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Monday, December 22nd 2014

"I'm a travel junkie who's hooked on deals from YVR." - Chris Myden



2013
20
February
Vancouver to Japan | How To Get The Best Flight Deals


Guides >> Asia >> East Asia >> Flights from Vancouver to Japan

The Ydeals Noise-Free Guide To Getting The Best Deal On Flights From Vancouver to Japan

Ydeals logo There are thousands of travel sites out there, all wanting you to believe they have unique or special prices on airfares to Japan. They don't.

They use marketing noise to hide the fact that there is really only one source of unique prices on flights to Japan.

This guide will remove the noise and show you what that source is, so you can stop wasting so much time when searching for the best deal.

What are the unique sources of prices on flights from Vancouver to Japan ?

Unique Source #1 - The Major Airlines

There are 17 major airlines that fly to Japan from Vancouver, and they are: Air Canada, Air China, American Airlines, ANA, British Airways, Cathay Pacific, China Airlines, China Eastern Airlines, Delta, EVA Air, Japan Airlines, KLM, Korean Air, Lufthansa, Philippine Airlines, United Airlines, and US Airways.

Where should I look to get the best flight deal to Japan?

All you need to do is search the major airlines, preferably all at once. My current favorite way to do this would be using Google Flights Explorer because you can just enter 'Japan' into the 'To' box, and see current airfares from all the major airlines, at one time. Not to mention how easy it is to browse through different date combinations.

Even if you're planning to go for a longer date range than this tool supports (currently up to 2 weeks), it will give you an excellent idea of what the typical bottom price is right now to Japan, and which airline(s) it can be found on.

Unfortunately at the moment, Google Flights Explorer only displays airfares from Vancouver to 2 Japanese cities, Tokyo and Osaka. Hopefully they will soon be adding other cities in Japan. But use it as a starting point, and then use a tool with more precise search options (and the ability to search fares to any airport), such as...

My second favorite way would be to search using Kayak. It has all the sort and filter options I need, and searches all major airlines. Click on 'Make my dates flexible' and set it to '+/- 3 days'. You may be surprised how often being a little flexible with your dates can result in a better price.

In the 'To' box, enter one of the places listed in the next paragraph as your destination.

Where in Japan should I fly into?

There are 6 places that vacationers most commonly fly in and out of when traveling to Japan from Vancouver.

  • Tokyo (TYO)
  • Sapporo (SPK)
  • Fukuoka (FUK)
  • Osaka (OSA)
  • Okinawa (OKA)
  • Nagoya (NGO)

Something to note is that Tokyo and Osaka each have multiple international airports. Tokyo for example, has Narita Airport (NRT) and Haneda Airport (HND).

Why is this important? When you're using any decent travel airfare search engine, you can search airfares to both of these Tokyo airports at once by using the 3 letter code of TYO. An airline could be offering cheaper fares to one Tokyo airport and not the other, so you may as well search both of them at the same time.

The same goes for Osaka. To search fares to both Osaka International Airport (ITM) and Kansai International Airport (KIX) at the same time, use the code OSA.

And yes, Fukuoka does have the most obscene 3 letter airport code of anywhere in the world.

What about the thousands of other travel sites that have airfares to Japan?

This is the noise. There is no shortage of travel sites or brands trying to convince you that they have the cheapest flights to Japan from Vancouver. The truth is though, there's only one unique source of prices that they're gathering their airfare prices from, and that's the major airlines themselves. They can't offer a lower price on airfares to Japan than the airlines themselves, as there's virtually no markup.

There's a few reasons why I think B.C. travellers waste an enormous amount of time checking multiple websites, hoping for a better deal than the one they already found (studies show it to be an average of 22 different sites over 10 periods of research!). The first reason is just human nature. We all want to compare prices and make sure we're getting the best deal.

But I think the biggest reason is simply the noise of travel marketing. With so many travel sites and brands competing for your attention, all hoping you'll book through them, combined with the fact that not one of them will *ever* admit to you that their source of prices is the same as everyone else, it's little wonder travelers waste so much time searching.

What about searching the airline's website directly?

There's nothing wrong with doing that. It's usually just a lot easier to search all of the airlines at once, with a better interface using a good search tool. It's amazing how poor many of the airline's search interfaces are. The fares found on any half-decent search engine will be the same as the fares found on the airline's own website.

One thing you can do is just use a flight search tool to scan all the airlines at once, and then go to the airline's own site to book it once you've figured out exactly which flight you want, and what the price is.

Another thing to be aware of is that the more sophisticated travel search engines can combine flights from multiple airlines to find cheaper options, especially on international flights, that you may not find on the airline's website.

What about my local Vancouver travel agency or independent travel agent in B.C.?

They're seeing the same prices you are. Depending on the agency or agent, they may or may not charge you a 'booking fee' on top of the airfare price, for their time. As there's virtually no markup on the cost of flights, they can't offer you a price to Japan that's any cheaper than from the airline, or from a search tool that properly searches the latest airfares.

When should I book a flight to Japan to get the best price?

This is never an easy question to answer, as airfares are not 100% predictable. Airlines start by setting their price at a level they think will fill the maximum number of seats, based on the demand they expect to see.

If they experience less demand than they expected, they may decide to lower them. If they experience more demand than they expected, they may raise them. Unfortunately, a lot of factors that influence demand can be unpredictable.

How long a person can wait it out in hopes of a better price is a personal decision. Personally though, I am usually not afraid to watch prices on the major airlines up to about 8 weeks before departure in hopes of a better price without fear of the price rising. But everyone has a different tolerance for risk.

What about last minute flight deals to Japan?

Last minute airfare deals to Japan on the major airlines don't really exist. Typical of most airfares on the major airlines, as you get fairly close to the departure date, if the airline has done their job correctly, and filled most of the seats on the plane, they feel the last remaining seats become more valuable, and often decide to raise the price.

What's a decent airfare price to Japan?

From Vancouver, flights to Tokyo, Osaka, and Okinawa tend to bottom out around $950-$1050 roundtrip after taxes. This is just a general guideline though, based on average demand periods of the year.

Airfare prices are highly affected by demand. So anytime you can think of a reason that there might be higher demand than usual for travel to Japan (such as dates when many people in Vancouver have vacation time) you can expect prices to react accordingly.

What about one way flights to Japan?

One-way flights to overseas international destinations on the major airlines can often be expensive. Sometimes they are even more than roundtrip flights, which may seem strange!

But luckily on flights between Vancouver and Japan, some of the Asian-based airlines are offering decent fares that are about 50-60% of the roundtrip price. Have a look at China Eastern Air in particular. Use the same search techniques as for round-trip flights, and just change the search option in your favorite search tool to 'one-way'.

What about direct flights to Japan?

From Vancouver, there are direct flights to Tokyo on Air Canada and Japan Airlines into Narita Airport (NRT). The flight time is about 9-10 hours each way.

There are no other cities in Japan that have direct flights from Vancouver. Getting to other destinations in Japan usually involves a minimum of 11-15 hours of travel time in each direction (including layover time). Flights that have 1 stopover in Tokyo for around 90 minutes to 3 hours are generally the quickest it can be done.

What about a multi-city flight? Such as into Tokyo and out of another city in Japan?

Searching for multi-city flights to Japan is still a bit of a pain. Even Google Explorer currently can't handle it, as there's too many possible combinations. I'm sure eventually someone (likely Google) will put enough processing power behind it and create something useful for searching multi-city fares.

But for now, you're stuck with searching one departure date at a time when it comes to multi-city fares and experimenting with different destination combinations. Most of the decent travel sites will offer a multi-city option (it should be right next to 'one-way' and 'round-trip').

Kayak would be my preferred option here. Just click on the 'multi-city' option and in the first box, enter in Vancouver to Tokyo (TYO), or whatever airport you want to fly into, and then in the second box, enter Sapporo (CTS) to Vancouver, or whatever airport you want to fly out of.

You never really know what you're going to get with a multi-city fare. It can often be around the same price as a typical roundtrip fare to the same destinations (or an average of the two). Sometimes it can be slightly more. In rare cases it can even be cheaper. Of course, you're still left with figuring out the cost of getting between the two airports.

One little trick I've learned with Kayak is to keep it on the 'roundtrip' option, and make your dates flexible (3 days before and after). And then in the 'To' box, enter up to a maximum of 4 destinations, using the 3 letter airport codes, separated by commas. For example, you could enter: TYO, SPK, OSA, OKA

This will search flights to all 4 of these popular Japanese destinations at once, and look for cheap multi-city combinations into one city and out of another. Many of the results will just be the typical roundtrip flights, but when you scroll down the results, look for the airport codes that are highlighted in pink. These are the flights involving two different cities.

To use this method effectively, you need to get to know the 3 letter airport codes for the destinations you're interested in. Just Google the name of the city, followed by 'airport code' and you should be able to find it quite easily. (Google usually shows it at the top, or on the right hand side of the page).


What about low-cost flights to Japan from U.S. airports within driving distance of Vancouver?

If you've ever read my guide about flying out of U.S. airports within driving distance of Vancouver, you may know that I feel it could be worth the drive, when you see a flight from a U.S. airport to Japan that's at least a certain number of dollars less per person than from Vancouver.

How much cheaper it needs to be depends on which U.S. airport you're flying from. Below, I'll list how much cheaper I feel it should be from each airport, to be worth the drive.

From Bellingham (BLI)

I feel it could be worth the drive, when you see a flight from Bellingham to Japan that's at least $200 less per person than a flight from Vancouver.

Typically though, international flights from Bellingham (BLI) are not significantly cheaper than from Vancouver (YVR), as it is a smaller airport, and it's strengths are serving U.S. destinations.

From Seattle (SEA)

I feel it could be worth the drive, when you see a flight from Seattle to Japan that's at least $350 less per person than a flight from Vancouver.

It can definitely happen, with Seattle being a major U.S. airport with many airlines. Typically though, the cheapest flights to Japan are about the same price level from Seattle as they are from Vancouver.


I think I've found a great deal on a flight to Japan!

Excellent! Please share it with your fellow Vancouver travel lovers, they will appreciate it and thank you for it! You can post it in the YVR Deals Facebook group (click 'Join Group', at the top-right, when you arrive), where thousands of people from Vancouver are crowd-sourcing the best deals, and sharing great travel advice.

Or if you prefer, you can always give me a shout through the YVR Deals contact form or on Twitter @YVRdeals or through Google Plus. Great deal finds are always appreciated.


Why should I trust this Vancouver flight guide to Japan?

Chris Myden Ydeals The info in this guide is based on my observations of the travel industry over the years, including all the thousands of websites out there, and where all the different players get their prices from and how they interact with each other.

The goal is to remove the noise of travel marketing, so vacationers can stop wasting so much valuable time searching the same prices over and over.

But, as social proof of it's accuracy, feel free to join the YVR Deals Facebook Group (click 'Join Group', at the top-right, when you arrive) and publicly disagree with any of it, or make a comment below. Critiques are always welcome!


I think I have some info that could help improve the Japan vacation flight deal guide!

Great! Please post your info in the Facebook group above, or contact me directly. Suggestions for improvement are always appreciated. Let me know if you see something that seems inaccurate or outdated.

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