Tuesday, August 5, 2008

The way to Hokkaido from Tokyo ( also from Osaka and Nagoya etc) part 2


Nearly 90% of people fly when they travel to Hokkaido from Tokyo. This time I focus on air travel between Tokyo and Hokkaido. Also I'd add ferry info.

1) Flying on the airpass

Those who are entitled to purchase one of the airpasses should consider this mode first.
Airpass detailed info

2) Find a cheap airfare and purchase the ticket online.

a) Skymark Airlines

On the Skybargain fare, you could fly from Tokyo Haneda to Sapporo Chitose or Asahikawa and v.v. for 12,000 yen after taxes and charges per sector. You need to book it between two months and 35 days prior to the flight date.
One way normal price between Haneda and Chitose is 23,800 yen in September, but various discount fares are available.

All Nippon Airways, ANA
Tabiwari fares

On the Tabiwari fare, you could fly from Haneda to Chitose for from 13,300 yen up to 23,300 yen after taxes and charges per sector in September. You need to book it between 2 months and 28 days before the flight date. The one way normal fare in September is 33,600 yen.

The ANA site states 'The services are for Japan residents only.', however you can make a booking online by filling out the contact # column with your hotel's in Japan.

- How I conclude as above...

I called ANA to inquire about the matter.

The sentence "The services are for Japan residents only." is the original concept they had when they designed this English online reservation system.

Now they allow those living abroad to utilize this service by filling out the contact # column with your hotel's, friend's or acquaintance's number. Therefore the sentence doesn't have a significant meaning anymore, I'd say.

The agent I spoke to hold on for a while to ask her boss about how to handle this matter, and then I got this answer. You might contact ANA in person if you're in doubt.

ANA contact number list

Then I contacted ANA again because a poster on some forum pestered me over this issue. I contacted ANA 4 times in total regarding this matter.

The ANA rep I spoke to has boldly admitted many foreign people have bought the 'Tabiwari' fare tickets through the internet from abroad, and that they have actually flown ANA on that particular tickets.

Therefore as I have pointed out that the clause "The services are for Japan residents only." regarding the ANA online booking scheme makes no sense, she has acknowledged it. Also since that sentence makes no sense anymore, I have insisted ANA withdraw the line from the covenant.

The contact number in Japan is required just in case they need to call their customers when flight cancellations or rescheduling occur. There is no other reason. If the contact number of your hotel changes after you have made a flight reservation online, just tell ANA the new number on the phone. These pieces of info are all according to the ANA rep.

ANA and JAL make reservations in English for advanced discount tickets via phone. If you're concerned about booking online, use this way. There is no constraints. Use skype-out or a cheapish calling card from your country.

ANA: +81(0)3-6741-1120
JAL: +81(0)3-5460-0522

c) Japan Airlines

This company now has an online booking service in English.
Their fare structure is very similar, or nearly equal to ANA's.

d) Air DO contact #s
Air DO site in Japanese

They fly between Tokyo Haneda and Hakodate, Chitose, Asahikawa and Memambetsu (Abashiri).
'DO Value Fares' which must be booked between 2 months and 28 days prior to the flight date.
In September:
Tokyo -- Sapporo; 10,900 to 19,400 yen each way
Tokyo -- Asahikawa; 12,300 to 23,300 yen each way

3) Travelling on the ferry

Sunflower ferry info in English
Pacific Story package between Tokyo Station and Sapporo Station for from 9,900 yen each way: (Excluding July 18 to August 31)


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