cheap airfare finder?
November 28, 2005 5:20 PM   Subscribe

what kind of service/which website do you use for finding cheap airline tickets?

i'm going home for christmas and am currently looking for roundtrip tickets from san francisco to sapporo, japan (SFO to CTS in terms of airport code).

due to unfortunate ex-roommate screwup, i haven't gotten the $$ i expected until this week (i'm probably getting it on wed) and i'm now in desperate search for cheap roundtrip tickets.

i've done some research on mobissimo and if i fly on 12/20th and return back on 28th, i can get tickets around 1100 USD which is about how much i want to spend, but this means i'm only going to be in japan for 7 days, which seems a bit short.
i called my regular travel agent who gave me the price of 1400 USD. it seems mobissimo has found the best deal, but i don't want to give up just yet.

here's my situation/limitation/flexibility:
a)i just started working for this company and don't have much vacation time accumulated. i can do 12/17 through 12/28 (and work 29th and 30th) or leave 12/20 and back on 30th or 31st (i just want a few days to cure jet lag before returning to work on 2nd). i prefer to stay there between 8-10 days if possible.
b)i don't consider taking trains between tokyo and sapporo to save $$ to be worthwhile for following reasons:
b-1)it's only saves me about 120 bucks.
b-2)i'd have to spend a night in tokyo, catch a 7am-bullet train, and from then on transfer to a few other trains to get to sapporo. the whole trip takes a full day (i arrive in sapporo around 8:30pm), which means i'll end up wasting a lot of time traveling just to get from point A to point B. drinking in train is fun, but i'd rather be drinking with my dad at home.
c)similarly, i can only afford one stopover somewhere due to time limitation.

so, with these having been said, what kind of service or websites do you recommend for finding cheap tickets to japan?
posted by grafholic to Travel & Transportation (11 answers total) 5 users marked this as a favorite
posted by neustile at 5:29 PM on November 28, 2005

kayak all the way.
posted by enrevanche at 6:08 PM on November 28, 2005
posted by orlin at 7:43 PM on November 28, 2005

OH MY GOD. Thank you! These tickets are about the same price and way more convenient than the ones I bought 2 weeks ago for the same route. Damn, how could I not have heard of this?

Not the original poster, but still... awesome, thanks.
posted by rkent at 8:25 PM on November 28, 2005

Have you tried calling/emailing a Japanese travel agent [in Japan] and checking prices from the other end? Flights the other way can be unbelievably cheap when you buy from a Japanese agency (Tokyo to LA is sometimes in the $250 range), so you might have luck with that (though since the flight's not originating in Japan...)
posted by soviet sleepover at 8:59 PM on November 28, 2005

Response by poster: i could ask my dad about travel agent in japan and see if there's any way to do this. the travel agent i have here actually works for a japanese travel agency called H.I.S - they have an office in SF. she normally gives me a pretty good deal but because i'm traveling during or around christmas/new years and because i'm buying my tickets so late in the game, she couldn't offer anything really cheap.
narita/LAX for 250 USD does sound an attractive deal if i can find it.
posted by grafholic at 9:44 PM on November 28, 2005

i back up soviet sleepover. Kayak is awesome, but especially when you are dealing with non-US / non-British flights, you will be surprised about how cheap deals can be through travel agencies.
posted by BigBrownBear at 7:31 AM on November 29, 2005

At the end of the day, Orbitz, Expedia, Travelocity, (and probably Kayak, too) are all using the same exact search engine. If you see any price differences (I see a $2 difference in flights between O'hare and Las Vegas via Kayak versus Orbitz), they're usually minor and probably somewhat random.

I would just check them all and see which one rings up the cheapest.
posted by twiggy at 8:33 AM on November 29, 2005

You might want to check out They don't list Sapporo as a destination on the main reservations page, but maybe they're worth calling. Sometimes they have amazing deals.
posted by dmo at 8:43 AM on November 29, 2005

At the end of the day, Orbitz, Expedia, Travelocity, (and probably Kayak, too) are all using the same exact search engine.

Actually, no. Kayak has a deeper pool of search possibilities than the ITN and Sabre-based searches. It will bring you fares from airlines that are not represented by Orbitz/Expedia/Travelocity and the like. is also extremely useful for finding, if not purchasing, flights, and they'll give you a short-term free account if you sign up.
posted by toxic at 10:44 AM on November 29, 2005

ETN is a good source of travel search engines and a way to send a request to multiple travel agents. I've had very good luck with them in the past.
posted by blueyellow at 10:08 PM on November 30, 2005

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