Fare Alert: Business Class To Japan Just $1639 Roundtrip, The Most Interesting Business Product?

ZIPAIR is a Japanese low cost carrier owned by Japan Airlines. It launched during the pandemic with a hub at Tokyo Narita airport and flights to Singapore, Seoul, Bangkok, Honolulu and Los Angeles. San Jose flights are planned at the end of the year. They fly 4 Beoing 787-8 aircraft leased from Japan Airlines with 8 business class and 272 coach seats.

Right now a business class roundtrip might run $4000 between Los Angeles and Tokyo, while ZIPAIR is selling business class for just $1643 – or less.

You can purchase at this price on the ZipAir.net website, where I see it as $1639 at current exchange rates.

They call their business product “ZIP Full-Flat” and you can think of it like the Spirit Airlines Big Front Seat, which is to say that you are buying a fully flat seat at the price and not extras. You don’t even get a seat assignment or included checked bags. You even pay extra for a meal!

  • Seat assignments are $18
  • A checked bag starts at $50
  • 7kg carry on bag is free, an extra 5kg is $42

And I think I want to fly them just for the inflight merchandise you can pre-purchase.

Amenity kits are for purchase, and so is lounge access in Tokyo ($11.35 for the Narita TraveLounge including one complimentary alcohol beverage or dessert).

Japan is only semi-open, but many expect it to become easier to enter by fall.

In general I find that “basic business” just doesn’t work but that’s because airlines charge too much for the extras – $11 lounge access and sub-$20 seat assignments are reasonable enough to work, but note that the airfares themselves are so much cheaper that the fees certainly don’t make up the difference.

This is exactly the kind of product I’d consider as a leisure traveler, a reasonably-priced bed and you’re not overpaying for the rest of the extras.

(HT: Premium Flights who flags availability October through March)

About Gary Leff

Gary Leff is one of the foremost experts in the field of miles, points, and frequent business travel - a topic he has covered since 2002. Co-founder of frequent flyer community InsideFlyer.com, emcee of the Freddie Awards, and named one of the "World's Top Travel Experts" by Conde' Nast Traveler (2010-Present) Gary has been a guest on most major news media, profiled in several top print publications, and published broadly on the topic of consumer loyalty. More About Gary »

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  1. Important to note that Zipair will NOT let you transit Narita airport on an onward ticket (they will deny boarding at LAX), so this fare is only useful if you are allowed to enter Japan or expect the rules to change by the time you fly.

  2. Gary, In one of your Sub – Articles dated 2012 I think, isn’t that info obsolete. Or does AA still have the Distance Based awards like mentioned in the article. If these old articles are no longer valid, should they be eliminated from your View from the Wing?

  3. For me, flying business class is 95% the ability to lie flat and sleep. A good meal is a bonus, but on all but the longest flights I prefer not to eat much, if at all. I have more amenity kits than I can give away and don’t care much about lounge access on point to point itineraries. From a market standpoint I agree that this won’t have broad appeal, but personally I love the idea of inexpensive, scaled-down business fares.

  4. Yeah, I did the same things directly on their site, and guess what?
    Booking Summary

    ¥327,951 = $2400.25

    Outbound Flight

    Inbound Flight

    Outbound flight package

    Inbound flight package

    Outbound flight ancillaries

    Inbound flight ancillaries

    Taxes (outbound)

    Taxes (inbound)

  5. @josnie – Oneworld is running one-stop business RT from Rome to LAX as low as $1848 in December. I see Denver as low as $1568. The only problem is, you need to run it backwards – you have to start in Europe. (You don’t have to return to Rome, you can also create an open-jaw or a double-open-jaw.)

    The good thing about this is, if you book on Oneworld partners and credit to American, you get way more LPs and miles. If you take two flights this way on BA, and all four flights are BA, I’m pretty sure you’ll qualify for BA Silver status, which can get you some pretty awesome perks if you aren’t aiming for AA status the hard way. No status on American, you’d get 20.8K LP and miles, two-thirds of the way to Gold. PlatPro would get 31K LP and miles just about a quarter of the way to PlatPro renewal.

    FWIW, starting in LA prices this out at about $3900. Which is why I advise people to position to Europe using miles, then start running your European trips backwards. Requires some planning, but it’s a lot cheaper if you’re shelling out cash. Some economy fares are cheaper this way as well, but the savings aren’t nearly as dramatic.

    Interesting calculation – If the fare is $1848 and you’re PlatPro, the miles are worth (using Frequent Miler valuations) $403 in AA miles and if you charge to an AmexPlatinum with 5x airline spend, $143 in Membership Rewards, so a net cost of $1302 for RT business class, FCO-LAX.

  6. @Fred: that is a useful piece of info. Do you know if other airlines like JAL currently would deny boarding for onward tickets (if 2 segments are booked separately even if both are on JAL)?

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