Episode 62: Japan Reopens for Tourism

We’re back today with a discussion about finding award travel to Japan for a family from both the west coast and the east coast of the US, now that Japan is finally set to reopen for tourism.

  • Info from US Embassy in Japan
  • Set to reopen October 11, 2022
  • Finally! Let the planning begin.
  • JAL award availability patterns far out seem mostly the same with a few notable exceptions
  • First, I don’t see JAL reliably opening 2 in First/2 in Business at schedule open any more (as was the case before the pandemic – see this post). Now only releasing 1 seat in First, and 2 in Business on the JFK-TYO route.
  • Second, fuel surcharges are way up when using partner miles from non-US programs -or- JAL miles head-on. Alaska and AA have no fuel surcharges but their booking window opens far later than foreign carriers.
  • Third, weekend departures/returns seem to have less availability than weekdays. Sweep for trends w/AA calendar search. 
  • Fourth, close-in award availability release patterns are not as good than they were before the pandemic
  • Fifth, Cathay Pacific Asia Miles have lost their appeal for this redemption even though they do see further out than British Airways. British Airways tends to have higher bank point transfer bonuses.
  • Discuss: “Would you rather” award travel puzzlers
  • How do you feel about splitting your family up between cabins? First/Business. Business/Premium Economy. Does 2 and 2 make a difference vs 3 and 1?
  • How about splitting flights? 2 go through one city, 2 go through another.
  • Favorable exchange rate (link for 5 year chart) – check cash hotel bookings now to lock in rates, and compare to hotel points

We’ll follow up soon with a blog post summarizing changes in award travel trends to Japan, but for now we hope this discussion is helpful.

This week on Episode 173 of the paid show we’ll be discussing new Amex opportunities and more. We’d love it if you joined us on Patreon to listen to those shows and gain access to our Slack community.

About the author

– Written by Robert Dwyer, contributor at Milenomics. Connect with me on Twitter @RobertDwyer

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