Aside from accommodations, the other expense which many people need to consider when visiting Tokyo Disney Resort is the price of getting to Japan. That first glance you take at the price of a roundtrip flight might leave a lump in your throat. Actually following through to click the “confirm” button to purchase your trip might be scarier than that first drop on Space Mountain!
I don’t profess to be the most cost-savvy flyer in the sky (there are some people for whom stepping on a plane paying as little as possible – or even nothing at all – is a game), but over the last few years I’ve developed some habits and have acquired some tips and tricks for chipping away the expense of flying. Here is what I’ve learned.
Join the airline mailing lists.
You won’t be privy to special, top-secret, just-for-you deals by joining an airline mailing list. However, doing so will ensure you’ll be in the loop when seat sales happen and when new routes are announced.
Matrix gives you a bird’s eye view.
Early on in the planning process, there is a website you can use to get a big picture look at what the price of your trip might cost.
ITA Software’s Matrix website will allow you to enter your location, your destination, and set a date range (specific dates or large windows of time), and see which airlines make the trip and what they’ll cost. You can’t book flights using Matrix, but it will spit out codes you can copy and paste into an e-mail and hand off to a travel agent who can make the booking for you.
The benefit of using Matrix is that you might end up seeing some airlines you’ve never considered before, connections you never thought of making, but a clearer picture of what kind of pricing is possible so you can adjust your expectations about what visiting Tokyo will cost.
Start tracking prices.
Price is a big factor (maybe the biggest) in deciding to hit the purchase button on a flight. In many ways, it can feel like a game of chicken when you should buy the flight. Book too early and spend too much, book too late and miss out on a deal.
For me, there are two factors which help me decide to make the purchase : knowing the history of the price of the ticket, and whether the current price today will leave me feeling good about my financial situation after I click “purchase.”
When it comes to knowing the history of the price, I start tracking it the day I make the decision I’m going to go somewhere. To do that, I use Kayak to search the cheapest price at that moment for a flight to my destination on my chosen date. I make a note of it and set a daily reminder in its mobile app to let me know the new price each morning. As time marches on, you’ll get a sharp-looking graph showing the price going up and down so you can see how it fluctuates.
Ultimately, I book my flight when I see the flight at a price I know I can mentally feel comfortable with – a number that I know my budget can handle. I don’t sweat paying a few extra dollars by purchasing too early, and I rejoice when I’ve ended up with the best possible price.
Consider other airports.
Depending where you live, you may have a choice of airports to depart from. In Tokyo, you have two choices of airports to fly into – Narita (NRT) and Haneda (HND). If a trip beyond Tokyo Disney Resort is on your agenda, you might also want to consider Osaka (KIX) as your point of entry to Japan, as well. By mixing and matching where you fly from and where you land, you can impact the price of the trip.
As an example, I’ve often flown from the airport in Saskatoon, Canada (YXE) for trips to Tokyo, despite living in the flight path of another airport in Regina, Canada (YQR) – a 2.5-hour drive from my airport of choice. The reason was simple – the flight from Saskatoon would save me as much as $200-300 per trip. Even with the cost of gas to make the trip to the airport, I still saved money.
Keep an open mind on where your plane takes off from and where it lands – it might help save some cash.
Be flexible with your schedule.
Do you have a flexible schedule for when you can take holidays? If so, you might be able to save some big money. By considering things like Japanese national holidays, bank/stat/national holidays where you live, and a number of other factors, you might be able to find windows of time using tools like Matrix and Kayak where the price is much lower.
Get the right credit cards.
I’ll admit – this is not my area of expertise, and I’m not a huge credit card user. But, Nomadic Matt swears by this when it comes to shaving the dollars off of travel – and I leave you in his capable hands about how to get the best possible plastic for travel! (His book is also a fave of mine when it comes to planning out my trip!)
Take the bump.
While using the right airline credit cards to rack up points is one way to score free travel, another way I highly recommend requires you to see something people hate in a different light.
Airlines overbook flights. It’s part of their business strategy. And while so many of us grumble about it and hate the idea of getting bumped, if you change your attitude you can turn the inconvenience into a small windfall.
Last November, I was flying directly to Minneapolis to go to a concert. When I got to the check-in counter, the attendant told me the flight was oversold and that the airline was offering US$800 in free travel if I was willing to give up my seat, and leave on another flight which would put me in the Twin Cities two hours later than originally planned. Because I had no pressing matters once I got on the ground in Minneapolis, I jumped at the opportunity to score some free travel dollars. The compensation was worth more than what I had paid for my round-trip ticket!
Using the credit I received for taking the bump, I was able to pay for a round-trip ticket to Chicago for a holiday earlier this year, plus was able to take about $200 off the cost of my flight to Tokyo this fall.
I know that not everyone is able to take a bump, and sometimes you need to get to where you’re going on time. But, if you can do it, take the bump. You won’t regret it. (Johnny Jet has more details on some of the best ways to get yourself bumped with US-based carriers.)
Flying to Japan to visit Tokyo Disney Resort is a little pricey, but by being smart and savvy shoppers you can get here while still having a little extra in your budget for a fancy dinner in the parks or a few extra souvenirs to take home! How have you managed to save money on airfare? Share your tips and tricks in the comments. This post originally appeared on GoneJohn.
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Star Wars ANA photos by Brussels Airport. Used under the Creative Commons License.