Those dang expensive tickets!
November 21, 2012 3:23 AM   Subscribe

Help me get home (from Japan) for the holidays!

Hello there,

I am currently living in Japan. I would like to get home to America for the holidays (preferably around the 22nd of December or earlier). I am currently looking for tickets - I know this is rather late to be searching. I will be flying from Tokyo to Cleveland, Ohio - but I am fine flying to nearby airports (as far away as, say, Chicago) if that makes it significantly cheaper.

I am fine with round-trip or one-way, whichever is cheapest (I have reasons for both, which I won't explain here). I have checked both options, and the one-way tickets are really not that much less expensive than round trip for some reason. The best price I can currently find for a round-trip ticket is around $1800. I have tried the usual sites - orbitz, kayak, etc.

If anyone can find significantly cheaper tickets, I would be very grateful! Even a few hundred dollars would make a huge difference.
posted by Kamelot123 to Travel & Transportation (12 answers total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
Is there a specific date or date range you would like to return? Or are you definitely not going back so the return date doesn't matter? And how much earlier than 22 December can you leave?
posted by peanut butter milkshake at 4:36 AM on November 21, 2012

Travelko-chan usually has cheap deals, but you need to be able to read Japanese.

Otherwise, call up HIS or Number One in Shinjuku.
posted by nevan at 4:37 AM on November 21, 2012

HIS, AB Road, Kakuyasu Ticket
posted by KokuRyu at 4:52 AM on November 21, 2012

Well, just using Kayak I'm seeing $1267 - $1400ish for numerous combinations of Narita to Detriot, leaving 20/21 Dec and returning 7-14 Jan. There were some for those dates around $1500 for Cleveland as well.
posted by peanut butter milkshake at 4:56 AM on November 21, 2012

Are you looking at Kayak from within the States?

Flying from Japan, it can be much cheaper to book from Japan (ie, the awesome American booking aggregators don't work over here), preferably using a Japanese site.
posted by KokuRyu at 5:08 AM on November 21, 2012

Fares shoot up as soon as schools (k-12) go on break. My school, which follows along most other schools, has its last classes on the 19th, with a closing ceremony on the 20th. There is a huge bump between those two dates, and then another between the 20th and 21st.

Given that there aren't any direct flights to Cleveland, and that it's not a hub, you're looking at a significant extra chunk. Worse than that, in the U.S., if you're flying from Japan to anywhere other than LA or NYC, it's crazy expensive. Chicago, for example, leaving on the 21st was something like 130,000 a person, though it was cheaper directly through the JAL website than HIS. The next day was, like you said, a lot more expensive.

Also, at this point, you'll be lucky to find tickets. Especially around the holidays, tickets go fast. It's not uncommon for people to buy tickets three to four months in advance.
posted by Ghidorah at 5:34 AM on November 21, 2012

I think Delta is going to be your best bet.

They have a hub in Cleveland, and lots of flights in Japan.

I did a search and found flights for ¥113,540 that leave on the 19th or the 20th. This is a round-trip ticket. I used a return date of Jan 9. Wednesdays are the cheapest day to fly.

You have the option to use the return or not.
posted by Ruthless Bunny at 5:56 AM on November 21, 2012

American Airlines is doing a fare special to Japan right now... the dates may end up working for you.
posted by larthegreat at 6:02 AM on November 21, 2012

1.Consider Air Asia or other cheap Asian airline services. Specifically, I would book multi-leg tickets, using different air lines. With Air Asia, I'd suggest checking out the following routes:

-Tokyo to KL, KL to the US
-Tokyo to Ubud, Indonesia, Ubud to the US
-Tokyo to Thailand, Thailand to the US
-Tokyo to London, London to the US

(I used to live in Indonesia, and there a bunch of cheapie airlines offering service around the country and around Asia. That being said, a number of these airlines do not have great safety records, and as far as I know, Air Asia is the only airline considered safe enough to be allowed to fly to Europe. I also assume that Japan has similar restrictions, but still, if you go this route please do your homework first. I'm not trying to be an alarmist; I have flown on some of the most unsafe airlines in the world-- and I have flown into my fair share of unsafe airports.)

2. Look into flights on Air China-- I have noticed they tend to be cheaper.

3. I assume you are American. I'd suggest giving the embassy a buzz and asking them for advice.

4. Look for reputable courier companies.
posted by emilynoa at 6:32 AM on November 21, 2012

Definitely check out flights to Detroit (DTW) - it's a Delta hub now, and before the merger it used to be a major Northwest hub for flights to/from Japan and Korea. A number of Asian airlines code share with U.S. airlines for flights to/from DTW.

I am seeing fares in the $1200 range - renting a car to get to Cleveland and back or flying might be a tossup in terms of cost.
posted by needled at 6:52 AM on November 21, 2012

It would be not much fun directly after arriving from Japan, but Megabus has service to Cleveland from both Chicago and Detroit.

Kayak just found me $1208 on American NRT-ORD-DTW leaving 12/19 and returning 1/8 (searched TYO-DTW 12/22 to 1/9 with flexible dates--TYO gets you both NRT and HND in the results). DTW is not an AA hub, but they're presumably trying to draw people away from Delta's HND/NRT-DTW flights. (Delta NRT-DTW is like $1250, but leaving 12/24.)
posted by hoyland at 7:10 AM on November 21, 2012

The thing you were supposed to conclude from the comment about AA trying to undercut Delta is that going to Detroit on AA may be cheaper than going to Chicago on AA, even though O'Hare is the hub.
posted by hoyland at 7:11 AM on November 21, 2012

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