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Choosing the right airline can offer both physical and financial comfort; it is also undoubtedly a great way to start your Japan trip. Travelers may find the different airlines in Japan to be more fitting than others depending on the budget and of course, where the flight will take you.
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Japan’s airlines, along with Japan’s service industry as a whole, has been praised as one of the best. Browse your options as we lay out what you should know about each airline.
Both of the international airlines mentioned below - ANA and JAL - are world class and famous. Of course both offer domestic flights, but they are also the best and most reliable options for international travel, especially if you are taking a long trip and are willing to pay for the spectacular service as it does cost quite a bit to book.
All Nippon Airlines, also known as Zennikku and ANA for short has both domestic and international flights with over 120 destinations around the world, with 84 international routes and 119 domestic routes.
ANA dates back to 1952 as its year of establishment, utilizing helicopters as its way of flying people to their destinations. The airline developed its system for decades and at present, it is renowned as the biggest airline in Japan. And you can be assured of its quality, as ANA has won awards upon awards both domestically and globally. In fact, some of the domestic airlines mentioned below further on in the article are subsidiaries of ANA.
※ANA Holdings, “ANA Receives Prestigious 5-Star Rating from SKYTRAX for the Seventh Consecutive Year”
- In-Flight Entertainment
Something unique about ANA is its incorporation of Kabuki and cute kigurumi - costumed mascot characters - as part of their inflight safety videos, showing both the traditional and pop culture side of Japan.
As one would expect, ANA offers plenty of onboard enjoyment for international flights; for example, movies, television programs, and songs for relaxation. Passengers can also access the ANA app and select what they want to watch beforehand on MY SKY CHANNEL accessing them using their devices on hand once on the flight.
- In-flight Meals:
All travelers are given dinners as a courtesy on thousands of miles flights on the whole duration of the flight. The higher the class, the more superior the quality of selections are. Travelers wishing for a special meal especially with dietary restrictions must forward the request a day before the boarding.
Travelers can utilize the airline's WIFI for surfing through the net and social media websites at an altitude of 30,000 feet. This is free for people taking first class, but costs a fee for all other classes which depends on how long you intend to use the Wifi.
ANA offers various discounts to those who reserve their flights early. For example, Value and Super Value tickets offer immense discounts depending on the season and availability but don’t permit you to make changes. Whereas the Basic and Flex fare plan allow you to change your flight plan including upgrades but are generally more expensive. The Flex fare plan in particular means that the price will change based on the availability and how close the flight is to the purchase date.
Japan Airlines or abbreviated as and known in Japan as JAL came into operation in 1952, only offering domestic flight service to passengers. This airline has established its name for decades and is now in close competition with the leading airline in Japan - All Nippon Airways (ANA). JAL has flights to 62 airports domestically, and to around 350 airports around the world. JAL has also earned 5-star status by Skytrax.
※JAL, “Number of Routes”
- In-Flight Entertainment
JAL offers an array of entertainment and leisure by also providing movies, original video programs, news, pop music, and even comic storytelling exhibitions and comics for travelers to enjoy.
- In-flight Meals
Japan Airlines offer a broad menu of delicious, healthy meals during the whole duration of the flight. They also provide meals appropriate for the kids. In order to get a special meal option, you need to check by when you have to order that particular type of meal. It can range from at least 24 to 72 hours in advance. You can also choose the Ethical Choice Meal Skip option if you don’t want to eat during the flight - however, this is only available on certain routes.
You can browse the internet by connecting your mobile devices and other gadgets on the wifi provided for international flights, provided that you pay the fee unless you are in first class which gets complimentary Wifi.
- In-flight Shopping:
You can probably enjoy the travel more because JAL has lots of in-store for you. There are a variety of items that you can purchase while flying like cosmetic goods, accessories like watches, beverages, bags, and many more. Keep in mind that the items available depend on the itinerary.
JAL also offers big discounts for early reservations. Options include Special Saver and Saver which don’t permit changes. Standard and Flex allow changes, but again, are more expensive. The Flex fare plan in particular means that the price will change based on the availability and how close the flight is to the purchase date.
Domestic airlines have been more cost-efficient in the past few years, and travelers often now prefer it from other transportation methods. Of course the above two airlines - ANA and JAL - offer amazing domestic flight services as well. However, LCCs or Low Cost Carriers have become more common. Below are the lists of domestic airlines - which also offer international flights which might be worth looking into if you’re coming from a nearby country but we’ll be focusing on the domestic flights - operating in Japan.
Skymark began in 1996 and has since become a competitive domestic flight operation. It is also known for its punctuality, beating out other domestic carriers in recent years. It offers an affordable fare and has an in-flight menu and services for their travelers. The airline provides snacks, in-flight shopping of branded items, beverages, and free services like sweets, towels that you can utilize, and blankets to keep you warm. A noticeable highlight of Skymark is the Nestle Kitkat chocolate and the Nescafe coffee that comes in different selections.
Peach Aviation has provided low cost flights since 2012 and has 32 domestic routes at the time of publication. It aims to not only be the best low cost carrier in Japan but also across Asia. It provides a travel service like insurance in case of injuries during the flight, hotel accommodations, and car rental for the convenience of passengers.
※Peach, About Peach
Jetstar Japan is actually one of the joint ventures of Japan Airlines and other companies which began its domestic flight service in 2012. They have a price beat guarantee (with certain conditions applying) which shows they are committed to keeping the costs down for customers. Aside from the meals and visual entertainment, Jetstar Japan is a kind of airline that is hands-on with its physically disabled passengers by assisting them from their whole duration of travel, devising a facilitation plan, and offering them assistive devices to make them comfortable.
Other air shuttles include Spring Airlines Japan, Starflyer, Solaseed Air, Air Do, Fuji Dream Airlines and more, all offering a creative and innovative service to attract more customers.
Here are just some general tips when booking your flights.
Japanese airlines are often given high ratings for their service. However, reading the reviews can give you an idea about the type of customer service, amenities, flexibility, and any hidden fees you can expect that won’t be as evident when booking your ticket. Getting the very best of quality service may mean paying extra for it after all, which may make especially the long international flights worth it.
As emphasized throughout this article, booking early can mean major discounts in overall cost. However, make sure to check whether you can change your flight plans if there’s a chance that your plans could change. Also, waiting until the last minute may mean a flight costs more than a shinkansen ticket in the case of domestic travel, so you might have to choose between cost and time in those cases. Low-cost carriers have been formulating a plan to extend their coverage in Asia, captivating the middle-class customers, while the major airlines are in the move to appeal to the business and first-class passengers by the introduction of high-end, comfortable carriers so it may be worth it to check your options. There are also discount offers exclusive to foreign tourists, so make sure to look into that as well before finalizing your travel plans.
Sometimes there’s several airports in roughly the same region. Make sure to do your research and see which one is more convenient for you once you’re there. For example, Tokyo can be accessed by both Haneda and Narita Airports. While Haneda is much closer to the metropolitan area of Tokyo, Narita may offer more flights from where you are or better times despite being further away. Make sure to weigh your options!
Japan’s airlines have come a long way to provide secure flights for both domestic and international itineraries in different quadrants of the globe. The positive and satisfied remarks of the various airlines’ services to passengers are significant, causing more people to fly around the world with these leading airlines. Whatever you choose between the above leading providers, what matters is to enjoy the trip to Japan, both financially and comfortably.
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