How to book Japan Airlines flights using Qantas Points

How to book Japan Airlines flights using Qantas Points

Booking business class and premium economy flights with Japan Airlines is a great way to spend your Qantas frequent flyer points, with JAL offering daily flights between Sydney and Tokyo, joined by JAL’s new Melbourne-Tokyo route in September.

But these reservations can be trickier than most, because Japan Airlines reward flights can’t be booked via the Qantas website – nor can tools like ExpertFlyer help you find JAL reward flights.

Instead, these bookings can only be made by calling the Qantas Frequent Flyer service centre: but to save you some time on the phone, there’s a sneaky way to check which flights are open for booking using your Qantas Points, which is oddly where British Airways steps in!

Here’s what you need to know to find and book Japan Airlines flights using your Qantas Points.

Step 1: Checking which flights can be booked using points

Because you can’t find these flights on the Qantas website, the best workaround is to search for JAL frequent flyer bookings using the British Airways Executive Club website instead.

This is for two reasons – firstly, unlike the Qantas Frequent Flyer website, BA’s own Executive Club site does show Japan Airlines reward options (even though we’re not actually going to book those flights via BA.com).

Secondly, when Japan Airlines makes a reward flight available to British Airways’ frequent flyers, that same flight can be booked using Qantas Points: just over the phone rather than online.

In short, you can use the BA website to find available Japan Airlines reward flights, and then call Qantas to book those flights using your Qantas Points.

To get started, head to this page on the BA website, and if you’re already a member of the airline’s Executive Club scheme, login when prompted.

If you’re not a member, you’ll need to create an account. Australians should consider using the mailing address of their favourite UK hotel, or selecting their country of origin as Austria instead, as BA doesn’t accept Australian mailing addresses for this.

Once logged in, you can begin your search. We’re hunting for reward flights on JAL’s new Melbourne-Tokyo route, so entering those details is straightforward: ditto if you’re looking for Sydney-Tokyo or any other JAL route.

However, even if you’re looking for business class or premium economy flights, just leave the ‘class’ box set to economy – doing so will show you availability for economy, premium economy and business class on the one screen, so you’d only change this when seeking first class rewards:

On the next screen, you’ll spot a large JAL logo if there are flights open for points-based bookings on the date you searched. Because Qantas also flies to Tokyo, you may see Qantas flights here too: but it’s the JAL ones we’re looking for.

Looking closely, we can see that this particular JAL flight has reward bookings available in business class, premium economy and economy – and not just one reward seat in each class of travel, but four.

(“4 left” above means you can use points to book up to four passengers in that specific class of service: so “4 left” in the business class column indicates that four business class reward seats are available, and so on.)

That’s one of the reasons you might go to the trouble of finding and then booking JAL flights using your Qantas Points, rather than using your points to simply fly Qantas, as Japan Airlines tends to release lots of frequent flyer reward seats, whereas Qantas releases very few seats that aren’t in economy.

If you can’t see any Japan Airlines reward flights available on the date you searched, you can jump to a different date using the handy options at the top...

... and once you’ve found something suitable, the next step is booking your flight.

Step 2: Booking your chosen Japan Airlines flight using Qantas Points

Take note of the JAL flight you’re planning to book, including the departure date, departure and arrival times, the flight number and the airports you’ll be flying through – Melbourne is straightforward but NRT in our screenshot represents Narita in Tokyo, with HND being Haneda.

Then, call the Qantas Frequent Flyer team on 13 11 31 between 7am and 7pm Monday-Saturday (excluding public holidays), and press 1 for ‘travel arrangements, including Classic Flight Rewards’.

(Platinum, Platinum One and Chairman’s Lounge cardholders should instead call the priority number found on their back of their Qantas Frequent Flyer card.)

Armed with the flight information you jotted down earlier, you can then ask the operator to book your Japan Airlines reward flight, armed with the knowledge that the flight you found in Step 1 can indeed be booked using points, keeping the time you spend on the phone as short as possible.

For a one-way Japan Airlines flight from Sydney or Melbourne to Tokyo, you’d need 78,000 Qantas Points in business class, 63,000 Qantas Points in premium economy or 42,000 Qantas Points in regular economy, plus a payment to cover taxes, fees and charges which varies from flight to flight.

You'll sometimes also be asked to pay a telephone booking fee, but many travellers report success in having this waived after reminding the operator that the only reason they're calling is because these flights can't be booked online.

In any case, JAL's Sydney and Melbourne flights command 6,000-9,000 more points than it costs to book a Qantas flight on the same route.

So why fly with JAL instead of Qantas? One reason is that it's easier to find points-based reward seats on Japan Airlines than Qantas, so there's a better chance to find a flight with JAL on a date that suits your schedule.

JAL's timings on the Melbourne-Tokyo route – which sees a late night flight out of Melbourne and a daytime return from Tokyo – could also better suit your busy timetable than the Qantas flight.

And on Sydney-Tokyo, Qantas tends to fly its Boeing 747s with older Skybed business class seats which lack direct aisle access for all passengers (below), as opposed to JAL’s superior Boeing 787 SkySuites.

On those flights, spending a few thousand extra points to have no direct seatmate or passenger climbing over you could well be worth it, especially if it improves your quality of sleep or allows you to work during the day without interruption.

Chris Chamberlin

Chris Chamberlin (ChrisCh)

[email protected] / @ChamberlinChris

Australian Business Traveller journalist Chris Chamberlin lives by the motto that a journey of a thousand miles begins with a single step, a great latte, a theatre ticket and a glass of wine!
 

8 Comments

  • Teejay Cal

    Theresnormissin

    30 May, 2017 10:03 am

    Slightly off topic observation. I know it's a different booking system, but how good is being able to see how many award seats are available on that flight? I think there is something to be said about being transparent and up-front about how many seats are available on a given flight (I'm looking at you Qantas). Rather than being faced with conjecture about how many award seats are available, it would aid PAX with their decision making and likely greatly reduce the frustration that trying to obtain award seats can cause.
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  • nclfrk799

    nclfrk799

    30 May, 2017 10:05 am

    Hmm, how does this differ from using JAL's own reward flight finder? It seems to do the same thing (albeit with a bit more clunkiness and a somewhat poorer UX).
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  • Chris Chamberlin

    ChrisCh

    30 May, 2017 10:13 am

    Sometimes airlines can release more reward seats to their own frequent flyer members (e.g. JAL Mileage Bank for Japan Airlines) than they do to frequent flyers of partner airlines, such as BA and Qantas in this case. Using the BA site rather than the JAL site guarantees that the reward flights you're seeing are bookable by Oneworld frequent flyers (like Qantas members), not just by JAL's own members.

    (Certainly, if you see a reward option on the JAL site, you may be able to book that using Qantas Points - but you may not, which is why the BA site is handy.)
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  • nclfrk799

    nclfrk799

    30 May, 2017 10:22 am

    Ohhh that might explain some discrepancies when searching across BA vs JAL. Guess I was being a little optimistic at all those reward options. Thanks!
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  • grussellt

    grussellt

    30 May, 2017 10:08 am

    You can also see JL availability on www.awardnexus.com. You still have to ring QFF to book.
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  • Tim Anderson

    Madmantim

    30 May, 2017 07:00 pm

    I checked Melbourne Tokyo availability via the above BA/Avios method fo Jan 2018 and noted quite a bit of availability (e.g. quite a lot of days had 4 seats available in various classes).  I then called Qantas customer service and they told me the seats were not available for awards bookings and that the online sources I was looking at must have been wrong.  What do you think?  Likely to be a Qantas glitch, or could they be right?  Note the flight is a pretty new addition to JAL's offer.
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  • Chris Chamberlin

    ChrisCh

    31 May, 2017 10:40 am

    Hang up, call back and try again. ;)

    With the greatest respect to Qantas' telephone staff, some of them clearly don't know how to make these bookings and don't reference their manuals to see how it's done. As best I understand, they have to book JAL flights through a different portal than they use for most other reward flights, so if the operator searches for availability through the wrong system, they won't find anything.

    (If you encounter the same problem again, you can ask them if there's a different way for them to search which can sometimes get things moving: otherwise, hang up and try again!)
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    Madmantim

  • Tim Anderson

    Madmantim

    31 May, 2017 10:44 am

    Many thanks Chris - after playing around with Awardnexus, I rechecked availability of award flights via BA OneWorld and gave it another shot with Qantas call centre.  This time seamless!  Locked in 4 business class fares each way in January.  A mate of mine just did the same thing, but took him 4 tries!!  
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  • Chris Chamberlin

    ChrisCh

    31 May, 2017 01:20 pm

    Glad it all worked out for you!
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  • Ieuan1

    ieuan1

    31 May, 2017 12:14 pm

    Can you use QF points for upgrades on JL?

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  • Chris Chamberlin

    ChrisCh

    31 May, 2017 01:19 pm

    Nope - as always, Qantas Points can only be used to upgrade on Qantas-operated flights, and on Qantas codeshare flights operated by LATAM between Sydney, Auckland and Santiago.
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  • Ieuan1

    ieuan1

    31 May, 2017 01:23 pm

    Dear Chris, Thanks
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  • biggyman

    biggyman

    20 Jul, 2017 09:13 pm

    Thanks Chris,
    Do you know if I can do the same for flights between Tokyo and Osaka (book via Qanats using points)?
    How much points do you need for that?
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  • Chris Chamberlin

    ChrisCh

    21 Jul, 2017 09:19 am

    Hi biggyman, yes, you can use Qantas Points to book any JAL flight, subject to reward availability.

    However, you'll need to do your own research in terms of how many points you'll need for your specific itinerary - you can find that information here.

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Guest

19 Dec, 2017 03:49 am

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