Japan’s ZIPAIR was one of the airlines that newly launched during the COVID-19 pandemic, as a spinoff from full-service oneworld carrier Japan Airlines, designed to offer long-haul low-cost flights using a fleet of wide-body Boeing 787 aircraft.
As it turns out the timing was simply bad luck – ZIPAIR’s launch was intended for a while, and the airline was forced to start operations from its Tokyo base right in the midst of the pandemic with cargo-only flights – not exactly the exciting start it had planned for!
Now that Japan’s border restrictions have eased for returning citizens and residents, and even more recently for tourist visits, the airline has started a range of passenger services using its four Boeing 787 aircraft, including to and from Singapore.
Indeed ZIPAIR was the first low-cost carrier to launch non-stop flights between Singapore and Tokyo, back in September 2021, and now with Japan’s borders fully open to vaccinated tourists the airline is once again increasing its operation on the route.
That’s good news for travellers on a budget, and even includes a flat-bed option at a fraction of the cost you’ll pay flying Business Class with full-service carriers.
ZIPAIR increased its Singapore – Tokyo Narita frequencies from three to four times weekly in mid-December 2022, but has now announced that daily services will take effect from the start of the summer season, on 26th March 2023.
Here’s how the full ZIPAIR schedule including flight timings looks for the upcoming summer season from 26th March 2023, with the three additional days of service highlighted.
ZIPAIR Singapore Schedule
(26th March 2023 – 28th October 2023)
New flights highlighted
Singapore will join Bangkok, Los Angeles and Seoul as the fourth city on the ZIPAIR network with daily flights on offer. The carrier operates to and from Terminal 1 at Changi Airport.
The carrier also serves San Jose and Honolulu from its Tokyo Narita hub, but these are not daily services.
ZIPAIR Boeing 787 cabins
ZIPAIR isn’t your average low-cost airline, with the carrier taking the rare decision to equip its Boeing 787-8 aircraft with 18 fully flat-bed seats in the forward section, using a reverse herringbone product in a 1-2-1 layout with direct aisle access for all passengers.
The airline calls these seats “ZIP Full-Flat”.
The product itself is the JAMCO Venture seat, also used by KLM on its Boeing 787-10s.
This would certainly normally be regarded as a Business Class seat on a full-service airline, but ZIPAIR isn’t streaming the latest Hollywood movies, pouring free-flow Champagne or serving up Lobster Thermidor here – it’s literally just the seat that’s swanky!
“ZIP Full-Flat” fares represent a completely unbundled Business Class offering, with the following package pricing options:
- Basic (seat-only), with up to 7kg of carry-on baggage, but no other extras
- Biz, which includes advance seat selection and a heavier 12kg carry-on bag
- Value, which includes advance seat selection, a 23kg checked bag, 7 kg carry-on bag, and an in-flight meal
- Premium, which includes advance seat selection, a 23kg checked bag, a heavier 12kg carry-on bag, an in-flight meal, and an amenity set
Alternatively, you can select the ancillary add-ons you prefer individually.
The leather seats feature personal reading lights and individual power sockets, but there is no in-flight entertainment system.
However, unlimited free Wi-Fi is provided, as it it in all of the carrier’s 272 Economy Class “Standard Seats”, which have a 3-3-3- layout and 31 inches of seat pitch.
These also benefit from in-seat power sockets and an integrated tablet device holder.
For couples, there are four seat pair options right at the back of the cabin in Economy Class:
- 56 A/C
- 57 A/C
- 56 H/K
- 57 H/K
Passengers in both cabins can also stream onboard entertainment options including films to their personal devices.
ZIPAIR Singapore – Tokyo fares
ZIPAIR is advertising its Singapore flights with one-way fares ex-Tokyo starting from:
- Business Class (ZIP Full-Flat): JPY 50,000 (S$493)
- Economy Class (Standard Seat): JPY 15,000 (S$148)
However, looking at the Singapore – Tokyo direction for May 2023, we found the following lowest fares available:
- Business Class (ZIP Full-Flat): JPY 73,148 (S$746)
- Economy Class (Standard Seat): JPY 26,454 (S$270)
These are still quite competitive rates, compared to those being charged by full-service carriers and even the alternative low-cost option – SIA’s budget arm Scoot.
That’s especially the case when you consider the ScootPlus product is priced upwards of S$850 one-way on this route in May, for what’s effectively a Premium Economy seat, not a flat-bed Business Class product like ZIPAIR is offering!
Overall, ZIPAIR is a great option to have even at these rates, while securing award space using KrisFlyer miles, Asia Miles, Alaska miles and Avios between Singapore and Japan remains quite limited for most dates in the coming months.
ZIPAIR’s Singapore flights are now on sale until the end of the northern summer timetable season, which this year falls on 28th October 2023.
ZIPAIR enforces mask-wearing
Japan does not legally impose mask-wearing in most settings, provided you maintain social distancing.
Mask-wearing is therefore already optional on Singapore Airlines and Scoot flights to and from Japan, however do note that ZIPAIR, in common with ANA and Japan Airlines, is still maintaining its own mandatory mask mandate for all passengers at the time of writing.
Japan has reopened to tourists
In case you missed the news, Japan reopened to tourists from Singapore and 67 other countries in October 2022, without the need to apply for a visa or make travel agency bookings.
That means in most cases, that means you can now visit just like you could during pre-pandemic times, organising your own flights (like these ZIPAIR ones) and hotel accommodation independently.
Here’s the latest process.
Eligibility & Process
- Hold one of 68 nationalities for visa-free entry
- Register with Visit Japan Web before boarding your flight, for a faster arrival process
- Be fully vaccinated against COVID-19 with any WHO-approved vaccine, including a booster dose
- If you don’t meet the fully vaccinated and boosted criteria, you must have a negative pre-departure PCR test taken no more than 72 hours before departure
- Children aged 17 or under travelling with fully vaccinated and boosted parents are considered fully vaccinated and boosted, regardless of their actual vaccination status, and do not require any pre-departure testing
- Children aged 5 or under travelling with unvaccinated parents are considered fully vaccinated and boosted, regardless of their actual vaccination status, and do not require any pre-departure testing
- No further on-arrival or post-arrival testing or restrictions
All Singapore – Tokyo flight options
Once these additional ZIPAIR flights start in late March, there will be a total of 96 weekly services between Singapore and Tokyo’s two airports – Haneda and Narita.
Here’s a summary of your options.
Singapore – Tokyo Flights
|Airline / Flight Number||To / From||Aircraft||Days|
|A320neo||Mon, Tue, Thu, Fri, Sat
JAL’s low-cost long-haul carrier ZIPAIR bucks the trend in the industry with its flat-bed Business Class seats, and the Singapore route benefits further from late March this year with the introduction of daily service to and from Tokyo Narita.
Japan’s borders have now fully reopened quarantine-free for tourists, so these flights could prove a good option for those who want to travel in more comfort, and don’t mind the ‘unbundled’ nature of this product.
That’s especially the case in the Singapore – Tokyo direction, where this service operates overnight and lands long before your hotel room is likely to be available.
Will you be considering ZIPAIR’s flat-bed product between Singapore and Japan? Let us know in the comments section below.
(Cover Photo: Shutterstock)