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UPDATE: Japan Airlines reward flights can now be booked through the Qantas website. Click here for the latest information including our new how-to guide.
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, and now between Melbourne and Tokyo as well.
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.