How can I fly business to Japan on the cheap(er)?
March 28, 2010 7:17 PM   Subscribe

I would like to fly business class to Japan. Any tips on doing this as cheaply as possible?

My SO and I are looking to visit Japan for a ~2 week trip sometime this year (preferably in the fall, but we are flexible). He really hates flying, so we would like to try to do this without having to fly coach. We're willing to pay more, but ideally it would be ~2-3X the cost of a coach ticket instead of ~6X the cost. Any tricks or tips for doing this? We don't have any special frequent flyer status anywhere and it is unlikely we can get our respective companies to pay for the flights. Thanks!
posted by ch1x0r to Travel & Transportation around Japan (12 answers total) 5 users marked this as a favorite
 
where do you fly from?
posted by ddaavviidd at 7:19 PM on March 28, 2010


Sometimes if you get to the flight late, and they gave away your coach seat, they will upgrade you to business class. Sometimes you will just miss your flight.
posted by b1tr0t at 7:37 PM on March 28, 2010


Sometimes if you get to the flight late, and they gave away your coach seat, they will upgrade you to business class. Sometimes you will just miss your flight.
posted by b1tr0t at 7:37 PM


Getting a free upgrade on a flight to Japan w/o any status with the airline is rare. If you're late they'll give away your seat. If they're about to leave, they'll upgrade a person with miles to business class opening the seat in coach.

Rather than try and get a seat in business class, I'd recommend trying to get better seats in coach. If gone from DFW and O'Hare and got the bulkhead seat between coach and business class. Lots of legroom but the seats didn't go back like they do in business class. And you get shittier food in coach and no unlimited drinks. But still relatively comfortable.
posted by birdherder at 8:40 PM on March 28, 2010 [1 favorite]


Sometimes if you get to the flight late, and they gave away your coach seat, they will upgrade you to business class.

This has happened to me just once in 16 years of flying back and forth between Canada and Japan, and it was only because I was flying on New Years' Eve and the plane was practically empty.
posted by KokuRyu at 8:42 PM on March 28, 2010


Getting better seats in coach seems like a better strategy.

I arrive as early as I can at the airport and request a bulkhead seat or an emergency exit seat. You get more legroom, and it's easier to get up and stretch your legs.

As far as I know, you get unlimited drinks on international flights.
posted by KokuRyu at 8:44 PM on March 28, 2010


Why not address the problem at hand? Flying first class is a better experience, but if your husband hates flying, a solution addressing his distress/fear might be more appropriate (and way cheaper). Why doesn't he ask his doctor about a Xanax and/or sleeping aid prescription?

I'm not afraid of flying per se, but I greatly dislike (that's an understatement) being stuck for 10+ hours at a time in a giant metal box. Ambien has made transoceanic flights much more tolerable. I still feel sore from sleeping in an awkward position, but it saves me hours of utter misery.
posted by halogen at 9:09 PM on March 28, 2010


Why doesn't he ask his doctor about a Xanax and/or sleeping aid prescription?

My traveler's friend is Hydroxyzine. It's really the perfect drug for seven reasons:

1. Hypnotic, like valium or a benzo. A decent dose puts you right out. This is not only good for sleeping through the flight, but also for overcoming jet lag when you've arrived.

2. Anxiolytic: relaxes, takes the edge off.

3. Antihistamine, which is always a plus if you have allergies, especially if you're cramped cabin with 100+ other bodies.

4. Combines safely with alcohol.

5. No side effects to speak of.

6. Not habit forming.

7. Cheap.

You can probably get your primary care physician to prescribe it for you just by explaining the situation and asking for it.

Also: when you book your ticket ask for an exit row. If you've already booked call the airline and ask to be reassigned to one.
posted by clarknova at 10:51 PM on March 28, 2010


And if you can't get a seat in the exit row, ask for aisle seats, preferably close to the lavatories. On a ten hour flight there's nothing out of the window that makes sitting there worth it. Being able to get up without having to clamber over people is ideal. And you're guaranteed to have at least one of your armrests to yourself. Sitting 0 - 3 rows away from the toilets gives you control, which is very reassuring. And you WILL be freshening up than twice if it's convenient. Guaranteed.

Whether you and your SO would be happier flipping up the armrest between you and sharing a pair of seats next to the aisle, or talking to each other across the aisle depends on you.
posted by clarknova at 11:03 PM on March 28, 2010 [1 favorite]


Really. Not getting confined between a a wall and a person, or two other persons, is half the reason for flying business class anyway.

Also, as an addendum to the Hydroxyzine spiel, when you wake up from it, there's no extra grogginess or heaviness. I always get that with Xanax, Ambien, et. al.
posted by clarknova at 11:11 PM on March 28, 2010


My traveler's friend is Hydroxyzine. It's really the perfect drug for seven reasons:

Also: when you book your ticket ask for an exit row. If you've already booked call the airline and ask to be reassigned to one.

Don't combine drugs that knock you out with sitting in an exit row. Mutually exclusive. Go for bulkhead please.
posted by qwip at 2:51 AM on March 29, 2010 [3 favorites]


While they don't look nearly as comfortable as the lay-flat seats in First Class, Japan Airlines has a Premium Economy class section with nicer seats and extra amenities available on some of their US-Tokyo flights (including from JFK). There are some tickets in the $1800 range, compared with ~$1000 for the cheapest economy seats, for flights in early October.
posted by Jemstar at 8:56 AM on March 29, 2010 [1 favorite]


Sorry I forgot to mention I am looking to leave from the NYC area.
Thanks for all the responses so far. I appreciate the tips on drugs and maybe getting bulkhead/exit row seats (can you really do that without paying extra or being a massive frequent flyer these days?), but I really am more interested in places I could sign up to find out about better flight prices or maybe even things like the "premium economy class section" linked above. It would be fun to have a little bit more luxury in our flight than the cattle car feeling of coach.
posted by ch1x0r at 4:34 PM on March 29, 2010


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