Fly like an Airline Stockholder (or “getting a 50% discount on domestic flights”)
I was recently introduced to a new way of getting cheaper flights around Japan. If you’re travelling to a popular destination such as Hokkaido or Okinawa then your best option would be to use an LCC in Japan. During the off-season, these carriers are your cheapest option (unless you like painfully long journeys on overnight buses, trains or ships).
However, what if you wish to travel during the peak seasons or to a place not serviced by LCCs? Well, prepare yourself to pay more, as this is unavoidable. During the peak season, you can often pay up to three times the price of an LCC to get somewhere on JAL/ANA (Japan’s national airlines). However, there is a way to ease the burden on your wallet.
I’m talking about stockholder options at JAL and ANA. I know what you are thinking, “if I can afford to buy shares in these companies, then I can probably afford a normal priced ticket”. However, there is a simple solution, and you can skip the stockmarket completely too. Many stockholders of JAL & ANA often sell their tickets to various ticket shops located around Japan.
A well-known local shop that sells these discounted tickets is called “Daikokuya”. In fact, there are many other options too. If you go to the west side of Shinjuku and turn right outside Odakyu, then you will stumble upon a whole row of these shops back to back with cheaper priced alternatives.
Upon approaching one of the counters, you should ask the ticket shop for a JAL/ANA “Kabunushiyutaiken”. They often sell these for around 5,000yen and this will net you 50% off any flight in Japan. Often, this translates to final savings (after the 5,000yen price of the coupon) of around 10,000yen one way, so if you’re booking a return trip then savings could amount to 20,000yen or more. Of course if you’re travelling with a significant other, then you could double the potential savings again to over 40,000yen on return flight tickets.
If you’re willing to venture online then you may be able to find the same tickets on Yahoo Auctions or other sites for anywhere between 1,000-3,000yen. However, be aware that you are taking the risk of the ticket being delivered on time or even at all. Your safest bet is to just walk into a shop and pick one up in person.
Finally, most of these tickets have an expiry date of a year, so if you are planning a flight later in the year, you can still pick one up early.
The one more major hurdle that you need to overcome is in order to use these tickets, I believe the only way is to book your ticket online. There is an English site which may accept the input of your stockholder coupon number.
An undoubtedly easier way to book your flight would be through a JAL reservation counter or directly at Haneda or Narita airports. Alternatively, you can call them up (they have an English speaking service) and give them your credit card number along with your coupon code.
For more information on the booking process, you can visit the English site.