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Flying Business Class to Japan with Credit Card Points

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BUSINESS CLASS TO JAPAN USING AMERICAN AIRLINE MILES

In October 2023, my family of 3, flew Japan Airlines from Chicago (ORD) to Tokyo (HND).
American Airlines and Japan Airlines are both part of The oneworld® Alliance.
So what you will often find, is that you can find AND book Japan Airlines flights via American Airlines.
WHAT WE PAID: 60K American Airline miles per person + $5.60 (one way)

The truth is… finding more than 2 seats in business class to hot destinations like Japan is not super easy. So, I took a gamble. I knew that sometimes American Airlines would have Japan Airlines business class flights bookable with points on their site with 3+ seats available. And I knew that I would have to book these 11 months out (ie. the EXACT day seats were released).

So I took a calculated risk. In January 2022 I made it my mission to earn enough American Airlines miles to fly our family of 3 to Japan if I could find award tickets. I knew from searching on the American Airlines site that they tickets cost 60K American Airline miles plus $5.60. I knew that the departure airports I was willing to “re-position” do were Chicago (ORD), Dallas (DFW), San Francisco (SFO) and Los Angeles (LAX). And I ideally wanted to fly into HND because it’s closer to downtown Tokyo.

EARNING AMERICAN AIRLINE MILES

I opened two business credit cards that earn American Airline miles. I rarely open a card knowing I will be closing it in year. But that WAS the case with these 2 cards. I can’t transfer Amex OR Capital One OR Citi OR Chase points to American Airlines. So my only option was earning them Via American Airlines. I opened 2 cards, which with their sign up bonuses at the time got me to 140K miles. I earned the 40K miles by consistently using American Airlines shopping portal.

  • AAdvantage® Aviator® World Elite Business Mastercard®
  • CitiBusiness® / AAdvantage® Platinum Select® World Elite™ Mastercard® card
  • American Airlines shopping portal

STALKING AVAILABILITY

On November 15, 2022, American Airlines released tickets for October 12,2023 and I booked them as soon as I woke up. Does that sound crazy? I wanted to share the exact dates because I want to show that I was running dummy searches as I was getting closer to having 180K American Airline miles. So, I had 180K American Airlines miles and I was hoping to go during our school’s fall break or over Thanksgiving break. And when it lined up that we could go over all break I jumped on it.

BUSINESS CLASS HOME FROM JAPAN USING CHASE POINTS

This is where things get tricky. I had a really good feeling we’d be able to book the tickets TO Japan. But how would we get home? I knew that Air Canada (Aeroplan) often released a good amount of partner flights to/from Asia. I could easily find 2 seats. But finding 3 was difficult. And then, honestly, I got lucky.

About a week before it was time to book the tickets (remember, I was waiting for our fall break dates to have award seats released on American Airlines) I was looking on Air Canada’s website and happened to see that Asiana Airlines had business class seats from KIX airport (90 minutes from Kyoto) to LAX. And they were releasing 4+ seats daily. These tickets were 75K points + about $80 per person. Finding availability on Air Canada is fantastic because you can transfer points from Capital One, Chase, Amex and Citi.

The one caution when booking award flights on Air Canada is that they often offer “mixed” classes. Meaning, part of your flight is business, part is economy. And you want to be sure the business part is on the long haul portion. These tickets were from KIX – Seoul in economy and then from Seoul to LAX in business. Perfect!

A TRANSFER BONUS FOR THE WIN

I normally keep my Chase points for Hyatt stays. BUT at the exact time I needed to book these Asiana business class tickets via Air Canada (Aeroplan), Chase had a 30% transfer bonus to Aeroplan. Bringing our tickets down to just under 58K miles per person. That is an insane value for 11 hours in business class!

HOW YOU CAN RECREATE THIS

It is definitely tougher to book business class when you need more than 2 seats. Here are my best tips for getting to/from Japan:

  • Be flexible with departure airports (DFW, ORD, JFK, LAX, SEA, SFO, EWR) and arrival airports (NRT, HND)
  • Be flexible with dates
  • Have the stash of points/miles saved up and be ready to pounce
  • Do dummy searches
  • Use sites like seats.aero and roame.travel to find availability
  • Pay for award booking services if you don’t have the time/energy for searching

Want to see every flight, hotel & transfer we booked?
I’ve got all the info here.

This was definitely one of the more complicated trips to book. But honestly, it was incredible. And I feel so extremely grateful that I was able to use points & miles for it. We were able to have such a luxurious trip and even weeks later, I am still pinching myself that it happened!

Opinions expressed here are the author’s alone, not those of any bank, credit card issuer, hotel, airline, or other entity. This content has not been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by any of the entities included within the post.

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