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Japan Airlines: International Flights to Japan in 2023

Flying Japan Airlines: International Flights with JAL in 2024

Is Japan Airlines a solid choice for your next trip to Japan from the USA or Europe?

The second largest airline in Japan (just behind ANA) flies to more than 30 destinations worldwide and boasts 60 domestic routes. JAL won awards for service and comfort multiple years in a row, and best economy class 3 out of the last 5, including 2023.

Still deciding? Be sure to check out our ANA Airlines guide as well.

US travelers can book from 11 cities, eight of which are in the mainland of the USA, to Osaka or Tokyo. Europe offers just as many options, with flights originating from Helsinki, London, Paris, Madrid, and more.

With so many convenient options and quality service, Japan Airlines deserves to be at the top list of considerations for travelers.

Here’s a quick overview before we deep-dive into the details together:

  • International Flights – Travel from the United States or Europe directly. Direct routes to Tokyo fly daily or weekly from Los Angeles, New York, London, Paris, and more.
  • JAL Explorer – Only for international customers who book domestic flights before arrival. Discount rates are applied according to three routes.
  • JAL Mileage Bank Points – Accumulate miles through airfare, hotels, shopping, and various travel-related services. Redeem miles for flights throughout the world and country.
  • In-flight experience – From Premium economy class to first class, JAL offers some of the best experiences in the air.
  • Purchase air ticket – Book from a multitude of sights or JAL directly. Discount tickets must be booked through the JAL website. Find cheap rates on sights like Kayak.
  • Prices – International flights fares remain competitive. Given the many awards for service and amenities, one might expect a premium. Prices fall in the mid-range and are comparable to American and United flights.

Direct Flights from the USA

JAL flies from the USA to Japan

JAL offers flights directly from 9 North American hubs to Japan, eight of which are located in the mainland USA, with one in Canada. Flights are run in partnership with American Airlines. Japan Airlines is known by many as the best airline to fly to Japan.

These flights arrive at the international destinations of Tokyo Narita and Haneda. Haneda and Narita sit just outside Tokyo City. Many fliers prefer the ease of travel to Tokyo center from Haneda, which is half the distance and cost of public transportation.

JAL also flies to Osaka Kansai Airport (KIX) directly from San Francisco. Osaka is a huge regional and world international airport, with convenient transportation into Osaka City center, Japan’s second-largest city and metropolitan area.

JAL offers other routes connected to the USA. Catch one of JAL’s airplanes from Honolulu, Kona, or Guam.

Some of these routes were canceled during COVID-19. Thankfully, they are back in operation, with no sign of slowing down. Japan expects travel between the United States and Japan to increase through 2025.

Many of the routes fly daily. Some routes fly three or fewer times a week.

All direct North American Routes:

  • Boston
  • Chicago
  • Dallas/Fort Worth
  • San Francisco
  • Los Angeles
  • San Diego
  • Seattle
  • Vancouver

Flying from the West Coast to Japan (San Francisco and Los Angeles) takes roughly 12 hours. Flights originating on the East Coast require 14+ hours of travel.

Direct Flights from Europe

Japan Airline has international flights from Europe to Tokyo and other cities

Destination flights to and from Europe are made easy with daily or weekly flights from 6 major cities. Depending on one’s location, one can easily catch a flight to Fukuoka, Osaka, Nagoya, Tokyo, or Sapporo.

Thanks to the Oneworld Alliance, those traveling from Europe can combine their flight times with British Airways and Finnair Flights. Called codeshare flights, it is possible to book through Japan Airlines, fly one way JAL, and back via another airline.

Redeeming miles and benefits for flights with British and Finnair is made easy. Those with JMB (Japan Mileage Bank) Diamond can book Economy Comfort seats free of charge, and make use of British and Finnair lounges.

Routes from Europe originate in these cities:

  • Madrid
  • London
  • Frankfurt
  • Helsinki
  • Paris
  • Moscow

Flights from London to Haneda take about 12 hours.

Earn miles with JAL Mileage Bank

The JAL Mileage Bank reward program offers points for shopping and travel

Membership in Japan Airlines’ point program is free. A wide range of shopping and travel options are available within and without Japan for accruing or spending miles.

Gain points through reservations with JAL flights, hotels, and purchases at major online retailers, such as Amazon.

Points can be redeemed for booking flights with JAL, tours, and hotels. Domestic tickets cost 4000 miles one way. International flights cost 7500 points one way, or 15000 points round trip.

Points may be affected by discount rates or flying class. For example, first-class flyers may accrue points at a 150% rate, while those flying on a discount or promotion could see miles accrue at a 30% rate.

Check the site for special or seasonal promotions before booking your trip.

You can gain points with partner airlines through JMB (JAL Mileage Bank). Japan Airlines is part of the Oneworld Alliance, allowing earners to spend and earn miles with Qantas, Finnair, American Airlines, and others.

Note that more seat options and rewards may be available when redeeming points directly with the reward program’s airline than when using another international airline.

Economy class flights with JAL

JAL offers an award-winning economy class experience on international flights

Japan Airlines doesn’t skimp on economy-class service or comfort. Offering some of the widest seats and best legroom in the industry, chef-curated meals, and full drink service, economy flyers travel in good hands.

The famous JAL seats have a name: the JAL Sky Wider. Since 2015, Japan Airlines has continuously won awards for these generous economy-class seats. With 34 inch pitch (space between seats) and approximately 19 inches of sitting room, riders avoid the cramped conditions that have become common in other airlines.

The food on JAL is also worth noting. Always created in collaboration with chefs and food experts, the meals have won best in-flight awards, adding to the ambiance and great experience one can expect. The JAL menu changes according to the season and sometimes route, so expect to encounter a variety when flying at different times of the year.

JAL is in the process of modernizing its fleet. Many JAL flights come equipped with plugins and jacks to charge your portable devices already. In-flight entertainment is also available on all flights. Newer planes feature a 4k 13-inch monitor.

JAL’s business and first-class cabins

For an elevated travel experience, fly with JAL’s luxurious first or business -class. Both options feature fully flat seats, delicious meals, and ample personal space.

First-Class

The new additions to JAL’s fleet, 13 AS50-1000s, have a completely revamped experience. The first class is unreal, looking more like a hotel room. It’s so wide, that they’ve added a double bed mode to the seat, despite being designed for a single person.

Cabins will also be completely enclosed, with a sliding door for additional privacy. If you are thirsty, enjoy a drink from your personal mini-bar, or communicate through an armrest monitor directly to staff. One thing is for certain, you won’t lack comfort.

Business Class

JAL has a new renovated business class

Business class is also receiving an upgrade on the newer models. Enjoy the fully adjustable seats that can lie flat, or raised to enjoy entertainment from a 24-inch screen and in-headrest speakers.

Privacy is not a luxury reserved for only the top class. The business class also comes equipped with sliding doors. Store your clothes in a personal closet space and sit back and relax in this best-of-the-world business class.

JAL Japan Explorer Pass and Domestic Flights

JAL has special discount rates for international travelers only. Called the “Japan Explorer Pass,” you can book from three route fares for domestic travel if you are a foreign resident traveling in Japan.

The three routes connect 30 cities within Japan. The cheapest fares on offer start from JPY 5500 Yen and connect larger cities to smaller cities, such as Fukuoka to Sendai, or Sapporo to Akita. These tickets are great if you’d like to explore the countryside and lesser-known gems.

The second route connects Tokyo to Osaka Kansai and Shirahama. This route goes for JPY 7700. These ticket prices are well worth snatching up for first-time visitors, who usually visit Osaka and Tokyo on their first visit.

The third and final route goes for JPY 11000 and connects a wide range of cities and locations, including Tokyo to Nagoya and Okinawa.

The flights must be booked before your arrival in Japan and you must be the holder of a passport issued by a country other than Japan.

A certain number of specially priced tickets will be available, and potentially none on fully booked flights.

On a final note, the availability of this kind of discount fares has been known to come and go with little to no warning for all major airlines, JAL included. Check early and often for your best chance of scoring a reduced-price ticket.

Book here.

Purchasing air tickets and prices

The date of travel will be the number one determiner in the price of airfare

Actually purchasing your ticket for your next vacation can be the most difficult part of the whole planning process. There are so many websites and options, JAL included, it can be difficult to decide.

First, before jumping into specific purchase options, the date of your flight will be the most important factor in the price. Looking at fare-detective, an airfare price history tracker, for travel between San Diego and Tokyo, we see several spikes.

There are two peaks: December and June. These follow the New Year holiday dash to return to Japan and the peak tourist cherry blossom and golden holiday seasons from May to June. And these spikes are true for the entire country, whether traveling from England or New York.

If you aren’t trying to catch the most impacted tourist or Japan traveling dates, the best time to travel is early spring. You’ll have great weather, beat the crowds, and get a discount on your ticket compared to other times of year.

For Japan Explorer discount options, you will have to book through JAL. For other flights, you have a range of options. We’ve personally found great deals in the past through a search on Skyscanner and Kayak. Google Flights has been another great option.

JAL ticket prices tend to be around the average, and sometimes a bit more. They are known for excellent service, and you get what you pay for.

Summary

JAL might be the best option for your next business trip or vacation to Japan. With plenty of convenient departure options, plus spacious cabin seating, and mid-range prices, a JAL flight might just hit the spot.

Be sure to check their website for great domestic discount fares before leaving. Keep your ear to the ground and eye to the skies as international travel between Japan and the rest of the world continues to heat up. Increased travel could mean new routes and more exciting travel options from one of Japan’s largest airlines.

We’ll have to wait and see. For now, this is a great option from almost anywhere in the world.

Best of luck on your next trip. If you found this article helpful, leave a comment below.

Still deciding how to fly? Be sure to check out our guide on flying United Airlines to Japan.

Jonathan Mcnamara

Jonathan is a veteran of the Japan and Korean expat life. He lived in Japan and Korea for almost 10 years, and speaks Korean and Japanese. A blogger, a writer, website maker who's had his share of relationships while living abroad, he's now turned his attention to helping others navigate traveling, living, working, and relationships in Japan.

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