Japan Airlines giving away free flights for summer 2020


Japan Airlines is harnessing what will no doubt be a popular travel period to Japan and will be offering 50,000 round trip tickets for travel within Japan for free for those visiting Japan this summer. Applications for free tickets will go live in late February and give you the chance to get a free domestic round trip for up to four passengers to a random destination out of four you are shown. If you’re planning a trip to Japan between July and September, this could be a cool way to add an additional destination within Japan.

a screen shot of a window

The Deal

  • Japan Airlines will be offering 50,000 round trip tickets for travel within Japan for free. This promo will go live in late February for travel between July 1 and September 30, 2020 and for visitors to Japan from 6/1 to 10/31
  • Direct link to this promotion

Key Details

  • There is a limit on the number of applications per day.
  • There is a limit on the number of new searches per day.
  • Passengers must be JMB members. (Overseas Region members only)
  • Residence must be outside Japan. Passenger must hold a passport issued by a country other than Japan, or a Japanese passport holder with the right of permanent residence of a country other than Japan.
  • When boarding, you may be asked to present proof that you visited Japan during the specified period (such as a copy of an international flight ticket or eTicket, etc.).
  • Flights depart from / return to Tokyo (Haneda) and Osaka (Itami / Kansai) only.
  • You cannot apply again if you cancel (for personal reasons) after the application is complete.
  • There are a limited number of seats available for Win a Trip with JAL, so in some cases no destinations will be shown.

Quick Thoughts

This is a pretty cool promotion if you’re planning to visit Japan between July 1st and September 30th 2020. Of course, the pragmatist in me says, “Many flights within Japan are 6K British Airways Avios each way or you can fly around on ANA for 5K each way to build free excursionist flights, so Japanese domestic flights are already practically free”. On the other hand, as I sit on the verge of needing to buy 3 seats on every flight now that my son is almost two years old, I follow that thought with “not paying 36K Avios for three of us round trip sounds like a better deal than paying 36K Avios”. In short, this is a pretty cool promotion that is even better if you’re traveling with a family.

And it does work for a family, with the landing page indicating that you’ll be able to apply with a group of friends or family:

You can apply as a group of up to four people.

Choose from three or five departure / arrival time slots and find sightseeing tips and information on local specialties when you apply,

making it easy to plan your trip.

In terms of how it works, it sounds like you’ll visit the page on the day of the giveaway (which will be in “late February”). You’ll search for a date and number of people and I believe you’ll be able to specify whether to depart from Tokyo or Osaka. You’ll then be shown 4 possible destinations. If you’re happy with those, finish out the registration process and you’ll find out three days later if you got it and which destination. If you instead refresh, you’ll get a new set of four destinations. Keep in mind that per the terms, passengers must be Japan Mileage Bank members. In other words, don’t forget to set your family members up with frequent flyer accounts before this goes live.

a screenshot of a computer

I don’t know why this one excites me so much, but it just feels like fun leaving part of the trip planning process to a total whim. It reminds me of the days when I used to book travel based on whatever was cheapest and find additional destinations by talking to other folks once “on the ground”. Essentially letting Japan Airlines choose a domestic destination for you seems like a lot of fun to me. Having been to Japan a couple of times now, I really do enjoy the main tourist spots, but I get even more excited when I talk about the places I knew nearly nothing about before going to Japan — like the ski resorts and snow monkeys in Nagano or the Toyota museum outside of Nagoya. I never had a strong urge to visit Japan before I went for the first time, but since going I’ve often said that I could see myself living there (I doubt I ever will, but I like it that much). And that’s coming from a palm-trees-and-sunshine guy. I’d have fun being given a free domestic destination to add to a Japan trip and love the idea of discovering something that I perhaps didn’t see in a travel book or Pinterest post.

All that said, I’m not planning a trip to Japan next year at this point. They do say that you’ll be required to input your date and flight number to Japan when applying. The terms further state this:

When boarding, you may be asked to present proof that you visited Japan during the specified period (such as a copy of an international flight ticket or eTicket, etc.).

On the one hand, I feel like your presence in the same plane of existence as the aircraft you’re boarding would be proof enough to show that you visited Japan during the specified period, but maybe they’ll want to see proof that you flew in on the flight you submitted during the application process? I kind of doubt that and feel like it wouldn’t be unreasonable for your exact plans to have been tweaked in the 4-6 months prior to travel, but it’s worth keeping in mind that you might need to show something. The promo page says that the promo is valid for travel from 7/1 to 9/30 and for those visiting Japan from 6/1 to 10/31. In other words, you can not have entered Japan prior to 6/1 or be leaving later than 10/31 to get a free flight — presumably to keep the promo focused for visitors rather than those who are living in Japan. I guess I’d keep a boarding pass from your flight to Japan and be ready to show a flight departing Japan. I don’t know whether or not you’ll actually need to have booked a flight to Japan to apply for this (it says they’ll ask for the date and flight number of your trip to Japan, but it doesn’t say you’ll need to enter a confirmation number), but I’d recommend not applying if you’re not sure that you’ll go to Japan during the travel period just to give those folks with sure plans a shot at it.

We’ll certainly post again if and when we find out exactly when the application process will go live.

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