Kushiro to Shanghai for 15,000 Miles with JAL Business Class! Analyzing Whether That Airline Really ‘Deteriorated’【Deep Dive with Hideki Hashiga!】

Alaska Airlines

Alaska Airlines’ Mileage Plan, which started mileage partnership with JAL at the end of 2016, has created numerous legends.

Starting with a total of 30,000 miles for first class from Haneda to London, via Bangkok to Kansai (business class within Asia) by February 2023, it was arguably one of the programs that best met users’ simple needs of “flying on international business class from Japan with fewer miles”.

The “deterioration” of the “Mileage Plan” was announced in November 2023, without specifying the exact date, this change was set to unify the required miles for award tickets, which had varied depending on the airline, based on the distance starting a certain day in March 2024. The mileage world has two main objectives: “fly a lot and earn miles with little money” and “use fewer miles for long distances on award tickets”; the distance-based system, of course, makes the latter impossible, and has since been unpopular among miles collectors domestically and internationally.

Airline companies make the rules for mileage programs, and we, the users, cannot control it. Thus, complaining about deterioration won’t really gain us anything. Instead, we should consider if there are still better options available under the current situation.

Looking at the new chart of Mileage Plan, it is clear that the miles required for award tickets within 1,500 miles are very low.

Economy class costs 7,500 miles, and business class costs 15,000 miles. When it comes to 1,501 to 3,000 miles, it suddenly triples to 25,000 miles for economy class and 50,000 miles for business class, making it less cost-effective. Thus, “Thin” Alaska Airlines might have become a program that focuses on short-distance award tickets.

For residents of Japan, Japan-origin international flights, especially JAL’s business class which is very expensive if paid in cash, would be the target. Thus, routes that can be covered within 1,500 miles were looked into.

Tokyo/Haneda and Tokyo/Narita departures: Seoul (758 miles), Dalian (1,042 miles), Shanghai (1,111 miles), Beijing (1,313 miles), Taipei (1,330 miles)
Osaka/Kansai departures: Shanghai (831 miles), Taipei (1,061 miles)
Nagoya/Chubu departures: Shanghai (919 miles), Tianjin (1,112 miles), Taipei (1,142 miles)

In addition to Shanghai and Taipei, it seems that Beijing would also be a good option if flying from Tokyo. If a direct flight is launched, the route from Tokyo to Kaohsiung would also become notable as it falls under 1,491 miles, making it an affordable route.

Making Good Use of Stopovers!

However, this might not be enough. The key is to stay within 1,500 miles, enabling the following uses.

Kushiro – (JAL economy class) – Tokyo/Haneda (stopover) – (JAL business class) → Shanghai/Pudong can be done for 15,000 miles one-way (7,500 miles for the entire economy class segment, though this mileage falls within the limit for Pudong, it exceeds 1,500 miles for Hongqiao.)
Okinawa/Naha – (JAL economy class) – Tokyo/Haneda (stopover) – (JAL business class) → Shanghai can be done for 15,000 miles one-way (7,500 miles for the entire economy class segment)

Mileage Plan allows for one free stopover on one-way award tickets. This stopover, applicable for up to 14 days only, might be a bit hectic if planning to separate trips. However, considering it’s possible to split until the weekend after next, it could be an attractive system for those who can’t take many days off.

Furthermore, routes such as Nagoya/Chubu・Osaka/Kansai – (JAL business class) – Seoul (stopover) – (Korean Air business class) – Taipei might also be covered with 15,000 miles, although, as of March 26, 2024, Korean Air’s award slots aren’t shown, making it impossible to verify.

When making a stopover, it’s recommended to display the Alaska Airlines site in desktop mode and open Book a flight. Choose “Multi-city” and check “Use miles” to search.

Additionally, among the nine routes that Starlux Airlines, available from before this revision, operates between Japan and Taipei, excluding Chitose and Hakodate, seven routes (Sendai, Narita, Chubu, Kansai, Fukuoka, Kumamoto, Naha) can still be used from economy class 7,500 miles, business class 15,000 miles.

There are a few points to note.

One is that these required mileages are merely the lowest possible, and in some cases, more miles may be needed depending on availability. Moreover, in the Mileage Plan, if both departure and destination are outside of the U.S., ticketing must be done at least 72 hours before departure, so last-minute bookings aren’t possible.

Also, while we discussed JAL’s business class, since all routes are short distances, depending on the flight, seats could be JAL SKYLUXE SEAT (Boeing 737-800), JAL SHELL FLAT NEO (some Boeing 787-8), etc., which are not full-flat but lie-flat seats. When booking, it’s best to check your flight’s seats in advance.

Additionally, Mileage Plan occasionally lowers the required miles for awards, which is something to look forward to.

This article was generated using automatic translation by GPT-4 API.
The translation may not be accurate.