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Virgin Australia announces new Cairns–Tokyo route: Fly from $699 return


Flights from Sydney, Melbourne and Brisbane via Cairns also on sale.

TL;DR: What's the deal with this flight sale?

Cheapest flight available:
$699 return: Cairns-Tokyo

Travel dates
18 July - 10 November 2023

Flexible fares?

Baggage included?

Book your Virgin Australia flight now

With Japan's borders reopened to individual tourists Virgin Australia has heard the call for more flights to the Land of the Rising Sun.

From 28 June 2023 the airline is offering daily, year-round flights between Cairns and Tokyo's Haneda Airport.

If you're unfamiliar with Haneda Airport, it's the closer of Tokyo's 2 airports to the CBD and is easily accessed via Shinagawa Station.

To celebrate the new route Virgin has dropped a sale on flights into Haneda. The cheapest are direct from Cairns, costing $699 return.

Flights from Sydney, Melbourne and Brisbane are also available, all flying via Cairns, and all starting at from $749 return (Lite) or $869 return (Choice).

Travel dates are available from 18 July 2023 until 10 November 2023, excluding a black-out period around the spring school holidays.

How does this Virgin Australia sale stack up?

This sale has a lot going for it. Not only does it offer the only direct flights between Cairns and Haneda Airport but its prices are some of the cheapest available right now.

For perspective, budget airline Jetstar also offers direct flights from Cairns to Tokyo, but this is to the less convenient Narita Airport.

Looking at flights in June and July 2023, the cheapest outbound is $444 and inbound is $404 giving you a total of at least $848 for a return fare. Catch this sale and Virgin Australia can save you $149.

Qantas is the other competing airline. What is has going for it is direct flights from Brisbane, Sydney and Melbourne. Prices though are almost double those in this sale, starting at $1,575 return from Sydney from 18–29 June 2023.

Bear in mind that Virgin Australia's starter fares are Lite with no checked luggage or meals included while all of Qantas's seats include these extras.

Since Japan announced its reopening in September, flight aggregator Skyscanner has reported a 92% increase in searches to Japan. Research from the site also found that 38% of Australians were likely to visit Japan within the next 6 months once restrictions ease.

The new route will be serviced by the Boeing 737-8 aircraft which uses 15% less fuel than the 737-800.

"We're excited to offer our guests direct access directly into and out of Tokyo's Haneda Airport, on new fuel-efficient aircraft," said Virgin Australia group chief executive officer Jayne Hrdlicka.

The Virgin Australia Hello Tokyo sale ends at 11:59pm AEDT on 20 December unless sold out prior.

These Virgin Australia fares at a glance

  • OK flexibility: Now that borders are fully opened fare flexibility is a thing of the past. If you contract COVID-19 or are a close contact in the lead-up to your trip, you might be able to request a fee-free change. Alternatively, Choice seats (which are $120 more each way) let you change your flights more than 14 days before your departure.
  • Great airline: AirlineRatings recently named Virgin Australia one of the best airlines in the world.
  • Great frequent flyer points: Velocity members can earn 5 Velocity Points for every $1 spent on flights. That's at least 3,495 points earned on a return trip.
  • OK travel time: Only flights between Cairns and Tokyo are non-stop. All other journeys require a stopover and transfer in Cairns. Depending on your route this can be as short as 40 minutes or as long as 4 hours.
  • OK weather: June–September is summer in Japan and temperatures tend to hit 30 degrees celsius. While this is great for beaches it might be a little uncomfortable for active sightseeing such as temple hopping. Aim to travel in September for more pleasant temperatures.
  1. Hello Tokyo! Virgin Australia Launches First-Ever Cairns-Haneda Japan Service with Massive $699 return sale media release 14 December 2022
  2. Skyscanner Reaction to Japan Border Update media release 29 September 2022

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