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Japan Travel 2022


Tony Galiani

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I just had a phone call from ANA. The flight time has increased by 2 hours due to the invasion of Ukraine. Looking at Flight Radar they now take the southern route over Europe and China.

 

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It's such a ridiculously round-about route. They have to go south to avoid Ukraine and the Black Sea, then straight over to Bejing, turn south again to avoid North Korea, and then finally to Tokyo. There is no tracking between Kazakhstan and east China, but I have a feeling they turn south to avoid flying over Mongolia, based on the angle that they come into Beijing at.

 

I think I've been on a similar route to that before, when I came back from Japan via South Korea. Had a momentary panic in Korea, put my ticket in the machine and it said "wrong airport". I didn't realize I had to get the train to a different airport in Seoul to make the transfer. The train ticket machine didn't take cards so I had to get some cash. It was easy in the end though, and British people don't need a visa to enter the country for short periods.

 

Coming back is a different route for some reason.

 

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Again, they have to turn south to avoid Russian airspace. I've never been further west than Spain so this will be new. I wonder if there will be good views of Iceland and Greenland.

 

I wonder why they use a different route coming back? It seems to be slightly slower. Wind maybe?

 

11.5 hours was bad enough before, 13.5 is... And it means that I will arrive 2 hours later into the evening, and have to get to Haneda for 7:30 AM on the way back instead of a more leisurely 9:30 AM. Still, first world problems, it's obviously much worse for the Ukrainians.

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disturbman
6 minutes ago, mojo said:

There is no tracking between Kazakhstan and east China, but I have a feeling they turn south to avoid flying over Mongolia, based on the angle that they come into Beijing at.


More like to avoid flying over Russia and North Korea as there are no path north of South Korea. In any case, afaik, Chinese airspace is heavily regulated and they are but a few corridors available. Flights have been taking the southern route, and more recently the western Polar route, since Russia close its airspace to Western/Japanese flights in retaliation for the sanctions.

The switch between both routes is probably wind, https://www.airlinerwatch.com/2022/03/the-polar-route-to-japan-is-back-as.html.

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Beats my first trip to japan in ‘84 just starting grad school. I got invited to a scientific meeting in Kyoto 5 days before it started. Luckily a friend from college was working in the student travel agency renowned for getting cheap seats and was able to get me a very cheap ticket. But it came at a price, I got the pacific rim tour…

 

San Francisco to LA

2hr layover in LA

LA to Anchorage

Kicked off the plane for 2 hrs to clean the plane into a hall with about 25 seats total

Anchorage to Seoul

4 hrs in Seoul (no visa or customs so could have gone into town)

Seoul to Osaka

 

just about 24 hrs. This after 4 days with little or no sleep getting my presentation ready for the meeting. I hit japan looking like something the cat threw up.

 

jeff

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back in April I bought (refundable, changeable) tickets for the family to go to Japan in December.  I figured that if Japan opened the prices would go sky high so wanted to lock in the price (which was not particularly great compared to the pre Covide prices I paid the last few times).  Around June or July, I found out that our SLC-LAX leg had been canceled due to airline scheduling changes  (I was never notified, but logged into Chase to check and they had a flag on the itinerary -- I got the tickets through Chase using points).  I talked to Chase back then and they couldn't find a replacement but I said I would just hang tight as there was still about 5 or 6 months to go and airline schedules seem to change all the time this year.  Sure enough, a non-direct flight to LAX popped up that would work -- going over PHX (Arizona).  This past Saturday, since we are a little over a month away from flight time, I decided to look into officially getting our flights updated with the new PHX flight and I logged in and there was another Warning check and the airline website showed the itinerary only having our return flight  back from Japan.  

 

Ruh-roh

 

We had been scheduled to go SLC -- LAX -- KIX (or SLC -- PHX -- LAX -- KIX if I had gotten the new segment in) but in searching the AA.com I did not find ANY flights at all from SLC -- KIX  (our flights were JAL codeshare with AA except the domestic USA segments which were AA flown of course).

 

Monday I did search using OSA as the destination, which will use any Osaka area airport, and found a bunch to Itami, Okayama, Takamatsu, Nagoya, etc.  So I called Chase, and told them the problem and they were able to rebook us at not cost, since it was due to airline schedule changes, on the same day SLC -- DFW -- HND -- ITM.  (Our return had already been ITM -- HND -- DFW -- SLC so we're just doing the reverse now instead of landing at KIX).  We have to get up an hour or two earlier and the flight to Haneda from DFW is like 13.5 hours or something :(.   Flyig backward to go forward kind of sucks.  My big fear is that every time I am in an airplane or trying to get on an airplane in DFW there are delays due to thunderstorms or other issues.  Crossing my fingers that doesn't happen this time.

 

Since my sister in law lives in Kobe (near the baseball stadium where they play the HS baseball championships in the summer), ITM is actually more convenient in that regard as she may be able to just pick us up instead of taking the Kansai airport express and then transferring to a Kobe bound train etc.  So now I am trying to set up everything, get rail passes, etc.  I still need to officially ask for time off from work but the boss knows about this trip...

 

We've never flown to or from ITM before.  It is near where my MIL used to live before she passed on, so e would see and hear the planes coming in to ITM...

 

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1 hour ago, chadbag said:

back in April I bought (refundable, changeable) tickets for the family to go to Japan in December.  I figured that if Japan opened the prices would go sky high so wanted to lock in the price (which was not particularly great compared to the pre Covide prices I paid the last few times).

 

That was my plan too. Seems to have paid off too.

 

1 hour ago, chadbag said:

So I called Chase, and told them the problem and they were able to rebook us at not cost, since it was due to airline schedule changes, on the same day SLC -- DFW -- HND -- ITM.

 

I guess you couldn't use your Chase points for the shinkansen.

 

1 hour ago, chadbag said:

Flyig backward to go forward kind of sucks.

 

Yeah. Unfortunately with the way they do hub and spoke it's often the cheapest, or the only option. My wife recently did Southampton to Manchester. Coach was £15 but took 6 hours (it's about 230 miles). Direct flight was £100, cheapest flight was £60 but via Amsterdam or Paris. The train was either about 5 hours and some silly money, or you could do it for more than the cost of the flight and changing twice in London, total time about 5 hours if I recall.

 

For Japan, I prefer direct flights. ANA and JAL cost a bit more than the only other direct carrier, BA, but it's worth every penny. British Airways is terrible. I've been with Finnair via Helsinki a few times, it was okay but does increase travel time and the service isn't as good as ANA or JAL. I can't remember who I went with via Korea... I remember LOT (Polish) was an option but it wasn't them.

 

The food on ANA and JAL is better, the staff are better, the kit they give you is better, and you get more leg room. The only potential issue is that the in flight entertainment has less English stuff on it, which is great for me as I get to discover some more Japanese movies and shows, but might not be so good if you have kids.

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Bob Martin

I too prefer ANA over other carriers, they’re still one the few with first class.  But I wasn’t willing to pay the $27K, so just flew business this time.  I don’t remember paying that much for the previous first class trips with them.  Probably more in the $12K range.   But I guess they’re making up for the past 2.5 years as fast as they can.

 

Anyways, couldn’t resist this bento, as I always regretted not buying one on previous trips...

 

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Edited by Bob Martin
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20 hours ago, mojo said:

For Japan, I prefer direct flights. ANA and JAL cost a bit more than the only other direct carrier,


Yes we prefer direct flights as well. For us that means direct from the major gateway out of the US as I don’t think there are any direct Japan flights from Salt Lake City.  (There used to be a Delta flight to Tokyo a few times a week and we took that once — best trip I ever had to Japan in terms of getting there). 
 

We used to get free tickets through Delta skymiles back when I used Amex for everything and also ran my own business and used the business skymiles Amex.  But at the time Delta didn’t fly to Japan so we had to go Korean Air as the Skyteam member who flew there from the US.  So many of our early trips to Japan were via Seoul with usually a longer layover there.  Really sucked.  I’ve since moved my credit card spending to mainly Chase and so use their program for our cheap or free flights through points.  
 

So now we can take whatever airline has the route or price or whatever criteria we use to decide.   I try to avoid US airlines native flights. They’re always the suckiest.  Delta seems to be ok and the wife took them when her mother was diagnosed with cancer.  Most airlines are part of larger “teams” or alliances (Skyteam, one world, star alliance etc)  and have partner airlines that fly to Japan. So I always try and get the US airlines  codeshare flights on their foreign partners flights. Or book directly with the foreign airline, whether they have a US partner it are standalone like Singapore.  As mentioned these flights usually have more room, better food, better service and amenities, etc.  

 

our last trip and this one were through American Airlines but on JAL flights. 

Edited by chadbag
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On 11/8/2022 at 12:10 PM, mojo said:

Again, they have to turn south to avoid Russian airspace. I've never been further west than Spain so this will be new. I wonder if there will be good views of Iceland and Greenland.

On that return flight if the sun is up by the time you’re there you should get amazing views of Greenland! Otherwise a chance to spot the northern lights…

 

The reason for the different route back is the overland route costs considerably more in airways fees (every country you transit will need to be paid!) and the flight times are probably fairly similar. Further issues are to fly those “polar” routes, aircraft need certain equipment fitted (long range data connection and polar survival kit) so it’s a balancing act of costs vs revenue. 


I’ve booked a trip to Japan for March next year for 8 days and taking my girlfriend with me for her first ever visit. She’s somewhat apprehensive as she’s vegetarian but I’ve assured her all will be ok! We’re planning on staying in the Tokyo area with the odd day trip, probably just using a Tokyo wide pass or similar JR East pass as we wouldn’t get the full usage from the rail pass. For some reason she’s not as keen to sit on trains all day…go figure!

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3 hours ago, matt_d10 said:

On that return flight if the sun is up by the time you’re there you should get amazing views of Greenland! Otherwise a chance to spot the northern lights…

 

I'll remember to try to get a seat on the port side by a window, so I can see anything interesting on the way back.

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