Living in another country can be lonely sometimes, especially if you miss family and friends. How cool is it, when your family wants to come and visit you? My friend from Germany wants to come and spend some time with me in Japan, but the fact that I live on Okinawa and that it is so far from Tokyo or Osaka, makes it harder for her to get reasonable tickets.
She went to a travel agency in Germany and asked for Japanese inland flights and the lady announced with an apologetic smile that the cheapest ticket available from Tokyo to Okinawa is via ANA for 200€, which is about 27,000 yen. Most travel agencies will offer you flights like this and while ANA is a very good airline, it is not the only option you have if you want to get around Japan.
The budget airlines we have here in Japan can bring you across the country for far less than 27,000 yen. Foreigners on a visit can travel even cheaper than usual and here is how:
Solaseed Airlines flies tourists anywhere for 10,000 Yen!
Solaseed Air is a budget airline and one of the cheaper options when you want to fly to Kagoshima, for example. I visited friends there this summer and Solaseed tickets cost, if you purchase at least 1-2 months beforehand, about 12.000yen which tops all the other ticket prices of flights that connect Okinawa and Kagoshima.
If you are a tourist and have a 90 day Visitor Permit Stamp (The stamp you get, when you enter the country without a Visa), you can travel on stand-by for 10,000 yen ALL ROUTES! You just need to pick a flight, show up right when the Solaseed airline counters open and ask for a Stand-by ticket. If spots are open (and they usually are), you get a ticket for 10,000 yen right away, no matter how expensive the flight normally is. A few of my friends and I traveled this summer that way. It's adventurous and a great opportunity, if you like spontaneous travel.
Budget airlines: Peach, Skymark, Jetstar, Vanilla Air, Spring Japan, Starflyer, Airdo
These airlines have great deals! It's a good idea to sign up for their newsletters in case the airline has a sale. Booking the right routes at the right time can save you a lot of money.
But watch out! Their baggage allowances and restrictions vary! Peach Airlines, for example, is very particular about their 20 kilos check-in baggage and the 10 kilos of carry-on baggage weight. But Fortunately, you can easily purchase for more luggage weight if you need to. Jetstar Airlines even lets you add another suitcase for only 1,000 yen. Adding baggage on international routes easily costs 10 ten times more than that! Many of those budget airlines also fly to Korea or Hong Kong and allow you to get a round trip ticket for very reasonable prices.
How to book tickets
Many people are scared of online booking, but, nowadays, that’s how most airlines and low-cost carrier flight reservations work. The web pages usually have the option of booking in English if you can't read Japanese. If you want to keep your costs low, make sure you don't add too much luggage and avoid pre-selecting your seats. Domestic flights are not very long, so I can usually arrange myself with a middle seat for a few hours. You can still ask at the airline counter to change it, if you need a certain seat.
At the airport
Many low-cost carrier airlines do not have their own airline counters. They borrow counters from their host airlines or other companies. Keep your eyes open for information on where to check in. It will tell you on your confirmation emails and on the airport web page as well. It is very common for Japanese airlines, especially budget carriers, to have you check in at the airline's computer kiosks. You are often required to type in a booking number, your name or phone number. Be sure to carry the required information with you when you fly low costs carriers. When you book your ticket online it will tell you exactly what you need. The kiosks are also in English or Japanese, sometimes even in Korean or Chinese. It is very common to not get a boarding pass anymore but only a printed receipt that you carry through security and on board. It's quite funny. It makes you feel like you are getting on a bus, not an airplane.
Well, now you are all set for your next travel! It will be easy now to book a ticket for a friend or family member that wants to come visit you in Japan! Enjoy exploring this beautiful country!