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Best Airline to Fly to Japan

The Best Airline to Fly to Japan from the USA

There are dozens of airlines offering routes to Japan, with 30 direct flights from the USA alone a day to the island nation – but which is the best airline to fly to Japan from the USA?

Flights and passengers to Japan are rapidly recovering from the pandemic levels. This year (2023) in August saw a 1000% increase in YoY international traffic, with over 2 million passengers visiting in a single month.

That’s not only a lot of people, but a lot of flights, and many airlines to choose from.

We’ve broken down the best airline to fly to Japan to help travelers identify the right accommodations.

Whether you are looking for the fastest, cheapest, or best meals or amenities, we’ve researched and included our personal experience as serial travelers with our favorite options.

Here’s a quick overview of the selections on this list:

ANA Airlines (All Nippon Airways) – Ranking in the top 5 airlines to fly multiple years in a row out of the entire world, ANA upped the bar to gain the number 3 spot in 2023. ANA is one of the world’s largest airlines with connections to all major Japanese hubs from North America, Europe, Asia, and South America.

Japan Airlines (JAL) – Japan Airlines flies close to the top, coming in at number 5 overall with the number one economy class out of all airlines. JAL operates flights directly from 9 North American cities to Haneda, Narita, and Kansai, flights from London to Haneda, and access to Asia, Hawaii, and Oceania.

United Airlines – United ranks high for its reward program and having many available flights to Japan across the US. They offer 4 direct routes to Tokyo from LA, Chicago, New York, and Washington D.C. plus access from all major hubs in the US.

Delta Airlines – Delta, like United, has a strong rewards program and is invested in the Haneda Airport leg route from Honolulu and LAX. For those with access, Haneda is the only international location where Delta Airlines houses the Delta Sky Club.

Singapore Airlines – Coming in as the world’s best airline overall for 2023, Singapore Airlines caters heavily to first-class customers. If looking for that extra comfort and experience on a long flight to Japan, consider booking with Singapore from LAX to Tokyo.

Hawaiian Airlines – Offering flights from Honolulu to 4 hubs in Japan, this airline also boasts the shortest route from the USA and the best food of domestic airlines.

Which is the best airline to fly to Japan? 6 popular options for your next trip

Lantern posts lining stone stairs in Kyoto

International carriers win awards for luxury and service, while domestic airlines fly from multiple hubs and have excellent reward programs.

Which is the right airline for you? Pack your bags and let’s take off on the ultimate airline to Japan.

ANA Airlines (All Nippon Airways) for best all-around service and comfort

Japan's top-rated airline with the most domestic routes and awarded number 6 best world over.

ANA is a true contender for the best airline to fly to Japan in 2023. Japan’s largest airline with dozens of international flights and 50 domestic routes, it offers some of the best services to passengers.

From great customer service and cushy seats, to top-of-the-line in-flight entertainment and delicious meals, it is no wonder All Nippon Airlines ranks as number 3 in the world.

In addition to service, ANA is convenient for US passengers. All Nippon Airlines excels in the number of routes offered. The airline flies direct to Narita and Haneda International from eight major airports in the USA.

These routes are highly dependable, with few delays. ANA ranks number 1 for on-time flights, with 84% of their scheduled bookings departing on time. With fewer or no layovers plus on-time departures, spend more time traveling Japan, and less time in airports.

You can fly ANA to Japan directly on nonstop flights from these US hubs:

  • Honolulu
  • Houston
  • Washington D.C
  • New York
  • San Francisco
  • Chicago
  • Seattle
  • Los Angeles

Check out our ANA Airlines guide for a full breakdown of what to expect.

Japan Airlines (JAL) for the best economy-class seat

Japan Airlines is one of the best airlines to fly to Japan and the best economy class in the world

Right behind ANA, JAL is another airline that is consistently in the top ten of worldwide airlines, coming in at number 6 in 2023.

JAL could be the top contender for 90% of Japan-bound travelers with their exceptional attention to their economy class seats.

While many airlines are shrinking the pitch between seats for domestic and long haul flights, an industry way of saying destroying legroom, JAL reverses the trend.

Japan Airlines flights offer the best legroom and some of the widest economy seats in the entire industry.

JAL also offers impressive first and business-class seats. Beautiful lounge access comes complimentary to fliers who choose to fly to Japan on a premium ticket.

Premium economy fliers stand a chance to level up their flight experience with Japan Airlines’ bidding system. International flights often have some seats available in business or first class for upgrades based on the highest bid.

Japan Airlines flies to Tokyo Haneda and Narita International airports from the US. Through a partnership with American Airlines, flying Japan Airlines offers flights originating from the following cities:

  • San Francisco
  • Chicago
  • New York
  • Los Angeles
  • San Diego
  • Boston

United Airlines for the most convenient and direct flights to Japan

One of the best airlines to fly to Japan based on convenience from the US, flying from major hubs on the East and West Coast

United Airlines scores highly for convenient flights to Japan. Two of their strongest points are 1) the timing of their flights and 2) the number of destination hubs.

For the first point, United Airlines times their fights to Japan for optimal sleeping patterns.

United Airlines aims to minimize jet lag with its routes. Flights arrive late afternoon in Japan, allowing passengers to navigate customs, baggage, and hotel check-in just in time for dinner and then to hit the hay for a full night’s sleep.

Secondly, United flies to 4 Japanese airports, more than others on this list. In addition to flights directly to Narita International Airport and Tokyo Haneda Airport, United offers flights to Nagoya and Osaka.

For a comfortable flight with built-in cabin amenities, United Airlines offers the latest for international travelers. It operates the most 787 Dreamliners of any American Airline, which is Boeing’s latest and most modern passenger model.

While it may not be the first choice for many travelers, United Airlines is still a solid option for the next trip to Japan.

Be sure to check out our guide for flying United Airlines to Japan.

Delta Airlines for rewards

Delta. Airlines offers some of the best awards in the industry, and has flights from Honolulu to Haneda

If you are one of the many frequent travelers making use of the rewards program offered by Delta Airlines, they could be the right choice for your next trip.

Delta Airlines rewards program beats out other airlines on this list for the redemption value of their SkyMiles program.

Delta SkyMiles is also the most used loyalty program in the United States, according to the New York Times. Nearly a whopping 1 percent of US domestic product is spent through Delta credit cards.

Delta points can be used for lounges as well as flights. SkyClub is the latest addition to Haneda airport lounges. Opened in 2022, it features 9000 square feet of catered, relaxing space, and is Delta’s only international lounge at the time of writing.

If you are planning a trip that includes Hawaii or originates from the majestic islands, Delta is a worthy consideration. As of October 28th, 2023, Delta now offers, for the first time ever, a Haneda-Honolulu non-stop service.

Singapore Airlines for luxury travel to Japan

The best airline to fly to Japan for those seeking a luxury travel experience

This is the ultimate airline for those with a bit of cash to burn on a luxurious flight. Awarded the number 1 spot for best airlines to fly in 2023, passengers will find unparalleled service and comfort.

Singapore Airlines wins in a number of categories and is on the complete opposite end of cheap flights from budget airlines like Ryan Air.

First, their service staff. New flight attendants go through a rigorous and famous 4-month training program before they walk into the cabin with passengers.

Secondly, they have some of the best-rated amenities. Exceptional drink and food service, spacious seats in all cabin classes, and state-of-the-art entertainment.

Finally, if you are really looking to fly in style, they were awarded specifically the best first-class airline. With fully reclining seats and an awe-inspiring wine selection, travelers feel like they are in a cozy lounge.

Flight prices match the service, and you probably won’t find cheap airfare with Singapore Airlines. This is really the airline for those who care a lot about the in-flight experience or have larger budgets.

Singapore Airlines offers flight routes to Japan from LA and New York.

Hawaiian Airlines for the shortest flight and best food

Hawaiian Airlines offers the shortest flight from Honolulu to multiple cities in Japan

Alongside being a premier vacation spot, the islands can also boast the shortest route from the US to Japan.

Direct flights originating from Honolulu with Hawaiian Airlines take 8 hours. Compared to mainland flights, which take anywhere from 12 to 15 hours, that’s 7 hours saved.

Even if you aren’t on the pristine islands to take advantage of direct flights, the connections from Honolulu serve as a gateway to Japan. Travelers can take advantage of multi-city flights, adding Japan as a destination to their Hawaii-bound vacation, or take advantage of a cheaper connecting flight.

Travelers on Hawaiian Airlines can expect first-class service. The airline consistently wins awards for service, punctuality, and food. Food and Wine Global Tastemaker awarded Hawaiian Airlines Best Domestic Airline for Food in 2023.

In addition, Hawaiian Airlines is the only other airline on this list to fly to cities other than Tokyo. They offer direct flights to Tokyo, Osaka, and Fukuoka.

FAQ

Which is the best airline in Japan?

Among the best airlines to fly the world over are ANA and JAL. Japan Airlines pulls slightly ahead of All Nippon Airways due to its unbeatable economy experience.

For those flying domestically in Japan, they may look to ANA. All Nippon Airways offers the most routes within the country.

Which major airlines offer the cheapest flight tickets?

Hawaiian Airlines tends to offer the cheapest flights given their proximity to the nation.

Those looking to save cash and not make use of rewards may look to avoid airlines like Singapore and Delta. Delta is known to charge a premium for its services.

Which airport is closest to Tokyo City Center, Haneda or Narita?

Narita and Haneda are two major airports with convenient connections to Tokyo. In a comparison between the two, Haneda wins out for its proximity to the city.

Tokyo’s Haneda Airport is 50 minutes closer by car than Narita. Public transport from both is convenient, but Haneda will cost half as much as Narita, as well as save travelers time.

Narita used to be the main option for flights to Tokyo, with Haneda Airport servicing more domestic flights. That’s been changing, with Haneda airports gaining additional international airlines and routes.

When can I find cheap tickets to Japan?

Travelers flying to Japan during the hectic cherry blossom and late fall foilage seasons are likely to find ticket prices hiked.

The gorgeous season of cherry blossoms inundates Japanese cities with color, and the late fall is famous for vibrant displays of changing leaves. As the most popular times to visit Japan, travelers are likely to face high prices along with large crowds.

Prices drop dramatically during cheaper times of the year, such as winter and early spring.

Summary

As Japan continues to steam ahead after the pandemic shutdowns, travelers will find an increasing number of options and flights to Japan to choose from.

While there are luxury options available, most travelers will look to the economy class, and some will empty their wallets to experience the ultimate in fine travel.

We always love to hear which are the deciding factors for airline choice. Leave a comment to let us know which airline most interests you for your next Japan trip.

Sayonara, and have a great flight.

Be sure to also check out our guide on the best time to travel to Japan.

Jonathan Mcnamara

Jonathan is a veteran of the Japan and Korean expat life. He lived in Japan and Korea for almost 10 years, and speaks Korean and Japanese. A blogger, a writer, website maker who's had his share of relationships while living abroad, he's now turned his attention to helping others navigate traveling, living, working, and relationships in Japan.

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