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Airlines to Japan: Flight Experience Review

Travel Tips & Planning

Airlines to Japan: Flight Experience Review

Jetsar flight from Sydney to Osaka on the tarmac at Sydney International Airport.

There are many airlines that fly to and from Japan. But what airlines to Japan are good to fly with? Japanese people love to travel, and people love to travel to Japan. This article reviews experiences of flights to and from Japan and gives recommendations of who you should fly with.


Jetsar flight from Sydney to Osaka on the tarmac at Sydney International Airport.

My Jetstar flight to Osaka taxi-ing to the terminal.

  • Route: Flying from Sydney to Osaka, we had a stop-over in Gold Coast where the plane filled with Japanese tourists heading back home.
  • Comfort: This was a day-time flight so I had no need to sleep. The seats are fine for normal domestic flights, but a little small for a 10+ hour international flight. No normal comforts such as meals or movies are included, as Jetstar is a budget airline these all have to be paid for as extra.
  • Duration/time: Daytime flight, took about 11 hours including a stop in Gold Coast. A flight direct from the Gold Coast takes about 9 hours.
  • Price: AUD $525 (one-way). Fares can be as low as $199 when Jetstar have sales – which they often do.
  • Recommended if…: you are flying from Australia and are looking for a cheap flight. Keep in mind if you want to eat and watch movies on the flight you will spend around $25 or more.
Jetsar inflight meal.

Pasta and salad for the Jetstar inflight meal, very ordinary.


QANTAS flight direct from Tokyo to Sydney waiting at Narita Terminal 2.

After a long wait at the terminal (I got there early) the jet finally arrived.

  • Route: Flying from Tokyo (Narita) to Sydney, the flight was direct.
  • Comfort: I was a little lucky, in that the old man sitting next to me suffered from DVT and was moved to an empty row of seats. I had a double seat free to myself. All comforts are provided on QANTAS so I had socks, eyes mask, pillow, blanket and meals provided. I lucked out that there was no western breakfast available (Japanese option only which wasn’t bad) and the flight staff got a banana for me which wasn’t on the menu.
  • Duration/time: Overnight flight, about 9 hours.
  • Price: About AUD $850 (one-way).
  • Recommended if…: You want a comfortable flight with one of the safest airlines of all time. QANTAS is the best airline to Japan I’ve flown with.
QANTAS inflight meal.

Japanese style inflight dinner with red wine, sushi and soba on a QANTAS flight from Tokyo to Sydney.


Singapore Airlines

Singapore Airlines flight from Sydney to Nagoya at the terminal in Sydney.

My Singapore Airlines flight stocking up and getting ready to leave Sydney International Airport.

  • Route: This time flying to Nagoya, the flight departed Sydney (see an aerial photo of Sydney from this flight), short stopover in Singapore and then landed in Nagoya.
  • Comfort: The initial flight was good, no-one beside me (I had the window seat again) and not really many people at all. I had a good rest before getting off to change flights at Singapore. From there the plane was packed and the seats were noticeably smaller. Didn’t get any sleep from there on, but had a decent meal for breakfast.
  • Duration: About 13 hours (including a one hour stop in Singapore to change aircraft).
  • Price: AUD $960 (one-way).
  • Recommended if…: You can find a flight with Singapore Airlines cheaper than QANTAS.
Singapore Airlines inflight western style meal.

Singapore Airlines had the best tasting inflight meal I have had on an international flight.

Of course there are many more airlines to Japan, most notably is JAL (Japan Airlines). They have a good reputation but can be a bit expensive. Cathay Pacific will get you to Japan from Australia and New Zealand. There are multiple Chinese and Korean airlines that fly from many countries to Japan (and is a good option if you are looking to go to an airport which is not Osaka, or Tokyo as they fly to smaller airports like Okayama and Nagoya), however some have a lengthly stopover in either Korea or China.

If you have flown to or from Japan, who did you fly with and what did you think of them?

If you are about to visit Japan, who are you thinking of flying with?

Deano「ヂィノ」 Wormald

Your man in Japan, online since 2009. I used to live in Toyota City, Aichi Prefecture, and travel to Japan at least once a year for three weeks.


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  1. Japan Australia June 15, 2011

    We have used Singapore Airlines the last few times to fly to Japan and have been extremely happy with their quality and service. We had to stop over in Singapore for a couple of hours but didn’t mind that as we could eat some great food.

    1. JTM June 16, 2011

      I agree, they really are great to fly with. I’m glad I had a quick stopover at Singapore, but now I wish I’d had more time to sample some food!

  2. Dan June 16, 2011

    I’ve flown via Qantas and Cathay. Both seemed about even to me in the way that Qantas had a stopover in Sydney while Cathay had a stopover in Hong Kong. Service-wise I think they were quite similar too.
    I would consider Jetstar for my next flight, though, simply because of how cheap it is.

    Finally, I wish the airlines would fly to Haneda! Narita isn’t really near Tokyo, even if it is the city’s main international airport.

    1. JTM June 16, 2011

      Hi Dan and thanks for commenting.

      I agree, Qantas and Cathay are very much on par. And yeah taking that train to Narita does make it a very long journey!

  3. Japan Australia June 17, 2011

    JetStar might be the next choice for me as well considering how cheap they are at the moment. They just had a deal where a friend flys for free and also 50% off flights to either Osaka or Tokyo from Melbourne. That’s about $331 one way!!

    1. JTM June 17, 2011

      Wow that is a great price! And if you are wanting to travel to other parts of Japan, you can use the money you saved on airfare to catch the shinkansen (bullet train) to almost any area in the country!

  4. TokyoRemix June 24, 2011

    I haven’t had the chance to fly any of these airlines because I’m always between Japan and the US, but my best experience has been with ANA. They’re around the cheapest one-way from New York to Narita [$800 US, approx] and the service is fantastic. Have you flown with them at all? I’d be interested to see how they [or JAL] stack up against Singapore or Qantas.

    1. JTM June 24, 2011

      Hey TokyoRemix. Thanks for the comment.

      I’ve flown only with the airlines listed. I’m interested too to see how JAL stacks up against the other airlines, as they are usually much more expensive than the other airlines (for Australia to Japan anyway).

      Please if anyone has flown with Japan Airlines (JAL), let us know about your experience and airfare price.

  5. cory May 24, 2012

    I’m going in 3 weeks to Osaka (from Gold Coast) with Jetstar. Got a really good deal – $179 each way. The only bummer is that I’m going on my own, so it’ll be a very long 9 hours on top of the 3 hour drive to Gold Coast.