Discount Air Tickets

While regular airfares by conventional airlines remain relatively high on domestic routes, an increasing competition by discount airlines and a wide array of discount offers have made domestic air travel in Japan very attractive and competitive in recent years. In fact, there are so many discount plans, that only very few travelers are ever paying regular fares.

Special fares and air passes for foreign visitors

JAL (and oneworld) and ANA (and Star Alliance) each offer special fares and air passes for exclusive use by foreign visitors to Japan, which enable holders to fly anywhere within Japan for somewhat over 10,000 yen per flight (also referred to as "sector"). This is a quite competitive price on many domestic routes, especially on longer flights, such as flights from Tokyo to Kyushu, Okinawa or Hokkaido.

Like the Japan Rail Pass, some of the air passes have to be purchased outside of Japan and before you leave for Japan. They can only be used by non-residents of Japan who arrive to and depart from Japan by an international flight. Some offers are not available during certain blackout periods, which are typically the New Year holidays, the second half of March and the summer holidays.

Below are the fares and air passes in more detail:

ANA Experience Japan Fare
Price 10,000 yen per domestic flight*
Validity 1 or more domestic flight by ANA (there is no upper limit)
Purchase Online via the global ANA website
Blackout None
Eligibility Foreign visitors who fly to/via Japan by any airline.

Oneworld Yokoso Visit Japan Fare
Price 10,000 yen per domestic flight*
Validity 1-5 domestic flights by JAL
Purchase Through selected travel agents outside of Japan before coming to Japan.
Blackout Blackout periods through March 2016:
August 7, 2015 to August 16, 2015
December 18, 2015 to January 3, 2016
March 11, 2016 to March 31, 2016
Eligibility Foreign visitors who fly to/via Japan by oneworld, which includes JAL, American Airlines, British Airways, Cathay Pacific, Finnair, Qantas and several other airlines.

JAL Welcome to Japan Fare
Price 13,000 yen per domestic flight*
Validity 2-5 domestic flights by JAL
Purchase Through selected travel agents outside of Japan before coming to Japan.
Blackout Blackout periods through March 2016:
July 3, 2015 to August 31, 2015
December 4, 2015 to January 3, 2016
March 4, 2016 to March 31, 2016
Eligibility Foreign visitors who fly to/via Japan by any airline.

Star Alliance Japan Airpass
Price 10,000 yen per domestic flight*
Validity 1-5 domestic flights by ANA
Purchase Through selected travel agents outside of Japan before coming to Japan.
Blackout Blackout periods through August 2016:
July 31, 2015 to August 16, 2015
December 18, 2015 to January 3, 2016
March 11, 2016 to March 28, 2016
July 29, 2016 to August 14, 2016
Eligibility Foreign visitors who fly to/via Japan by Star Alliance, which includes ANA, United, US Airways, Air Canada, Singapore Airlines, Lufthansa and several other airlines.

ANA Visit Japan Fare
Price: 13,000 yen per domestic flight*
Validity 2-5 domestic flights by ANA
Purchase Through selected travel agents outside of Japan before coming to Japan.
Blackout Blackout periods through March 2017:
July 3, 2015 to August 31, 2015
December 4, 2015 to January 3, 2016
March 4, 2016 to March 29, 2016
July 1, 2016 to August 29, 2016
December 2, 2016 to January 1, 2017
March 3, 2017 to March 25, 2017
Eligibility Foreign visitors who fly to/via Japan by any airline.

* not including taxes and surcharges of a few hundred yen

Budget Airlines

Budget airlines, such as Skymark Airlines and Air Do, offer many of the same types of discounts as JAL and ANA, but prices are typically at least 20 percent lower. The entry of genuine low cost carriers, such as Peach Aviation and Jetstar Japan, in 2012 has lowered the fares of budget airlines even more:

Skymark Airlines - (Official English website)
Network:    Fares:    Service/Luggage:    English Online Reservations: available
Skymark has the most extensive route network among the discount airlines in Japan, but is currently suffering from financial problems. It operates inexpensive flights from its main bases in Tokyo-Haneda and Kobe to destinations nationwide. The airline maintains a certain level of services at the airport as well as a quite moderate luggage policy, but reduces its on-board service to a minimum. It offers an easy-to-use English website.

Peach Aviation - (Official English website)
Network:    Fares:    Service/Luggage:    English Online Reservations: available
Peach started operation in spring 2012 as Japan's first genuine low cost carrier, introducing fare levels not seen in Japan before. The airline is based at Osaka's Kansai Airport, Okinawa's Naha Airport and Tokyo's Narita Airport and operates on several domestic routes and a few international routes to nearby Asian destinations. It maintains a strict luggage policy and keeps services to a bare minimum, although paid drinks and snacks are available on board. Beware of hidden fees.

Jetstar Japan - (Official English website)
Network:    Fares:    Service/Luggage:    English Online Reservations: available
Operating since summer 2012, Jetstar Japan flies from Tokyo's Narita Airport, Osaka's Kansai Airport and Nagoya's Central Japan Airport to several domestic destinations and a small number of international destinations. Jetstar's luggage policy is strict, and services are limited, although paid drinks and snacks are available on board. Beware of hidden fees.

Vanilla Air - (Official English website)
Network:    Fares:    Service/Luggage:    English Online Reservations: available
Vanilla Air is the successor of the failed Air Asia Japan venture. It started operation in December 2013 on a small number of domestic and international routes out of Tokyo's Narita Airport. Vanilla Air's luggage policies are quite moderate compared to the other low-cost carriers.

Spring Airlines Japan
Network:    Fares:    Service/Luggage:    English Online Reservations: not available
Spring Airlines Japan started operation in August 2014 from Narita Airport to Takamatsu, Hiroshima and Saga.

Air Do - (Official English website)
Network:    Fares:    Service/Luggage:    English Online Reservations: not available
Air Do operates inexpensive flights from Tokyo's Haneda Airport to various destinations in Hokkaido, and from Sapporo to multiple secondary airports across Honshu. A relatively generous baggage allowance and a certain service level are maintained, including complementary drinks.

Starflyer - (Official English website)
Network:    Fares:    Service/Luggage:    English Online Reservations: not available
Starflyer offers inexpensive flights from Tokyo's Haneda Airport to Fukuoka, Kitakyushu, Yamaguchi and Osaka's Kansai Airport. It also flies between Nagoya and Fukuoka. Starflyer offers not only inexpensive fares, but also a comfort level that exceeds that of conventional airlines by offering spacious seats, complementary drinks and a video system for every passenger. A relatively generous baggage allowance is maintained.

Solaseed Air (formerly known as Skynet Asia Airways)
Network:    Fares:    Service/Luggage:    English Online Reservations: not available
Solaseed Air operates inexpensive flights from Tokyo's Haneda Airport to various cities on Kyushu, and from these Kyushu airports to Okinawa. A relatively generous baggage allowance and a certain service level are maintained, including complementary drinks.

Advance Purchase Discounts

The single most effective way to get low rates on domestic flights in Japan is to purchase as early as possible. Most airlines start selling their flights from two months in advance (details vary between airlines) and offer particularly large discounts when booked at least 45, 35 or 28 days in advance. Many airlines also offer discounts on bookings made seven, three or one day ahead of travel date.

The biggest discounts are offered on popular routes on which competition is high. Most discounts are available for just a limited number of seats on each flight and may sell out quickly. They are often tied to high service fees for ticket modification and cancellation. Some of the discounts are reduced or unavailable during peak travel seasons. Online bookings are possible on each airline's website, but note that some airlines do not maintain English websites.

Avoiding Peak Travel Periods

Many of the discount fares are less attractive or unavailable during peak travel periods such as the New Year holidays (late December to early January), the spring school holidays (second half of March and early April), Golden Week (late April to early May) and the summer holidays (mid July through August, especially Obon in mid August). Furthermore, fares on many routes are somewhat higher from Friday to Sunday than during the rest of the week.

Round-trip Discounts

Domestic flights in Japan are priced and sold in one-way sectors rather than round-trips. Nevertheless, many airlines do offer small discounts on round trips. However, since only one type of discount can be applied per flight and other discounts (especially advance purchase discounts) are usually better priced, round-trip discounts are often not the most attractive option.

Early morning and late night flights

The fares of some of the early morning and late night flights are typically around 10-20 percent lower.

Typical one way fares for selected routes

Route
Airline
Approx. Regular
One Way Fare
Typical Discounted
One Way Fare
Tokyo - Sapporo
JAL/ANA
Air Do
Skymark
Jetstar
38,000 yen
29,000 yen
19,000 yen
-
13,000 - 27,000 yen
10,000 - 23,000 yen
9,000 - 18,000 yen
4,000 - 8,000 yen
Tokyo - Fukuoka
JAL/ANA
Starflyer
Skymark
Jetstar
41,000 yen
37,000 yen
20,000 yen
-
13,000 - 27,000 yen
12,000 - 23,000 yen
9,000 - 19,000 yen
5,000 - 8,000 yen
Tokyo - Osaka/Kobe
JAL/ANA
Starflyer
Skymark
25,000 yen
23,000 yen
12,000 yen
10,000 - 12,000 yen
11,000 - 13,000 yen
8,000 - 11,000 yen
Tokyo - Okinawa
JAL/ANA
Skymark
Jetstar
46,000 yen
22,000 yen
-
19,000 - 37,000 yen
13,000 - 20,000 yen
6,000 - 15,000 yen
Osaka/Kobe - Sapporo
JAL/ANA
Skymark
Peach/Jetstar
46,000 yen
19,000 yen
-
14,000 - 37,000 yen
10,000 - 16,000 yen
5,000 - 10,000 yen
Osaka/Kobe - Okinawa
JAL/ANA
Skymark
Peach/Jetstar
38,000 yen
19,000 yen
-
14,000 - 31,000 yen
9,000 - 17,000 yen
5,000 - 10,000 yen

Last updated: May 14, 2015
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