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Tokyo, the bustling metropolis of Japan, needs no introduction as one of the top travel destinations in the world. Many travelers seek it out for its vibrant culture, culinary delights, and captivating landmarks.
A bucket list city for many travelers around the world but also the business hub of Japan.
Given its status as a world renowned detention, there is no shortage of airlines offering service to the capital city. Japans homegrown airlines, ANA and Japan Airlines, also offer some of the most luxurious seats money can buy.
Due to Tokyo’s huge global city status, it two major airports that service the majority of international airlines. Both airports have plenty to offer travelers but they are not exactly equal when it comes to convenience.
Narita International Airport is the largest of Tokyos airport serving more airlines than Haneda. However, Narita is located quite a bit outside of the city and it can take up to 2 hours and over $200 to reach the airport by taxi. Luckily there are several other cheaper options like bus and train but the time can still be a hurdle for many travelers.
On the other hand, Haneda Airport was original designed for domestic flights but now serves international as well. There are many options to connect Haneda Airport with the city center and it should take you no more than 30 minutes on any transport method.
The airport you fly into will depend on your airline but luckily many have started to offer flights to both, including ANA and Japan Airlines. The airlines offering service to both include:
While other airlines still favor Narita and these airlines that exclusively fly there include:
If you are planning a flight on an airline that flys to both make sure you look at the arrival airport closely since it will have an impact on how you arrive into the city after landing.
Airlines Flying To Tokyo
All the major legacy US airlines offer a nonstop flight to Tokyo including Delta, United, and American. The city is also served by ANA and Japan Airlines, often the preference of travelers flying into the city. There are also a few special flights of international airlines that offer service from the US in select cities, like Singapore Airline from LAX to Tokyo.
While there are other airlines you can travel with 1 stop service from the US, we decided to focus on those that offer direct service from the US to Japan.
These airlines provide nonstop service to over 12 US cities catering heavily to business travelers but also have great options for leisure travelers. With this many options there are certainly differences amongst the airlines and aircrafts that we break down below.
If you do not live near one of these airports it’s likely you will connect in one of these cities before making your trip.
Airfare to Tokyo
Ticket prices to Tokyo can vary depending on season and with the rise of low cost carriers you can now find tickets as cheap as $300 – $600 roundtrip. If you are planning around major airline you can expect $700 – $1,000 in off peak season and $1,200 – $1,800 during peak season. There is also a big difference where you are departing from with flights to Tokyo from most major cities in the US. We like using Skyscanner to find the best deal and their compare page makes it easy.
Here is a breakdown of average round trip prices by month.
There is also a tool that can run a compare of various cities if you have set dates or months in mind. All you need to do is enter a timeframe for departure and Skyscanner does the rest.
You’ll notice flights from Hawaii to be the cheapest with an up charge from major US cities. You can find all Skyscanner tools on this page here and utilize this info to find the best flight deal.
Best First Class
It feels like barely any airlines offer First Class anymore but on this route there are still two carriers that are going strong. Both ANA and Japan Airlines still offer first class to cross the pond, and they are some of the best airplane seats money can buy.
While ANA has long been the established leader in first class travel, the new Japan Airlines A350 has come up with a revolutionshary new offer that has sprung it to the top.
1. Japan Airlines First Class A350
Japan Airlines recently announced their new first class onboard their A350 and everyone was stunned. Featuring an all new suite with a seperate seat and bed, large IFE, private door, and the same top notch food service. Japan Airlines is still awaiting many more A350 planes to be delivered, you can find this on JAL 5 and 6 currently operating daily from New York to Tokyo. We can expect by the end of 2024 for more routes to open up to the US and elsewhere around the world. With only 6 suites onboard each aircraft these seats will be highly coveted and difficult to book with points.
2. ANA “The Suite” First Class Boeing 777
ANA has long been the premiere first class product to fly into Japan and it still holds as one of the best first class in the world. Specifically award travelers strategize constantly on how to make a booking that often go for over $10,000 in cash rates. ANA first class suites offer some of the most space and largest IFE screens out of any airline. You can also expect the highest quality Japanese food on routes from multiple major American cities. Luckily it is not impossible to book this seat as an award rate – find out how in our guide to booking ANA award tickets to Japan.
Best Business Class
Not all business class are made equal so if you are willing to pay a premium for comfort (or shell out some points) we’ll tell you what option would be best. Given the premium that comes with first class, business class cabins on this route can be almost as luxurious as first and easily stand above many other business class offerings around the world.
1. ANA “The Room” Boeing 777
Business class is where ANA is still the clear leader on routes to Japan, with “The Room” offering some of the largest seats in commercial aviation. You can easily confuse this seat with a first class seat as every passenger has complete privacy, couch like seat, and large IFE all to themselves. Luckily for travelers, these award tickets are slightly easier to come by than first class, but by no means easy. Find out how to book this seat on an award flight to Japan.
2. Japan Airlines A350
Japan Airlines A350 is certainly a major upgrade to their fleet and this new business class will certainly be competitive for years to come. While first class was retrofitted with an entirely unique seat, business class is similar to the offerings of many other airlines offering privacy doors, modern seats, and updated design. Japan Airlines plans to roll this out to many more routes in 2024 but for now look to see if your flight is operating on an A350 to snag the new business class.
3. Delta Airlines A330
Even with so much competition on this route we still feel the signature new Delta One Suites is one of the best business class amongst US carriers. You’ll want to make sure your flight has the redesigned cabin since it’s a huge upgrade to the old A330 design we flew from Paris to New York in 2019. In our opinion these seats are unmatched against any US airlines business class (even United Polaris) and if you can snag a seat on this route you won’t regret it. From the amount of space you get, to the food, to even a personal door the privacy on a Delta flight is the best you can get in business class to Japan. Note, points redemptions don’t come cheap on this route so the only downside is finding a reasonably priced ticket.
4. United Airlines 787-10
United Polaris Business Class is one of the most comfortable and private seats to fly across the Pacific. We’ve flown it multiple times from Newark to Frankfurt and indulged in the amazing Polaris lounge prior to takeoff. United fly the largest aircraft on this route too, which is the 787-10 nonstop to Japan. The cabin is in a 1-2-1 layout with each seat having aisle access and enough privacy. What makes the United Polaris stand out is the incredible lounges they have with private dining, specialty cocktails, and newly designed spaces. We also love the award availability offered via United and you can typically snag this seat for 100,000 United Miles.
Best Economy Class
There usually isn’t a major difference in economy class hard product but there may be items some airlines do better than others. However, on long haul routes to Japan many airlines offer Premium Economy, which is certainly a step above a standard seat. While many premium economy seats are similar, we especially like those offering comfortable seats and reasonable food to make us pick one over the other.
1. Japan Airline Premium Economy
Both Japan based airlines offer premium economy but we give a slight edge to Japan Airlines given their new A350 plane that adds more privacy to the experience. You can expect a more spacious seat, foot rest, elevated food, and just a bit more comfort than regular economy. Many travelers enjoy flying on an A350 for the spacious interior and how quiet it is, so if you are going to pick premium economy we have to give it to Japan Airlines.
1. ANA Premium Economy
Not far behind Japan Airlines is ANA premium economy. While the seats are not as new a Japan Airlines you can still expect a very comfortable experience, elevated service, and some of the highest quality airline food. ANA makes this seat much easier to book on award tickets than business class but you can still expect a decent price increase from economy if you are paying cash.
3. Delta Premium Economy
We have to give it to Delta again for US carriers flying their new premium economy seats on a nonstop flight to Japan. While the unfortunate news is these seats are not cheap and do not offer complimentary upgrades from main cabin, they are still the most comfortable way to fly outside of business. You can expect a more spacious seat with a partial recline and an elevated food offering from Economy.
4. United 767 Premium Economy
United also started offering Premium Economy on many of their long haul aircraft and is very similar to Delta’s. The good about United is they make it much easier to upgrade into with either points, cash, or plus points. If you are booked in Economy you can expect to pay about 20,000 points to upgrade to this seat or 20 plus points. In our mind its worth it especially for a red eye to get a more comfortable seat to cross the pond.
5. United 767 Economy
United is a standout with the plane flying to Japan looking to have the most comfortable economy class. The layout is a 2-3-2 while most others offer a 2-4-2 layout. Again this won’t make a major difference, especially if you are able to snag one of the 2 seat sections on any of the other airlines. We’ve taken this flight many times including from London to Chicago. However, on a full flight you will definitely notice a roomier cabin even if the plane is a bit smaller compared to an American 787.
There are multiple airline partners that fly to Tokyo but not all are created equal. If you are planning a trip you will want to consider booking through:
ANA: Cheapest in terms of points and can be transfered from American Express.
Virgin Atlantic: Booking options on ANA and can be transfered from Chase and American Express.
Air Canada Aeroplan: Booking options on ANA and United. Points can be transfered from Chase, American Express, and Capital One.
United MileagePlus: Booking options on United and ANA. Points can be transfered from Chase.
Cathay Pacific Asia miles: Booking options on Japan Airlines. Points can be transfered from American Express.
While there are many programs that offer points bookings to Japan you will want to consider where you can find availability.
Summary & Takeaways
With many different airlines offering service to Japan, its hard pressed to pick anyone but the native countries own carriers ANA and Japan Airlines. In our opinion, they stand out from all US based airlines but a pretty significant margin. Travelers around the world rave about incredible service, food, and overall experience when flying these carriers so there is no doubt they are the best when flying to Tokyo.
Keep in mind the major airlines offer service to many US cities and are part of major airline alliances, with ANA being Star Alliance and Japan Airlines being OneWorld. This opens up many more options for code shares and connecting flights if you are not originating from a huge.
If you are able to secure a trip on any of the airline mentioned, you will certainly have a comfortable experience on your next trip to Japan.
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