Flying a Family to Japan on Points

Redeeming frequent flyer points for Business class seats can be difficult at the best of times – let alone four seats on the same flight. But that’s exactly what one member is hoping to do for their upcoming family holiday to Japan.

We’re planning a family trip to Japan for October 2018 and will have enough points by then for 4 business class tickets. I’ve read that it’s almost impossible to book multiple business class seats for flights to EU but is it the same for Japan?

Japan is a popular destination for Australian travellers. So it’s no surprise that Qantas operates flights to Tokyo from Sydney, Brisbane and Melbourne. The good news is that there are usually a few reward seats available on these routes. The bad news for a family of four is that Qantas generally only releases two reward seats per flight in Business class.

We had luck getting 2x tickets via Brisbane – booked about 6 months in advance. Given that QF flies to Japan from all three east coast capitals, it’s certainly not impossible!

If you’re not lucky enough to find reward seats on one of Qantas’ direct flights, don’t worry! You can also use your Qantas points to fly Japan Airlines and Jetstar. While Jetstar’s Business class is more like Premium Economy on other airlines, Japan Airlines offers a very good Business product. Japan Airlines flies daily from Sydney and Melbourne to Tokyo. And as an added bonus, Japan Airlines does not impose fuel surcharges when redeeming Qantas points to fly with them.

For a family of four, the most likely airline to offer 4x Business reward seats on the same flight is Cathay Pacific. Cathay flies from most major Australian cities to numerous destinations in Japan, via Hong Kong.

Just as a data point, I was able to secure 6x J tickets from Tokyo to Perth via HKG, on CX, about 8 months out. However for the NRT-HKG flight, we had to split into a group of 4 and a group of 2 on two different flights (but they are frequent). We were all together on HKG-PER.

Another option is to fly Malaysia Airlines via Kuala Lumpur. However, it’s not possible to find award flights on Malaysia Airlines – nor Japan Airlines, for that matter – on the Qantas website. To find award availability on these airlines you would need to either call Qantas or conduct a search on the British Airways website.

While our member may be lucky enough to find four reward seats on a single flight, our members tend to recommend splitting up and travelling in two groups of two. This should open up many more flight options.

Or perhaps consider flying on different days or different routes in pairs.

Finding award availability can be challenging… but as one member points out, is not impossible!

Depending on your status, dates, departure/ arrival locations and your willingness to travel on separate planes you may be lucky. As this is a family trip in October, depending on your dates school holidays also come into play.

Share your experience HERE.


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Matt Graham
The editor of Australian Frequent Flyer, Matt's passion for travel has taken him to over 60 countries… with the help of frequent flyer points, of course!
Matt's favourite destinations (so far) are Germany, Brazil, New Zealand & Kazakhstan. His interests include economics, aviation & foreign languages, and he has a soft spot for good food and red wine.

You can contact Matt at [email protected]