Update: British Airways has changed their award charts. Now, the flights described in this post cost 6,000 Avios each way (previously 4,500 Avios). For more details, see: BA devaluation not so bad after all.
With the excellent current point transfer bonus from Membership Rewards to Avios, we are publishing some quick highlights for making good use of the various Avios award charts. If you’re planning a trip to Japan, one sure Avios sweet-spot redemption is domestic flights on Japan Airlines. You can fly throughout much of Japan for just 4,500 British Airways Avios each way.
Sweet spot spotlight:
- The short story: British Airways only charges 4,500 Avios for flights under 650 miles outside of North America. Many of JAL’s domestic flights are within that distance. Domestic flights within Japan can be farily expensive compared to the distance covered, making this an excellent use of Avios.
- Miles required: 4500 British Airways Avios in economy class
- How to find awards: Search ba.com
- How to book awards: Book online at ba.com
Being compact in size, Japan is the perfect place to jet around on the British Airways distance-based award chart. With Japan Airlines as a oneworld partner, you can make excellent use of Avios getting around the country. While Japanese trains are a worthwhile experience and they can be relatively affordable if you plan well, it’s hard to beat the value of paying just 4500 Avios and a couple of dollars. When there is a point transfer bonus to Avios, it can cost very few points to fly. Here are the numbers depending on the strength of the transfer bonus — you can always check for the latest bonuses on our Current point transfer bonuses resource page:
- 25% bonus: 3600 points = 4500 Avios
- 30% bonus: 3462 points = 4500 Avios
- 35% bonus: 3.333 points = 4500 Avios
- 40% bonus: 3,215 points = 4500 Avios
- *note that most programs require you to transfer in increments of 1,000
Compare those to cash rates at Google Flights and you’ll likely find it’s hard to beat. Use ba.com’s search tool to find and book flights. Keep in mind that British Airways will price each segment separately, so if you happen to find a connecting itinerary, you’ll pay at least 4500 British Airways Avios per segment. Iberia (which also uses the Avios currency) prices itineraries cumulatively and can present a better value on connecting itineraries, though watch out for differences in cancellation policy: while British Airways will allow you to cancel up to 24 hours in advance for no fee if you choose to forfeit the taxes, Iberia allows no changes or cancellations on most partner award flights.
The following map from FreeMapTools.com shows just how far a 650-mile radius around Tokyo reaches.
If in doubt, you can use GCMap.com to check distances between airports. Check out Japan Airlines’ route maps here.
[…] previously published a similar post: Fly around Japan for 4.5K each way with British Airways Avios [Sweet-spot spotlight]. But then the BA devaluation happened (see: BA devaluation not so bad after all). Now, it costs […]
[…] Many loyalty programs have hidden “sweet spots” that make it possible to get far more value from your points. One example is the ability to use British Airways miles (called “Avios”) to fly one-way for as few as 4,500 points. In some cases, this makes for an incredible value. […]
[…] Fly around Japan for 4.5K each way with British Airways Avios […]
So I’m clear, these are only domestic flights from one Japanese city to another right?
I utilized this award on a recent trip to Japan. It can definitely make sense, especially since the taxes are very low (in contrast to, say, South Africa, where BA adds almost $50 in taxes to your 4500 mile award ticket). If you’re flying to/from Tokyo, it’s always worth remembering that Haneda airport is pretty close to the city, so it’s not inconvenient to fly. Honestly, for most domestic Japan trips, I would prefer the shinkansen bullet trains, but these can be surprisingly expensive so the “free flights” are a good alternative. A nationwide Japan rail pass can also be expensive, but there are regional passes that are more affordable like the Kansai area pass. Japan also has many cheap intercity buses, and even some cheap buses from Tokyo out to Narita. It can also make sense to rent a car in Japan if you’re visiting more remote areas. Bottomline, you’d be wise to do some serious planning and option-weighing before heading to Japan. Fortunately, there are a lot of good resources (in English) on the web that explain how to utilize these transport options (which is good, given that there would otherwise be a considerable language barrier).
Worth noting that Tokyo-Busan is just *barely* under 650 miles, if you want a token international route.
going in May. Never been to Japan. Any suggestions to use this for any day trips. Thanks