Japan Air Lines is one of my favorite first class products in the world. The service and food are over the top. Thus, it is with sadness that I share that JAL now seems to be restricting first class award space issued via partner programs.
JAL has been a long-term source for business and first class award space booked well in advance. Although not totally predictable, JAL often opened a pair of first class seats 330 days in advance. That not only helps in advance planning, but represents one of the best redemption sweet spots in many programs, including Alaska Airlines Mileage Plan, American Airlines AAdvantage and Cathay Pacific Asia Miles. These JAL awards are what makes the collection of miles and points so valuable.
But Point Me To The Plane noticed that beyond March 31, 2021, the award space is gone via partner sources. It would be one thing if it was not bookable anywhere. But the space is still readily available via JAL Mileage Bank program.
“Phantom” space still shows up via Asia Miles…but it is unbookable. Space booked prior to April 1, 2021 does not error out. The space does not show up after April 1st on Alaska or British Airways. It does show up on American Airlines, but like Asia Miles, errors out.
A Disturbing New Trend Beyond JAL: First Class Awards For Program Members Only
If the circumstantial evidence is true, JAL joins a long list of airlines that are increasingly restricting partner access to first class award space.
The logic is simple: with seats limited, space is reserved for an airline’s own loyalty members.
We’ve seen Lufthansa restrict partner first class awards to 14 days prior to travel, Korean Air prohibit partner first class award redemptions, SWISS prohibit first class redemptions to Senators or HON members from Miles & More, and more recently Cathay Pacific eliminate close-in first class award redemptions for partners.
Expect this trend to continue…
With Malaysia having eliminated first class, Cathay Pacific only releasing one seat in advance, Qantas and American rarely releasing space, British Airways remains the only source for multiple first class award seats. That’s a sad turn for oneworld mileage holders and for the future of partner redemptions. On a happier note, you can still book JAL first class awards via partner programs through March 31, 2021.
Note this all may be a glitch or just a seasonal issue. We may see partner award space open up closer to travel. Mark this story as developing.
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> Read More: Japan Airlines 777-300ER First Class Review
> Read More: Why JAL First Class Was The Best Flight Of My Life