Low-Cost Carriers You Can Take from Tokyo

Mareike Dornhege

While famous for speed and being on schedule, domestic travel within Japan is (or at least, was) anything but cheap. In the past, there were a few exceptions, but traveling budget usually meant being cocooned into an overnight bus (the curtains are usually sealed shut with Velcro), or being a bit more adventurous with something like the Japan Rail Pass. However, with increased competition among low-cost carriers (LCCs) in Japan, air travel is becoming a viable alternative.

Peach Airlines cheap domestic flights Japan low cost carriers
Photo by Masakatsu Ukon used under CC

When we started this site, tickets on the two big Japanese airlines (JAL and ANA) to the far-flung reaches of Hokkaido and Okinawa would have typically set you back about ¥35,000 for a return trip. The good news for travelers is that things have changed: several LCCs operate out of Tokyo’s two airports, slashing those prices.

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The closer and more convenient Haneda Airport is the Japan base for Skymark, Solaseed Air, Starflyer, and Air Do, while the further-out Narita Airport hosts Vanilla Air, Peach Air, Spring Airlines and Jetstar Japan. Here’s a rundown of the main LCC players that serve Tokyo.

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Low-cost carriers that fly to/from Haneda Airport

skymark airlines japan
Photo by iStock.com/Sky_Blue

Skymark Airlines

Destinations (minimum one-way prices/no. of daily flights): Sapporo (¥7,360/10 flights), Kobe (¥7,090/7 flights), Fukuoka (¥11,990/11 flights), Kagoshima (¥9,790/4 flights), Naha (¥9,910/7 flights).
Website bookings in English: Yes.
The lowdown: Unlike some of the others, they actually have a comprehensive English website (even though it may look like it was designed in 1998).



solaseed lcc japan
Photo by iStock.com/YMZK-photo

Solaseed Air

Destinations (minimum one-way prices/no. of daily flights): Miyazaki (7 flights), Kumamoto (4 flights), Nagasaki (4 flights), Kagoshima (4 flights), Oita (3 flights), all ¥9,700.
Website bookings in English: Yes.
The lowdown: Solaseed predominantly links Okinawa and cities in southern Kyushu with Tokyo. They offer a number of special fares, depending on the time of booking, so check which ones apply for your travel times. For foreign tourists, they offer an Enjoy Japan fare that lets you purchase all routes for ¥9,190 one way.

airdo plane in Japan
Photo by iStock.com/suriya silsaksom

Air Do

Destinations (minimum one-way prices/no. of daily flights): Sapporo (¥9,870/10 flights), Asahikawa (¥13,670/3 flights), Memanbetsu (¥13,670/3 flights), Kushiro (¥10,660/3 flights), Obihiro (¥12,970/3 flights), Hakodate (¥11,970/2 flights).
Website bookings in English: Yes.
The lowdown: In short, Air Do is the Hokkaido version of Solaseed, flying between Tokyo and the northern part of Japan.

StarFlyer

Destinations (minimum one-way prices/no. of daily flights): Kitakyushu (¥10,800/12 flights), Yamaguchi-Ube (¥9,800/3 flights), Fukuoka (¥9,800/5 flights), Osaka (¥10,520/4 flights).
Website bookings in English: No.
The lowdown: Like some of the other Japanese LCCs, they don’t have booking fully available in English, although they do at least have schedule information available on their one-page English website. They also offer a special fare for foreign tourists, starting from ¥9,000 one way.

Low-cost carriers that fly to/from Narita Airport

jetstar japan
Photo by lkarasawa used under CC

Jetstar Japan

Destinations (minimum one-way prices/no. of daily flights): Sapporo (¥5,390/6 flights), Osaka (¥3,470/4 flights), Fukuoka (¥4,790/8 flights), Naha, Okinawa (¥5,540/3 flights), Miyazaki (¥4,990/2 flights), Kumamoto (¥5,990/4 flights), Kagoshima (¥5,990/2 flights), Matsuyama (¥4,990/2 flights), Nagasaki (¥5,990/1 flight), Oita (¥5,990/2 flights), Miyako Island, Okinawa (¥7,790/1 flight), and Takamatsu (¥4,490/3 flights), plus international destinations in Australia and Asia.
Website bookings in English: Yes.
The lowdown: Jetstar Japan run several flights a day to popular destinations across Japan, and in addition leverage their international network to provide low-cost options to foreign tourists.

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vanilla air lcc japan
Photo by iStock.com/suriya silsaksom

Vanilla Air

Destinations (minimum one-way prices/no. of daily flights): Sapporo in Hokkaido (¥3,990/doesn’t operate daily), Naha (¥5,990/doesn’t operate daily) and Ishigaki (¥6,490/1 flight) in Okinawa, Kagoshima Prefecture’s Amami Oshima (¥5,690/1 flight).
Website bookings in English: Yes.
The lowdown: While fares vary per season (not to mention, the day and time can also make a difference), simple fares (a basic fare that doesn’t include checked-in luggage) generally start at much less than ¥10,000. Vanilla Air frequently announces promos, so this is a Japanese LCC that you’ll want to keep an eye on. Those promos can start as low as ¥980 one-way.

Peach Airlines cheap domestic flights Japan low cost carriers
Photo by Masakatsu Ukon used under CC

Peach Air

Destinations (minimum one-way prices/no. of daily flights): Sapporo (¥4,090/6 flights), Fukuoka (¥4,790/2 flights), and Osaka (¥3,490/2 flights), Amami (¥4,790/1 flight) and Okinawa (¥4,790/2 flights).
Website bookings in English: Yes.
The lowdown: Kansai-based Peach Airways is another one of those LCCs that have promos every so often. As with Vanilla Air, you can grab some really great deals during promo periods; for instance, there were some ¥1,000 deals in June, 2019 to celebrate the airline breaking its 30 million seats sold mark.


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Spring Airlines Japan

Destinations (minimum one-way prices/no. of daily flights): Sapporo (¥3,500/3 flights), Saga (Fukuoka) (¥3,500/2 flights), Hiroshima (¥3,500/2 flights).
Website bookings in English: Yes.
The lowdown: In 2014, Shanghai-based LCC Spring Airlines’ Japanese subsidiary launched its operations. When we checked in June, 2019, flights from Tokyo seemed to start as low as ¥3,500 one way.

Narita vs. Haneda Airport

Given the extra cost to get to out-of-town Narita vs. the more centrally located Haneda, the savings of booking an LCC from Narita Airport can be a lot less than you might expect. For example, when we checked, a return trip from Tokyo to Sapporo on Jetstar, including the costs of rail transport to Narita, cost about ¥10,500, versus about ¥11,500 on Air Do from Haneda. That’s a potential ¥1,000 saving (not much), but with the hidden cost of a less convenient flight schedule and around 45 minutes of extra travel (to and from Narita) each way.

While we do our best to ensure it’s correct, information is subject to change. Post first written by Greg Lane in 2012. Last updated in September, 2019.

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Tags: Airlines, Airports, Domestic Airlines, Flying, Haneda Airport, Low-cost Carriers, Narita Airport, Tourists, Traveling
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8 Responses to “Low-Cost Carriers You Can Take from Tokyo”

  1. Avatar

     I recently flew Narita -> Asahikawa roundtrip with skymark cost ¥11,600.
    Also worth noting that included cabing luggage plus up to 15KG of luggage in the hold, a welcome freebie from a low cost carrier.

  2. mrkirkland

     I recently flew Narita -> Asahikawa roundtrip with skymark cost ¥11,600.
    Also worth noting that included cabing luggage plus up to 15KG of luggage in the hold, a welcome freebie from a low cost carrier.

  3. Avatar
    CheapoGreg April 30, 2012

    Wow, that’s cheap.  Was it through an agent? What did you do with the 15kg luggage allowance? I didn’t think you owned that much stuff!

  4. Avatar
    CheapoGreg April 30, 2012

    Wow, that’s cheap.  Was it through an agent? What did you do with the 15kg luggage allowance? I didn’t think you owned that much stuff!


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