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Ratings & Reviews

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Japan Airlines (JAL) Mileage Bank

(36 ratings)


This program was reviewed and rated by our editors in October 2010. Changes in the program past this date are possible, especially program partner information. We recommend you subscribe to the #1 source of frequent flyer information, Inside Flyer Magazine, to get the most current information possible.

Big in Japan

Japan Airlines (JAL) is Japan's flag carrier and has not only grown to be one of the largest carriers in the Asia-Pacific region, but was also featured in a manga that was adapted for popular television programs in Japan where viewers followed the training of JAL flight attendants.

JAL is also a member of the oneworld alliance. The airline announced its intention to join oneworld in October 2005 and came on board along with Malev and Royal Jordanian in April 2007. JAL and its oneworld affiliates operate flights to 88 destinations in 18 countries and territories.



Miles flown on JAL are credited based on mileage and fare class purchased. Certain discount economy fares earn only 50 percent of the miles flown. Other economy fares earn 70 or 100 percent of the miles flown. Some business class fares earn 70 percent however, most earn 125 percent. First class fares earn 150 percent of the miles flown.

Members can also earn miles when flying airline partners and through co-branded credit cards, hotel stays, car rentals, parking, shopping and karaoke, among other mileage earning activities.



Mileage Bank members can redeem miles for flights throughout the world and for upgrades, travel coupons and more. Standard domestic roundtrip flights in Zone A (i.e. between Tokyo and Osaka) are 12,000 miles; in Zone B (i.e. between Tokyo and Sapporo) awards are 15,000 miles and in Zone C (i.e. between Tokyo and Miyako) awards are 20,000 miles. If members want to fly in J class, it will require an extra 2,000 miles per sector.

Award flights to international destinations are divided into nine areas and start at 15,000 miles roundtrip (between Japan and Busan or Seoul). Award flights to Asia 1 from Japan (includes Hong Kong, China, Manila and other areas) are 20,000 in coach, 40,000 in business (Executive class) and 60,000 in first class. Flights between Japan and North America (Los Angeles, San Francisco, New York, Chicago and Vancouver) are 50,000 in coach, 65,000 in Premium Economy, 80,000 in Executive class and 110,000 miles in first class. Award flights between Japan and Europe range from 55,000 to 120,000 miles depending on class flown. International upgrade awards are also offered and range from 20,000 to 110,000 miles. Fuel surcharges can apply as well as taxes and fees. Members may also spend their miles on partner airline flights.

Another way to spend miles is through the JAL Coupon awards. These Coupons can be used as full or partial payment for JAL flight tickets, in-flight duty free purchases, hotel stays, package tours and shopping. JAL Coupons are available from 20,000 miles (a 30,000 yen value). Requests for more than 20,000 miles may be made in increments of 10,000 miles. "Cash plus miles" awards are not offered (although the JAL Coupon awards are similar to miles plus cash to get an award).



Japan Airlines is one of 11 oneworld alliance members along with American Airlines, British Airways, Cathay Pacific, Finnair, Iberia, LAN, Malev, Mexicana (currently not flying), Qantas and Royal Jordanian. Along with oneworld partners, JAL Mileage Bank partners with Air France, Emirates and China Eastern. Members who fly partner airlines earn up to 150 percent of miles flown based on the fare booked. Some discount economy fares do not earn miles while other economy fares earn between 25-100 percent of the miles flown; most business class fares earn 125 percent of the miles flown, and first class, 150 percent.

Members can earn miles when staying at over 14,000 participating hotels worldwide and mileage is credited per night, per stay or in terms of the amount spent for your accommodation. There are too many hotel brand partners to list here; but some of the hotel partners are Starwood, Marriott, Hilton, InterContinental Hotels Group and Hyatt, among many others, with many offering 500 miles per stay. Nikko Hotels International and Hotel JAL City offer between 200 and 2,000 miles per night.

Japan Airlines offers co-branded credit cards where members earn miles through credit card spend. In Japan, the Premium credit card offers one mile for 100 yen spent at participating stores except at contract stores, where cardholderss earn two miles for 100 yen spent. Members in the U.S. can sign up for the JAL USA CARD credit card tied to U.S. dollars to earn miles. The fee for the dollar-based card is $20 per year with the first year's fee waived during a current campaign period through Sept. 30, 2011. Customers are offered two reward options--Basic Rewards earning one mile for every $2 spent Premium Rewards earning one mile for every $1 spent with an annual fee of $50 for the upgrade. Members who reside in the U.S. and who also have a bank account in Japan can also apply for the yen-based credit card.

Car rental partners for rentals outside of Japan include Avis (100 miles per day's rental, maximum 1,000 miles per rental), Hertz (50 miles per day's rental) and Dollar (300 miles per rental). For car rentals within Japan there are several partners including Toyota Rent A Car, Nissan Rent A Car, ORIX Rent A Car, Rent-A-Car Japaren, Mazda Rent A Car, Fuji Rent A Car and JR Hokkaido Rent A Lease, with all offering one mile per 100 yen spent on a rental. There are many more ways that members can earn miles, including (in Japan) cell phone rentals, duty free and online shopping, parking, wedding receptions, beauty treatments and more.

Among the most interesting ways to earn miles is through a medical checkup (500 miles for a day checkup or 1,500 miles for an overnight stay), driving lessons (500 miles per course) and participating in Karaoke booths in Japan (two miles per 100 yen spent). Members in the U.S. can earn one mile per $2 spent when shopping online at Bargain Japan (www.usfl.com/) or www.fujisan.com.

Members in Japan can transfer American Express Membership Rewards points for miles and have several other options for points to miles transfers with Japanese companies such as NICOS Card, UC Card, OMC Card and others.

While there is not a permanent program set up for donating miles to charities, JMB periodically offers promotional campaigns whereby members can donate miles. Examples of past promotions include donating miles to help eradicate vaccine-preventable diseases, donating miles to support Special Olympics and donating miles to support JAL "Eco" or green projects.



Members earn FLY ON points that count toward earning elite status when flying JAL Group flights or oneworld member airlines. Domestic flights within Japan earn two FLY ON points per mile flown while international flights earn one point per mile flown. JAL Group flights flown between Japan and Hong Kong or China earn 1.5 points per mile flown. The elite-level program features four tiers: Crystal, Sapphire, JGC Premier and Diamond.

The lowest level elite, Crystal, is attained when you earn 30,000 FLY ON points in a calendar year or have boarded at least 30 eligible flights of 10,000 FLY ON points on JAL Group or oneworld member airline flights. Benefits include priority check-in, waitlisting, standby and boarding (international flights only), an additional 50 percent sector bonus miles on JAL Group flights, lounge access for domestic Japan flights when presenting lounge coupon (obtained when redeeming 5,000 miles for five coupons), one additional piece of luggage can be checked for free (up to 10kg) and priority baggage service is offered when traveling in J class. An upgrade points system is in place for members to use the upgrade points they earn for upgrades. When you earn Crystal status, you get 10 upgrade points and then every time you earn an additional 10,000 FLY ON points or board an additional 10 flights, you'll get two more upgrade points. Upgrades range from two to 12 upgrade points per upgrade. Crystal members also receive oneworld Ruby status.

The next elite-level step up, Sapphire, is attained when you earn 50,000 FLY ON points in a calendar year or have boarded at least 50 eligible flights of 15,000 FLY ON points on JAL Group or oneworld member airline flights. Along with all the benefits afforded to Crystal members, Sapphire members earn 100 percent sector bonus miles on JAL Group flights, 20 upgrade points instead of 10, are offered a security fast lane and can take one companion with them for airport lounge access, or up to three when presenting a lounge coupon per companion (two lounge coupons can be obtained for 4,000 miles). Priority baggage service is offered along with up to two extra pieces of luggage checked for free (up to 20kg). Sapphire members can also redeem 4,000 miles for six class J coupons valid on JAL group airlines domestic flights (valid for member, spouse or first- or second-degree relative of member). Sapphire members receive oneworld Sapphire status.

The second highest tier, JGC Premier, is attained when you earn 80,000 FLY ON points in a calendar year or have boarded at least 80 eligible flights of 25,000 FLY ON points on JAL Group or oneworld member airline flights. Extended benefits include assigned forward seats for domestic flights, award reservations available two weeks before other members, miles will not expire when you are a Premier member, access to first class airport lounges along with three free lounge coupons and 30 upgrade points upon attaining Premier status. Members can also choose from several benefit options such as upgrades, first class lounge passes and more. Premier members receive oneworld's highest elite status, Emerald.

The highest elite-level tier, Diamond, is attained when you earn 100,000 FLY ON points in a calendar year or have boarded at least 120 eligible flights of 35,000 FLY ON points on JAL Group or oneworld member airline flights. Diamond members receive all the benefits of other elite members plus 125 percent sector bonus miles on JAL Group flights and 40 upgrade points upon gaining Diamond status; and naturally, Diamond members are at the top of the pecking order when it comes to priority boarding, baggage claim and more.

There is no documented lifetime elite status offered as part of the JAL Mileage Bank program.



Miles earned are valid until the end of the 36th month after the transaction date unless you are a Premier or Diamond elite member.

With an annual membership fee of $30 (varies depending on country of residence), members can set up a family account to pool their mileage earning. The JAL Family Club allows members to join as a family to earn towards awards plus get special offers.

Missing credit can be claimed within six months after the transaction. Requests for partner miles credit must be requested by sending necessary documents to the JMB Center.

Awards issued for children and infants require the same mileage as those issued for adults. JAL Coupons are valid for 13 months. Awards have posted blackout dates.

Regardless of who uses an award, the member must contact the JMB award reservations desk to redeem an award unless a proxy has been assigned to the member. Awards can be given to family members (from grandmother-in-law to grandchildren) only.

Mileage for unused flight awards can be reinstated for 3,000 miles or local currency equivalent of 3,000 yen (approximately $35). Miles cannot be purchased.



Members can access information about the program via the Web site. You can also call local customer service telephone numbers or a 24-hour automated telephone service. Members we've heard from have been pleased with the customer service they receive from the program. Our call to the U.S. service center was answered in just under five minutes, after going through an automated menu, and the representative was professional and helpful.



Members from different areas of the world have access to Web sites aimed for residents of their area with a selection of different languages. Members can check their mileage balance and redeem awards online as well as learn about recent bonus offers.

Members report good award availability and if you live in Japan, you are privy to good bonus promotions. The family program allows members of a family to pool their miles. Service support is good.

Members cannot claim award flights for anyone they choose--awards can be given to family members only. The program is seen as not as lucrative if you do not live in Japan and economy flights usually offer less than 100 percent of the miles flown. Program is more complicated than many with FLY ON points, upgrade points and miles all as different currencies.

In Japan, the JAL Mileage Bank Center can be reached at 2-4-11, Higashi-Shinagawa, Shinagawa-Ku, Tokyo 140-8625, or call 0120-747-039, from 9:00-5:30 except Sat., Sun. and holidays. An automated service is available 24 hours.

In North America:
300 Continental Blvd., Suite 401, El Segundo, Calif., 90245 or call 1-800-JAL-MILE (1-800-525-6453) daily, 8:00-9:00 ET.

  Earning Ability Award Choices Partnerships Elite-Level Rules & Conditions Service Support Online Services Overall Rating
7.50 7.50 8.00 8.00 6.50 8.00 7.00 7.50
6 5.83 6.11 6.44 5.58 6.22 6.08 6.03

(36 ratings)


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