Sam and I decided in February 2017 that we wanted complete the 6 Disney parks within 10 years.
Only 2 more parks to go!!!! We have visited Disneyland Paris, Walt Disney World Florida, Shanghai Disney and Hong Kong Disneyland. We have booked a trip for next year we will be going to Tokyo Disney and (hopefully) in 2020 Disneyland California.
We have been talking for about 6 months about visiting Tokyo Disney next year, however most flights don’t release prices until 11/12 months before your desired travel dates. So since returning from Florida at the end of September I spent 3 weeks searching prices for September 2019 for flights to Tokyo. Please believe me when I say the initial prices were bloody scary!!!
My first search in Google was simply ‘airlines that fly from UK to Tokyo’. I had hoped that Virgin Atlantic flew direct (because we had accrued so many miles with them and thought we could save with using miles and money), either from Heathrow or Gatwick to Haneda or Narita in Tokyo, however, Virgin Atlantic stopped flying to Tokyo in 2014. The main airlines that fly directly to Tokyo that I had heard of were British Airways and Emirates.
I thought, this is going to be easy. Going on to the British Airlines website and searching directly there, prices were upwards of £2040 for two people, outrageous. So I took to Emirates, even that was coming out at £1789 (this was also for two people), with a stop over in Dubai. Both of these flights, I thought, were out of the question as they were not in my price range. So I started looking on comparison websites such a Kayak and Skyscanner, the prices on here were cheaper, the average price for the two of us was around £1200 but with really long stop overs, around 24/28 hours for flight and the stop over.
when using the comparison websites, I had seen that most of the stopovers happened in Shanghai or Hong Kong. Brainwave….lightbulb moment….tadaaaaaa! Virgin Atlantic flies direct to and from both of these locations, between us we have around 70,000 miles, so what if I used these two locations as extended lay overs and purchase one way flights between Shanghai to Tokyo, then Tokyo to Hong Kong? If we were going to plan our trip like this, Shanghai would need to be the first stop in order to obtain our 144 hour transit visa.
Searching on the Virgin Atlantic app or online you can look for reward flights or miles plus money flights. On the multi city option you can fly to and from multiple locations. So I searched from London to Shanghai then Hong Kong to London. This was coming out at 70,000 miles plus £570. This was great. But, I thought I would test the one way option. London to Shanghai was 45,000 miles plus £375 and Hong Kong to London, 12,500 miles plus £33….(each) Yes £33!!!! So in searching the one way option and not multi city saved us £129.
Next was to search for the other flights. I did use Skyscanner for this. Flying from Shanghai to Tokyo I knew this would be the most expensive flight. All Nippon Air is a widely used airline in Asia. This was a direct flight priced at £594 for the pair of us. After searching it on Skyscanner, I went directly to the ANA website to book from there however it was over £1020 for that same flight. I looked on Expedia for the same flight and it was £594 again to book from there, so continued with that. One thing I would note which I did not know, nor did I see it anywhere, they will take out the payment and ‘duplicate holding fee’ and hold for up to 72 hours until the first payment is cleared. I do not know why, all I am glad is that I had that amount in my account to cover it. I won’t book with Expedia again due to this, it seemed a bit sneaky to me.
Next we needed a flight from Tokyo to Hong Kong. We used Hong Kong Express, again by searching though Skyscanner but went straight to the airline to book directly with them because the Skyscanner flight did not include any checked luggage, it was still the same price £204 for the two of us.
We had planned for two weeks in Tokyo, with a day trip to Universal Studios Japan, this was now not logistically possible this trip, but this way we get to revisit the Shanghai and Hong Kong Disney parks.
Although this way took a lot of research and trial runs, I am glad I spent the time because now we have 4 days in Shanghai Disney and 2 days in Hong Kong Disneyland, aswell as our week in Tokyo Disney in between. AND I saved us money on flights. The total cost us £1206 plus £45 to transfer 6000 miles from Sam’s Virgin Atlantic account to mine and then £71 for London Heathrow Parking for 14 days.
I suggest to shop around, research unfamiliar airlines, read terms and conditions and don’t make hasty decisions. Ensure you are signed up to the airlines rewards to earn rewards on flights. I found that within the 3 weeks I was researching and looking at flights, only one of the prices changed and that was the flight between Shanghai and Tokyo and even then it was only a few pounds.
Do you have any tips or tricks you use when booking flights? Do you shop around or book with the same airlines? Let me know in the comments.