Sometimes we write posts here on Milenomics for ourselves for future reference. This post is going to be one of those.
I booked our recent Japan trip with a combination of AA and Alaska miles. I’ve got two little kids on this trip, and you’d think that just having their birthdays in the ticket would be enough for JAL to realize they’re kids and unlock the ability to choose a child meal online.
That’s unfortunate, and for a family with kids who are picky eaters (more on that later) it is probably pretty important to get these meals locked in. I’ll cover how I was successful in doing this and hope it helps at least 1 other person out there.
Kids Meals on JAL Partner Awards: You Have to Call
There’s just no way around it. I have checked the JAL sites and they all say you can pick a child meal at the time of booking or afterwards. That’s true I’m sure for flights booked directly with JAL–but for whatever reason for flights booked with partner miles the option for a child meal just won’t show:
Make a Phone Call, Verify the Meal is Set Online
It took some digging but eventually I found the number to call. It is a local Japan phone number–so you’ll want to use a service like google voice (2 cents a minute) to make the call.
I found the number on this page on JAL’s website. As of the time of writing the number was:
This call center was open 8am-7pm Japan time, so be sure to check the time before you call. The helpful phone rep was able to make meal selections for both my outbound and return flight in about 10 minutes.
Verifying the meal is set is easy–when you go back to the online JAL portal to select a seat or meal you’ll see the drop-down menu gone and the following wording:
End result: Pointless (of course!)
Every parent reading this post likely knows where it is going. I spent a non-insignificant amount of time on this. I got excited when the airport the check in desk agent mentioned the child meals were all set. The meal arrived to great fanfare by the flight attendant:
And both of my kids ate about one bite and then said they didn’t like it. Anyone with kids can surely relate. They both ended up ordering off the “anytime menu,” a bowl of ramen and a cutlet with curry and rice.
A few hours before landing they brought out a second kids meal, pasta and meatballs. I didn’t even get a picture of it because neither of my kids wanted to eat.
My kids both really enjoy Japanese food, and I think that their excitement for this trip led them to expect Japanese food on the plane. The actual Japanese menu wouldn’t have worked for them this child meal didn’t check off any of the Japanese food boxes either–so they ended up having the exact problem I wanted to solve with this child meal!
I think if you’re in a different position and your kids are not into Japanese food these meals would be a better option–and at least now I can remember how to book these for the future!