Fly around Japan for 6K (prev 4.5K) each way with British Airways Avios [Sweet-spot spotlight]

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Sweet-spot spotlight is a new Frequent Miler series showcasing some of the best values your points and miles can buy. Each sweet-spot post will highlight one great use of miles or points and give you a quick overview on what makes that use notable as well as the key information you need to know in order to find and book these awards.

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

Quick Notes

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.

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