What is the best way to redeem 7 economy seats for Sydney to Tokyo in April 2020 using Qantas/Amex points?

Hi, I am currently trying to organise a family holiday for 7 people to go from Sydney to Tokyo. I have around 180k Qantas FF miles and 1.8 million Amex miles. I think JAL is probably the best way to do it and looking at the JAL website for redemption there are seats available for these days, what is my best option to book on JAL? Do I need to call Qantas to do it with Qantas FF points (or is it better to use Asia Miles from Amex?)

Are there any other options that I may have missed?

I looked into going from AMEX > Mariott > JAL but it seems like a really poor use of points as it ends up being 1.4m AMEX points for only 330k JAL

Your question is quite complex so I’ve split it up between two topics:

Award Availability
The JAL website doesn’t tell the full story about award availability. Airlines usually release more seats to their own members so if you are using your Qantas points, you likely won’t have access to access to as many seats. If you are keen on using your Qantas points, you should search for seats on the Qantas website. This guide is very helpful in searching for seats in general, along with this guide specifically for Japan Airlines redemption.

Similiar story goes to other programs like Asia Miles. If you want to redeem Asia Miles for Japan Airlines seats, you should search on their own website for the most accurate availability.

Lastly, I’d note that 7 seats even in Economy is a rare find. You may need to split the party of 7 people into 2 separate booking since some only let you book 6 people into a booking at a time.

Frequent Flyer Program Choice
To use your frequent flyer points on Japan Airlines flights (or any other flights for that matter), you should always call or use the website of your frequent flyer program. Japan Airlines can’t help you redeem your Qantas points/Asia Miles, etc.

As to what points to use, you will use the least with Qantas points. You need 31,500 Qantas points for an Economy one-way on Qantas flights or 37,800 points for partners like Japan Airlines. The same flight on Asia Miles is 27,000 Asia miles (transferred from 54,000 AMEX points). Your suggested method with converting to JAL may give you more availability and more seats but you lose out on a lot of points with this method and is definitely the most expensive way. I do not recommend this.

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