After years of strict COVID-19 measures, Japan has finally reopened for tourism.
The country is home to two of our favorite airlines — All Nippon Airways and Japan Airlines — both of which operate extensive domestic and international route networks. So, if you’re planning a tour of Japan, chances are you’ll find yourself on one of these carriers when hopping around the country.
Today, we’ll take a look at one of the best ways to book domestic Japan Airlines tickets with little out-of-pocket expense.
This airline is part of the Oneworld alliance, which also includes the U.S. carrier American Airlines, meaning American Airlines AAdvantage members can use their miles on flights to, from and around Japan. These tickets are incredibly valuable since they start as low as 7,500 miles and often have no associated taxes or fees.
As you book your trip to Japan, here’s how to earn and burn miles for this AAdvantage sweet spot.
Why it’s special
American Airlines charges 7,500 miles for most Japanese domestic flights regardless of peak dates, distance or how far out you book.
This can mean big savings when domestic Japanese flights are expensive. For example, if you want to go from Tokyo to Sapporo next month, the cheapest one-way Japan Airlines flight from Tokyo’s Haneda Airport (HND) to Sapporo’s New Chitose Airport (CTS) costs $161 on this example date.
You can book the same route on Japan Airlines for 7,500 AAdvantage miles plus $0 for taxes and fees. As a result, you’ll get just over 2.1 cents per mile in value, which is higher than TPG’s AAdvantage valuation of 1.77 cents per mile.
This price is the same for close-in bookings and longer routes such as HND to Okinawa’s Naha Airport (OKA), which is nearly three hours and 1,000 miles away. That makes using 7,500 miles (with no fees tacked on) a solid redemption option.
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Unlike some programs, American doesn’t charge fees for last-minute bookings or using miles with a partner. Conversely, American also does not charge redeposit fees on Japan Airlines awards. The flexibility that this redemption offers is valuable if your trip’s schedule is fluid.
Related: The best ways to travel to Japan with points and miles
How to book this award
You can book Japan Airlines flights using AAdvantage miles on AA.com. You can log into your account immediately or later during the booking process.
On American’s website, plug in your dates and route, check the “Redeem miles” box and click the blue “Search” button.
All available award seats for partners will appear, and you can choose to sort by departure or arrival time if preferred. Once you’ve found a flight you want to book, click on its price and follow the on-screen prompts to complete your booking.
Alternatively, if your plans are flexible and you want to look at availability across the month, you can click on the “Calendar” tab, which will show the price by day.
Related: How (and why) to plan a ski trip to Niseko, Japan, with points and miles
How to earn points for this award
Luckily, it is not too difficult to earn American AAdvantage miles. While no major bank, such as American Express or Chase, offers transfers to American, Bilt Rewards points transfer 1:1 to the carrier. Alternatively, Marriott Bonvoy points transfer 3:1 to American, with a 5,000-mile bonus given if you transfer 60,000 points.
Thankfully, American has a diverse line of credit cards with excellent sign-up bonuses. Here are a few of the airline’s most popular credit cards with their respective sign-up bonuses:
The information for the CitiBusiness AAdvantage Platinum card has been collected independently by The Points Guy. The card details on this page have not been reviewed or provided by the card issuer.
Related: Complimentary Admirals Club membership: Citi / AAdvantage Executive World Elite Mastercard review
This sweet spot is a great way to fly around Japan. There is outstanding availability on most routes, and there are no taxes or fees associated with the ticket.
Aviation fans should keep this sweet spot in mind, too. Japan Airlines’ domestic routes are often served by various wide-body aircraft, giving you the chance to sample various aircraft on a trip around Japan. And if you want to check out ANA’s aircraft, you can book domestic flights around Japan for just 5,500 United miles.