Japan is one of the most popular travel destinations in the world. In fact, the number of hotel guests in June exceeds pre-pandemic levels in Japan. We’re not surprised. June is a great month to visit! This country offers a rich cultural heritage, breathtaking natural scenery, modern cities, and delicious food. You’ve just gotta get here, right!? To help ensure a comfortable and enjoyable trip, let’s take a look at some of the best airlines to fly to Japan.
In this blog post, I’ll discuss many great airlines, but here’s a spoiler — I recommend All Nippon Airways (ANA) above any other airline. The service, comfortable seats, and meal options are absolutely fantastic! Can’t book on ANA? Don’t worry! Most of the airlines on this list are excellent choices.
How to Choose the Best Airlines to Fly to Japan
There are many major airlines out there, so if you’re feeling overwhelmed, you’re not alone. International travel can be expensive, so you definitely want to try to find a flight that gives you the best value. While we strongly recommend one of the major Japanese airlines on this list, go with what seems right for you.
Here’s what to keep in mind when choosing a long-haul flight:
- Flight Duration – Choosing the most direct flight can save you mentally and physically.
- Airline Reputation and Safety – Safety is paramount, so choose a reputable airline with a strong track record.
- Comfort and Seating – Look into the aircraft’s seating configuration, legroom, seat width, and amenities. Consider upgrading to premium economy, business class, or first class because comfortable seats mean everything on a long-haul flight!
- In-Flight Entertainment – Even if you’re planning to sleep through your flight, always check the availability and quality of in-flight entertainment options. Anything could happen (like horrible flight delays).
- Meals and Catering – Research the quality of meals and catering offered on the flight, especially if you have specific dietary requirements or preferences.
- Arrival Time – When looking at the best airlines to fly to Japan, consider the time of day you’ll arrive at your destination. This matters if you’re trying to avoid jet lag!
- Frequent Flyer Program – If you’re a frequent traveler, an airline’s loyalty program can earn you miles or points for future travel. We’ve paid for several trips on miles alone. It all adds up!
- Budget and Price – Balance your preferences with your budget. Compare prices for different classes and airlines to find the best value for your money.
- Medical and Accessibility Needs – If you have any medical conditions or accessibility needs, ensure that the airline can accommodate your requirements. There are a lot of airlines in the news right now for all the wrong reasons. When searching for the best airlines to fly to Japan, this is one important factor to consider.
- The Right Airport – Think about the quality of the departure and arrival airports, including lounges, facilities, and services. For example, we love Narita Airport BUT it’s really, really far out there. Unless you’re staying in Chiba, it’s much easier to land at Haneda if you’re coming to Japan.
Choosing the right long-haul flight involves a combination of practical considerations and personal preferences. Taking the time to research and compare options will help make your flight a great one! Alright, let’s look at this list!
All Nippon Airways (ANA)
Let’s kick off this list of the best airlines to fly to Japan with All Nippon Airways. It is the BEST! This major Japanese airline also offers both domestic and international routes. We travel on ANA as often as we can. Over the years, ANA has earned many awards for its outstanding service and hospitality, and they’ve always taken good care of us. That’s why it’s the airline I recommend the most.
In 2023, All Nippon Airways became the first Japanese airline to receive IATA CEIV Fresh certification. As reported by Japan Today, “ANA’s quality control system at Tokyo Haneda Airport, encompassing personnel, training, quality control and handling manuals for transporting perishable goods, was recognized by IATA, leading to certification. By elevating the quality of food transportation within the supply chain through lead-time reduction and temperature control, it is possible to contribute to the reduction of food loss (food waste).”
ANA is also part of the Star Alliance which means they partner with United Airlines. If you collect miles/airline points from any of the transfer partner airlines which include Air Canada, Lufthansa, Singapore Airlines, and United (among many others), you can use those points to book an ANA flight. We used our United MileagePlus points and for six people, our flights cost less than $40 total (this was fees). Amazing, right!?
While the service is amazing and the seats are comfy, one of the unique features of ANA is its partnership with renowned Japanese chef, Joël Robuchon. The airline offers passengers the opportunity to savor his award-winning dishes on board, as well as in ANA’s airport lounges.
One more thing — the flight attendants. The staff on our ANA flight with three small kids who were vomiting from motion sickness were absolutely incredible. I can’t imagine how we would have gotten through it all on a different airline.
Japan Airlines (JAL)
Japan Airlines is the national airline of Japan and one of the best airlines to fly to Japan. JAL operates both domestic and international flights in Asia, Europe, and North America. Its fleet of aircraft is aircraft and its known for offering a high level of comfort and service to its passengers. When I was a kid traveling to Japan alone, my mother insisted I fly on JAL. It’s hard to beat JAL!
As the flag carrier of Japan, JAL is known for its exceptional service and hospitality (this country is obsessed with excellent customer service!). If you’re taking a long-haul flight to Japan, you’ll especially enjoy comfortable seating, delicious meals, and a wide range of amenities, One of the standout features of JAL is its excellent in-flight entertainment system. We love the personal screens and wide selection of movies, TV shows, music, and games!
Singapore Airlines is a popular choice for travelers flying to Japan. The airline operates flights to several major cities in Japan, including Tokyo, Osaka, and Nagoya. Singapore Airlines is known for its luxurious service, and exceptional attention to detail, which has earned it a reputation as one of the world’s best airlines.
Passengers flying with Singapore Airlines can expect comfortable seating, delicious meals, and a wide range of entertainment options. The airline’s in-flight entertainment system features over 1,000 movies, TV shows, music, and games. Singapore Airlines also provides passengers with a variety of amenities, including noise-canceling headphones, blankets, and pillows.
There is a LOT of traffic between Japan and South Korea. While we chose to fly ANA on a recent trip to Seoul, Korean Air is a popular choice among travelers. If you’re in Asia, this is one of the best airlines to fly to Japan.
The airline has a good reputation and offers comfortable seating, a range of entertainment options, and excellent onboard service. With multiple routes to Japanese cities, Korean Air provides flexibility and convenience for travelers.
Lufthansa, a major European airline, offers flights to Japan with a focus on quality service and convenience. This is another airline that my mother really liked and it’s part of the Star Alliance along with airlines like ANA and United.
Lufthansa is known for its quality of service, both in terms of in-flight amenities and customer service on the ground (which is so important when planning an international trip!). Passengers can expect a modern fleet of aircraft, comfortable seating, entertainment options, and a range of services that contribute to a pleasant travel experience.
Malaysia Airlines is a new one for us. I’m not going to lie. Even if it’s not their fault, the incidents in recent years spooked me a little about boarding one of their airplanes, but our in-flight experience was exceptional. That being said, their customer service options in Japan are terrible. There’s no dedicated counter at Haneda Airport (our closest airport) and it’s almost impossible to call them. So, keep that in mind!
Aside from that, though, our actual flights were amazing. The Malaysia Airlines flight attendants are attentive, skilled, and motivated to resolve issues. We took four flights with them on a recent trip to Singapore and Kuala Lumpur and we have no complaints. One thing we really loved was the diversity. We found so much variety in the in-flight entertainment and the food had a truly international flair.
Malaysia Airlines offers direct flights between Kuala Lumpur and major cities in Japan, such as Tokyo and Osaka. They’re a member of the oneworld alliance (with Japan Airlines!) so you can enjoy benefits and services provided by other oneworld member airlines when flying with Malaysia Airlines.
Cathay Pacific Airways
Cathay Pacific Airways is another popular airline for travelers flying to Japan. The airline operates flights to several cities in Japan, including Tokyo, Osaka, and Fukuoka. Cathay Pacific Airways is well-known for its exceptional service and hospitality, which has earned it numerous awards over the years.
When people praise Cathay Pacific Airways, they tend to talk about its excellent in-flight dining. If you’re on a long flight, this really matters! Passengers can enjoy a variety of delicious meals, including Asian and Western cuisine, and have the option to pre-order their meals before their flight. The airline also provides passengers with a range of in-flight amenities, including comfortable seating, Wi-Fi, and a selection of entertainment options.
Emirates is a popular choice for travelers flying to Japan, particularly for those coming from the Middle East or Europe. The airline operates flights to several cities in Japan, including Tokyo, Osaka, and Nagoya. Emirates is known for its luxurious service and exceptional attention to detail, which has earned it a reputation as one of the world’s best airlines.
Passengers flying with Emirates can expect comfortable seating, delicious meals, and a wide range of entertainment options. The airline’s in-flight entertainment system features over 4,500 channels, including movies, TV shows, music, and games.
Thai Airways, the national carrier of Thailand, is often praised for its warm and attentive service. Its flight attendants have gained a reputation for their hospitality and the airline provides comfortable seating and modern amenities, including entertainment systems, and USB charging ports (a necessity on long-haul flights!).
From its hub in Bangkok, Thai Airways offers flights to major cities in Japan, such as Tokyo, Osaka, and Nagoya. It’s also part of the Star Alliance and is renowned for its in-flight dining, offering a variety of Thai and international dishes. As you make your way to Japan, you can also enjoy flavorful meals that reflect the rich culinary culture of Thailand. Yes, please!
On our last pre-pandemic trip to Japan, we flew United Premium Plus. It was an absolutely fantastic experience. I know United Airlines gets a lot of hate, but most American airlines do. For us, it was by far the best airline to fly to Japan from American cities.
At the end of our residency in the United States, we lived on the West Coast. Our nearest major airports were Seattle-Tacoma International Airport, Los Angeles International Airport, and San Francisco International Airport. In our experience, San Francisco was the most common. United Airlines had direct flights to Japan from all of those cities.
Premium Plus isn’t First Class and you do incur an extra cost, but we think it’s one of the best ways to travel to Japan without completely blowing your budge (especially if you have United MileagePlus Points!). You get extra legroom, a roomier comfortable seat (with a leg rest!), better meals, nice little slippers, and more storage space. Whenever I’m using American carriers, I fly United Premium Plus whenever I can.
Even in an Economy class seat, though, United Airlines is one of your best options. The checked bag allowance is generous (two per person, so we took full advantage of this!), the food is good, and the service is great (especially if you end up on a codeshare flight that’s run by All Nippon Airways).
Peach Aviation, best known as simply “Peach,” is one of the low-cost carriers (LCC) based in Japan. As you can imagine, they provide cost-effective or cheap flights by streamlining operations and offering optional services for an additional fee. So, you’ll probably get a good deal but expect a no-frills flying experience with Japanese-level customer service. Not bad, but not fantastic. It gets the job done!
Primarily, Peach operates domestic flights within Japan, as well as international flights to various destinations in Asia. They are a great option if you’re traveling to smaller Japanese cities where larger airlines may not have routes. While their route network may evolve, popular destinations they served included cities in Japan, South Korea, Taiwan, China, and Thailand.
As the flagship carrier of the United Kingdom, British Airways has a long history and a strong reputation in the aviation industry for providing quality service and global connectivity. British Airways operates flights to major airports, such as Tokyo (both Haneda and Narita airports), making it one of the best airlines to fly to Japan.
Along with Japan Airlines and Malaysia Airlines, it’s a member of the oneworld alliance, which is great if you’re collecting points. British Airways provides comfortable seating, modern amenities, and entertainment systems on long-haul flights. The airline offers a selection of in-flight meals and beverages, reflecting both British and international cuisines.
Qatar Airways is another airline that offers a high standard of service and comfort. The highly regarded airline is known for its quality service and modern amenities. Qatar Airways offers a well-connected network with flights to major cities around the world, including Japan.
A member of oneworld alliance, Qatar Airways is said to offer excellent in-flight service, an attentive cabin crew, and a commitment to providing a high standard of passenger comfort and satisfaction. We’ve heard a lot of good things about the food on Qatar Airways, but we haven’t tried it. Maybe soon!
Etihad Airways is the national airline of the United Arab Emirates and is known for its luxurious and premium travel experience. The airline places a strong emphasis on passenger comfort and satisfaction, so this may be one of the best airlines to fly to Japan if you’re coming from the Middle East.
While Etihad may not have direct flights to Japan from its hub in Abu Dhabi, it offers convenient connecting options to major cities in Japan through its extensive network and partnerships. This top-notch airline offers a range of cabin classes, including its super luxe Residence (on some aircraft), which is a private three-room suite with a bedroom, living room, and private bathroom. WOW! Even in other classes, though, you can expect comfortable seating and modern amenities.
Delta Air Lines
For people coming from the United States, Delta Air Lines is another popular option. Delta offers flights to major cities in Japan, such as Tokyo (both Narita and Haneda airports), providing passengers with convenient options for traveling to Japan. I’ve got some conflicted feelings here about including it on a list of the best airlines to fly to Japan, though.
First, let me say that I’ve flown Economy, Delta Comfort+, and First Class on Delta. I’ve got a Delta American Express Platinum card and I’ve purchased tickets as well as booked some with points. I haven’t had many operational issues with Delta (late or canceled flights), but I just don’t love their service.
When traveling outside of the continental United States, I’ve found them to be less flexible when I’ve needed changes. On one trip, we flew to Hawaii on Delta and flew home on United. The Omicron variant hit and people were scrambling to make changes. Hawaii was a destination with strict rules. We reached out to Delta and they were rigid and unwilling/unable to accommodate our request without a TON of fees. United said they’d be willing to do it for free.
That said, some of their aircraft are really nice. I’ve had a mixed bag of experiences with their cabin crew, the food is standard, and I like their boxed water. The in-flight entertainment options are good and I always felt like I was safe. I did not always feel like I was valued.
While these didn’t quite make the cut, here are some more of the best airlines to fly to Japan!
- Hawaiian Airlines: A carrier connecting the Hawaiian Islands with a relaxing and island-inspired travel experience. We really love Hawaiian Airlines!
- Air France: A renowned French airline offering a blend of elegance and global connectivity. A true classic!
- Turkish Airlines: A dynamic carrier providing a seamless fusion of Turkish hospitality and extensive worldwide routes.
- Qantas Airways: Australia’s flag carrier known for safety, reliability, and a strong commitment to customer service.
- Finnair: Finland’s national airline offering a Nordic touch and efficient connections between Europe and Asia.
- Swiss International Air Lines: A premium Swiss carrier combining precision and comfort for a seamless journey.
When choosing an airline to travel to Japan, consider factors such as your departure location, budget, travel class preferences, and the overall travel experience you seek. Researching and comparing different airlines’ offerings can help you make an informed decision that aligns with your preferences and priorities. Sending you good travel vibes for your trip to Japan. Happy traveling!