A couple of times in the past, especially in connection with Groupon Spain and Vente-privee France promotions, I wrote about how using British Airways Avios miles for Japanese domestic flights operated by JAL is one of my favorite uses of miles.
As I believe in many cases using Avios for Japanese domestic flights can provide great value, and there is a lot to understand before reserving JAL domestic awards, I decided to write this article answering some of the questions you might have before booking your first Japan Airlines flight through British Airways Executive Club.
The article is quite long – and parts of it might not be relevant to what you are looking for – so feel free to jump directly to questions you are interested knowing the answer to using the table of contents below:
- British Airways Executive Club and JAL Domestic Awards
- Making a JAL Domestic Award Booking Using Avios
- Changing and Cancelling JAL Domestic Flights Booked Using Avios
- Flying Using JAL Domestic Tickets Booked with Avios
If you didn’t find your question in the list above, don’t hesitate to leave it in the comments section.
Are you interested in trying business or first class for the price of economy?
If so, you might want to check out Four Ways to Try Business Class Without Breaking the Bank - a free guide that I put together detailing some of the ways I was able to do so - and experiment with some of the methods mentioned in it.
British Airways Executive Club and JAL Domestic Awards
How can you earn Avios miles?
I will not go into the details of how to earn Avios as that would be a topic for a whole new article. But, I will briefly mention the three major ways in which you can acquire the necessary miles to book JAL domestic flights (and other flights) with British Airways Executive Club:
- Flying with oneworld airlines – The most obvious way to earn Avios miles is to fly onboard British Airways, Iberia, and their oneworld partners. To see how many miles you will earn on a certain flight, use the calculator on British Airways’ website.
- Buying Avios through promotions – It is possible to buy Avios directly from British Airways, however, it is almost never worth doing so. At the same time, depending on your situation, it might be worth buying Avios through promotions on shopping portals such as Groupon Spain and Vente-privee France.
- Earning credit card points – Finally, depending on the credit card you use, you might be able to earn Avios through shopping. This is not limited to British Airways cards earning Avios directly, but also includes cards earning transferable points such as American Express Membership Rewards, Citi Thank You Points, SPG, etc.
Also, keep in mind that you can transfer miles from other Avios programs such as Iberia Plus and then transfer them to your British Airways Executive Club account.
Which JAL domestic classes of travel and routes are eligible for booking with Avios?
Only economy class is available when booking Japanese domestic flights through British Airways Executive Club. However, availability permitting, you can upgrade into Class J or First Class on the day of departure for a fee.
As for Japanese domestic routes that you can book using Avios, the good news is that all of flights operated Japan Airlines itself are eligible and usually can be easily booked online.
The not-so-good news is, however, that flights operated by the airline’s subsidiaries (and code-share flights) are not eligible. Those subsidiaries include:
- Hokkaido Air System
- Japan Air Commuter
- Japan Transocean Air
- Ryukyu Air Commuter
I will not list the individual routes that JAL flies in this article, but you can see JAL’s route map and list here.
Keep in mind that while the map doesn’t distinguish between Japan Airlines and J-Air operated routes, the “Departure Results List” at the bottom of the page has a note next to flights operated by the subsidiary.
How much Avios do Japanese domestic flights cost?
The cost of Japanese domestic flights when booked using Avios depends on the distance the flight covers. While flights shorter than 650 miles cost 4,500 Avios one-way (one segment) in economy class, flights longer than that will set you back 7,500 Avios one-way (one segment).
The below maps show the 650-mile radius around major Japanese cities including Tokyo, Osaka, Nagoya, Fukuoka, Sapporo, and Naha to give you a better idea of how much of the country you can reach from the respective airports for just 4,500 Avios.
As you can see above, in practical terms, the 650-miles cut-off point means that most of JAL’s domestic flights out of the two biggest cities – Tokyo and Osaka – cost 4,500 Avios. Considerable parts of Japan are reachable from the southern city of Fukuoka and northern city of Sapporo as well.
Noteworthy routes that will set you back the higher price of 7,500 Avios include:
- Tokyo to Okinawa and vice-versa
- Osaka to Okinawa and Hokkaido (excl. Hakodate) and vice-versa
- Fukuoka to Hokkaido
While the amount is negligible, I should also mention that you need to pay 290 yen (~3 dollars) tax on most of the domestic flights on top of the miles.
How close to departure can you book JAL domestic tickets with Avios?
The great thing about booking Japanese domestic award tickets with Avios is that there is more or less no booking cut-off (meaning you can book flights even on the day of departure) making it useful for last minute trips.
For example, searching for tickets a bit after 8AM today, I found flights from Tokyo to Sapporo departing as early as 10:30AM. And, in many cases you can find even flights departing within an hour or an hour and a half of your booking.
How far in advance can you book JAL domestic tickets with Avios?
On the other end of the spectrum, on the British Airways website, it is possible to find domestic award flights on JAL as far as 330 days in advance.
However, officially, you can only book Japan Airlines domestic awards up to two months in advance. And, while there are reports of people booking tickets more than two months in advance and having no issues, there are also reports of people getting their tickets cancelled.
As such, whenever possible, I recommend you to book the tickets up to two months ahead of the departure time – which should be more than enough anyways.
Making a JAL Domestic Award Booking Using Avios
How can you book a JAL award ticket with Avios?
While most of the tickets can be booked easily through British Airways’ website, some flights might not appear in the online search results.
In that case, you will have to book the ticket through the Executive Club call center. When doing so, make sure you let the phone agent know you cannot book the ticket online so that you get the phone reservation fee (about 50 dollars) waived.
How can you get around the payment error you get on a ticket with nothing due in taxes?
Booking JAL domestic awards with Avios is easy – as long as there are taxes to be paid. However, in some cases – especially on flights between regional Japanese airports, the taxes due are zero.
In that case, if you try to book the ticket, you will still be asked to provide payment information. And, the payment – and thus the booking – will fail given that they cannot charge your card zero dollars.
To get around this, in the “Your price quote” step of the booking process that comes up after you select your desired flight, add on a small amount like a dollar or two (of course, you can also add a large amount) to donate to one of the causes that British Airways supports.
That will bring the payment total up from zero to something meaning that you will be able to finish the payment – and thus the booking – successfully.
How can you select seat in advance on a JAL award booked with Avios?
In the past, the reservation code issued by British Airways was different from the JAL one, and so you first had to retrieve the JAL code using Amadeus e-ITR. However, nowadays, the codes are the same.
As such, all you have to do is go to the “Manage Booking” section of the Japan Airlines’ website and select the seat there as described below.
On the “Manage Booking” page, select the “Search by reservation information” option and enter the details of your flight including the flight number, date, etc. as required.
Once you log into your reservation, a warning saying that some functionalities might be restricted due to using other airlines PNR (reservation code), but don’t worry about that as you will be able to select your seat by, obviously, clicking the “Select seat” button in the “Flight information” section of the page.
On the seat map page, first, click on the seat you want to select (green are available), and then click on the “Select” button next to the seat map.
Finally, click on the “Complete” button at the bottom of the page to confirm your selection.
Changing and Cancelling JAL Domestic Flights Booked Using Avios in Advance
How can you reschedule a JAL award booked with Avios?
You can reschedule a JAL domestic award ticket booked using Avios up to 24 hours before departure using the “Change date/time of my flight” option on the “Manage My Booking” page on British Airways’ website. The change fee is 5,740 yen (~55 dollars).
However, I do not recommend rescheduling a JAL domestic award booked using Avios. Instead, I recommend you to cancel the flight as described in the next section, and book your new flight from scratch.
The reason for that is that while rebooking the award costs more than 50 dollars in fees, if you cancel your ticket, you get all your miles back and only lose what you paid in taxes – less than 3 dollars in most cases.
How can you cancel a JAL award booked with Avios?
You can cancel a JAL domestic award ticket booked using Avios up to 24 hours before departure and get all your miles back. In theory, it should cost 5,740 yen (~55 dollars) based on the fee schedule on British Airways’ website.
In reality, however, you will not have to pay more in cash than you already pay. And so, you can cancel the tickets for the cost of taxes which is negligible (~3 dollars) and sometimes even non-existent in case of domestic awards.
To cancel a booking, first – after logging in – locate the reservation in the “My upcoming flights” section on the “My Executive Club” page of British Airways’ website. And then, click on the “Manage My Booking” button next to the booking you wish to cancel.
Once you get to the individual booking page, scroll all the way to the bottom of it, to the “Quick links” section. Click on the “Cancellation options for this booking” link in the “Change booking” section as pictured below.
Next, you will have to confirm that you wish to cancel tickets of all passengers on the same ticket (and some other things) – and click “Continue.”
Here, keep in mind that even if you only want to cancel the ticket for one of the passengers in a group, it might still be cheaper to cancel the whole ticket and rebook it as it should save you the approx. 50 dollar phone service fee.
After clicking on “Continue” on the previous page, you should get to the “Calculate refund” page where you can confirm that all your miles will be refunded and that the cost of cancellation (on top of the taxes you already paid) will be zero.
Finally, after confirming the cancellation on the above page, you will be led to a cancellation confirmation page. Separately, you will also receive an email confirming that you cancelled the flight.
And, the Avios miles should be credited back to your account immediately.
Flying Using JAL Domestic Tickets Booked with Avios
Can you upgrade an economy class JAL domestic award ticket booked using Avios on the day of departure?
As mentioned in the section about eligible classes of travel and routes, while you can only book JAL economy domestic tickets using Avios, if there is availability, you can upgrade them into higher classes of travel at the airport on the day of departure.
You should be able to do so by visiting the ticketing desk at the airport for the following fees:
- Economy class to Class J for 1,000 yen (about 10 dollars)
- Economy class to first class for 8,000 yen (about 80 dollars)
Keep in mind that while first class offers improved service as compared to economy, Class J only offers larger seat (and one extra kind of soft drink).
Can you access JAL Diamond Premier and Sakura Lounges when flying on an Avios domestic award?
Given that you can only book economy class JAL domestic tickets with Avios, the general answer is no.
However, you can access the lounges in the following two cases:
- You are a oneworld status holder – While oneworld Sapphire status gets you access into Sakura Lounges only, with oneworld Emerald status you can visit both Diamond Premier and Sakura Lounges.
- You upgraded into first class – If you are traveling in first class, you can access both Diamond Premier and Sakura Lounges.
Can you board with priority when flying on a JAL domestic award booked using Avios?
You can only use priority boarding with a JAL domestic award ticket booked with Avios in the following cases:
- You are disabled, traveling with little kids, senior, etc.
- You are a oneworld Sapphire or Emerald status holder
- You upgraded your ticket into first class
Can you change to a later or an earlier flight on the day of departure of your Avios JAL domestic award ticket?
You cannot change to a later flight than your originally booked one. However, you can go to the airport early and take an earlier flight that your originally booked one if there are seats available.
As such, if you hope to get to your destination as early as possible, but there is only award availability for an afternoon flight, you can take a risk – book it and then go to the airport earlier with the hope of there being an earlier flight with available seats.
Can you cancel a Japanese domestic flight booked using Avios on the day of departure?
No, you can only cancel your ticket up to 24 hours before the flight’s departure. Otherwise, you lose the miles (and taxes) you paid for the ticket.
If you have any other questions about using British Airways Avios miles for Japan Airlines domestic flights, please, let me know in the comments. I would also appreciate if you could share any other tips you might have about the topic in the comments.