Are you planning to take a trip to Japan this year? If so, you have plenty of options for how to get there. But which ones are the very best? Whether you’re flying in from the United States, Canada, Spain, France, China, or elsewhere, you should know which carriers have the lowest prices, the best amenities, and the happiest customers. To help you, I’ve created this list based on my own research and personal experience as a serial traveler. Here are my picks for the best airlines to fly to Japan.
Despite being smaller in size than the state of California, the island nation of Japan packs a punch. In fact, it’s one of the most popular tourist destinations in the world. Around 32 million visitors enter the country each year to scale Mt. Fuji, savor traditional Japanese cuisine, or relax at one of Tokyo’s many unique Airbnbs. Before you can do the same, though, you’ll have to pick which airline you’ll be flying with.
Which carriers are the best airlines to fly to Japan depends on where you’re departing from and your priorities. Are you looking for a budget airline that will help you find the cheapest airports in Japan? Or are you looking for a luxurious airline with high-end amenities? Do you want to take a direct flight or are you okay with having layovers? These are just a few questions worth considering when looking at the best airlines to fly to Japan.
My #1 tip on how to save money on the best flights to Japan
When looking at the best airlines to travel to Japan, keep in mind the expense often associated with international travel. Before I tell you about the best airlines to fly to Japan, let me first share a tip on how you can save a lot of money on plane tickets.
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The Best Airlines to Fly to Japan in 2023: 7 Airlines That Fly to Japan
From the glistening skyscrapers of Tokyo to the ancient shrines of Ise City, Japan is an incredible, awe-inspiring vacation destination. Don’t let a bad flight ruin your trip; the carriers listed below have the cheapest prices, the most luxurious amenities, and the highest rates of customer satisfaction out of all airlines going to Japan. These are my picks for the best airlines to fly to Japan this year.
1. United Airlines
For those departing from the U.S., United Airlines is one of the best airlines to fly to Japan. They have eight hub airports in America, all of which fly directly to Narita International Airport (NRT). This means that no matter where you are in the U.S., you can get a direct United flight to Japan.
That alone is a big deal for many people, considering how many cheap flights to Japan from other providers require at least one stop or lengthy layover. What’s more, United flights typically arrive in Japan between noon and 5 pm, which makes things easier for those who struggle with jet lag.
United’s wide variety of hubs and large fleet of wide-body planes also means that flying United gives travelers many different options for their arrival cities. This is important for travelers looking to explore specific parts of Japan that may be on an island or are otherwise not easily accessible.
United flies into several of the larger cities such as Osaka and Tokyo, as well as smaller ones like Sapporo and Sendai. United also has some of the best in-flight amenities, offering high-quality food and in-flight entertainment, as well as ample overhead compartment space for international flights. To fully take advantage of United Airlines’ best features, I recommend flying first class when possible.
2. All Nippon Airways
As Japan’s highest-rated airline, All Nippon Airways displays excellence in several categories when compared with other airlines. As a result, many travelers, both from the U.S. and elsewhere, consider ANA to be among the very best Japanese airlines.
All Nippon Airways has direct flights from many major United States cities, such as New York, Houston, Chicago, and Los Angeles. In addition to offering some best deals on flights to bargain-hunters, they also have extra luxury amenities for those willing to spend a little extra.
Arguably the biggest of those amenities is the inclusion of unique seating options designed to maximize privacy. Specifically, those flying business class using the Boeing B777-300ER will have access to a special seating area referred to as “The Room.” It comes complete with both sides and a private table, as well as a large monitor.
ANA is also known for its comfortable seating in all classes and excellent food for an airline. Having said all that, if you want to fly ANA, make sure to double-check your flight details. ANA and United have a partnership which means that some ANA tickets are actually fulfilled by United. This means that not all ANA flights offer the above-described amenities.
3. Peach Aviation
When flying within the United States, many bargain-hunters opt to fly Spirit Airlines, due to it often offering the cheapest flights possible. If there is an equivalent for flying to Japan, it’s probably Peach Aviation.
Peach Aviation may not be as well-known as other airlines on this list partly, but that’s because it only began flying in 2012. This airline is ideal for international visitors vacationing in Asian countries like China, South Korea, or Thailand who would like to add a Japanese leg to their trip.
Peach flies out of six international locations into Japan: Seoul, Shanghai, Hong Kong, and Bangkok. They also have two locations in Taiwan: Kaohsiung and the capital city of Taipei. Most of these departure locations only have service to Tokyo and Osaka, but a few (such as the one in Seoul, South Korea) offer service to Sapporo as well.
Peach currently has four different seating options: Fast Seats are the most expensive and offer the best legroom. Smart Seats are a bit cheaper and are seated in the exit rows. Pleasure Seats are pricier and double as window seats. Finally, there are Standard Seats, which is by far the cheapest and accounts for all other seating on Peach’s planes.
4. Air Canada
The flag carrier airline for its home country, Air Canada carries the most passengers of any Canadian airline. If you’re departing from Canada, nine times out of ten, Air Canada will be the airline offering the best flight to Japan.
Non-stop flights from Toronto-Pearson International (YYZ) to Narita can be acquired for under $2,000 in many cases. This is because Air Canada has resumed several key international routes that were, until recently, closed by the Covid pandemic.
Air Canada flies nonstop to Narita from Vancouver and Montreal. It also has a flight route from Québec with one stop, and several other flights with multiple stops. Worth noting is that Air Canada recently announced that they will be increasing the frequency of international flights, so expect prices to decrease as time goes on.
One unique benefit of flying Air Canada is that the airline uses a service called Aeroplan. This allows frequent fliers to earn points that can go towards things like flight cost reduction and discounts of up to 30% off at some hotels. Travelers can also earn points through normal shopping using a special credit card. If you fly in or out of Canada on the regular, it’s definitely worth signing up for Aeroplan.
5. Japan Airlines
As the flag carrier for its home country, the aptly named Japan Airlines is unsurprisingly the largest airline in the “Land of the Rising Sun.” As a result, often when flying to Japan via a U.S. provider like Jetstar, Hawaiian Airlines, or American Airlines, you’ll actually change planes along the way by hopping onto a Japan Airlines jet.
Fortunately, Japan Airlines is known for having some of the best ratings and most spacious economy class seats of any airline. In fact, it is widely considered to be one of the best Japanese airlines, if not the very best.
Japan Airlines flies to and from a wide variety of international cities, making them an ideal choice for longer trips. At the time of this writing, the airline offers flights to Japan from numerous major European and Asian cities, including London, Paris, Seoul, Hong Kong, and Taipei.
The food provided to travelers on Japan Airlines flights is especially noteworthy, being fresh, varied, and served in plentiful portions. Prior to boarding, Japan Airlines also offers travelers access to Sakura Lounges at many of its hub airports. Here, you’ll be able to enjoy food, drinks, power outlets, and resting areas to help you stave off boredom in between flights.
Although Iberia is the flag carrier airline of Spain and its primary hub city is Madrid, they offer many flights to Japan from several European cities. Iberia is renowned for its low prices. So if you’re looking for the cheapest airlines in Europe, Iberia is among the best airlines that fly to Japan.
Since long flights like those to Japan tend to be very long, Iberia knows how important nailing basic amenities is. Their food selection is excellent, with many options from different regional cuisines, ranging from American-style sandwiches and Russian-style salads to Asian-style poke bowls and more. They also offer high-end dining options such as chocolate-covered strawberries with wine, as well an extensive selection of desserts and fresh fruit.
Another advantage of flying with Iberia is that the company is part of the Oneworld Airline Alliance. This means that Iberia flights can be operated by or connected with flights from other reputable airlines all around the world.
It also means that Iberia can help you book a cheaper flight through an airline such as British Airways or Japan Airlines. In some cases, an Iberia business class or first class ticket will also grant you access to Airport Lounges operated by other airlines in the Oneworld Alliance.
7. Air France
On top of being the flag carrier airline for (where else?) France, Air France is also one of the largest airlines operating in Europe. Since the reopening of their Japanese routes, Air France now operates five flights a week. They go to the international airports in both Narita and Haneda.
Unlike many other airlines, Air France has maintained the majority of its pre-Covid menu, with the exception of their a la carte dining options. They have a variety of snacks and alcohol on all flights, as well as a choice between two hot meals on long-haul flights. Flights that are traveling to and from India will also still have a vegetarian menu. You can also pre-order a special meal as long as you order it at least 24 hours prior to your flight’s departure.
Air France business class seats are now also being progressively upgraded to luxury seats similar to “The Room” seats at All Nippon Airways. These seats come equipped with a massive amount of space, dividers for complete privacy, and a lie-flat bed. If you are traveling with another person, the dividers between two seats can also be lowered for private conversation between two people.
Admittedly, Air France flights can be a bit pricey. Though if you’re more interested in comfort and speed than cheap airfare, then Air France ranks high as one of the best airlines to fly to Japan from Europe.
8. Hawaiian Airlines
Hawaii’s position in the Pacific Ocean makes it a prime location to fly out of to Japan due to its low flight time. In fact, many travelers opt to fly into Hawaii first before connecting to Japan. Some flight times from other cities to Japan can take up to eighteen hours. This is uually with a layover, whereas a direct flight from Honolulu to Japan is just eight and a half hours.
Hawaii is not only a travelers’ hotspot for routes into Japan, but also a common pathway back for Japanese nationals in America due to the shorter flights. Suffice it to say, if you’re planning a trip to Japan from the United States, you might want to consider flying Hawaiian Airlines.
Hawaiian Airlines is many people’s first choice when flying in and out of Hawaii. What’s more, its accommodating staff and first-class amenities make it one of the fastest and best airlines to Japan in the entire U.S.
Additionally, Hawaiian Airlines’ in-flight food and drink are high quality and extensively varied. Two meals will be served, typically dinner and breakfast, although it depends on your departure time. You can preorder meals from a variety of cultures prior to your flight, including a meal from the Japanese menu, or simply enjoy one of the complimentary options provided. By the time you get to your destination, you’ll be well-fed and ready for the vacation of a lifetime.
Frequently asked questions (FAQs) about the best airlines to fly to Japan
Planning a vacation takes a lot of thought and preparation, especially if you’re flying overseeing. Choosing a flight from one of the exceptional airlines above is a good way to set yourself up for success. However, there are a few other things to consider as well. With that in mind, here are some popular questions I get about the best airlines to fly to Japan.
What are the best ways to save money flying to Japan?
If you want to make the most of your time in Japan, it helps to know how to stretch a dollar. To help you find cheap airline tickets to Japan, here are a few helpful tips:
First, book your flight earlier rather than later. In most cases, the earlier you book, the better the deal. As your departure date gets closer and the airline has fewer seats to sell, they’ll be able to sell tickets at a higher price. Booking early helps you get your ticket cheaply because there are still more seats than there are customers.
Second, do your research. Look up information about what parts of Japan you’ll be traveling to. By visiting travel websites and reading reviews from other tourists, you will get a good idea of how much certain attractions and activities cost. You can then budget accordingly, without worrying about last-minute surprises.
Finally and most importantly, use Going. I really can’t stress enough how helpful it is. I’ve saved hundreds of dollars on flights both international and domestic. It’s quick, it’s easy, and it’s automated, which means all you have to do is type in your departure and arrival points. Going will then send airfare discounts straight to your email. It’s just that easy!
How long does it take to fly to Japan from the U.S.?
The length of a cheap flight to Japan varies greatly based on where you’re leaving from. If you’re departing from the United States east coast, the average time to reach Tokyo is just over 14 hours. Flights leaving from the west coast tend to be shorter due to the area’s proximity to the Pacific Ocean.
That said, another factor that may alter flight time estimates is whether you’re on a direct or connecting flight. Connecting flights not only tend to have more in-the-air time, but also require layover and carrier changes. This can make your journey take even longer.
Are direct flights to Japan better than connecting flights?
As noted above, choosing whether to take a non-stop flight to Japan or to use connecting flights can play a major role in the length of your trip. That might seem to automatically make direct flights better, but there are times when connecting flights might actually be preferable.
One of the biggest reasons you might want to take a connecting flight instead of a direct one is because of the price. Non-stop flights are usually (though not always) more expensive. If the added time of a route requiring connecting flights is negligible or simply not a big deal to you, you might be better off going for the cheaper deal.
What airlines fly to Japan non-stop?
If you want a direct flight, there are many different carriers who can accommodate you. They include some of the best airlines to fly to Japan, such as:
- All Nippon Airways
- Japan Airlines
- United Airlines
- Hawaiian Airlines
- American Airlines
- Malaysia Airlines
- Thai Airways
- LATAM Airlines
What’s the best time of year to fly to Japan from the U.S.?
Like with most things, the best time of year to fly to Japan from the U.S. depends on several factors. Chief among them is what you mean by “best.”
If you’re looking for the cheapest time to fly to Japan, go during the off-season from January through March. On the other hand, if you’re more interested in what time of year has the best weather, then you’ll want to visit during the warmer months of June, July, and August. However, if, like countless tourists before you, you specifically want to see the country’s famous cherry blossoms in bloom, then the best time to go is between March and April.
What is the best airport in Japan to fly into?
For most visitors, the best airport in Japan will be Narita International Airport (NRT). This is thanks to its general affordability and the diverse selection of carriers that offer routes there. It is also ideally located near many of the most popular tourist destinations in the country, most notably the city of Tokyo.