Booked for April 2022: Business class flights to Japan on JAL worth $19,000!

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Late on a Saturday night, I ran award searches on the American Airlines site, as one does. Tokyo is one of my favorite places on this planet, and I found business class flights on JAL for only 60,000 miles each way – and dates were (are!) wide open in April 2022.

So, I took “AAdvantage” of Citi’s limited-time partnership with American and transferred Citi ThankYou points to American miles – to book two nonstop round-trip flights in the middle of cherry blossom season.

japan airline business class seat

Here’s hoping this works!

I haven’t flown – anywhere – since March 2020, and this will likely be my next international trip. Japan isn’t open for travel now, but who knows where the world will be in eight months. American’s cancelation policy is flexible, so there’s nothing to lose.

The best part? I’m (hopefully) going for an entire month. And these flights would’ve cost nearly $19,000 had I paid cash!

Japan 2022 in JAL business class

I’ve flown JAL business class before, so I mostly know what to expect (though that was pre-covid). The biggest X-factor here is whether Japan will be open for travel by April 2022. That’s eight months away – and over two years since the country closed to foreigners.

When the news broke that Citi ThankYou points would transfer to American Airlines through November 13, 2021, I got curious about what was available. In my searches, I noticed several nonstop flights to Japan landing at Haneda (HND) instead of Narita (NRT), which is much closer to Tokyo. When I pulled up the monthly calendar, award flights were wide open in April and May 2022.

Still available!

As I write this, there are still tons of nonstop award flights available – many with multiple seats in business class.

For two nonstop round-trip flights, I needed 240,000 miles but only had 140,000 miles in my American account. Luckily, American allows you to place partner award flights on hold for 5 days if booked 14 days before departure, which was plenty of time to transfer the extra 100,000 miles from my Citi ThankYou account. I initiated the transfer on Sunday night and they were in my account on Tuesday morning.

Boom

Plus, thanks to my Citi Rewards+ card, I got 10% of my Citi ThankYou points right back in my account!

Ticketing the “on request” flights through American

My friend and I are both flying there JFK-HND. He is flying back HND-JFK and I’m flying HND-DFW (I’m loving these nonstops from HND). After making the transfer from Citi ThankYou points to American miles, I had a little over 240,000 miles in my American account – more than enough for these flights.

I booked my friend’s flights as a round-trip ticket (JFK-HND) and 120,000 miles came out instantly. The taxes and fees for round-trip flights are only ~$55, and that was charged to my credit card immediately.

But then, the AA site was being glitchy when I tried to book a multi-city award for JFK-HND-DFW, so I had to book two one-way flights, which is fine. These two segments were “on request” for about 5 days. I started getting nervous.

I called American and they assured me it would be fine. Another couple of days passed. The tickets were still “on request.”

I was getting a bit anxious

So I reached out to the Twitter team and they told me the same thing. I figured I’d forget about it and let the ticketing department do what they do.

My road from “On request” to “Ticketed”

  • I transferred the ThankYou points on Sunday, August 8
  • The American miles showed up on Tuesday, August 10
  • My return segment HND-DFW was ticketed on Monday, August 16
  • My departing segment JFK-HND was ticked on Monday, August 23

Over two weeks until I was fully ticketed. Point being – if your ticket is “on request,” just wait it out. It seems like things are taking longer than usual across the board, so I wanted to share my timeline for reference.

These flights are worth $19,000 in cash

My friend’s flights are $9,426.

And mine are $9,128.

That’s a combined cost of $18,554. Using 240,000 points/miles divides to nearly 8 cents per point in value, which is an excellent deal.

And really, because I got 10,000 of those points back, the points are worth that much more for this trip. Can’t wait to be back in Japan – hopefully soon.

It’s free to cancel

Last year, American stopped charging reinstatement fees for canceled award flights. And because I can cancel them on AA.com, the miles will be instantly redeposited if I can’t go.

So while I’d love for these flights to work out, I can always save them for when Japan does open (assuming I have to push the trip back). For this reason, I had zero hesitation about booking.

But gosh, it would burn to have to cancel this. A month in Japan would be an absolute dream.

AA transfers make the Citi Premier 80K offer that much better

For a limited time, the Citi Premier card is offering 80,000 Citi ThankYou points after spending $4,000 in purchases with your card within the first 3 months of account opening – a best-ever offer that I personally value for at least $1,600.

Considering the flights I booked were $4,500 each way and only required 60,000 points, it’s clear this welcome offer can be worth much, much more. And with my booking example, 60,000 points would get you a one-way business class flight to Japan – and you’d still have 20,000 points to put toward another flight.

Looking forward to international travel again!

The Citi Premier is one of the best all-around travel rewards card because you earn 3 points per dollar spent on:

  • Restaurants for dining out
  • Gas stations for fuel and snacks
  • Supermarkets for groceries
  • Air travel
  • Hotels

That’s a huge number of bonus categories from one card. There’s a $95 annual fee, but between the bonus categories and welcome offer, it’s well worth opening and keeping long-term. It’s available with my links (available throughout the site) through CardRatings, which is an Out and Out partner. Thank you for using them to apply! ✨

Bottom line

There are lots of routes available with American Airlines right now. When I saw nonstops to Japan in business class, I booked without a second thought because of American’s easy cancelation policies. And if it works out, I’ll hopefully spend all of April 2022 in one of my favorite countries, enjoying the food, culture, sights, and springtime cherry blossoms. 🌸

Another reason it was so easy to book was because Citi ThankYou points transfer to American for a limited time, and the fact that American allows you place partner awards on hold for up to 5 days.

I just about lost my mind seeing the tickets “on request” for over two weeks, but now that they’re booked, I’m hoping the world clears up in the next 8 months. Not letting myself get too excited just yet, but… it would be really cool.

If you don’t have a Citi Premier card, now is the time. Between a highest-ever welcome offer, AA transfers through November 13, 2021, and incredibly useful 3x bonus categories, now is a great time to get into ThankYou points.

What about you? Any trips planned? Would you speculatively book a trip right now, or are you waiting for the official all-clear? 

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About Harlan

Digital nomad living on the road and working toward financial independence.

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Comments

  1. Nice – might still be Sakura season in the northern island. We are currently scheduled to be over in March-April after two cancelled trips scheduled for 2020 and 2021. Unfortunately our previous flights on Japanese carriers were cancelled and its all Swiss and Turkish now. Real bad situation over there now as they found contamination in several lots of vaccine and have halted much of the vaccination effort. My Japanese SO follows the Japanese media closely.

    • I heard about that toooo. I really hope they can sort it out and expedite the vaccinations there. Here’s hoping we are able to go! Thank you for reading and commenting.

  2. I have ana J and F booked for march from SFO to HND (might be nrt). I’m quickly losing hope that the trip will happen. Starting to look at alternatives.

  3. Kudos!!! I had JAL and ANA flights to Tokyo back in July 2020 and July 2021 but sadly had to cancel both since Japan wasn’t allowing foreign tourists both times. I hope your flights will go through.

    • Ugh, I hate having to cancel. Here’s hoping we can get a handle on covid in the next 8 months. It wouldn’t surprise me if this situation keeps dragging out for over two years, as much as that pains me to say. But also, a lot can happen in 8 months. We’ll see how it plays out. Thank you, Joey!

  4. “These flights are worth $19,000 in cash”

    No they are not. If they were, you would be able to cancel them and get a check for $19,000. Bravo for getting them and I hope they will bring you as much joy as $19,000 otherwise might

    • For me, a combination of extra price for two tickets plus uncertainty about being able to actually go. And tbh, I’d love to fly over on ANA instead if that’s a possibility.

  5. Same destination for my wife and I. We booked an one way biz class ticket from CMH to HND thru 60k AA miles person on JAL biz class in June next year. Fingers crossed that Japan will open up by then.

  6. JL J is such a great time compared to some other carriers. Which plane and which J cabin is it? Love their enclosed suites. It can get boiling hot if you’re on the sunny side of the plane, so try to be on the opposite side.

    Have you started looking at a tentative itinerary yet? Coming to Yokosuka? Quick/cheap train ride south from Tokyo *wink*wink*

    State of emergency here is supposed to end Sept 12th, but it will most definitely get extended. Really missing dine in restaurants these days. For us we can only do take away and have an 8pm curfew. JP PM saying that they expect to have everyone fully vaccinated by Oct/Nov, and lately things are looking good as they’re around 52% fully vaccinated and in 21 days another 10% should be fully vaccinated.

    https://thediplomat.com/2021/08/japans-covid-19-vaccination-drive-success-is-an-opportunity-for-global-leadership/

    Sakura forecast from last season, but should be similar for 2022. It’s an absolute madhouse, so I’d strongly suggest getting out of at least Tokyo. We couldn’t even walk around the Nakameguro river area before Covid. So many stunning spots in Japan in general. A month will be super easy to fill up.

    https://www.japan-guide.com/sakura/

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