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Japan Airlines has a partnership with Bangkok Airways and one of the longest-running award discount programs, now extended to March 31, 2016.
JAL’s awards are distance-based and one-ways are allowed. A trip of less than 1,000 miles is 5,000 miles, discounted from 15,000. The next band, up to 2,000 miles, goes for 8,000 miles, down from 20,000 and that is good enough for Bangkok – Phuket – Chiang Mai – Bangkok. Trips over 2,000 miles have minimal discount so best to break up the trip into separate tickets.
Bangkok Airways awards must be booked over the phone. JAL’s agents are helpful. For my trip, I was calling a week out and every flight I wanted had availability. Bangkok Airways has few other partners so I don’t expect awards to be in short supply. Intra-Thailand the taxes and fees are just a few dollars, with no fuel surcharges. I have not priced international.
Bangkok Airways is great for trips to Angkor Wat and also flies as far as the Maldives, see their destinations. Some are routes with tons of low-cost competitor options, others are more expensive, so compare awards to revenue ticket alternatives. Travel Codex has a good analysis and report on his experience.
How to get JAL miles other than flying? For US-based travelers, a transfer from SPG is likely the best route, just plan in advance. Here is my report on the process and timeline. JAL miles expire after 3 years if not used.
What else to do with JAL miles? See Travel is Free, Using JAL Miles with 7 Stopovers.