I’ve been really behind with the blog lately that I didn’t even get a chance to post the trip review on our last 2 travel-hacking flights from Asia-US-Asia.
However if you are curious, we did fly Asiana Airlines Business Class from Jakarta to Los Angeles via Seoul and I’ve reviewed the flight experience from a previous flight I took solo and had only spent USD 36 per seat to book the 20-hour+ flight.
Flying back from the US, we had purchased the cheapest economy ticket flying United Airlines from San Francisco to Singapore for only USD 500 and used 30,000 miles to upgrade to United Polaris Business Class. If we were to purchase the seat outright, it would have cost us over USD 2,000 per seat for a one-way trip.
Waiting to get upgraded to United Polaris was one of the most agonizing ‘waitlist’ experience we had to go through due to the extra layover, multiple check-in process and lack of information of our upgrade status. We were finally upgraded at the gate just 10 minutes before we boarded the plane!
Honestly, at that point we had very low expectations but it turns out there were only our family of 4 on the upgrade list, whereas the United App was showing there were another 10 people on the list – which we were told it was a computer error (WTF).
Booking Japan Airlines Award Flight
This time around, I had a good amount of points sitting in my Starwood Preferred Guest (SPG) Account and with the transfer ratio of 1:1 to JAL, plus a 5,000 bonus miles for every 20,000 miles transferred to partner airlines, it was a no-brainer that it is time to put these points into some good use.
To redeem a one-way flight in business class between Tokyo and Jakarta requires 40,000 JAL Miles and booking an award seat had been made easy by JAL Online.
- 35,000 SPG star points into JAL Mileage Bank to convert into 40,000 miles (thanks to 5,000 SPG conversion bonus points)
- The miles became available in my JAL Mileage bank in 5 working days.
JAL Mileage Bank also allows redemption for family members which is convenient as I needed to redeem a seat for my son.
The required amount of miles between Tokyo and Jakarta using JAL Mileage Bank are:
- Economy – 17,500 miles
- Premium Economy – 25,000 miles
- Business – 40,000 miles
Booking an Award Flight on Japan Airlines for a Child
In this case, because my husband and I had already purchased a promo-business class ticket with JAL, I only had to book for an award seat for my son.
All online airline booking engine system would not allow a child ticket to be booked/issued without an accompanying adult within the same booking.
So in order for me to book for my son’s award seat, I had to call the local JAL Office in Jakarta.
Bear in mind, when you are waitlisted on a JAL flight for an Award Seat, the waitlist will expire in 7 days, so if you do not get your waitlist confirmed then you need to re-register again and again every 7 days until you are confirmed.
What was pleasant is that there was never any wait when I call the Jakarta office and it would connect me to an agent straight away.
I was helped by Ibu Momoko, an Indonesian-speaking Japanese who was always courteous and helpful everytime I’m on a call with her. I highly recommend talking to her if you ever need help in Award Reservations from the JAL Jakarta Office.
I had waitlisted my son on a flight from Narita to Jakarta about 1.5 months prior to departure so yes I was on the phone with Ibu Momoko almost every week until I finally got the seat confirmed, 2 weeks before departure.
So I was super relieved when the waitlist finally came through. In the past I’ve seen that JAL would release additional business class award seats a few weeks prior to departure so this made total sense.
For this booking, I had to pay the taxes and surcharges of about USD 83 (IDR 1,018,000) and by making the reservation on the phone, there is an additional booking fee of IDR 200,000.
Definitely worth it for a seat that would go for USD 2,000 if you were to purchase one-way.