This week, Japan-based Zipair announced that it will launch a new Tokyo Narita (NRT)–Vancouver (YVR) route in March 2024. This new route will become the low-cost carrier’s fourth route to continental North America, and its first to Canada.
What’s particularly interesting about this development is that the airline offers lie-flat seats at a very attractive price, as well as unbundled fares.
If you’ve been looking for an affordable way to get between Canada and Japan in a lie-flat seat, you may want to consider what Zipair has to offer.
Zipair Launches New Tokyo–Vancouver Route
In March 2024, Zipair will launch its fourth route to continental North America, as Vancouver will become its latest destination.
Eastbound service from Tokyo Narita (NRT) to Vancouver (YVR) will begin on March 13, 2024, and flights will operate in both directions thrice weekly on Monday, Wednesday, and Saturday.
At the outset, the flights are scheduled as follows; however, it’s worth noting that the flight times vary slightly throughout the rest of the year:
- ZG22 Tokyo Narita (NRT)–Vancouver (YVR), departing 4pm and arriving 8:30am
- ZG21 Vancouver (YVR)–Tokyo Narita (NRT), departing 10:30am and arriving 1:30pm the next day
Eastbound flights from Tokyo clock in at 8 hours 30 minutes, while the flight from Vancouver to Tokyo measures 10 hours 30 minutes.
This route will be served by Zipair’s Boeing 787 Dreamliner aircraft, which offers passengers economy and business class cabins, as we’ll discuss in detail below.
The flights are loaded into Zipair’s schedule, and can be booked throughout the schedule.
What Is Zipair’s Onboard Product Like?
As a low-cost carrier, Zipair offers a rather no-frills experience in both economy and business class. Your ticket gets you a seat and up to 7kg of carry-on baggage in both cabins; however, you’ll have to pay for anything above and beyond that.
In fact, Zipair’s low, unbundled fares are unique in that passengers who book the lowest fare in economy or business class get the same inclusions: a seat and 7kg of carry-on baggage.
When it comes to seat selection, meals, lounge access, extra carry-on or checked baggage, and an amenity kit, you’ll have to tack them onto your booking, either in a bundle or on an à la carte basis.
Zipair’s business class cabin offers 18 “Full-Flat” seats spread across five rows in a 1-2-1 configuration.
In terms of the hard product, passengers can expect a lie-flat seat with a pitch of 107cm and a width of 51cm. By all indications, the seat looks like an entirely acceptable place to travel across the Pacific.
In economy, it’s a bit of a different story, with 79cm of pitch and 43cm of width to look forward to.
Some seats in the cabin have armrests that don’t move, seatbacks that don’t recline, or seats with limited recline. If you’d like to avoid these seats for long-haul flights, be sure to check the Zipair website before making a seat selection.
Noticeably absent from both cabins are in-flight entertainment screens; however, passengers benefit from complimentary Wi-Fi, and can stream on their own devices through the airline’s app.
However, Wi-Fi is about the only thing that’s free on Zipair, and you’ll have to pay for just about anything else:
- Lounge access: ¥1,600 ($15 CAD) in Tokyo, $38 (USD) in Honolulu
- Meals: ¥1,200–2,800 ($11–26 CAD)
- Amenity kit: ¥2,500 ($23 CAD)
- Extra carry-on baggage: ¥5,000 ($53 CAD)
- Checked baggage (30kg): ¥5,000 ($52 CAD)
- Seat selection: ¥2,000 ($21 CAD) for Full-Flat seats, ¥700–8,000 ($7–83 CAD) for seats in economy
It’s worth noting that you can also pay to upgrade to a Full-Flat seat if you originally booked in economy for a flat fee of ¥70,000 ($655 CAD). This, of course, is subject to availability.
Booking Zipair’s New Tokyo–Vancouver Route
When it comes to booking, Zipair offers very affordable prices for transpacific flights in economy and business class.
Given how difficult it is to come across award flights to Japan these days, especially in premium cabins, booking a flight with Zipair is certainly worth considering as a fallback option in the absence of anything more attractive.
According to the press release, passengers can expect to find flights starting at the following prices in various classes of service, exclusive of taxes and fees:
In practice, you should be able to find round-trip flights in business class for under $3,000 (CAD), which is significantly less than pretty much any other carrier that flies between Vancouver and Tokyo.
While Zipair has its own loyalty program, your best bet for booking these flights on points is to use a fixed-value points currency to offset the total cost. In Canada, you can consider redeeming Scene+ points, TD Rewards, CIBC Aventura Points, or RBC Avion points.
For example, if you’d like to book round-trip business class flights between Tokyo and Vancouver for a cash price of $2,134 (CAD), you’d need to redeem the following number of points from Canadian fixed-value programs at their best value:
- Scene+: 213,400 points (when redeemed as a statement credit)
- TD Rewards: 426,800 points (when redeemed at 0.5 cents per point through Expedia for TD)
- CIBC Aventura: 170,720 points (when redeemed at 1.25 cents per point as a statement credit while the transaction is pending)
- RBC Avion: 106,700 points (at 2 cents per point with an eligible RBC® Avion Visa Infinite Privilege† or RBC® Avion Visa Infinite† Business)
Of these, the best deal comes with RBC Avion, as long as you have an eligible product with which you can redeem Avion points for business class flights at 2 cents per point. However, using any of the above fixed-value currencies could result in a great redemption.
Plus, if you don’t want to shell out extra cash for an onboard meal, you could always enjoy an extensive meal at a lounge with access from one of your credit cards, and then bring a few snacks onboard to tide yourself over until you arrive at your destination.
Zipair will begin service between Tokyo Narita (NRT) and Vancouver (YVR) in March 2024. The low-cost carrier offers a two-cabin experience, including lie-flat seats in business class, and unbundled, low fares.
If you’re looking for a cheap way to score a lie-flat seat to Japan, Zipair may indeed be your best option, especially in the general absence of premium cabin award availability in other loyalty programs. However, be prepared to pay for anything above and beyond. your seat and a small carry-on bag.
Consider redeeming your fixed-value points on these flights if you’d like to offset the cost even more.