Maximise your Avios, air miles and hotel points

How I used Avios for a flat-bed from Japan to China – and other Asian Avios deals

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This is my review of Japan Airlines Boeing 787 Business Class, in its regional intra-Asia configuration.

Last year I ran an excellent article, written by a reader, on how to use Avios points to travel domestically in Japan.  As Japan Airlines is a member of the oneworld alliance, with BA, you can redeem Avios for flights on its network.  As cash tickets can be expensive, and Avios tickets in Japan have minimal taxes, it is good value.

You are spoiled for choice when travelling around Asia.  With Cathay Pacific, Cathay Dragon, Japan Airlines, Sri Lankan and Malaysia Airlines all available with Avios, there are a lot of options for using your points to put together a trip.

Travelling around Asia is not the same as travelling around Europe.  The distances can be far larger – Hong Kong to Tokyo is a four hour flight, as is Tokyo to Beijing.

Longer distances mean that Asian network carriers often use long haul aircraft for regional flights.  When we flew from Hong Kong to Tokyo last month, it was on a (pretty old, to be honest) Japan Airlines 777-200 in Premium Economy.  I’m not writing about that flight as it was, frankly, very average.

Tokyo to Beijing, however, was more interesting.  Japan Airlines was using a brand new Boeing 787 for the flight we took.

You should note that, even when a long haul aircraft is used, it often has different seating to a ‘proper’ long haul plane.  The business class seats in our 787 were not fully flat – they sloped gently towards the floor, in the style of the old Lufthansa business class seats.  Fly JAL to Heathrow, on the other hand, and you get a ‘proper’ flat bed.

Here are a few pictures (click to enlarge).  Here’s my daughter modelling the seat:

Molly Burgess

…. and a broader view of the Japan Airlines Boeing 787 cabin:

Japan Airlines Boeing 787 business class review

…. and the IFE screen, which had a decent number of Western options:

Japan Airlines Boeing 787 business class review

…. and a shot of how the seat slopes gently to the floor, not that it mattered one jot to me on a four hour daytime flight:

Japan Airlines Boeing 787 business class review

This is the meal served:

Japan Airlines Boeing 787 business class review

What you have is:

an appetiser plate of lobster and vegetable terrine, caprese salad, liver tart

cabbage and anchovy soup

corn salad with thousand island dressing

a main plate of grilled beef fillet with marsala sauce

honey bread and petit french bread

ice cream

This is what I would have got had I taken the Japanese menu.  You get everything listed below:

an appetiser plate of Japanese pickles, broad bean tofu with light soy sauce, sweet simmered herring with salted squid beak

chilled pork shabu-shabu and mekabu seaweed

mixed plate of grilled salmon, potato ball with minced chicken, grilled taro with shishito pepper miso, smoked duck breast, perila flavoured icefish and octopus

a main plate of steamed soy-marinated flounder with sea urchin sauce

ice cream

What did it cost?

Each Business Class seat from Tokyo to Beijing, one way, cost 20,000 Avios points plus £16.50 of taxes and charges.  I consider this a good deal for a 4 hour flight.  We had no problem getting four seats.

For comparison, our Japan Airlines Premium Economy seats from Hong Kong to Tokyo cost 15,000 Avios plus £15.50 each.  Cathay Pacific also flies this route, of course.

It is difficult to draw many firm comparisons about Japan Airlines from a couple of mid-range flights, only one of which was Business Class.  The staff were friendly and understood English (the menu comes in Japanese and English, the IFE is also in English), the plane was as fresh as you would expect from a new 787, the meal was large although a bit heavy on the beef and the seats were more than acceptable for a four hour flight.  

If you get a chance to try out this route, I recommend it.

How to earn Avios from UK credit cards

How to earn Avios from UK credit cards (July 2024)

As a reminder, there are various ways of earning Avios points from UK credit cards.  Many cards also have generous sign-up bonuses!

In February 2022, Barclaycard launched two exciting new Barclaycard Avios Mastercard cards with a bonus of up to 25,000 Avios. You can apply here.

You qualify for the bonus on these cards even if you have a British Airways American Express card:

Barclaycard Avios Plus card

Barclaycard Avios Plus Mastercard

Get 25,000 Avios for signing up and an upgrade voucher at £10,000 Read our full review

Barclaycard Avios card

Barclaycard Avios Mastercard

5,000 Avios for signing up and an upgrade voucher at £20,000 Read our full review

There are two official British Airways American Express cards with attractive sign-up bonuses:

British Airways American Express Premium Plus

30,000 Avios and the famous annual 2-4-1 voucher Read our full review

British Airways American Express

5,000 Avios for signing up and an Economy 2-4-1 voucher for spending £15,000 Read our full review

You can also get generous sign-up bonuses by applying for American Express cards which earn Membership Rewards points. These points convert at 1:1 into Avios.

American Express Preferred Rewards Gold

Your best beginner’s card – 20,000 points, FREE for a year & four airport lounge passes Read our full review

The Platinum Card from American Express

40,000 bonus points AND (to 27th August) £400 to spend at Amex Travel Read our full review

Run your own business?

We recommend Capital on Tap for limited companies. You earn 1 Avios per £1 which is impressive for a Visa card, along with a sign-up bonus worth 10,500 Avios.

Capital on Tap Business Rewards Visa

10,000 points bonus – plus an extra 500 points for our readers Read our full review

There are also generous bonuses on the two American Express Business cards, with the points converting at 1:1 into Avios. These cards are open to sole traders as well as limited companies.

American Express Business Platinum

40,000 points sign-up bonus and an annual £200 Amex Travel credit Read our full review

American Express Business Gold

20,000 points sign-up bonus and FREE for a year Read our full review

Click here to read our detailed summary of all UK credit cards which earn Avios. This includes both personal and small business cards.

Comments (57)

This article is closed to new comments. Feel free to ask your question in the HfP forums.

  • Nigello says:

    Hello all,
    Is it best to book these Avios redemption seats on the BA website or on Cathay/Japan A, etc?

    • Rob says:

      You can only book them at if using Avios. You can’t even use as that site does not handle oneworld partner airlines.

  • Edwin says:

    I am struggling in finding the best way of using my 2-4-1 voucher. In fact, it’s a 3-4-2 to me as I have to travel with my wife and a 2 year old.
    Curren plan is to get a LHR Beijing business to maximise the value of the voucher, but the taxes and charges are really high, and avios spending is quite high too.

    Any suggestions?

    • JP says:

      Flying such long haul “to maximise the value of the voucher” yet having to fly with “a 2 year old” ?

      You’re either mad, or deluded. Or on reflection, quite possibly both.

      Stay at home or fly short haul to somewhere quiet/less hectic. Or if you must fly such long haul, seek a competent babysitter and leave the 2yo at home (where ironically they will be much happier).

      • the real harry1 says:

        lol quite funny

        perhaps parents want to travel LH somewhere nice with their young kid – I find this quite normal

        we did this many times with similar age kids – New Zealand & Thailand

        3 kids in fact, some of whom wailed & cried for hours on end (well, seemed like that at the time as we quietened them down)

        actually, such young kids prefer to be with their parents, I guess this is news to you as you are simply not a parent but a moaner/ hater of kids on planes

        • JP says:

          You know nothing about me. Sadly I know too much about you, from reading your comments on HfP.

          I could handle the “wailed & cried for hours on end” but I know I could never handle ever meeting you.

      • Rob says:

        With a 2nd child, you tend to start earlier because the eldest child misses out otherwise. We had a few years ‘off’ long haul after we had our eldest (sampling the coastal resorts of Germany instead, where you can find some excellent five star beach hotels) but the youngest was in Barbados at 14 months.

      • Edwin says:

        Forgot to mention I am Chinese so we travel back to Beijing every year.
        Just wondering if there are any other good ways of spending this voucher.

  • Prince Polo says:

    With CX, a little more difficult to book redemptions recently – either blocked by BA/CX closer to the departure or only available via phone. There’s a wiki on FT.

This article is closed to new comments. Feel free to ask your question in the HfP forums.

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