The last few months have been a bit concerning for anyone that loves to redeem first class partner awards on JAL. For a time, first class partner award inventory on JAL disappeared almost completely, causing some to speculate that the airline may permanently restrict first class partner awards in the future.
However, it appears that this is not the case. Starting in September 2020 first class partner award inventory on JAL has improved dramatically. There are at least several days each week where you can book first class partner awards from either Narita (NRT) or Haneda (HND) to LAX and ORD.
JAL’s first class inventory isn’t completely back to normal. The airline is flying a 787 without a first class cabin to SFO. There also doesn’t appear to be any first class partner award availability nonstop between Tokyo and New York in September, but there’s lots of first class award space starting in October.
You can book a first class seat on JAL through Alaska Airlines for 70k miles, a pretty great deal. British Airways is also a great partner for booking JAL award seats.
Most U.S. citizens cannot currently enter Japan, and there’s no indication of when these restrictions will be lifted. However, first class partner award inventory is good through the rest of the year and into 2021.