Tips/tricks for getting good ticket prices to Japan?

I’m curious about them, too.

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Two words: Google Flights. You can set a price watch and have it email you every day. Then, when the price is right, jump on it. I got $400 round trip airfare to Europe (to LHR and from CDG) that way!

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Just bought a ticket for October. $880. Couldve bought a cheaper one but I’d rather fly non-stop. Last year I did a flight and hostel combined ticket that was $1400 for a 19 day stay

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You can find very cheap tickets to Japan by changing the airport you fly to. I saved $500 per ticket this summer by flying to Osaka instead of Tokyo.

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In the same respect, the airport you fly from makes a difference. I definitely got cheaper prices from driving up to JFK as opposed to more local airports.

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@Frankie3 Is Osaka typically the cheapest airport to fly into? I’ve seen Narita mentioned in this thread as well, any thoughts?

@eegah77 $1400 for 19 days is not bad at all. We’re looking at an overall budget of about $2500 (sans souvenirs) for 3 weeks.

@Sharpevil Yes, I’ll likely be flying out of Chicago O’Hare since I’m only a 2 hour bus ride away; I may also try to rendezvous with friends in NYC first and fly out together so that I don’t have to do the intercontinental all by my lonesome :cry:

Aye, not bad indeed. My trip in April cost me about $US 2000 for 15 days, but that doesn’t include flights or the JR pass…

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14 days in japan, only including flights and lodging, cost me about $1400. If I’d spent an extra day in Osaka rather than splurging on a single night in a very fancy ryokan, it would have been about $1100. There’s lots of wiggle room with that budget.

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@reichter Here is an article about it How to Get Cheap Roundtrip Flights to Japan - Thrillist. It had $400 trips to Nagoya.

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While nice and all, it’s not like Tokyo vs. Osaka is equivalent to Narita vs. Haneda, or Itami vs. Kansai.

If you wanted to go to Tokyo and fly to Osaka instead, you’ve still got to get back over that way, and then you’re shelling out for that (unless you want to do a night bus, which was horrible for someone like me who can’t sleep sitting up very easily).

I guess other people just have more flexibility in their plans than I do.

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Ooh, that looks really helpful. I notice that all their prices are from LAX, but we’ll definitely look into seeing if we can hop our way over to the West Coast and then over to Japan to shave a couple hundred dollars off the trip. Flying into somewhere not-Tokyo shouldn’t be an issue. We’ll be spending at least 3 weeks in Japan, and my group tends to cover a lot of ground on our trips (for reference, our last trip took us from Salt Lake City, Utah all the way up to Banff Nat’l Park in Canada and back again in the space of 9 days), so there’s a good chance that Tokyo will just be a stopping point of 3 - 5 days in our whirlwind tour rather than our origin or terminus.

If we’re going to be traveling a ways around the country anyway, cost and distance are less of an issue if we just snag rail passes, right? Our plans are far from concrete, but I figured we’d probably just snag ourselves rail passes for 3 weeks. Kyoto and Tokyo (probably 3 - 5 days each) are both definitely on our itinerary, and knowing my group we’ll likely spend the rest of the time zipping around to see local specialties and landmarks in various, less-touristy places and getting out to appreciate some hikes and the countryside.

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Check with the calculator whether a rail pass will pay off. Keep in mind, you may be better off just getting the two-week pass, and sticking with local trains for a few days at each end. (That’s assuming it’s a three-week trip in total. If it’s a four-week trip, then sure, go for the three-week pass.)

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This might make me sound like I wear a tinfoil hat, but I’ll take that risk if it ends up helping someone!

My sister has done extensive travelling the past decade (both work-related and for many personal holidays). She also used to work a large company that offers package holidays.

Her advice when looking at flights and accommodations: use an incognito browser. There are practices of the price being hiked up if an IP address looks at the same search query more than once.

We looked at accommodations for our honeymoon on a regular browser yesterday, and today it was 50 euros more expensive. Pulled up the identical offer on same site with an incog browser: the same price as yesterday, sans the supposed 50 euros fluctuation.

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The airline industry has opaque pricing strategies, and cookies is just one method for them to set the price. Other important rules include:

  • book flights in the middle of the week; business travellers prefer flying on Mondays or Fridays, so demand is higher on those days
  • if you book a return ticket, include a weekend in your journey; so a return ticket Tuesday-Thursday is probably going to be more expensive than Thursday-Tuesday, again, blame business travellers
  • if you travel often with one airline or alliance, it’s worth it to join the frequent flyer club; you might be able to redeem the miles for a free flight or an upgrade
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Oh boy, let me tell you my anecdote: booking flights for a family trip on Qatar Airways, it’s actually cheaper to fly Rome to Doha to Sydney with a multi-city ticket, than just a single Doha to Sydney flight. I can’t even articulate how daft that is.

Because I went to Japan twice in the last twelve months, I’m within cooee of getting Qantas Silver Frequent Flyer. But the annoying thing is, I earn so few Qantas status credits flying Qatar Airways that a trip half across the world and back doesn’t quite earn me enough points, unless I splurge on the more flexible Economy ticket. Or Business…

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As someone who frequents Taiwan, I’d recommend them highly.

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Good to hear!

check out theflightdeal daily for deals from continental US. I’ve gotten many cheap tickets including ~$300 from EWR to Kuala Lumpur and I think iirc maybe $500 to NRT.

However you must be diligent and check everyday (can sign up for emails) as well as be ready to know what time and days you want to fly in advance. Deals last anywhere from <6 hours to several days tops.

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As Sharpevil alluded to, ANA has some good sales, during certain time ranges. Unfortunately, these deals don’t always show up on comparison sites like Google Flights, so you have to sign up for the ANA e-Newsletter (link on their English language homepage).

For example, the current US promotion requires departure and return 16 Oct - 06 Dec, a stay of 7 days minimum, and booking before 26 Aug, and represents about a 30% discount off of typical prices for the same routes. As much as I hate junk email, these deals aren’t always reflected in comparison sites, so it is a worthwhile addition to your inbox.

Also, especially if you are flying on a Japanese airline, try to book when your currency is strong against the Yen. E.g. if you were thinking about booking a trip and hear on the news “the Dollar strengthened against the Yen”, then that could be your slightly esoteric cue to buy.

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