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My absolute favorite use of airline miles is for International First Class. These are seats that can run easily north of $10,000 yet aren’t typically that much more than Business Class in terms of miles.
In this article
International First Class vs. International Business Class
The difference between Business Class and First Class escapes most people that have never flown International First. International Business Class is so nice that it seems easy to think “What more could I need?”
Until, of course, you fly International First. If you haven’t experienced it, here are some First Class reviews I’ve written over the past few years:
- Etihad First Class Apartments Review – A380 Abu Dhabi to JFK
- Review: Emirates A380 First Class New York (JFK) to Dubai (DXB)
- Lufthansa First Class Review: 747-800 + First Class Terminal
- Singapore Airlines A380 First Class Suites review
- Flight Review: Japan Airlines (JAL) from New York to Tokyo
- Qantas First Class Review: QF12 JFK-LAX-SYD A380 (New York to Sydney)
You’ll notice that the theme in First Class is a MUCH larger personal space than Business Class (sometimes 2-4X the space) and very personalized onboard service and food/beverage.
What’s Going on With First Class Availability Right Now?
Several airlines have pulled First Class from the schedule for most or all of the remainder of 2020.
– Etihad has pulled all A380’s (the only planes with the First Class Apartments and The Residence) for all of the rest of 2020 (HT: OMAAT)
– Lufthansa has also blocked sales of most (but not quite all) First Class seats through October 2020. (HT: OMAAT again)
– Singapore Airlines does not appear to be selling any First Class seats through at least the end of 2020.
I see the same lack of F/A space on every date I search below.
For all of the above, we can only guess as to why they are blocking sales of the First Class cabin but it’s my assumption that they are doing this because they see a very low demand for the First Class cabins in the near term and they want the flexibility to swap planes like the A380 and B747 for smaller, more fuel-efficient aircraft without having to deal with downgrading passengers.
Note that these sales blocks apply to both award and revenue tickets.
Japan Airlines First Class Awards May Not be Available to Partners Anymore
Meanwhile, Point Me to the Plane reports that after March 31st, 2021, partners appear unable to book JAL First Class awards. This means that American Airlines’s AAdvantage program, Alaska’s Mileage Plan, British Airways and all other Oneworld partners are unable to ticket First Class awards after this date. It’s only available to JAL’s own members.
It can be an absolute steal at just 70,000 – 75,000 Alaska Mileage Plan miles to Asia, with a free stopover.
If you had to use JAL miles to book, the only transfer partner would be Marriott Bonvoy, which would be a huge shame as Bonvoy points are cumbersome to collect in quantity these days.
Currently, several other airlines restrict First Class awards in some way:
- Air France only allows First Class to be booked by it’s own Elite Flying Blue members
- SWISS only allows First Class to be booked by it’s own Elite Miles&More members
- Korean Air only allows it’s own frequent flyer members to book First Class (elite status not required)
- Singapore Airlines only allows KrisFlyer members to book First Class (luckily you can transfer in to Singapore from every transferable point)
- Lufthansa only allows partners to book First Class within 14 days.
Long story short, I really hope JAL reconsiders as I’d love to fly their First Class again.
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New to all of this? My “introduction to miles and points” book, MilesTalk: Live Your Wildest Travel Dreams Using Miles and Points is available on Amazon and at major booksellers.