US-JAPAN-CHINA-US trip help

Sep 6th, 2007, 02:31 PM
  #1  
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US-JAPAN-CHINA-US trip help

Hi,

I am going to Kyoto, Japan at the end of this October for a conference from JFK , and need to go back China to obtain a re-entry visa for US. I am looking for cheap airfare for this multi-stop trip and found this great site with a lot of helpful information. As far as now, the best I can get will be flying via JAL with the following itinerary for $962 including tax/fee through a local travel agent.
Oct.26 JFK-NRT
Nov.2 NRT-PVG (Shanghai)
Nov.20 PVG-NRT
Nov.20 NRT-JFK

The better choice will be flying to KIX, though the air fare will be about $200-$300 more and my local agent can only get the HND-KIX not the NRT-ITM. Another concern is the time issue for traveling from NRT to HND to catch the plane. Plus I have two big luggage with me which will be a big problem. So currently I have some plans:

1) But this $962 ticket through the agent and call JAL to purchase the $200 two sector oneworld Yokoso/Visit Japan Fare for NRT-ITM. Is this option feasible? Or I have to buy the whole ticket through JAL directly?
http://www.jal.co.jp/yokosojapan/

2) Buy the 7-day JR Pass in advance in US and take the bullet train from Tokyo to Kyoto, and spend $100 for the baggage storage at NRT airport. The only concern is about the Japan visa, I heard the application for temp visitor visa is a whole of trouble for Chinese in US without US re-entry stamp. So I am going to apply for the 15-day transit visa, will that account for "sight seeing" as well? I am little bit confused by the wording here:
http://www.jtbusa.com/enhome/jrpass.asp

Any advice about this trip will be appreciated, thanks a lot for reading!
coolpizza is offline  
Sep 6th, 2007, 06:02 PM
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that price sounds fantastic to me
rhkkmk is offline  
Sep 6th, 2007, 07:19 PM
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You definitely need a temp visitor stamp to use the rail pass. I don't know if the transit visa qualifies as one or not. Sounds like not.

"Temporary Visitor" entry status, according to Japanese Immigration Law, allows a stay in Japan of 15 days or 90 days for "sight-seeing, etc." If you apply for a "stay for sight-seeing" when you enter Japan, entry personnel will stamp your passport as "Temporary Visitor," as shown below. Only persons who have a passport bearing this stamp can use a JAPAN RAIL PASS.
mrwunrfl is online now  
Sep 6th, 2007, 07:54 PM
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Sorry, I just saw your jtbusa link and see that you are confused by JR's wording about visas. Where did you find the "transit visa" info? Just seems that if the temp visa is hard for Chinese to get but the transit visa is not then they are two different things.

You can book the ANA yokoso fare, or the other one, with JAL separately. JAL will want to know your JAL or AA ticket number, I suppose, for you to get the lower fared pass. You also have the option of getting the ANA version of the Visit Japan or Welcome to Japan fare.

Between one of those two airpass options hopefully you could get NRT-ITM.

I stored luggage at NRT and it was 500 yen per day per piece.

You know, for NRT-Kyoto-NRT the JR Pass only saves you about 6000 yen and prohibits you from using the Nozomi shinkansen trains. That is, approx 32000 for the roundtrip rail tix versus 26000 for the JR Pass. Your air would be 20,000 and you'd still have something like 6000 yen for the ITM-Kyoto-ITM roundtrip.

You did get a good price on your international travel so even spending 6000 more to ride the Nozomi still makes the whole trip a good deal.

One thing about taking the train is that it is going to be on time. When you are headed back to NRT from Kyoto your train won't be weather delayed or any of the other stuff that happens to airline flights. And the shinkansen runs very frequently.
mrwunrfl is online now  
Sep 6th, 2007, 08:33 PM
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Thanks a lot for your response, mrwunrfl.

I got the transit visa information from the Japan Ministry of Foreign Affairs website. Sightseeing is listed under both Temp Visitor and Transit visa category.
http://www.mofa.go.jp/j_info/visit/visa/04.html

I am considering JR Pass mainly because it will give me more flexibility if I have some free time to travel around Osaka a bit and JR Pass will save some money in that case. And Hikari doesn't look too slow compared to Nozomi.


coolpizza is offline  
Sep 6th, 2007, 08:33 PM
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Here is my current plan after reading numerous threads about traveling in Japan:

- JAL 0005 ETA at Narita Airport Terminal 2 - 16:20

- Clear immigration - 17:00 (probably)

- Pick up luggage and carry through customs - 17.30

- Walk to GPA counters / pay for suitcase storage - 18.00

- Go down to the railway station downstairs. Go to the JR counter and exchange JR PASS there and reserve seats for RT to Kyoto. - 18.30

- Take Narita Express departs at 18.46 - arrives Tokyo 19.51 - connect to 20.06 Hikari #389 - arrives Kyoto 23.00
http://www.japanrail.com/pdf/Timetable1-west.pdf

- Go to Karasuma side of station and take a cab to my hotel

- Dinner in Kyoto - _

Any advice to make the trip cheaper and simpler will be greatly appreciated!
Thanks you all for providing great information here!
coolpizza is offline  
Sep 7th, 2007, 01:04 PM
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That visa info isn't perfectly clear, but it does seem that the two visas are different animals. Good thing is that you can get a refund on the JR voucher if you don't use it.

The Hikari that you showed is the last one of the day (according to hyperdia.com). You might make an earlier N'Ex and shinkansen, tho.

JL005 arrives at 5:20PM and has a connection from NRT to ITM. It is:
Saturday, October 27, 2007
Departure: 6:25PM Tokyo, Japan - Narita, terminal 2
Arrival: 7:45PM Osaka, Japan - Itami
Flight: Japan Airlines JL3007

I think that if JL005 is late that they would take care of you even with the separate Yokoso ticket.

I took that flight once, in first class, and it was a good four hours late due to an ill passenger the day before. I had an AA award ticket on JAL from NRT to Sapporo. I missed the connection. In this case, JAL and I knew that would happen so by the time I got to NRT they were all ready for me with some cash, hotel voucher, meal voucher, and ticket for the next morning, HND-CTS.

I've flown on ANA visitor fares and they were very accomodating. Might check to see if there is a change/cancel fee on the Yokoso/onworld fare. Might be worth reconsidering flying if you can get JL3007 for 10,000 yen.
mrwunrfl is online now  
Sep 7th, 2007, 04:32 PM
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Hi, mrwunrfl,

Thanks for the great information, that's really helpful. Just got one response back from a Japanese consolidator.

Airline: Japan Airlines

Airfare: $1089.00 including tax/fee

Travel Dates: 10/26-----11/2----11/20

JFK----NRT---ITM/KIX-----PVG/PVG---NRT----JFK

I think the price is not bad at all, and most likely I will take this plan.

- Oct.26 Depart JFK 13.20
- Oct.27 Arrive NRT 16.20
- Oct.27 Depart NRT 18.25
- Oct.27 Arrive ITM 19.45
- Oct.27 Take limousine to KYOTO
- Nov.2 Take the train from Kyoto to KIX
- Nov.2 Depart KIX 10.35
- Nov.2 Arrive PVG 12.15

Some questions for Japan Airline service. Do I need to take care of the baggage at NRT or ITM in this case?
Is the service and food good?

Are you a member of the JAL Mileage Bank? Any usage for that? I am an infrequent flyer (usually one RT to China and a few domestic trips in US, less than 30,000 miles a year) and not familiar with those mileage program. I currently only have 25,000miles in UA Mileage Plus.
So should I put the mileage into JAL Mileage Bank or not?
I heard JAL became a member of the One-World program earlier this year.

Thanks.
coolpizza is offline  
Sep 8th, 2007, 12:13 AM
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No, I'm not a JMB member but I do have an American Airlines AAdvantage account. I was flying JAL using miles from the AA account. I mostly fly United now and am not expert on the oneworld airlines. You might want to get the miles posted to AAdvantage or maybe to JMB. Depending on the fare class AAdvantage might not give full credit for the miles but JMB does. Or maybe they are the same, I don't know. (I do know that if you fly discounted economy on ANA that you won't get 100% mileage credit in your UA MP account).

I recommend that you check the JMB and AAdvantage rules and/or post the question over on the Airlines board. There are a few AAdvantage experts there that might help you choose the correct mileage program.

The service and food on JL005 were both excellent. Of course, I was in first class, but am sure they take care of you in the back. On the way back there were a few more pax up front, a couple of fussy Japanese, so the FAs gave them more attention. I flew in business class on JAL between NRT and DPS and that was outstanding. Rode economy HND-CTS/CTS-HIJ and it was a bit tight but the service was very good.

You'll go through immigration and customs at NRT. You will collect your luggage there, before customs. Then there should be a dropoff spot to send your bags to your domestic flight. That's the basic idea, anyway. I haven't done it actually. Maybe somebody else can describe it better here, or ask on the Airlines forum if you want the procedure in detail. But the short answer is: at NRT.

Looks like that ticket is about perfect for you.

There are a couple of Kansai regional passes that you might consider. You probably know about these already. If not, then there is some good info here:
http://www.japan-guide.com/e/e2357.html
The Kansai Area Pass includes the airport train (Haruka limited express) but otherwise is all JR locals.
mrwunrfl is online now  

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