How I travel Inter-Asia on Japan Airlines (JAL) Business Class (Bangkok to Osaka and Tokyo to Singapore) for less than USD600 using Alaska Mileage Plan
Flying Business Class can be as affordable as Economy Class. And here’s a simple hack to show you how I managed to fly Inter-Asia on JAL Business Class from Bangkok to Osaka and then from Tokyo back to Singapore, for less than USD600, just a little over the price of an economy flight ticket perhaps. In this post, I would be illustrating with the actual examples of my recent flight redemption using Alaska Mileage Plan.
Flight number: JAL 728
Flight hours: 5 hours 30 minutes
Aircraft type: Boeing 787-8
Business Class seat type: JAL SHELL FLAT NEO
Date: 20 August 2018
Flight number: JAL 711
Flight hours: 7 hours 25 minutes
Aircraft type: Boeing 777-200ER
Business Class seat type: JAL SKY SUITE 777
Date: 26 August 2018
Cost for both sectors: Starwood Preferred Guest (SPG) points 20,000, bought during 35% discount sale at USD455 on 10 March 2018 + Redemption taxes USD61.10
Transfer to Alaska Miles: 11 March 2018, 20,000 SPG points become 25,000 miles
Redemption Date in Alaska Airlines: 12 March 2018
Redemption: Suvarnabhumi International (BKK) – Kansai International (KIX) // Narita International (NRT) – Changi International (SIN)
Prior to purchase of SPG points, I have been checking Alaska Airlines for a number of possible flight combinations. As both Bangkok and Osaka were in my mind, my search had been centered around from BKK to KIX, and from KIX to BKK for different dates, as well as from Tokyo back to Singapore or Singapore to Tokyo.
There were many JAL Business Class seats available for the different dates that I searched. By right, redemption of your JAL Business Class ticket should be pretty straightforward and can be done in a few minutes via Alaska Airlines.
However, that was not the experience I have. Even though Alaska Airlines was showing many available JAL Business Class seats for the dates I searched, I always got an error issuing ticket message at the final stage of the redemption. Fret not though, there is a workaround solution to verify the seat availability in another partner airline.
Workaround Solution for Redemption of JAL Business Class using Alaska Mileage Plan
What I did is to check the seat availability in a partner airline. I created a British Airways Frequent Flyer Program to check the availability of the JAL Business Class flights. After creating an account in British Airways, you can check to see the number of available seats for redemption. Here is what it looks like:
Search for JAL Business Class seat for BKK – KIX
Search JAL Business Class Flight Tokyo – Singapore
From the above searches, you would have a good idea on the actual numbers of JAL Business Class Seats available on the search date.
Points to take note from my personal booking experience:
If the search in British Airways shows no JAL Business Class seats for a particular date, chances are you will not be able to find a seat in Alaska Airlines. However, if the search shows several available JAL Business Class seats, then you can go direct to the specific date in Alaska Airlines to redeem your JAL Business Class seat with good chances.
After several trial and error on the same day (without changing the initial date I wanted), my ticket was finally issued at 9pm that night. I couldn’t seem to find a logical explanation for this.
Upon successful redemption, you will receive a confirmation email from Alaska Airlines on your award ticket. There will be two confirmation codes in the email. With the JAL confirmation code, you will be able to go to select seat in Japan Airlines.
Interesting Hack on JAL Business Class Redemption using Alaska Mileage Plan
Some of you might be wondering why my trip did not start from Singapore? This is the interesting part. Alaska Airlines treats XXX – Japan City – ZZZ as Inter-Asia Award and charges only 25,000 miles (XXX and ZZZ being different countries/cities). If I have started my trip from Singapore and ended in Singapore, it would be considered as a round trip. Then I would have been charged 50,000 miles instead and this would have doubled the price of my flights.
Besides Bangkok, other routes you might be exploring:
Kuala Lumpur – Tokyo – Singapore or Singapore – Tokyo – Kuala Lumpur
Hongkong – Tokyo (or Osaka) – Singapore or Singapore – Tokyo (Osaka) – Hongkong
Taipei – Tokyo (or Osaka) – Singapore or Singapore – Tokyo (Osaka) – Taipei
China cities – Tokyo (or Osaka) – Singapore or Singapore – Tokyo (or Osaka) – China cities
India cities would work too.
All the above routes require you to book one way to position yourself in the other Asia cities or to fly back from the other Asia cities back to Singapore. As in my cases, I was flying from Bangkok to Osaka, then from Tokyo back to Singapore.
Since I wasn’t flying straight from Singapore to Osaka, I needed to book a separate one-way ticket from Singapore to Bangkok. With many budget airlines operating from Singapore, one-way ticket probably would cost you less than SGD200. Or better still, use your miles to redeem this one-way ticket (in Business Class maybe?) with Singapore Airlines.
Personally, I prefer to start my trip from somewhere to Japan and from Japan back to Singapore. Reason being the last sector will be in JAL Business Class, which allows up to 3 pieces of checked baggage at 32 Kg each i.e. 96 Kg in total! Anyone?. I was expecting to buy a lot in Japan.
Change to JAL Business Class Redemption method using Alaska Mileage Plan
I started with SPG points and transferred it to Alaska miles to redeem JAL Business Class Flight. However, SPG has merged with Marriott. Thus, the above way no longer works as we could not buy SPG points anymore. Not to worry though as you could buy Alaska Airlines miles directly. Furthermore, they do run sales quarterly. Below is an example of the sale which ended recently on 4 October 2018 for my account:
Buying 40,000 miles at the price of USD1,100 + USD82.50 tax would net me (40,000+20,000 bonus miles) 60,000 miles, the maximum 50% bonus miles.
How would this work out for you?
If your intention is just to redeem the above example tickets, the minimum you have to purchase would have been 20,000 at the price of USD550 + USD41.25 = USD591.25. That would give you 27,000 miles. I would say this is still a pretty good deal though it is slightly more expensive than what I have previously paid for my SPG points at USD516.10. However, you get two Business Class flights (Bangkok to Osaka and then Tokyo to Singapore) for USD591.25 plus about USD60 taxes during redemption. Oh, don’t forget also balance of 2,000 Alaska Airlines miles!
Had travelled to Penang, Krabi, Bintan, Batam, Bali, Bangkok, Phuket, Yogyakarta, Hongkong, Macau, Zhuhai, Taipei, Kaoshiung, Nanjing, Shanghai, Beijing, Suzhou, Hangzhou, Seoul, Tokyo, Osaka, Nagoya, Sydney, Melbourne, Auckland, Queenstown, Christchurch, Munich, London, Paris, Amsterdam, Brussel, Hamburg, Berlin, Milan, Venice, Copenhagen, Florence, Rome, Barcelona, Vienna, Prague, Frankfurt, Edinburg, Los Angeles, Las Vegas, San Francisco, Madrid, Zurich, Lisboa, Hanoi, Lubeck, Perth, Luxembourg, Naples, Cologne, Dusseldorf , Fukuoka, Hokkaido, Brisbane, Gold Coast, Ho Chi Minh ...
Still in the wishing list: Maldives, India, Dubai, Turkey, Egypt, Greece, Moscow, Hungary, Hawaii, New York, Brazil … Hope to visit all seven wonders of the world.
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