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Starting April 1, 2019, JAL Mileage Bank members will be able to book award tickets on Japan Airlines 360 days in advance. The current limit is 330 days, which is one of the shortest booking windows in the industry.
This change has some big implications for folks with other types of One World miles as well. Although there is no guarantee that award availability will be loaded when the rules change on April 1st, there is a potential for a bonanza of seats on typically hard-to-book Japan Airlines flights.
When Can I Book with Miles?
To determine the date you can book with miles, there are two dates that matter: First, you need to consider the date that the airline operating your flight opens its booking calendar. Japan Airlines is changing this from 330 to 360 days on April 1st. For most airlines, the date flights go on sale for cash bookings will be the same date that those flights can be booked with miles. The second important date is when the frequent flyer program with which you have points or miles opens its booking calendar.
If you have Japan Airlines miles—JAL Mileage Bank—you’ll be able to book 360 days in advance as of April 1st, putting flights through March 26, 2020 within reach. The day before, March 31st, bookings will only be available through February 24, 2020.
If you plan to use miles from a program that partners with Japan Airlines, the latest date you can book a flight will be either March 26, 2020, or the latest date that partner program allows bookings—whichever is earlier.
Booking Windows for Japan Airlines Partners
- Cathay Pacific – 360 Days (Book through March 26, 2020)
- Finnair – 354 Days (Book through March 20, 2020)
- British Airways – 354 Days (Book through March 20, 2020)
- Qantas – 353 Days (Book through March 19, 2020)
- American – 331 Days (Book through February 26, 2020)
- Iberia – 330 Days (Book through February 25, 2020)
- Alaska – 330 Days (Book through February 25, 2020)
JAL opening its award calendar 360 days out is especially good for those with JAL Mileage Bank miles or Marriott points (which transfer to JAL)—these travelers will have first grabs at booking a JAL award ticket. Additionally, this is also a win for people with transferrable points that can be converted into miles with programs like Cathay Pacific (Capital One, Citi, and Amex) British Airways (Amex and Chase), or Qantas (Citi and Capital One). The downside to using one of these programs that allows longer-range bookings is that you may end up paying more miles for some types of flights. For example, British Airways charges far more Avios for most long-haul business or first-class itineraries than Alaska or American Airlines.
But this change isn't all good. Most notably, it has bad implications for those with Alaska Airlines and American Airlines miles. These One World partners open their award booking calendar 330 and 331 days out respectively, giving their frequent flyers the “leftovers” that haven't already been booked by JAL, Cathay Pacific, Qantas, Finnair or British Airways members.
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