Any experience with JAL downgrading an aircraft that affected your booking?

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Hi all,

I am not sure if anyone legitimately knows the answer to this question, but I (and my partner) am considering a JAL redemption from SYD-NRT return next year. We have enough points, via EK, for a J redemption, and can purchase some more to allow an F.

Based on current schedule and availability, both J and F are available (we are flexible with dates).

However, given current load out of Sydney (May was under 70%), and our travel date (outbound June, inbound July), is there reasonable potential they will downgrade the aircraft? I don’t even know what a downgrade would mean: losing F? A different (non-sky suite) J?

If we buy additional points to facilitate the F, and as it’s via EK, I am not sure what a downgrade would mean: refund in points? No refund?

Perhaps the above requires a crystal ball, but any insights/experiences (e.g. whether JAL do typically downgrade in June/July due to load factors) would be appreciated 🙂

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Good Response

Thanks for responding – very useful.

I guess it’s a grey area: I don’t know what would happen upon a change of craft. I can understand operational reasons but if it is a change of craft entirely for the route, then I would expect some recompense (refund in points difference, at least).

The key thing I am questioning is whether it is worthwhile to purchase the required points (~$2,000) to upgrade from J to F (for two, return).

I shall deliberate over the next two weeks (as we are awaiting the inbound to open).

Thanks for your response.

  • THR,

    Sorry I missed your key question and proceeded to ramble along.

    Instead of JAL, EK would be deciding what to do in such an event as you are redeeming via them. As usual EK’s Condition of Carriage says they are allowed to make a change in aircraft.

    Having a quick look at JAL’s fleet, only their Boeing 777-300ER has First Class. The other aircraft 777-200 is supposed to be predominantly for domestic only. All their 787’s do not have First Class.

    This tells me that they don’t have very many options to replace with another aircraft that has First Class in the event that they decide to change the aircraft model for whatever reason.

    IMHO, I think EK would refund the point difference if your worst case did indeed happen as this is a change in seat class instead of a change from new business class seat to old business class seat.

    Whether it is worthwhile… you would have to weigh up your options. If you have the $ or points, I don’t think that is a huge risk in going for First Class. Their First Class seem to be very good and I was considering myself whether to try them instead of Business.

    Good Luck!

  • Thank you – very informative! And yes, no other craft would have first. We’ll take the risk!

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Good Response


I found that this is an interesting question and had a quick look around for an answer myself.

In short, most airlines are entitled to change the aircraft that they use to get you from A to B. Some happens weeks beforehand and they may be kind enough to inform you but some happens a few hours beforehand and you may only find out at the gate. It appears that this happen more often than you think due to unplanned maintenance, etc.

Some airlines such as AA categorize change of aircraft as equivalent to change of schedule and thus allow you to make changes to a certain extent. Refer to this webpage for some more info.


As you are asking about JAL in particular, I had a quick look on their ‘Condition of Carriage’. Section 12 indicates:

(B) Cancellations

(1)JAL may, without prior notice, substitute any other Carrier or change an aircraft with respect to Carriage assumed by JAL.


Ways to manage this that I can see:

You would have to keep checking to see whether there is an aircraft change. If there is an unfavourable change, you would have to try your luck with the agent over the phone. Some are kind enough to even provide free upgrade (after calling 4 different phone agent) but some would charge to make any changes.

More tips:

Hope that helps one way or another. Others may have more experience in this department. I myself am booked on a Business seat on JAL NRT-SYD in April 2017.


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