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Flying To Tokyo From UK

Nottingham UK
Level Contributor
54 posts
27 reviews
Flying To Tokyo From UK

Hi There,

Firstly hello everyone - I've been lurking here for a while.

My g/f and I will be travelling to Japan for about two weeks at some point next year and we were looking at late May/Early June (can't go in April unfortunately).

I can find a lot of guidance about airlines, but it's all a bit out of date (keeps talking about 747s). We want to fly direct ideally, as my g/f is a nervous flier, and we obviously need to sit together.

So that leaves us with ANA, JAL, BA and Virgin to choose from. I would also consider Finnair at an absolute push, as the stopover doesn't add much to the flight time. I'm not prepared to pay above Economy, it's just so much money for the upgrade!

Firstly, has anyone flown with any of the above and what did you think to them?

Secondly, who should we go for?

Many thanks for your advice, A

Idstein, Germany
Level Contributor
315 posts
9 reviews
1. Re: Flying To Tokyo From UK

I've flown with ANA and JAL from Frankfurt - Narita and back. I used BA to fly from Haneda to Frankfurt via London. What I liked about the Japanese airlines that they were direct flights.

The service is really friendly/courteous on Japanese planes and there were snacks/drink you could get yourself at the galleries (I don't know the right term). Entertainment was also pretty good, you have your own screen. Up to date movies, interesting documentaries, nice games and Japanese music. Food was alright...

I think some say the width and leg space is smaller in Japanese planes. I can't say anything about that since I am short and petite and always have space for myself.

BA was also pretty good but compared to JAL/ANA. Not as good. If there isn't a big price difference I would go with Japanese airlines.

London, United...
Destination Expert
for Solo Travel
Level Contributor
11,064 posts
28 reviews
2. Re: Flying To Tokyo From UK

I have flown JAL twice from London to Tokyo and BA once on the same route. Each time I flew premium economy because it is an almost 12 hour flight, I was only paying my own fare and the difference in cost (£400) seemed worth it.

On the other hand, the premium economy seats are more "separate" from each other than the economy seats, which is a bonus when seated next to a stranger, but maybe less so when travelling with someone you love and you can lever up the armrest between you in economy.

I really really liked JAL, BA seemed to offer less value for the cost which at least on the first two trips (autumn and spring) was almost identical for JAL and BA. The last trip was in the summer and JAL was much more expensive, at least at the early time I booked.

JAL has a fantastic assortment of Japanese films with subtitles, which I really enjoyed and which could keep a nervous flyer focused on something other than the flight.

JAL will also (at least when I flew it about 3 years ago) let you fly connecting flights from other parts of Japan to Narita for no extra cost. This is very useful if you are spending time in Kyusho near the end of your trip as you can fly from Fukuoka to Narita and then home very easily.

I haven't flown ANA because I don't get air miles for ANA, but do for JAL and BA.

The Finnair deal looked interesting but there was little or no difference for premium economy. I think the economy fares were running about £100 less, which, especially for two people, could be enough to make the stop-over worth doing.

On the other hand, the most dangerous part of flying is the take off and landing and it might not be worth the extra stress on your girlfriend.

Melbourne, Australia
Destination Expert
for Sydney, Bargain Travel, Food and Travel
Level Contributor
28,371 posts
66 reviews
3. Re: Flying To Tokyo From UK

I've flown on all the airlines you've listed, but only on BA flying your route. Finnair is an odd one on your list, as there are other connections that are shorter, like KLM and ANA/Lufthansa.

A question like this entirely subjective, and the difference in economy is minimal among any airlines. I'd base your decision on schedule, fare and duration of the flight. All those airlines you've listed have flights into Haneda, which is a bonus.

And sitting together isn't dependent on which airline you fly.

Edited: 08 June 2014, 19:43
Hong Kong, China
Destination Expert
for Hong Kong, Osaka
Level Contributor
61,967 posts
171 reviews
4. Re: Flying To Tokyo From UK

You will likely get better service with JAL and ANA over BA. However, that's just a general impression and each specific flight crew can be different. Seating-wise, economy is economy so you won't notice any huge difference. Between ANA and JAL, ANA is better overall. Both Japanese airlines could be more expensive than BA in general.

Level Contributor
1,989 posts
464 reviews
5. Re: Flying To Tokyo From UK

We'll be flying BA as they had the best price to go direct. I would agree that other airlines would likely have better service as i've never been blown away by them in the past. I guess it comes down to which is most important.

I will post a trip report after our trip in September with BA if that's any help.

London, United...
Level Contributor
126 posts
2 reviews
6. Re: Flying To Tokyo From UK

We will be flying Air France end of this month, from Heathrow into Haneda, with an hour and half's stopover in Paris both ways. I haven't tried Air France before but booked it as premium economy was at a very good price. I hope the service is good.

7. Re: Flying To Tokyo From UK

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London, United...
Level Contributor
114 posts
82 reviews
8. Re: Flying To Tokyo From UK

Hi Muso85,

I'm booked to fly with Virgin Atlantic in November and managed to get a direct flight for £596 - cheapest fares seem to become available about 8 months in advance before shooting up again - VS were also at lower price for longer than BA. Haven't seen anything even approaching that fare from JL yet. I like the 2 x 4 x 2 configuration of the Airbus planes Virgin uses - although quite often they're older aircraft.

Nottingham UK
Level Contributor
54 posts
27 reviews
9. Re: Flying To Tokyo From UK

That's great feedback, thanks very much everyone!!

I'll have a look at what everyone has suggested, including the other options such as Lifthansa and klm.

Thanks again, A :)

Destination Expert
for Guernsey
Level Contributor
5,323 posts
48 reviews
10. Re: Flying To Tokyo From UK

I'm not a great fan of BA for long hauls, to be honest (even though I'm very UK-orientated...) .... i don't know any of the other airlines listed (I imagine JAL to be pretty good, and I think Virgin is as well) ....

I don't know if Lufthansa is an option for you, but I'm a great fan, service-wise. I've never regretted a single flight with them (but they may not be a good option from the UK ... they are for us Dutchies ^_^ )

Edited: 22 June 2014, 12:39