Miles and Points

Quick Hits: Close in first class award space on Japan Airlines

I so rarely get to search award space these days that when I do it’s a treat. I’ve been monitor Japan Airlines first class space and thought I’d share what I found. I’m sure it will be helpful to a few of you out there. TL;DR: Japan Airlines first class space opens up pretty consistently two weeks from date of departure.

In my process of searching for award flights, I often like to see how many seats are actually for sale, especially when looking at forward cabins. That’s because I can get a feel for how crowded the cabin will be (if I’m already booked) or how many seats might possibly open up for award alerts.

I noticed an interesting pattern with JL first class seats. 13 days before departure, the number of Japan Airlines first class seats were always one less than the number of seats for sale, as long as 3 or more seats were available for purchase. So, if six first class seats were for sale, five would be available for awards.

To search award space, I used British Airways website. To search number of seats for sale, I used Expertflyer although you could just use Google Flights or Kayak and keep increasing the number of seats you’re trying to buy.

Here are some screenshots of my findings. I searched 13 days out every day for three days so I feel pretty good about the pattern.

Japan Airlines First Class Award
F7 means 7 seats for sale. JL 6 has 7 seats, JL 4 has 5 on Feb 21
Notice JL 6 has 6 seats available for awards, JL 4 has 4


Six seats for sale on both flights
Five seats available for awards on both flights


Only two seats available on JL 6, three available on JL 4
Notice NO seats for awards on JL 6, two available on JL 4

So as you can see, the pattern is pretty reliable. Business class seems to open up as well, though to me it only seemed to happen if there were 9+ business class seats for sale. I didn’t look too deeply into that though. The patterns held for the outbound as well.

Final Thoughts

If you’re looking to book these awards, they’ll cost you 80K AA miles each way or 70K AS miles. Those are the two main ways I’d book them although of course there are other options. While I don’t like leaving awards to the last minute, if you already have a business class award on AA this might be a nice way to upgrade your flight (remember, AA changes are free if you keep the same city pairs and do the same or higher class of service). 

Hopefully this is helpful to some of you out there looking to get to Asia!

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Just an average joe trying to fly his family for less

6 thoughts on “Quick Hits: Close in first class award space on Japan Airlines

  1. Hey Joe, my home airport is JFK, but I’m only interested in one way F from Tokyo to JFK (because I only have enough miles for 3 F’s and because I want to experience the JAL lounge in Tokyo). So with that said & based on your findings, would it be best to book 3 J’s from Tokyo to JFK and look for F availability 2 weeks from departure to make the upgrade if any opens? Does JAL only open up 3 or more award seats this close to departure? How about 350-360 days out? Thanks!

    1. I haven’t seen any seats far out. If I were in your shoes I’d do your plan and use, understanding if the cabin is booked obviously they won’t open the seats up. But if you’re slightly flexible on exact days I think you’d have a good shot

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