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Wednesday, March 14, 2012

[UPDATED] JAL Mileage Project 2012 Update

[Updated with English link of priority award flights and comments at the end] promised, Japan Airlines (JAL) has provided us yet another update on JAL Mileage Project 2012/JAL Mileage Bank (JMB) today. And as expected, this is a relatively small announcement targeted mainly to Japan region members (you could tell when there was no announcements coming soon on March 14 2012 on the English page right :P). The three JMB program enhancements are:


1. Award redemption priority on popular resort routes
2. Extra partners for non-flight award redemptions
3. WAON enhancement specific to JCB cardholders


Award Redemption Priority on Popular Resort Routes
JAL will identify some popular resort flights and give priority to award redemptions. It looks like for domestic awards, as long as there are economy class seats available on these flights, you will be able to redeem for an award tickets on these flights. I am still a bit unclear about the international award redemption side, it mentions priority will be given to award redemption without mentioning specifics like it does on the domestic side.

Surprisingly part of this new announcement was already "leaked" last week as JMB FLY ON status members (and JAL Global Club members, JAL Card holders) were given advanced notice on redemption priority/opportunity on these flights. At that time I thought it was simply an advanced redemption opportunity when I saw the word "priority" but turns out it is something more though I am still not 100% clear on what it means LOL

Below are the domestic flights with redemption priorities between April and June 2012. Flight schedules shown are for April-May flights only. June schedule will be confirmed at time of redemption (JAL doesn't allow domestic award redemption for regular members and low/mid-tier elites more than 2 months in advanced):

Tokyo Haneda (HND) - Okinawa Naha (OKA)
JL919 HND 14:45 - OKA 17:25
JL921 HND 15:45 - OKA 18:25
JL923 HND 16:30 - OKA 19:10

Okinawa Naha (OKA) - Tokyo Haneda (HND)
JL902 OKA 10:00 - HND 12:15
JL906 OKA 11:35 - HND 13:50
JL908 OKA 12:15 - HND 14:30

Tokyo Haneda (HND) - Sapporo New Chitose (CTS)
JL519 HND 14:30 - CTS 16:00
JL521 HND 15:30 - CTS 17:00
JL531 HND 20:30 - CTS 22:00

Sapporo New Chitose (CTS) - Tokyo Haneda (HND)
JL506 CTS 11:00 - HND 12:35
JL510 CTS 13:00 - HND 14:35
JL528 CTS 21:00 - HND 22:35


Next update of domestic priority award flights will be announced at around the end of April 2012.

Below are the schedules of the targeted international flights for priority award redemptions for both free tickets and upgrade award around Golden Week. JAL will announce more targeted flights later for travels around peak summer and winter travel seasons. Schedules shown below are subject to regulatory approval.

Tokyo Narita to Honolulu
JL8090 APR 24, 2012 NRT 19:10 - HNL 07:30 767-300ER
JL8090 MAY 05, 2012 NRT 19:10 - HNL 07:30 767-300ER

Honolulu to Tokyo Narita
JL8099 APR 28, 2012 HNL 09:00 - NRT 12:45+1 767-300ER
JL8099 MAY 09, 2012 HNL 09:00 - NRT 12:45+1 767-300ER

Tokyo Narita to Guam
JL8949 APR 26, 2012 NRT 21:20 - GUM 02:00 767-300ER
JL8949 MAY 05, 2012 NRT 21:20 - GUM 02:00 767-300ER

Guam to Tokyo Narita
JL8940 APR 30, 2012 GUM 04:15 - NRT 07:00 767-300ER*
JL8940 MAY 09, 2012 GUM 04:00 - NRT 06:45 767-300ER*

*The flight times have swapped in the latest announcement when compared to the advanced priority redemption announcement last week. The reservation engine on JAL website still shows the "old" schedule announced on March 8. So it's possible it is just a typo in the newer announcement and I will stick to the "old" schedule for these flights now.

For more details on priority award redemption, you can refer to JAL website (Japanese, English)

Extra Partner for Non-Flighth Award Redemptions
JAL has announced new lifestyle award redemption options. So those who don't accumulate too many miles or those who want to use their miles on non-flight awards now have an extra option. These awards will only require 2,000 JMB miles and they have different redemption restrictions. The three options announced today are Family Portrait by Studio Alice, cosmetic products and magazine subscriptions. One of the partners, Studio Alice, is only a limited time offer. So hurry up if that's the one you want :) JAL plans to enhance this non-flight award option and partner with more companies in the future. Redemption starts from April 2 2012. More details can be found on JAL website (Japanese only)

WAON enhancement specific to JCB cardholders
Bare with me on this one as I have very limited knowledge on WAON as JAL doesn't allow non-Japan region members to own a WAON enabled membership card :(. WAON is an electronic money system provided by AEON which has a partnership with JAL. If I understand correctly, before this announcement, you can only use Visa or Master JAL Card to charge the your WAON card but after April 23 2012 JCB card will be added as a new option. Details can be found on JAL website (Japanese only again)

These are all the announcements for today. The next and final announcement will be on March 27 2012. Simmo from FlyerTalk who has connection with an insider claims the last one would be a rather BIG one and is treated as "top secrets". But then again, there are no indication of more announcements on the English page*, so it might be yet another Japan region specific enhancement (and he isn't the most reliable source of information anyway :P). But if it's only targeting Japan region members, how big could that be? So we will have to wait for 2 more weeks to find out. :) Thanks for dividing the announcements and hence torturing me JAL :o


*Update: Now JAL has update the English version of the announcement page with the priority award information. So looks like it could indeed be something big related to the program and not only targeting Japan region members. Fingers crossed no huge JMB devaluation coming. We have enough devaluation in the FLY ON program already :(

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