I am in the midst of planning for my usual summer holiday, and this year the destination is the isle of Japan. My friends and I are targeting the third week of July for this trip, and the obvious first order of business is to secure our flights. So on to Google Flights I went and executed a search for nonstop flights from San Francisco to Tokyo.
Sadly, the results were shockingly expensive.
For sure it was never going to be cheap flying to the other side of the planet, but nearly $1,800 for a roundtrip fare in economy is incredibly high – I can fly to Singapore for not much more. That fare is simply too rich for our group, especially considering Tokyo’s cost of living is world-famous for not being cheap in the slightest. We can’t blow a massive part of our budget on airfare alone.
An alternative plan, then: we dared to look at one-stop flights. As a general rule I’m wholly against routes with layovers, principally because it’s an enormous waste of time to be hanging out for hours at a transfer airport waiting for the connecting flight. Vacation time from work is already precious as is (thanks, America), so if I can pay a bit more to save time, I almost always do.
Unless of course the nonstop flight is untenably expensive. For the trip to Japan we found a one-stop flight for significantly less at $1,200 that involved a layover in Incheon, which honestly for me isn’t the worst thing in the world. I still hold fond memories the South Korea trip two years ago, so the opportunity to spend a bit time in that country again draws no protest from me.
My friends and I were all set on that itinerary, except I remembered that we are heading for Los Angeles only two days before the departure date, so what if we flew out of LAX instead? Once again to Google Flights I went, and to my utter surprise and indignity (at SFO), a direct flight from Los Angeles to Tokyo is even cheaper than our one-stop flight out of San Francisco.
What the heck!?
I understand there’s a larger Japanese population down south, but Japan is a popular travel destination for persons of all ethnic backgrounds, so I’m really quite miffed at why a direct flight out of San Francisco is some $600 dearer. In a childish protest sort of way, that’s not fair!
It’s an easy choice then for us to fly out of LAX. We’re still very ahead of the SFO-HND route in cost after accounting for the additional rental car down to Los Angeles and the flight back to San Francisco on the return. More importantly, we get a nonstop route over the Pacific, which is just the ultimate.
I can and will go back to South Korea at another date.