With over 90 airports in Japan, domestic airways are a great way to travel between the islands and main regions of Japan. It’s time-efficient and cost-effective with a convenience not offered by the nationwide train service or ferry system. Booking a flight isn’t expensive or complicated at all.
However, there are several tips to keep in mind if you want to use this method for domestic travel within Japan. You have several carrier options available to you, so it’s wise to do some thorough research before you make travel plans.
Popular Domestic Destinations
The robust airport network in Japan means there are literally hundreds of daily flights. While you can go almost anywhere, some of the more popular destinations are:
- Fukuoka: Fukuoka is Kyushu Island’s largest city and you can travel between here and Tokyo with great ease on an enormous aircraft.
- Okinawa: Since this is Japan’s only prefecture not connected by train to the mainland, air travel is integral to reaching the island.
- Osaka: The Kansai region encompassing Osaka connects to the rest of the country.
- Sapporo: Arguably one of the busiest air routes for tourists, businessmen, and adventure-seekers.
- Tokyo: This is the hub for all domestic flights and other transportation in Japan with two major airports.
How to Book a Domestic Flight in Japan
For more thorough instructions on how to book a domestic flight in Japan, visit the specific airline you want to take.
Not only will you find booking information but also prices, baggage allowances, airport amenities, onboard offerings, and other details specific to the airline.
Regardless, the airline will have more up-to-date protocols, guidelines, and rules for booking as well as boarding.
However, this article will give you a general overview so that you can be smart about your trip and make informed decisions.
Prepayment for a Booking Isn’t Necessary
When you go to the airline’s websites, you’ll find them in English. Therefore, you can take comfort in knowing you can be in complete possession of the details and itinerary of your flight(s).
Another good thing is that you can book a domestic flight without paying for it; which is convenient for peace of mind.
However, the date you have to pay will vary and you must submit it on time or you will lose your reservation.
Advanced Bookings; General Pricing
Booking your flight in advance can mean a lower price. However, if it’s a busy holiday season, like Golden Week, it will be expensive no matter how early you book the flight.
On average, though, expect to pay ¥20,000 ($166 USD) per flight. But, if you get a temporary flight pass, you can get flights for as little as ¥10,000 ($83 USD).
However, looking out for cheaper flights may not always be the best idea. This is because there are various hassles and restrictions involved that include things like seat charges, inferior flight schedules, or limited baggage allowances.
Plus, some cheaper flights don’t usually let you earn flight miles for later redemption.
One thing that can be confusing is online check-in procedures. This requires a digital code and you don’t receive a standard boarding pass.
What you get is what they call a “2D barcode.” You can use this only one time and you must save it as soon as you generate it.
If this is too much trouble for you, check in at the airport. One more note about checking in: ensure you arrive at least 15 minutes prior to departure. But, sooner is better.
Peruse the table of airline companies below to begin booking a domestic flight within Japan.
Note the differences in the sizes of their networking throughout the country along with fare price descriptions and baggage allowances.
|Airline||Network System||Fare Description||Baggage Allowance||General Description|
|Japan Airlines (JAL)||Large||Somewhat Inexpensive||Relatively Generous||Comprises several smaller airlines along with links to over 100 domestic routes and 50 airports within Japan; complimentary drinks on every flight.|
|All Nippon Airways (ANA)||Japan’s Largest||Mostly Inexpensive||Relatively Generous||Connects with several small airlines, 100 domestic routes, and 50 airports; paid drinks and snacks are available onboard|
|Skymark Airlines||Extensive||Inexpensive||Moderate||Two main bases in Tokyo-Haneda and Kobe but low level of services at the airport and onboard|
|Peach Aviation||Small||Very Inexpensive, but tends to sneak in hidden charges and fees||Strict and minimal||One of the newer domestic airlines began in 2012; bases at the Kansai Airport in Osaka and Narita Airport in Tokyo; paid snacks and drinks onboard|
|Jetstar Japan||Medium||Very Inexpensive; but beware of hidden fees and charges||Very limited baggage policy||Based in Kansai, Narita, and Nagoya airports; limited services with paid snacks and drinks onboard|
|Spring Japan||Small||Inexpensive||Restrictive||Connects to Sapporo, Hiroshima, and Saga|
|Air Do||Small||Fairly Inexpensive||Generous Allowance||Various destinations in Hokkaido from Tokyo-Haneda and from Sapporo to Osaka; complimentary drinks|
|StarFlyer||Small||Fairly Inexpensive||Generous Allowance||Routes only around Kitakyushu, Fukuoka, and Yamaguchi; super comfortable flights with complimentary drinks and individual video systems|
|Solaseed Air||Small||Fairly Inexpensive||Generous Allowance||Tokyo-Haneda to various places on Kyushu Island along with Tokyo, Nagoya, and Okinawa; complimentary drinks|
|Fuji Dream Airlines||Small||Somewhat Expensive||Relatively Generous||Opened alongside the Shizuoka Airport in 2009 and serves Matsumoto and Nagoya|
|IBEX Airlines||Small||Somewhat Expensive||Somewhat Restrictive||Sendai-based but also serves Narita, Itami, and Nagoya airports|
So you understand your booking information and flight itinerary, it’s important to know where all the airports are and the domestic airlines found at each.
Please note these are not all the airports, but these are the most significant. Links to Japan’s three largest domestic carriers links below:
- Memanbetsu Airport (Ōzora): Air Do, ANA, JAL, Peach
- Asahikawa Airport (Asahikawa and Higashikagura): Air Do, ANA, JAL, Spring
- Kushiro Airport: Tokyo-Haneda, ANA, JAL, Peach
- Shin-Chitose Airport (Sapporo): Air Do, ANA, Fuji Dream, JAL, Jetsar, Peach, Skymark, Spring
- Hakodate Airport: Air Do, ANA, Fuji Dream, JAL
- Aomori Airport: ANA, Fuji Dream, JAL
- Sendai Airport: Air Do, ANA, Fuji Dream, JAL, IBEX, Peach, Skymark
- Niigata Airport: ANA, Fuji Dream, JAL, Peach
- Ibaraki Airport (Omitama): Skymark, Spring
- Narita Airport (Tokyo): ANA, JAL, Jetstar, Peach, Spring
- Haneda Airport (Tokyo): Air Do, ANA, JAL, Peach, Solaseed, Spring
- Shinshu-Matsumoto Airport: Fuji Dream, JAL
- Shizuoka Airport (Makinohara and Shimada): ANA, Fuji Dream
- Toyama Airport: ANA
- Komatsu Airport (Kanazawa and Komatsu): ANA, JAL
- Central Japan Airport (Tokoname, Nagoya): Air Do, ANA, IBEX, JAL, Jetstar, Peach, Skymark, Solaseed, Spring
- Kansai Airport (Izumisano, Sennan, ; Tajiri of Osaka): ANA, JAL, Jetstar, Peach, Spring
- Itami Airport (Itami, Hyogo; Ikeda and Toyonaka, Osaka): ANA, JAL
- Kobe Airport (Chuo-ku): Air Do, ANA, Fuji Dream, Skymark, Solaseed
- Okayama Airport: ANA, JAL
- Yonago Airport: ANA
- Izumo Airport: Fuji Dream, JAL
- Hiroshima Airport: ANA, JAL, Spring
- Yamaguchi-Ube Airport: ANA, JAL, StarFlyer
- Takamatsu Airport: ANA, JAL, Jetstar, Spring
- Matsuyama Airport: ANA, IBEX, JAL, Jetstar
- Shin-Kitakyushu Airport: Fuji Dream, JAL, StarFlyer
- Fukuoka Airport: ANA, Fuji Dream, IBEX, JAL, Jetstar, Peach, Skymark, Solaseed, StarFlyer
- Ōita Airport: ANA, JAL, Jetstar, Peach
- Kumamoto Airport (Mashiki): ANA, Amakusa, Fuji Dream, IBEX, JAL, Jetstar, Solaseed
- Kagoshima Airport: ANA, Fuji Dream, IBEX, JAL, Jetstar, Peach, Skymark, Solaseed
- Naha Airport: ANA, JAL, Jetstar, Peach, Skymark, Solaseed, StarFlyer