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From Economy to First Class, Cheap Flights to Japan are Back

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Attention Thrifty Traveler Premium members:

Attention Thrifty Traveler Premium members:

You’ve likely already received these deals. If not, log into your Premium deals hub to see every recent alert we've sent.

The cheapest economy ticket, a comfier premium economy ride, a lie-flat business class seat, and a first class travel experience can all get you the same thing in 2024: A trip to Japan.

All of these experiences in the sky are possible if you have the right combination of cash, points, and miles, but finding cheap flights to Japan isn't so straightforward. Unlike other popular destinations like Mexico, Florida, and even parts of Europe, there aren’t any tried and true flights to Japan. You really have to look – and look often – to find what you want. 


Japan is open for travel


At Thrifty Traveler Premium, we are doing that work for you. Our team of flight deal analysts run dozens and dozens of searches for cheap flights to Japan – using both cash and points and miles – from 200+ U.S. and Canadian airports every single day. And over the last two months, we've sent our subscribers 10 different Japan flight deals from nationwide cash deals from $586 roundtrip to Delta flights from 43,000 points roundtrip to ANA First Class award availability from Chicago-O'Hare (ORD) to Tokyo (HND) for 85,000 each way.

We can confidently say that cheap flights to Japan are back. Whether you're a seasoned Japan traveler, a newbie, or you're a travel writer planning a ski trip to Hokkaido – the number one thing on his bucket list for as long as he can remember (Sorry, too personal?) – here are all the different ways you can get to Japan for less in 2024.


Cheap Flights to Japan in Economy

Depending on where you're flying from, flights to Tokyo can easily breach $1,200…for economy.

If you're going to smush yourself into an economy seat for 10-plus hours flying across the Pacific Ocean, you'd better at least get a good deal on it.

Those deals, my fellow travelers, are out there!


LAX TYO cash fare United


We just sent this sweet fare flying between Los Angeles (LAX) and Tokyo-Narita (NRT) to our subscribers a few days ago, giving Thrifty Traveler Premium members a quick alert about these sub-$600 fares!

And that was just a few weeks after we found these similarly amazing Delta fares for about $70 more, too!


LAX to Tokyo Delta flight


Los Angeles (LAX) runs so many flights a day to Tokyo that it's one of the closest things to a surefire cheap flight to Japan that exists. But you don't have to be a Californian to get a low fare to Haneda (HND) or Narita (NRT).


Tokyo cash deal


When we sent this deal a few weeks ago, these sub-$900 roundtrip fares to Japan permeated even the smallest U.S. airports.

How about a trip to Japan from Bloomington-Normal Airport in Central Illinois for $866 roundtrip?


Tokyo cash deal


This was a special deal that we were able to find for our Premium members. Hopefully, our subscribers in La Crosse, Wisconsin (LSE), Cedar Rapids, Iowa (CID), and Louisville, Kentucky (SDF) were able to book a bucket list Japan trip this year!


Economy Points and Miles Deals to Japan

The only thing better than a cheap cash flight to Japan is being able to use your hard-earned points and miles to make the flights nearly free.

For just $50 in taxes and fees, you can book Delta flights to Japan using your Virgin Atlantic Flying Club miles. It's one of our favorite workarounds to book pricey Delta fares.

We found availability for booking these Delta flights with Virgin points from dozens of U.S. cities, too!


Virgin atlantic points and miles


Plus, this workaround helped this particular travel writer book his dream trip to Japan this winter! I'm flying Delta nonstop to Haneda (HND) from Minneapolis (MSP) for just 70,000 Virgin Atlantic points roundtrip! The last time I looked at the cash price, it was north of $1,400.


Cheap Flights to Japan in Premium Economy

Let's start to level up, though, because Japan is a long, long journey. A little extra legroom, more extra recline, a few additional amenities, and better service would be pretty nice, right?

Enter premium economy, the midpoint between economy and business class that also comes at a midpoint price point.


American Airlines premium economy


A few weeks ago, we sent this roundtrip, nonstop premium economy flight deal from LAX to HND for just $1,396 roundtrip!

If you aren't sure what premium economy is, think domestic first class seats. Those comfy seats you walk past on your way onto the plane are almost exactly what you'll find in premium economy on these long-haul routes.

It's not quite a lie-flat seat with lounge access and all the rest, but it's a massive upgrade from economy in most cases.


Business Class Award Availability to Japan

Let's get to the main event: Lie-flat business class.

These are the seats you really want to be in when you're flying across the Pacific, and luckily, Japan flag carrier Japan Airlines has a spectacular business class seat that you can call home on your journey.


Japan Airlines business class


We've sent two Japan Airlines business class deals over the last few weeks, and if you have 60,000 American Airlines miles (or Bilt Rewards), you could have booked either deal to Japan.


JAL business class SFO


This San Francisco (SFO) award space included almost every date in February and some in March, too. There was a ton of availability that you could book with either AA miles, Alaska miles, or British Airways Avios.

The same goes for this New York (JFK) availability, which actually began in January.


Japan Airlines business class to HND


The cost of these flights in AA miles is crazy low. What's hard is finding the availability of those 60,000-point awards. That's where we come in – and with at least four members of our team scheming Japan trips this year, you'd better believe we're checking every single day for our Thrifty Traveler Premium members!


First Class Award Availability to Japan

If business class is the main event, then ANA First Class is the VIP suite in the Skybox overlooking the arena.

First class is something I've never experienced for myself, but you're nuts if you don't think I'm trying to get myself into one of these seats crossing the Pacific someday.


ANA First Class flight deal


The first class experience is an elevated class of service with spacious suites and dedicated flight attendant service onboard. Plus, you get all the champagne, whiskey, fine dining, and anything else you would possibly require while flying to Japan.

Booking these seats is tough. First, you need at least 85,000 Virgin Atlantic points, or much more in United, LifeMiles, or ANA Mileage Plan.


ANA First Class


Secondly, you need to find the availability to actually book these seats with points and miles – and that can be like finding a needle in a haystack. We search for this exact airplane seat every single day, and when availability pops up, we send it to our Thrifty Traveler Premium subscribers immediately.


Bottom Line

If a cheap flight is the only thing standing between you and your dream trip to Japan, I'm here to tell you that they're out there.

Whether you want to book a first class experience, a lie-flat seat, a little something extra in premium economy, or are just looking to get there for cheap, the deals are out there if you know where to look!


Editorial Disclaimer: Opinions expressed here are the author’s alone, not those of any bank, credit card issuer, airlines or hotel chain, and have not been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by any of these entities.

Disclaimer: The responses below are not provided or commissioned by the bank advertiser. Responses have not been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by the bank advertiser. It is not the bank advertiser’s responsibility to ensure all posts and/or questions are answered.

2 Responses

  • we have cheaper choice, ZIPAIR, which is LCC owned by JAL. I can find less than $300 one way ticket from SFO/SJC/LAX to NRT(Tokyo) via ZIPAIR.

  • For first, using ANA miles is actually a much better deal than Virgin miles. Not sure why you say it’s a lot more? Presumably whoever buys it needs to go and also come back, so the round trip requirement shouldn’t be too onerous.

    AA is also a pretty decent deal for JAL First Class but usually availability is only close in (like within the week of travel) so you need to be flexible on timing. Also currently it’s only to DFW and JFK. LAX, SFO, and ORD that used to have it are all 787 routes now. Having said that, JAL First on the 77W is dated and tired. Best wait for the new A350-1000s to come online and JFK gets it first.

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