Let me preface this post by saying that I have never collected or redeemed JAL Miles before but I am okay at researching travel and travel redemptions so I’m gonna give this a shot.

In the Call for Topics Post, PointsNerd reader Allan asked the following:

I am collecting SPG points to try and fly Emirates first class through JAL because Alaska went crazy and raised their prices overnight. Can you do a walkthrough on how to redeem Japan Mileage Bank miles? and also how to check Emirates first class availability? The JAL – JMB site is so confusing and I’ve never redeemed miles for flights so I’m nervous about transferring and not being able to book anything. Been only collecting for about a year and a half and only ever redeemed points for hotel rooms before. Thanks!

Like I said, this is new to me but I am going to do my damnedest to help Allan with his particular question.  If I do get something wrong, please feel free to comment below with information and I will update the post accordingly.

JAL Mileage Bank

JAL Mileage Bank (JMB) is the loyalty program for Japan Air Lines (JAL) and while it is not easy to earn the points through flying with JAL, you can transfer to JAL via Starwood Preferred Guest (SPG) points.

The transfer ratio of SPG to JMB is 1:1 and as with all SPG transfers, if you transfer 20,000 SPG at a time, you receive an additional 5,000 airline miles.  So if Allan transferred 40,000 SPG, he would receive 2 bonuses of 5,000 for a total of 50,000 JMBs.

Transfer Times

Transfers from SPG to JMB take some time … in fact, it can take upwards of 6 days according to our friends over at FlyerTalk.

Japan Airlines (JL) Initiated: Tue 8 Dec 2015 | Received: Mon 14 Dec 2015
Japan Airlines (JL) Initiated: Fri 27 May 2016 14:00 | Received: Mon 30 May 2016 16:00 (including verification email from SPG security)
Japan Airlines (JL) Initiated: Fri 25 Nov 2016 | Received: Mon 28 Nov 2016
Japan Airlines (JL) Initiated: Wed 01 Feb 2017 | Received: Fri 03 Feb 2017

While it seems that most transfers take 2-3 days, keep in mind that it can take longer so be aware of that fact when you are planning your redemption.

JMB Partner Redemption Chart

JAL uses a distance based chart and from a lot of the comments I have read, provides the best redemption value for flights with Emirates (EK).

I am showing the award chart below but if you happen to be reading this post years in the future, be sure to search for the newest chart because it has likely changed.


Miles Flown

In terms of how to calculate the miles flown and thus the number of JMBs you need to redeem, you will need to use GCMap.com (know your airport codes) or you can use JALs handy calculator.

In terms of accuracy, I would rely on the JAL calculator because that’s what JAL will use but the margin of error between the two is minuscule.



JAL Routing Rules for Partner Redemptions

The full rules of partner redemptions on JAL can be found on JALs website here but I will attempt to break down the rules for you.

  • One way awards are allowed
  • On round trip awards, you cannot route through your point of origin to obtain a “free one-way”.  For example, a SYD-DXB-SYD-AKL routing would not be allowed because you are routing through your point of origin.  Some airlines allow this which basically gives you a “free one-way” because while you are booking a round trip from SYD-DXB-SYD, that extra leg at the end (which can be flown up to 364 days after in some cases) allows for a free SYD-AKL flight.  Unfortunately, that is not allowed with JAL.
  • You are allowed a maximum of 8 segments with 7 stopovers on a single award redemption (this is a HUGE benefit)
  • You cannot stop over in the same city twice
  • Infants and children are charged the same mileage as adults (big bummer … especially the infant part)

Annoyingly, JAL’s website features a broken link to specific blackout dates and rules for Emirates.  So while I am trying to provide as much detail as possible, I just can’t help but feel there’s information out there that this post won’t cover (not for lack of trying) but might be of utmost importance.

Finding Award Availability

I am basing the following on anecdotal evidence that I have collected online but it seems that the best resource to find the correct availability for Emirates flights is through the Qantas website.  FlyerTalk users are reporting that when they call in, the JAL agents were seeing the same availability that they see on the Qantas site.

The Qantas site is a breeze to use to search for award availability but you will need to open a free Qantas Frequent Flyer account.  Once you do, navigate to the search page and start your search.

QF Award Search

When you do your search, make sure you check off Search Classic Flight Rewards in the bottom left corner so that you are searching for awards on partner airlines, which Emirates is.

If you check off the Flexible with Dates box, you will be given a calendar of availability.  This is a much easier way to search.

QF Class of Service

You will be then taken to a page where you can search based on the class of service.  Allan is looking for First Class only so let’s check that off.

QF Availability F

As you can see, having the calendar makes it a lot easier to see when you can fly but be aware, Qantas has other partners that might fly this route so let’s choose a date and go to the next page.

EK Availability on F

We found availability with Emirates!

If you click on the flight number, you will get details on the plane and with EK, you want to fly the A380 or the 777 to get the suite service.  Keep in mind that only the A380 features the shower in First Class.

EK A380 Availability

All in all, finding availability is pretty easy through Qantas and if the reports are correct that the JAL agents see the same availability as what Qantas shows, then booking should be simple.

Word of Caution

FlyerTalk user hyperzulu reports that if you ask the JAL agent to search for availability on a particular route, it is temporarily removed from inventory.

FT hyperzulu

This means that if you know you want to fly on April 17th, don’t ask if it’s available and then ask if April 19th is available.  Once they search April 17th, it is “held” for a short period so that others cannot book it.  Even the agent that looked at it initially will not be able to see it again until it is released back into inventory.

If you do manage to not heed my warning, don’t fret.  Just call back in 30 minutes to an hour and the availability should be there again … assuming nobody booked that flight.

The best thing to do is to figure out your dates and tell the JAL agent the exact dates, times and flight numbers you want to book.

How to Book

Booking a JAL partner award is pretty straight forward.  You can book award travel 330 days prior to the date of travel and it must be done over the phone.  It is not possible to book your partner award online so you are forced to call JAL.

The JAL contact centre number for North America is 1-800-525-3663 but if you want a full listing of contact centre numbers, you can refer to their directory page.


Without having a route and calling in, it’s difficult to know exactly what your taxes are going to be on an award ticket but if JALs example for taxes is any indication, it’s very affordable on Emirates … not so for other airlines like Air France or British Airways.JL Taxes on EK

Earning Points

As I had mentioned early on in the post, the only realistic way of collecting JAL miles is to get them through an SPG transfer and the only way to get SPG points is to either stay at SPG properties or through the American Express SPG Personal or American Express SPG Business cards.

In truth, I’m a huge fan of SPG points but not a huge fan of how difficult it is to collect them … but I guess that’s part of why they are so valuable.  If you are on the fence about SPG points, I would say that you should stay on the fence unless you have a specific redemption in mind that you cannot get through Aeroplan or Membership Rewards as those currencies are much easier to earn.

If you are like Allan and want to take a shower in the sky (I know I do), then collecting SPG and then ultimately transferring to an airline makes a lot of sense.  As Allan alluded to in his comment, Alaska (through Emirates’ prompting) doubled the number of miles overnight for redemptions.

If you are interested in understanding more about the power of SPG points, take a read through my review of the AMEX SPG Personal Card and the AMEX SPG Business Card.

If you do end up signing up for the AMEX SPG card, I would love if you could use my referral link.  Everything is exactly the same as if you signed up directly through AMEX … you would just really help keep this blog going.

Let me know in the comments below if I made a mistake or glossed over anything that was of significance.



Jayce is the founder of PointsNerd, and avid traveller and a teacher by nature. He prides himself on flattening the learning curve through step-by-step guides because everyone needs to start somewhere.


  1. Wow! Thanks a lot Jayce! So much info is awesome. I didn’t know you could check EK awards on Qantas. Will have to do some research and find dates that work and then transfer my spg points(and hope they are not snagged before I can book)! I assume for the stopovers I can just tell the operator that I want to stopover how many days and such? Excited to finally book a reward flight!

    • Hi Allan, no problem! Love helping.

      To answer your question, you should be able to tell the agent that you want a stopover and it should be no problem. Cheers


      • Jayce!
        I just wanted to give you an update on my first award booking. It was a success! I managed to convert 80 000spg points to 100 000JMB miles and book a flight from JFK to BKK with stopovers in Milan and Dubai. I’m really looking forward to the 3 showers on each flight. Thanks so much again for all your help. I’m so excited for my trip! I’ve never flown First or even Business before!

        • Congrats Allan! Super pumped for you and actually kinda really jealous. I’ve never had a chance to fly Emirates or Etihad so I’ve never gotten a shower at 40,000 ft. Have a great time!


          • Sorry for the late reply David. Did not see your comment until now. It was just as Jayce said ~$78 USD. But I think they changed the taxes and fees last week and it depends on the city departure. I think NYC is over $1500 in fees now. yikes!
            Also, I just came back from my trip. It was fantastic!! First time flying First class and EK was outstanding on all three flights. Not sure how I can go back to economy now LoL. Gonna have to start my points collection again for another vacation.

            Thanks again Jayce!

  2. Jayce, this blog is great. Has quickly become one of the best Canadian travel blogs, and I always appreciate how up-front you are about when a link might benefit you personally. (And for that reason, I will have no problem clicking through when the time comes!)

    A quick question: You said, “On round trip awards, you cannot route through your point of origin to obtain a ‘free one-way'” and you go on to say that there are some airlines which do allow this. Can you share some of the airlines that do allow it? While I was booking an award last week, I asked the Aeroplan agent about doing this and she said it was not allowed, but I didn’t actually ask her to try putting it in to see what would happen, so I can’t be 100% sure that Aeroplan actually disallows it.

    Anyways, thanks again!

  3. Hey Sean,

    Thanks for your kind comments. I try to keep the blog as transparent as possible and I always hope to keep it that way.

    In terms of answering your question, I’m afraid I can’t name the airlines that allow for this type of routing but I have anecdotal heard stories of it as a possibility.

    Drew from Travel Is Free posted an interesting story about how you can book something very similar to what you are after with Alaska miles. Check it out here:


    Hope this helps! Cheers


    • Thanks. I knew I had read about this type of thing somewhere before as well, and this blog post could very well have been it. I’ll have to search around and see if there was something else.


  4. Great post!

    Is this still available to be booked? There have been headlines recently about a JAL program change correct?

    I am hoping to book this here in about a month for the JFK-MXP route. It will be one way awards, but any idea if the taxes/fees will be higher if it originates in Europe/MXP?

    Also, whats the availability like for two people? Am I am going to have a hard time trying to find it for two people in the July/high travel season?


    • Hi Mark,

      Yes, this is still a something that can be booked with JAL Miles. There is a change in the award chart scheduled for October 1, 2017 but it only affects award flights from 0-1,000 miles and 8,001-10,000 miles. The JFK-MXP route is only 3,996 miles so it is unaffected by the change.

      For the taxes, it depends on the European airport you are using to get to MXP. If you use LHR (London) or anywhere in the UK, it’s probably going to be more than a JFK-MXP in taxes but again, it’s highly dependent on the airport you use in Europe.

      Availability is decent for summer. As an example, I just took a look and found 2 F seats available on 7/16/17, 7/24/17 and 8/5/17 for JFK-MXP on Emirates A380. If you have some flexibility, you should be able to find some availability.

      Hope this helps. Cheers


      • Hi Jayce!

        Love that you respond to comments! Great stuff!

        Final question for you about this booking….Is it going to be 50,000 JAL miles to redeem the one way award MXP-JFK? Or would it only be 45,000 JAL miles? I am getting confused, because I am using their mileage calculator which says the route is 4007 miles as the crow flies. According to the award chart, that still falls into the distance bucket for the 90,000k JAL miles round trip, or 45k one way.


        • Hi Mark,

          Round trip or one way doesn’t matter for these types of awards, it’s the total distance. GCMaps shows it as 3,996 miles but JAL’s calculator shows 4,007 miles and my guess is that they’ll use the JAL calculation. As an aside, the difference is made up because JAL uses city centre as the calculation and GCMap uses the airport location. The difference between the centre of NYC and JFK certainly would explain the difference.

          The cost of for your flight with EK using JAL miles would be 65,000 miles if you went JFK-MXP (4,007 miles) and 100,000 if you went JFK-MXP-JFK (8,014 miles). Hope that clarifies it for you. Cheers


          • Great info! Thank you!

            A bit disappointed, since I thought the award chart was showing round trip costs. I was taking the amounts on the award chart and cutting them in half for the one way cost. Assumed that the cost would be 45k or 50k per person for MXP-JFK…Disappointing to here is 65k…


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