Booking internal flights in Japan is not a cheap thing to do on a whim. Therefore, if you are looking to go to Japan and explore areas such as Okinawa or Hokkaido or you haven’t got long enough to do shorter trips at a slower pace, getting an air pass in advance is the best way forward.
It is vital to note that while budget airlines do exist in Japan, you are unlikely to find that they are a worthwhile investment if you need to amend your journey at all compared to air passes. For us, despite our awareness of different airfares and experience working in travel, we couldn’t find a budget option that worked out cheaper on our route of Osaka (Itami) – Naha – Miyako – Tokyo (Haneda).
With this in mind, the two airlines that offer air passes are ANA and Japan Airlines. On the face of it, there’s very little difference in service. Both receive good rankings from Skytrax, so it depends if you’re a member of any OneWorld loyalty programmes, or any Star Alliance programmes when it comes to which might work out better. Also, if you fly to Japan with a OneWorld airline e.g. BA or Qatar or Japan Airlines, you will get a better rate on the Yokoso fare with Japan Airlines.
Both passes have the same pros and cons. You must take the first segment, but after this all journeys can be changed, just not re-routed. We made use of this and made a free change so that we could return to Tokyo one day earlier due to poor weather in Miyako. With the price of the pass working out on a sector by sector basis, and the Japan Airlines pass easily bookable online, there’s no need for a travel agent to be involved here, providing you have already booked your international flight and have the flight details.
If you are looking at doing a lot of travel, especially to Okinawa, this really is a great way of getting around. The fact that the charge is clear and infants are free makes it a good value option as well.
Categories: Travel Tips