Air travel is quite expensive inside Japan, especially if you’re booking a ticket last-minute. Here are some tips!
ANA and JAL have 55, 45, 28, 7, and 1-day advance discount tickets. Tabiwari (ANA) and SAKITOKU (JAL) tickets are special tickets that must be bought 2 months in advance and are heavily discounted… sometimes by as much as 70%. The catch is they’re only available on specific days and the ticket details cannot be changed. Consult the airlines or your travel agent for more details. JAL and ANA usually pick the same days for Tabiwari and SAKIROKU tickets.
Get a frequent flier membership now. Even if you don’t use the miles in Japan, most airlines are in world alliances, so you can transfer your miles to an airline back home.
Islanders get a special 15% discount card on JAL flights.
Also, check out STA Travel for some good deals for JETs.
For international flights, it’s usually best to go to a travel agent. Here are some recommended ones! Many of these places have English-speaking travel agents, so ask for someone who speaks English!
Local Travel Agencies
Before you go running off to one of the agencies in Kagoshima City or try to handle it all on your own through the internet, ask some of your co-workers if there’s a travel agency nearby. If your Japanese isn’t very good, you’ll need someone to come with you to translate. But these smaller agencies could be a source of some great deals that you might not have gotten otherwise.
General Travel Hints
You can buy tickets directly from any airline or through a travel agency. Purchasing a flight/hotel pack from a travel agent is usually cheaper than regular return airfare. Buying direct often allows priority over those who reserve from agencies. You can ask for an English speaker by using the phrase, “sumimasen, eigo wo hanaseru hito ga irasshaimasu ka” (Excuse me, is there someone who speaks English?)
If you wish to fly to some of the islands in Kagoshima Prefecture, there are a number of daily flights connecting all the islands. Prices will vary according to destination and time of travel. Talk to the travel agents or airlines directly for details. Again, often a hotel-and-flight pack is the cheapest option.
Kagoshima has a small International Terminal serving four destinations: Shanghai (China Eastern Airlines), Taipei (China Airlines), Seoul (Korean Airlines) and Hong Kong (Hong Kong Airlines). Considering how expensive domestic travel is, flying out from Kagoshima to another destination via Shanghai, Taipei or Seoul might provide a cheaper alternative than transiting via another Japanese airport.
Prices skyrocket during Golden Week, New Year, and summer holidays. Book far in advance and try to leave a bit earlier or return later.
Some airlines offer great deals with air passes, be sure to ask about these.
Join AJET travel-related groups or volunteering projects (PEPY, Habitat for Humanity, etc) for great travel opportunities.