Getting the Cheapest Flights Between Los Angeles and Tokyo

Carey Finn

Eight flights a day connect two of the world’s favorite cities, making travel from Los Angeles to Tokyo (and vice versa) a breeze. Whether you’re looking to hit up Japan’s capital on the holiday of a lifetime or fly in for business, this article is all about helping you do so on the cheap. We’ve thrown in a few tips and tricks about timing and things to do, too, because we’re generous like that (who said cheapos had to be stingy?).

Los Angeles to Tokyo
ANA is one of your options when flying from Los Angeles to Tokyo. | Photo by Kambui

Los Angeles to Tokyo – Direct flights vs. layovers

Flight times

If you’re flying straight from LAX to Tokyo (either Haneda or Narita Airport), you’re looking at around 11 hours and 30 minutes of air time. The return route is about an hour shorter. Routing via a transit point can save you a couple of hundred dollars (or more, depending on the airline and travel season), but also adds an extra 8-28 hours to your journey. If you’re going to go indirect, the fastest (and least exhausting) options are flying via San Francisco (often on a codeshare flight), Vancouver, Taipei or Shanghai (though the latter can also be one of the longest, if you don’t pick your flights carefully).

Direct flight cost

ANA, good old JAL, Singapore Airlines and several US carriers all offer direct flights from LAX to Tokyo, and prices are generally fairly competitive. You can’t go wrong with any of the first three choices—as for the latter, we’ll leave that up to you. Have a closer look at Skyscanner to see what the best rates are for your travel dates.

Direct Flights LAX to Tokyo (fares in USD)
RouteAirlineReturn FareBooking
Los Angeles => TokyoANA$683.00Details
Los Angeles => TokyoJapan Airlines$715.00Details
Los Angeles => TokyoSingapore Airlines$739.00Details
Los Angeles => TokyoThai Airways$746.00Details
Los Angeles => TokyoAustrian Airlines$774.00Details
Los Angeles => TokyoUnited$808.00Details
Japanese flag on aircraft
Indirect flights from LA to Tokyo can save you some yen (but cost you some hours). | Photo by Bradley Eldridge used under CC

Indirect flight cost

If you’re hellbent on flying into Tokyo via somewhere else, your best bet is to look for deals on either codeshare flights (e.g. Delta and ANA), Air Canada, Air China or China Eastern, or Korean Air (a good choice if you’re keen on a stopover in Japan’s northern neighbor).

Our advice: Cap your flight time at 20 hours if possible, unless you’re spending the night at a hotel in the in-between country. Anything more than a day in the air makes for extremely weary cheapos in Tokyo! Note that 2-stop indirect flight deals aren’t usually much cheaper than 1-stop indirect options, so work on the principle that the fewer stops you have, the better.

And finally, a word of warning: Avoid, at all costs, non-protected self-transfers. These not only require you to re-check in your baggage at your transfer point, but your onward flight is done at your own risk. If you miss it, you need to buy another ticket on the spot. Transferring from one airport to another at a connection point (e.g. in Shanghai) is also not something we recommend.

All Carriers LAX to Tokyo (fares in USD)
RouteAirlineReturn FareBooking
Los Angeles => TokyoAir China$432.00Details
Los Angeles => TokyoChina Eastern$439.00Details
Los Angeles => TokyoXiamen Airlines$450.00Details
Los Angeles => TokyoCathay Pacific$514.00Details
Los Angeles => TokyoMalaysia Airlines$516.00Details
Los Angeles => TokyoSichuan Airlines$518.00Details

Best time to fly from Los Angeles to Tokyo

sakura in Tokyo
Spring is first prize, but all the other seasons (there are four of ’em) have their own charm too. | Photo by hiroaki used under CC

While spring and fall are the most beautiful seasons for Japan, summer and winter are awesome in their own ways, too (just rather hot, and rather cold, respectively). When booking your flight, be aware that cherry blossom season (late March to mid-April) is busy and expensive due to everyone wanting to see the sakura. Golden Week (the bunch of national holidays at the end of April and in early May) and the New Year period can also be challenging for your credit card. Other times that should be avoided if possible are the O-bon period in mid-August and the Chinese New Year (around February). If you can’t, or don’t want to, avoid traveling around these dates, at least try to book your tickets waaayyyy in advance to get a better deal.

Arrival: Narita or Haneda?

If you have a choice between Narita and Haneda Airport for the same price, opt for Haneda. Since it’s in Tokyo, it’s probably closer to where you’re wanting to go—and it offers a nicer overall experience, too. It’s newer and all sleek and stuff. Narita is older and out in the sticks of Chiba Prefecture (next door to Tokyo Prefecture), meaning that your transfer time from the airport will be longer (and a little pricier, too). Naturally, most flights terminate in Narita, because we’re not the only ones who are budget-conscious (airlines, we’re looking at you). Have a look at our articles on the cheapest ways of getting from Haneda to Tokyo and the cheapest ways of getting from Narita to Tokyo to compare transfer routes and rates.

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Tokyo as a layover

sushi platter
There’s always time for good sushi in Tokyo. | Photo by Jon Connell used under CC

Keep in mind that it’s totally possible to enjoy a short break in Tokyo as a stopover on your way to another part of Asia, Europe or somewhere else. For some fun (cheap) ideas on what to do if you’re in town for just a day or two, have a look at our Haneda Layover Guide and our Tokyo in 24 Hours Itinerary. Our list of 101 Cheap and Free Things to Do is useful for building an itinerary for longer stays.

Written by:
Carey's Tokyo favorites are: artless craft tea & coffee
Filed under: Getting around, Transport
Tags: Cheap Flights, Expats, Flights, LA To Tokyo, LAX, Tourists, Traveling, Vacation
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