Alaska & JAL Announce New Partnership

Ever since American Airlines devalued their award chart, I have considered Alaska Airlines Mileage Plan miles to be arguably the most valuable airline currency out there. Alaska Airlines has a lot of great partners like Cathay Pacific, Korean Air and Emirates which translates to great partner redemption options. Alaska Airlines has just announced that they are about to add one of my favorite airlines as a partner – Japan Airlines (JAL).

AS Partners

Given the partnerships that Alaska Airlines already has, it certainly seems like the addition of Japan Airlines may be a move to position themselves for entry into the OneWorld alliance. I do not necessarily think that Alaska Airlines is looking to make that move into the OneWorld alliance any time soon, but it makes good business sense in my opinion to position themselves for that option should they ever want to join in the future.

Per the press release issued by Alaska Airlines early this morning:

Alaska Airlines and Japan Airlines (JAL) have announced plans for a codeshare agreement and frequent flier partnership, which will provide seamless travel and mileage earning opportunities between Alaska’s gateways in North America, Japan and throughout Asia.

From the West Coast, JAL flies nonstop between Tokyo and Los Angeles, San Francisco, San Diego, Vancouver, B.C. and between Los Angeles and Osaka. JAL also offers an extensive network within Japan and throughout Asia.

With the new codeshare agreement, to take effect June 29 pending government approval, customers flying on Alaska Airlines and JAL will enjoy:

    • Seamless reservations and ticketing
    • One-stop check-in, baggage checked to final destination
    • Smooth flight connections
    • The ability to earn miles on the other airline and outstanding customer service

It seems the impetus behind this partnership with JAL is to help feed traffic to Alaska’s destinations on the west coast. On JAL’s end, this also makes good sense as they are now able to connect passengers to the west coast destinations that are not serviced by their partner American Airlines.

It is important to note that this partnership is contingent on government approval – though I really do not see any impediments to approval given that this is a pretty standard codeshare agreement. Should the codeshare agreement be approved, you should be able to start earning Mileage Plan miles for JAL flights (and vice versa) around the end of June or early July.

While you will be able to accrue miles for JAL flights this summer, I would not anticipate the roll out of an award chart or an award ticket option for JAL flights until sometime this winter.  Unfortunately, the press release did not make any mention of when we might see award ticket availability, but given the timetable for when Alaska Airlines and Hainan entered their codeshare agreement, I think the end of the year is a pretty likely time frame.

Speculation On Award Chart Pricing

I would imagine that Alaska places their award ticket prices for JAL flights to Asia either somewhere slightly below, or on par with, the levels for Cathay Pacific award tickets. For reference, this is the current award chart for Cathay Pacific flights from the Continental United States to Asia:

AS 1

If I had to speculate, I would say that we will probably be looking at 25,000-30,000 miles for coach, 30,000-35,000 miles for premium economy, 45,000-50,000 miles for business class and 65,000-70,000 miles for first class, with the lower rate applying to flights strictly to Japan and the higher rate applying for redemptions elsewhere in the Asia region. Again, this is pure speculation on my part, so take it with a grain of salt.

JAL has an absolutely superb first class product and I would highly recommend it to anyone looking to travel on a route operated by a JAL 777-300ER.

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Final Thoughts

This is really great news for Mileage Plan members as far as I am concerned as it really opens up some great new options for award tickets to Asia, as well as options to requalify for MVP elite status. I also love both Alaska and JAL as airlines, so I am very excited about this new partnership!

What do you think the JAL specific award chart will look like?

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