I'd prefer not to spend my entire vacation budget on the plane.
February 8, 2010 1:36 PM   Subscribe

What can I do to get a lower fare from Detroit, MI to Nagoya, Japan?

I realize there might not be a great answer to this question, but if there's any chance of saving money I figured it's worth a shot.

I need to book a round-trip flight from DTW (Detroit, USA) to NGO (Nagoya, Japan), leaving Detroit on May 21, 2010 in the evening, and returning on May 29 or 30. I need a direct flight (13 hours on a plane is about all I can take, I can't imagine it taking longer).

I've priced this out a few times from various sources, and the price I'm seeing is always about $1950 USD! I'm shocked that it's so high. The last time I went to Japan it cost me about half of that. Sure fuel prices have gone up, but still....

I know Golden Week is in early may, and late April/early May is cherry blossom season, but I thought I was going late enough to avoid the surge in cost.

I'll pay the $2k if I have to, but I'd really prefer to knock that number down a bit. Does anyone have any suggestions about how I might find a cheaper fare? Would waiting to book until 4-6 weeks before I depart be a good idea? The price couldn't possibly go up... could it? Are there any other travel sites you'd recommend, or coupon codes or anything else I might utilize to reduce the cost of this ticket at all? I've read some previous related ask mes, but didn't see anything too promising.

Any advice is appreciated. Thanks MeFites!
posted by Vorteks to Travel & Transportation (12 answers total) 4 users marked this as a favorite
You're going weekend-to-weekend, which doesn't help you. Neither does being inflexible. Multiple legs can almost cut your price in half. Flying straight to Tokyo saves you some cash too; that might be an option if you can find good domestic transport. Frequent flyer miles, if you have them, are always an option. I'm not sure about what these flights usually run, but waiting is almost always going to be a crapshoot.
posted by craven_morhead at 1:47 PM on February 8, 2010 [1 favorite]

Best answer: I think booking through a Japanese travel agency will net you better fares. A few years ago there was an AskMe question here about IACE, who offers pretty unbelievable fares to Japan. The consensus is that they're legit. A couple other AskMe questions mention HIS as being another good option.
posted by zsazsa at 1:47 PM on February 8, 2010 [1 favorite]

Best answer: Kayak.com is showing me prices from the $1101 mark with All Nippon, although their flights seem to be in the morning. Asiana Airlines have one at 18:53 for $1257. I just searched 21st coming back 29th, so fiddling around with dates and times (maybe really early the 22nd, for example) might yield better prices. I can't speak for how good those airlines are, but might be a starting point. There has been mention of a website which tells you historically good times to book for the route you want, but I don't know it. Perhaps another MeFite might chip in? And if you can vary your dates, I think Wednesdays and Thursdays are cheaper days to fly (I could be wrong for a flight like this though).
posted by djgh at 1:47 PM on February 8, 2010

Some of the problem might be that Delta seems to be the only airline that flys that route. I know you want to make it non-stop but maybe if you went to Chicago or LA first you could get a better deal.
posted by ghharr at 1:47 PM on February 8, 2010

Matrix2 is probably the most comprehensive and powerful search engine but if you aren't flexible there isn't going to be much variation.
posted by ChrisHartley at 1:51 PM on February 8, 2010

This summer, when I had to miss my return flight, JAL refused to help me towards the purchase of a ticket (even though it was due to a death in the family) because I went through a travel agency. That aside, when I was searching for one way fares I found that JAL and ANA were much, much cheaper than United, Delta, and Northwest. That I was flying out of Chicago made the United fare (over $2000) particularly shocking.

From a service/less unpleasant flying standpoint, I'd say try for an ANA flight. JAL is bankrupt and was crappy to fly on even last summer. ANA, from the groundstaff who walked me through security to make sure I could get my father's ashes on the plane, to the cabin attendants who were (amazingly) kind and courteous, I was shocked to find that a 14 hour flight could be almost pleasant again.

In summary, see if you can go through Chicago, and check ANA. I think I went through Travelocity.
posted by Ghidorah at 1:59 PM on February 8, 2010

Best answer: My gal and I flew to Japan and back with tickets purchased from Amnet-USA a couple of years ago on the suggestion of an ex-pat (actually, his wife) who books through them for his annual trip back home.

They're showing $788, round trip from Detroit, not including taxes and whatever, for December departures booked by October 15th.

Site hasn't been updated for the new year, but probably worth a call.
posted by notyou at 2:08 PM on February 8, 2010 [3 favorites]

Direct is what is killing you here, because you at the mercy of the one or two possible methods and the sellers know that.

(The correct way to do this is to get to LAX or SFO or SEA first, which opens up hundreds of other possibilities. Competition is your friend, here.)
posted by rokusan at 4:31 PM on February 8, 2010

Best answer: 13 hours on a plane is about all I can take, I can't imagine it taking longer

If this is a big deal for you, could you leave a bit earlier and stay overnight at one of the West Coast gateways? A hotel room and some sunshine before/after your flights would do wonders, and with a short-enough layover, you can almost certainly through-check your bags - not sure what the maximum time w/o your bag is allowed to be these days. Worth a phone call to check.
posted by mdonley at 5:00 PM on February 8, 2010

You might want to price out Detroit to Seattle, Seattle to Tokyo, Tokyo to Nagoya flights. I know you want a direct flight but hundreds of dollars in ticket savings may change your mind.
posted by MsKim at 7:45 PM on February 8, 2010

I would also suggest (on top of giving up flying direct out of DTW) to look for flights to NRT or KIX instead, and take the train from either of those places, which will be about 2.5 hours from either if you take the shinkansen. Going by train is so much different than the soul-sucking pain that is flying that I think you could manage it, even if it adds a little extra time.

I got good flights from DTW last winter, but everything's gone downhill nowadays, and most of the flights from DTW to Japan were taken away.
posted by that girl at 8:03 PM on February 8, 2010

Response by poster: Thanks for the answers everyone. Guess what? In the month or so since I posted this question, the price of a Delta Airlines direct flight from DTW to NGO on the dates I specified dropped $800. Seriously. It's like $1250 now.

At this point though, my travel plans have unfortunately had to be postponed a bit, so I'm not going to be buying this particular ticket. I appreciate the advice though, and the link to Kayak, which I found to be helpful.

I did end up calling IACE, who did help me find some cheaper options, but none of them were quite right for my needs at the time. I'll keep them in mind for future trips though.
posted by Vorteks at 11:59 AM on March 12, 2010

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