For many international visitors to Japan, travel costs are a major consideration.
Flights from North America and Europe take upwards of eleven or twelve hours and can set you back many hundreds or even thousands of dollars.
With some forward planning and a pinch of ingenuity, however, you could be well on your way to Japan for much less than you might've imagined.
To help, here are six tips, tricks and things to consider when booking flights to Japan.
Book well in advance
While it can be tempting to hold out for the possibility of a cheaper last minute flight, it's a huge risk, especially if the rest of your vacation or trip is already booked!
As a rule, as soon as you know your intended travel dates, make a point of arranging your flights, as early bookings invariably provide cheaper fares.
Pay attention to statistics (and speculation!)
A recent Skyscanner study based on three years' worth of booking data revealed some interesting facts.
For example, Monday is statistically the cheapest day to book flights, while Saturday is the most expensive. Similarly, Friday is the most affordable day to actually fly, while Sunday is apparently the most costly.
Little snippets of insider information like this could save you significant amounts of money, so they're definitely worth paying close attention to.
Furthermore, people regularly report seeing flights increase in price after they've searched for them. According to speculation, this is a tactic used by airlines to urge you into booking and to provide a sense of urgency. You can allegedly avoid this by searching in private browsing mode, where the airline can't and won't track your searches. Give it a try!
Join a cheap flight alert website or newsletter
Websites (and newsletters) like Skyscanner, Kayak, Momondo, Google Flights, Scott's Cheap Flights, and Jack's Flight Club let users search for the cheapest available flights based on various criteria, and if you create an alert will email you when cheap tickets pop up.
If your travel dates are flexible, be sure to pay close attention to these websites and you'll likely be able to snap up flights for less than you might've anticipated.
If dates are fixed, shop around and compare prices from the various comparison sites, as well as directly with the airlines, to ensure you're getting the best possible deal.
Take an indirect flight or mix up airlines
Depending on where you're flying from, booking an indirect flight can often save a significant amount of cash...
What's more, if you can extend your vacation or trip by a day or two, you get the option of a layover in another country or state. While many people would prefer a direct flight, the option of spending 24 hours (or more, if you wish) in another great city, especially if it can actually save you money, is almost a no-brainer!
Also, consider booking outbound and return flights with different airlines in order to make a further saving.
Think about using a travel agent
In today's digital age, visiting a travel agent in person can seem old hat. Often prices will be higher than online as you're paying for a personal service, operating from a "bricks and mortar" location, rather than a website...
With that said, they may have access to deals which aren't available online, plus you get the added bonus of having someone else do all the hard work for you. Dealing face to face with someone, often without any of the jargon or confusion of booking online, utilizing a travel agent may be preferable for some people. This is especially true if you're an infrequent flier; doubly so if they can secure you a great deal!
...and remember, cheapest doesn't always mean the best value!
Particular on long-haul flights, there may be deals on business class seats which are priced similarly to—and very, very occasionally, often owing to airline mistakes, cheaper than—seats in economy. When you consider the added perks of upgrading to business, even at a premium, you might find yourself getting a better deal by actually paying a little more for your ticket. This is especially true when it comes to comfort and service...
So, utilize one or more of the above and you'll be well on your way to flying to Japan without (hopefully!) breaking the bank.
Don't forget to take care of your currency ahead of time, too, and pre-book any onward travel or attractions where available. Likewise, make sure you're able to stay online for the duration of your visit by arranging a pocket wifi router for collection at the airport or delivery to your accommodation.
See you in Japan!