Image Credits: Great Circle Mapper

Ideas: Houston to Tokyo – Kyoto – Osaka – Jakarta – Singapore $1258 + $148 rail

[06/16/2014 @ 1:12 PM] This itinerary is still available here: Expedia.
[07/10/2014 @ 1:04 PM] This fare looks dead.

This post is part of the [Itinerary Ideas] category which focuses more on the practical application of the fares that are featured in the [Daily Flight Deals] category.

I’ve been spending a lot of time trying to figure out the best way to handle the stopover component on United’s “LLE7ZAM1” fare basis code that was featured a couple of weeks ago in an earlier post: [Flights: Houston / Austin (IAH / AUS) to Jakarta (CGK) $975 round-trip 1-stop] and I think I’ve finally sorted out a worthwhile itinerary that provides a lot of value compared to a round-trip in the region.

So how about this one? Fly from Houston to Tokyo, then take the Shinkansen (Japan’s high-speed bullet train) to Kyoto and Osaka then catch a flight to Jakarta, hang out there for a while before catching a flight to check out Singapore, eat a chilli-crab, then finally, after all of that, get on a plane back home to Houston for $1258 flights + $148 rail. This itinerary makes good use of the fare’s free open-jaw and paid-stopover.

Here’s the proposed itinerary:

  1. Sep. 16: Leave Houston (IAH) for Tokyo (NRT)
  2. Sep. 17: Land at Tokyo (NRT)
    Narita Express to Tokyo Station
  3. Sep. 20: Leave Tokyo Station for Kyoto Station
  4. Sep. 23: Leave Kyoto Station for Osaka Station
  5. Sep. 24: Leave Osaka Station for Kansai Airport
    JR Kansai Airport Rapid Service
  6. Sep 24: Leave Osaka (KIX) for Jakarta (CGK)
  7. Sep. 28: Leave Jakarta (CGK) for Singapore (SIN)
  8. Oct. 01: Leave Singapore for Houston (IAH)

I won’t go into detail on constructing an itinerary with stopovers, it is covered in our [Budget Travel Tips] article here: [How to use stopover rules when buying airfare].

This is what what the route looks like on the map.

I want to point out that the rail portion of this itinerary is pretty much blown wide open. Japan has a fantastic rail network that can get you anywhere in the country quickly and cheaply.

Kansai Area Rail Pass
Once you’re in Kyoto, a Kansai Area rail-pass opens up a lot of options.

Important External Links:

When I visit Japan, I usually pick up whatever rail pass I need from JTB. They have a local office in Houston by the Galleria and you can pick up the voucher from them there. The voucher isn’t valid for travel, you need to take it with you to a JR-Rail ticket counter and exchange it for your official rail pass that the conductor will recognize. Hyperdia is linked here, because it is awesome for train prices and timetables. You’ll need it, just use it a bit and you’ll see what I mean. Note that in my itinerary here, I’m not using a rail pass: I’m just buying tickets as I need them as that is cheaper if we’re not going to do something awesome like go to Kobe and have some steak. The Kansai rail pass is only $20 USD per day, so.. you’ll actually save money with one if you deviate from this itinerary, just an FYI.

There are some options here if you’re limited in time or funds:

  1. You don’t have to use both stopovers. You can drop the whole Singapore leg of the trip — you can even drop the Japan section.
  2. You can drop Jakarta as the destination and use Hong Kong instead. (Warning: You will be working under a different fare basis code.) [update: not available anymore]
  3. You can drop Jakarta as the destination and use Singapore instead. (Again, you will be working under a different fare basis code.)

For example you could cut this down to Tokyo (NRT) – Osaka (KIX) – Hong Kong (KIX) and that would be $1015. You would be using the fare basis code that was detailed in [Flights: Houston (IAH) to Hong Kong (HKG) $874 round-trip 2-stops]. Update: This is probably not possible anymore, as that fare to Hong Kong has increased in price.

If you have any questions about Japan, Hong Kong, or Singapore shoot me a message, I’ve been to those countries and visit Japan often. As for Jakarta — I haven’t been, yet. I hope this gives you a few itinerary ideas. Cheap flights from Houston to Asia are pretty rare, so when I see one that allows a stopover (in this case two) I kind of go nuts with it. Feel free to open the itinerary and experiment with dates, and destinations. The link to Expedia (below, and at the top of this page) should open straight to the itinerary.

Flight Details:

  • Availability: Lots, from September until Late 2015.
  • Documentation: Passport is fine everywhere except for Jakarta, they’ll issue a Visa on Arrival – Bring $30 for the application at the airport. [Details here]
  • Departure and Destination Airports: IAH – NRT / KIX – CGK – SIN
  • Example Dates: See proposed itinerary above.
  • Carrier: United
  • Fare Basis Code: LLE7ZAM1
  • Fare Class: L
  • Mile Accrual: 100% (You may not get accrual for short CGK to SIN hop, depends on carrier)
  • Stopover component: two for $100 each way. No Guam. Must be on ANA or UA.
  • CPM: 6.85 (20513 miles)
  • Full Route: iah – nrt / kix – cgk – sin – nrt – iah
  • Open this itinerary on: Expedia

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