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What drives US-Japan airfares constantly much higher than average Asia?

What drives US-Japan airfares constantly much higher than average Asia?

Old Jul 12, 19, 8:44 am
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What drives US-Japan airfares constantly much higher than average Asia?

I am trying to find some <$1000 airfare to Japan for a leisure trip, and I have noticed over many months looking that Japan airfares (from West Coast USA) are rare to fall below $800 rt. You can even find itineraries to the rest of Asia transiting through Japan on JAL and ANA that are ~$500-600 by contrast. It almost begs for throwaway ticketing, but it's not ideal.

Clearly this is a market pricing issue and I am no stranger to odd things like this. What drives it?

Lucrative business travelers? Higher disposable income / price tolerance of people traveling to / from Japan in general? I do not see that capacity is tight -- there are plenty of flights.
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Old Jul 12, 19, 9:00 am
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Supply and demand drive price on any given route or group of routes. US & Japan are two economies on screech, so there is lots of demand.

There is also a lot of high-end business travel and much of that is pursuant to corporate contracts. Those folks are traveling on corporate discounts which likely lead to a lot,lot, lot lower prices than you are seeing.
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Old Jul 12, 19, 9:47 am
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I've seen prices below $800 r/t, out of the west coast. It may depend on where you're looking and time of season. There a was ~$650 r/t, for fall 2019, on Delta from a flight deal mailing list I subscribe to. Travel agents focusing on the Asian immigrant population will those deals as well.
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Old Jul 12, 19, 10:03 am
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Nonstop flights fetch more $ than one-stop flights

nonstop flights to Japan, limited competition, fill J/PE/some Y, bread and butter. (JL, NH, UA all have high J-count planes)
​​​

Onestop flights to Asia? You need to fight against $400 flights (via China, also one stop). Fill rest of Y cabin with people willing to transit in Japan instead of China, at a slightly higher premium ($500+)

Last edited by paperwastage; Jul 12, 19 at 10:20 am
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Old Jul 12, 19, 1:27 pm
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LAX to TYO is usually less expensive than the other West Coast airports. SFO/SJC trends higher than SEA, in my searches.

Japan hotels & transportation are also more expensive than other SE Asian countries. I think "Higher disposable income / price tolerance" definitely has something to do with it.
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Old Jul 12, 19, 1:31 pm
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LAX has a lot of competition, but the best fares are likely to be mainland Chinese carriers with connections at PVG, PEK, CAN, etc. (TWOV applies.)

It might be cheap to fly to some country other than Japan, such as mainland China or Thailand, and take a LCC flight on a separate ticket to Tokyo (or elsewhere in Japan) but be sure you understand the risk and allow lots and lots of time between flights on different tickets.
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Old Jul 12, 19, 2:49 pm
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I have seen those 1-stop connections having lower prices, and of course LAX/SAN are *much* cheaper than SF Bay area.

I'm most curious to know of insights as to *why* the prices are so high to Japan.
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Old Jul 12, 19, 2:51 pm
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How would this 'beg' for throwaway ticketing? How would you pull that off?
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Old Jul 12, 19, 2:58 pm
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Well, the current pricing doesn't quite make it worth it in this case, but clearly if USA-Japan-BKK for example flights are $392 one way (which they are right now), you might as well get off the plane in Tokyo and throw away the 2nd leg. If only the return from Japan were as cheap, which generally it is not, lately.
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Old Jul 12, 19, 3:00 pm
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Originally Posted by s0ssos View Post
How would this 'beg' for throwaway ticketing? How would you pull that off?
Some fares allow stopover (free/for fee), some don't allow stopover. Some have hip checks that prevent you from doing this

If stopover, book LAX-TYO-(10day stopover)-ASIA, ASIA-TYO-LAX. Enjoy your 10day Tokyo vacation

Note that there may be a min connect time at turnaround (ASIA). You do waste hours/days doing this

You cannot actually throw away any legs (except maybe the last leg, with all the caveats about (hidden city fares)
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Old Jul 12, 19, 3:03 pm
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Just this week Iíve seen some reasonable Japan tickets from the west coast. $550-800 RT, from cities as diverse as PHX, LAX and SEA.
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Old Jul 12, 19, 3:05 pm
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Originally Posted by TA View Post
I have seen those 1-stop connections having lower prices, and of course LAX/SAN are *much* cheaper than SF Bay area.

I'm most curious to know of insights as to *why* the prices are so high to Japan.
Just simply supply and demand. JL/NH have better J/Y products using a larger space of the plane, then use the cheap tickets to fill the rest of the small plane

UA fares are mostly.tied with NH (JL and AA, joint ventures), only Delta is a true competitor (along with the other one stop options). Lack of competition = high fares. (And Japanese people highly value having nonstop)

Cheap tickets needed for the connecting flights


Outside of knowing the airlines pricing model (confidential/privileged info), that's all you can get. You can also browse stats (how many people get to Japan, how many take nonstops versus connections, how many transit Japan only)


2018, Narita 2.7mm int'l passengers, 350k transiting

Last edited by paperwastage; Jul 12, 19 at 3:20 pm
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Old Jul 12, 19, 6:46 pm
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Originally Posted by paperwastage View Post
Some fares allow stopover (free/for fee), some don't allow stopover. Some have hip checks that prevent you from doing this

If stopover, book LAX-TYO-(10day stopover)-ASIA, ASIA-TYO-LAX. Enjoy your 10day Tokyo vacation

Note that there may be a min connect time at turnaround (ASIA). You do waste hours/days doing this

You cannot actually throw away any legs (except maybe the last leg, with all the caveats about (hidden city fares)
Yes, you can do that, and waste a day or more (don't know how it is "hours" only, because the fare would basically be to southeast Asia, which is easily a full day round-trip, and you might be looked suspiciously at immigration).
But in no way is the routing you said "hidden city ticketing"
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Old Jul 12, 19, 6:48 pm
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Originally Posted by TA View Post
Well, the current pricing doesn't quite make it worth it in this case, but clearly if USA-Japan-BKK for example flights are $392 one way (which they are right now), you might as well get off the plane in Tokyo and throw away the 2nd leg. If only the return from Japan were as cheap, which generally it is not, lately.
The one-way BKK-Japan-USA is not $392 one-way. Fares don't usually work that way.
And anyway, how would you get back? You wouldn't be in BKK. To do hidden-city ticketing on the way back it would be Japan-USA-xxx
You would also get no checked baggage.

It would be cheaper just to buy a ticket to China, as someone else pointed out, and get a cheap ticket to Japan from there. It would waste a lot of time. And that's why there is a premium for flying direct.

But Japan has historically always been more expensive to get to than the rest of Asia. Budget carriers have started though, particularly KIX and NRT T3.
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Old Jul 12, 19, 7:42 pm
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Yes, that's what I was alluding to. The pricing of the one way tickets doesn't make any throwaway ticketing possibility favorable.
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