city. It doesn’t matter anymore whether your destination is United States, transit or stop over in high fee city. You can use ITA Matrix Airfare Search tool to determine the surcharge fees. On the site, put in the routes, date, and class of cabin to search. On the result page, select the Emirate flight and that takes you to the cost break down page. Pay attention to the “EK YQ surcharge” section. That’s what you will be paying out of pocket. 
  • Changes to award booking is allowed free of charge as long as you do not change the origin and destination. Otherwise, approximately USD$28 fee apply. That $28 fee also applies too if you want to cancel the entire booking and redeposit the miles.
  • Ticket service fee is $20 and is non-refundable if you book with Japan Airlines agent on the phone. Book online to avoid this fee. 

Family Club
You can’t just use JAL miles to book an award ticket for just anyone. So no friends and girl/boy friends. Japan Airlines has Family Club program that allows the pooling of miles within the family members only. They define the family members are immediate family members that also includes the parents in laws of the primary member. For more information on how to enroll, click here for the Japan Airlines Family Club

How To Earn JAL Miles
Besides flying, JAL miles are not easy to accrue quick. Currently before August 1st, your best option is to earn miles through SPG credit card spend. You can transfer SPG points to JAL miles at 1:1 ratio. For 20,000 SPG points transfer, you will receive 20,000 JAL miles plus additional 5,000 miles. You can only transfer up to 79,999 SPG points or 79,9999 miles per 24 hours. So if you need more than that amount of miles, transfer 60,000 SPG points per 24 hours and that will get you 75,000 miles which is under the maximum amount of transfer points allowed by SPG. Repeat the process after the 24 hours mark.

Coming this August, SPG Starpoints will be converted to Marriott Rewards Points at 1:3 ratio. Thankfully, Marriott still allows transferring from Marriott points to airline miles. For every 60,000 Marriott points transferred in the new combined program, you will receive 20,000 airline miles plus additional 5,000 miles. So it comes out to the same transfer ratio as it were with SPG before August. The only disappointing with the new combined program is that the SPG credit card will only earn 2 Marriott points per dollar spent, making it not as good as it used to be for putting on daily expenses to maximize transferring points to airline miles at 1:1 ratio.

How To Redeem JAL Miles for Emirates & Other Partner Airlines
Kudos to Japan Airlines. They recently just allowed booking Emirates flights online. It used to be you had to call in to book Emirates flights using JAL miles and pay the ticket service fee of $20.

To check availability or book Emirates First Class using JAL miles, head over to the Japan Airlines Partner Award Tickets website, sign in and follow the booking interface to search. We recommend that you search each segment as a one-way ticket before combing every segments for stop-over or building a complicated itinerary. The online system also allows do-it-yourself making changes after the booking.

Although Japan Airlines allows checking Emirates First Class flights availabity online now, the search is still not as good as using Alaska Airlines, Qantas, and Emirates sites to search to ensure there’s a space for the award ticket.

  • You can use Qantas and Emirates to search for any routes that Emirates fly, just make sure you pick points for Qantas and classic rewards for Emirates. 
  • Alaska Airlines is also useful but it only allows award search that originates from or ends in USA. For instance, if you want to search from Hong Kong to Dubai, you cannot use Alaska Airlines for that. The trick here is that instead of searching from Hong Kong to Dubai, search from Hong Kong all the way to a U.S. airport. On the search result page, if available look for the flight in particular that leaves from Hong Kong to Dubai segment. That tells you the award seat is available. 
  • As a rule of thumb though, never rely on only one award search program. I always use Emirates award search in conjunction with either Qantas or Alaska to search for Emirates seats availability. This way ensures that Japan Airlines will be able to see the available seat too.  Then simply head over to Japan Airlines Partner Award Tickets website and put in the date to verify availability. 
If you have any more questions about using Japan Airlines Mileage Bank to book Emirates Fist Class, leave your comment below. 

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