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Alaska Airlines announced two new award charts last week, one for traveling to Asia on Japan Airlines, the other for traveling on Emirate to Australia and New Zealand. The news were widely written by the travel community  – such as here and here for Japan Airline,  here and here for Emirate. Dan also wrote about the new JAL redemption here.

Honestly I am not that excited about the Emirates redemption. After all, after the recent devaluation, it takes lot more miles to fly Emirates than most other airlines, even in coach. I don’t think it is budget friendly for any family to travel on Emirates in their premium cabin. Even if I am traveling just by myself, I won’t go out of my way to fly Emirates just to try the shower on their A380 as I prefer taking a shower longer than 10 minutes (ED: The shower is actually only 5 minutes, and I agree it’s not THAT exciting but it was still kind of fun :-D), and I am perfectly happy with business (or first) class on Cathay, EVA, and ANA etc. without the flash gold trims in Emirates first class.

emirates-a380-first-class-review-suites-shower-clean

(READ: Help! I’m “stuck” in Emirates First Class on “only” a 777!)

The redemption on Japan Airlines though is something I have been waiting for since Alaska announced the joint venture early this year! I go to Asia more frequently than any other continents and now there is a whole new way to get there besides Cathay Pacific which I flew the most.

Since the chart came out, many blogs have written in detail about how to book JAL awards using Alaska miles. But the one I like the most is this article written by Point Me To the Plane. I won’t repeat here, but I do want to point out:

  • If Japan is your only destination and you are flying out of west coast, do check out the British Airline redemption as it might be cheaper in coach. For example, it costs only 25,000 Avios from SFO to Haneda in coach on JAL flight. Once you are in Japan, most inter-Japan flights can be booked using 4,500 Avios, alternatively you can take Shinkansen, the high speed trains that connect Tokyo to most major cities in Japan, who wouldn’t love to do that?!
  • Premium economy is a great deal at only 5,000 more miles compared to coach, especially if you are flying from East Coast. If you are slightly short on miles, consider purchasing additional miles to reach the level for premium economy redemption.

I am currently in the process of planning a trip for my sister-in-law to Japan for next March. She was booked on American Airline traveling from New York area through Chicago to Narita using 25,000 Alaska miles.

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(SEE ALSO: Japan Airlines first class review Chicago ORD to Tokyo NRT)

The day after the award chart came out, I called Alaska to change her flight to JAL since I wasn’t able to change it online. The agent had to do some research but within 10 minutes she was booked on JAL’s nonstop flight from JFK to Narita in premium economy for 40,000 miles. Using the JAL record locator number shown on the Alaska confirmation, I was able to pull up the reservation on JAL website and reserve an aisle seat in premium economy class! This will be her first real international trip and I am thrilled that she will be flying a bit more comfortable for the long 14-hour flight.

I will be traveling on Japan Airline for the first time next February from San Francisco to Osaka via Tokyo, with my youngest daughter who is in 6th grade. Our tickets were booked back in March using American Airline miles, in coach going there and in business class coming back. I can’t wait to share the experience and the excitements, especially through the eyes of my 11-year old!

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