travel

Low cost flying arrives in luxury-loving Japan

35 Comments
By Yuri Kageyama

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35 Comments
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No longer will air travel be mostly confined to business trips and fancy once-in-a-lifetime vacations to places such as Hawaii.

What country are they talking about...? There's NO WAY they can be referring to Japan...

Japanese on average travel by air sea and land, especially air, to more countries than probably any other country on the planet. Of course if you live at home until you're nearly 50 years old, and have mom and dad (or grandma and grandpa), paying for food and rent, while you hop from one part-time job, to the next, it's not hard to see, how they can afford to travel 3 months out of the year.

-10 ( +3 / -13 )

There was a outbreak of low cost airlines in the late 70's early 80's. It ended after a while because so many were dropping out of the sky or having serious problems. The cost cutting is everywhere including maintenance. A plane can only take off if a licensed engineer signs it off as safe to fly. What has happened in Indonesia is those engineers who say the plane does not have all the saftey requirements in order are simply dismissed. When you fly on a normal jet there are three back up systems for the most important elements of the plane. But fly Garuda or low costs airlines and you may have one or even two of the back ups not in place. They work on the basis of what are the chances?

Plus they add a new dimension to the term "cattle class".

-6 ( +1 / -7 )

the nation is finally discovering the joy of flying cheap

Yes! And the nation is also discovering the joy of 30% working poor and a spiral down employment system where less pay and longer hours require people to demand cheaper goods that mean even more internal and external job competition and lower pay...

Is this something to celebrate?

4 ( +10 / -6 )

I remember back in the 80s when the Japanese group tours started with the guide in the front with the follow me flag... This was to go dutch and save money for...shopping. They sank a lot of yen in the US economy back then. Good.

“They were surprised to see me and so happy,” he said. “I hope the tickets keep getting even cheaper.”

My own parents wanted me out gone at 18 to school. Summers drove them nuts.

Shave off too much cash to put bodies in the air for profit... it may all come crashing down. These cheapie LCC flights crash all the time in other regions... they barely make headlines.

-4 ( +1 / -5 )

Didn't we have a problem with something called "global warming" a while ago?

Good to see that's been solved and we can all concentrate on jetting around the world like there's no tomorrow.

-1 ( +5 / -6 )

a special phrase has been coined to describe it, “tanshin funin.”

I always thought "tanshin funin" referred to a member of the family living separately because of their work. I didn't know it was a recently coined phrase.

2 ( +4 / -2 )

I always thought "tanshin funin" referred to a member of the family living separately because of their work. I didn't know it was a recently coined phrase.

You are quite right! The phrase has been around longer than I have lived in Japan (@30 years) but the way the article is written makes it sound like it's something new.

Hopefully the people that read the article also take the time to read these comments too.

1 ( +3 / -2 )

I just hope the onboard washrooms haven't gotten smaller. With all these cheap flights and all these new first time flyers, who knows, your chances of getting an excited hottie sitting, um, [pressed up] next to you during a flight might lead to the that elite "mile high club" membership card being validated. YEAH BABY! Okay, may not happen but it sure will make the flight go faster if you're hoping for it to happen... Just sayin' :P

-6 ( +1 / -7 )

Wait till you experience a low budget airline such as Ryanair......

-1 ( +2 / -3 )

I'm with Warispeace. Not a good news at all. What I like in Japan is the fact that the value of work is better considered than in countries where lowcost has become the rule. It's like firing a bullet in your own foot.

0 ( +1 / -1 )

AirAsia announced the other day that they would fly from Sendai "within 3-5 years". Finally a bit of competition to drive down fares.

I think it was the same day that there was an article in the paper written by someone who said he never buys discounted products. This kind of mentality still prevails among many people in Japan, but when your salary is falling every year it hardly makes sense to pay more than you need to for anything.

I'm always looking for the best deal, and low cost airlines are great. There is no evidence that the low cost airlines operating in first world countries are any less safe than high-fare operators.

1 ( +2 / -1 )

1 of the problems with the airlines here , with the so called "cheap prices" is the way they advertise the pricing. all the surcharges usually comes out to the same or even more than the original ticket price. this practice should be illegal.

1 ( +2 / -1 )

I don't see the point of these carriers in Japan. My JAL flight for Christmas, just booked, is 40% cheaper than the equivalent Air Asia flight, and it gets there direct, faster, at a more convenient time.

Whenever I've shopped around for specific fares out of Tokyo, the LCC's are either on par or more expensive than those of the legacy airlines when purchased at the discount retailers, like HIS. I mean, am I missing something here?

0 ( +2 / -2 )

Personally have no idea how LCC will fare in Japan in the short run. Would assume some drastic changes are required in the whole tourism culture and relevant market dynamics to ensure the right infrastructure and environment for this business to thrive here (eg avoidance of overdependence on Okinawa Hokkaido obon New Years etc). May not be as quick as uniqlo, depending on whether the seats are endurable for the senior market and whether it can help the younger generation regain interest in traveling.

-1 ( +0 / -1 )

I thought Skymark had been around for a while already...

1 ( +2 / -1 )

Didn't we have a problem with something called "global warming" a while ago? Good to see that's been solved and we can all concentrate on jetting around the world like there's no tomorrow.

@lucabrasi - Japan is a small island with four seasons, and Japanese have shorter intestines, so global warming doesn't affect them. Irony apart, what happens is, if the media don't talk about it, the problem no longer exists. Simple eh? It's fairly typical of the backwards thinking here that is 30 years behind the curve in some aspects (environmental awareness) and 10 in others (cheap flights), while current global sharing economic realities (salary erosion, job insecurity, rising poverty). You can cherry pick what suits.

-3 ( +0 / -3 )

Wow, loads of naysayers here... I wonder how many posters have actually tried any of these airlines yet?

I recently flew with Air Asia Japan on a domestic flight and was quite impressed. They cut costs by bussing you out to the aircraft rather than using a gate, but apart from that the service was friendly, the plane was brand new and very clean and you can even choose your seat in advance.

As for safety, that's one area where by law they are not allowed to compromise, so I have no concerns on that front.

On price, everything is clearly broken down when you make your reservation on line, and having shopped around the total was definitely, clearly cheaper than ANA & JAL's domestic fares - which would make sense, because why would ANA and JAL each invest in a budget airline only to then price it out of business?

Use some common sense here, please. In the UK, everyone says that they hate Ryanair, but it's one of the biggest success stories in recent aviation history because they fly safely and cheaply, as long as you work within their rules.

FnC

2 ( +4 / -2 )

Well though it's costly I'll stick to the two major airlines when flying to Okinawa because they are super comfortable and there are no extra charges / hassle.

0 ( +1 / -1 )

Well though it's costly I'll stick to the two major airlines when flying to Okinawa because they are super comfortable and there are no extra charges / hassle.

Well, I got a return flight to Okinawa on Jetstar for about 2500 yen including all taxes etc and 20Kg luggage checked, they announce specials almost every week. Even without the specials, average cost is about 16000 yen return inc. taxes and 20kg luggage isn't too bad. Plus it's only a two and a half our flight, so for average body size people the so called "discomfort" is not too bad v's the savings for me.

2 ( +2 / -0 )

@lucabrasi - Japan is a small island with four seasons,

Don't know much about Japan huh? Where I am there are TWO seasons, summer and not. Irony? I think not.

0 ( +0 / -0 )

Plus it's only a two and a half our flight,

Depends upon where you are flying from. It takes longer than that from Tokyo.

0 ( +0 / -0 )

First off, please stop with the myth about how hard the Japanese work. They don't work harder than any other group I know. They work longer due to relatively low productivity and wear it like a badge of honor while suffering from a myriad of ailments. I finish early because I know how to prioritize and work more efficiently. Second, the luxury items cost a lot more, so, of course, they should be better. Third, Jet Star was late leaving and arriving the only times I've used them. That ended up costing me valuable time and money so I'll pass in the future.

1 ( +2 / -1 )

Wait till you experience a low budget airline such as Ryanair......

I have and what's your problem with it? A very cheap flight with the amount of service I paid for. If you want to be treated like a princess, get a gross meal and the like, pay the price. I'm more than happy to shell out less money and be left alone and bring my own snacks and drinks with me.

I have zero idea why people complain about RYan, Air Asia, EZJet and the like. You get what you pay for. I wish I had more of an option. NONE of these airlines are in Nagoya - perhaps because Nagoya is too stuck up and snotty to flew low cost. Damn them.

2 ( +2 / -0 )

The news reported by Yuri Kageyama for JT has nothing to do with anyone's blog I guess. Actually for those analyzing the cheap fare, it's all up to you if you fly these cheap fares being offered by airline companies. Some are scared the cheap fare plane will fall from the sky. I tell you when it's your time to go, you go. Whenever, wherever, whatever you are doing , you go. You don't need a plane to fall from the sky Har..har..har.. No free meals, cannot cross their legs, etc etc... Your choice. They are not forcing you or shoving it on your face. Just stop complaining.

2 ( +2 / -0 )

@majimekun

What I like in Japan is the fact that the value of work is better considered than in countries where lowcost has become the rule.

I'm not quite sure what you mean by "the value of work" ? If you mean longer hours to be able to buy expensive goods, the fact is very few people are really working during the day... They start around 5pm so as to put in as many hours of "overtime" as possible. At least, that used to be true ! I believe now a lot of companies are not paying very much "overtime" any more !

1 ( +2 / -1 )

I fly airasia all the time because it takes only 20 minutes to get to haneda than the hour and a half required to get to narita. Yes, it has it's disadvantages but hell, for that price, i'd settle for disadvantages anytime!

3 ( +3 / -0 )

@tmarie

bring my own snacks and drinks with me.

You are actually ALLOWED to bring your drinks with you ? As far as I know, one is only allowed up to 100ccs of any kind of liquid - is that enough for you during the flight ?

0 ( +1 / -1 )

What country are they talking about...? There's NO WAY they can be referring to Japan... Japanese on average travel by air sea and land, especially air, to more countries than probably any other country on the planet. Of course if you live at home until you're nearly 50 years old, and have mom and dad (or grandma and grandpa), paying for food and rent, while you hop from one part-time job, to the next, it's not hard to see, how they can afford to travel 3 months out of the year.

What country are you talking about? The Japanese make about 20m foreign trips a year. Many of those are business and multiple visits.

For a Japanese, the overnight stay at a local onsen is the equivalent to a Brit having a long weekend in Madrid. Going abroad is a big deal in Japan. I remember asking a class of 15 year olds how many had been abroad. 1 had. At that age, I had never met anyone in the UK who had not been abroad.

1 ( +2 / -1 )

"low-cost carriers... take off quickly after landing"

I don't like the sound of that.

"bubble years... 3,000 yen cups of fancy coffee"

I was in Japan during the bubble years and I had never seen a cup of coffee going for more than 800 yen ( and never paid more than 500 yen ), but then again I didn't go to the most extravagant places...

"There was no way to cross your legs... You wouldn't want to use it if you're going someplace far away"

Heh, every day thousands of people sit in economy class seats for 10-13 hours, unable to cross their legs, lol.

2 ( +2 / -0 )

@Alita Schratwieser

"Well though it's costly I'll stick to the two major airlines when flying to Okinawa because they are super comfortable and there are no extra charges / hassle."

Fair enough...your choice. For the rest of us who don't want to pay ¥60,000 or more for 1-2 hour flights to Sapporo and Okinawa, there are other nice options too.

4 ( +4 / -0 )

Is Japan in love with luxury? I doubt! Accustomed to overpriced goods? Most likely!

Anyway, low cost airlines will still be 100 times more comfortable than commuting transportation, thus better use it to enjoy more relax and cheaper places than Tokyo.

1 ( +1 / -0 )

You are actually ALLOWED to bring your drinks with you ? As far as I know, one is only allowed up to 100ccs of any kind of liquid - is that enough for you during the flight ?

That is prior to going through the security screening. Afterwards you can purchase drinks and food the the countless numbers of stores that are in the airports secured areas and take those drinks on the plane with you.

I've done in from here in Japan and from flying from Europe and the US as well.

1 ( +1 / -0 )

Exactly Yubaru. I'd rather dish out airport prices for a drink or two than play ANA prices for a flight. That 200 yen bottle of water looks pretty cheaper when you compare everything in total. And you can bring as much food as you'd like. As long as it is under the restriction of carry on bags.

1 ( +1 / -0 )

I only buy alcoholic drinks at the airport... Now that's REALLY giving myself away !!!

0 ( +0 / -0 )

I think i was on the same plane as Masato Yamaguchi coming back from Okinawa. Last train back from Narita leaves stupidly early. But at least i had a backup plan; another route could have taken me to within one taxi meter from my place and had plenty of time left

I guess many of the nay-sayers are on here are those that feel that a few man-yen saved on airfares are not worth slightly cramped seats/inconvenient terminals etc. Personally i am of the opinion that the money saved on airlines is better spent on better accommodation on arrival, or a nice dinner

1 ( +1 / -0 )

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