Does anyone know which airline would be the best to fly to Kobe from the US?
Someone told us to go on a Chinese Airline, that sounds odd, but maybe that is the way to go. We have no idea.
In theory, any airline would be fine. You most likely would fly either to Tokyo or to Osaka. Often we do not use Internet to purchase the final tickets but instead, we check first the Internet for the "on-going" price, than the prices offered by "consolidators". Sometimes internet wins, but more often than not the "consolidators".
How to get the consolidator price: look first, what airline would suit your need the best. Do not look at any US-base airlines: they likely have no "consolidator" tickets and their customer service is somewhat... less flexible. In your case obviously Japanese (JAL, ANA), Korean, Chinese-Taiwanese, Chinese-Mainland, Hong Kong, Singapore, Malaysia, Thai but as paradox it is, also Indian and Russian companies could be interesting.
- "google" at the airline, find the phone contact
- call the airline and tell them, would they suggest you a "reputable travel agent" they deal frequently with. Do not say anything about "bulk tickets", "consolidator tickets", "grey-market tickets". :-)
Just merely a "reputable travel agent you guys deal frequently with". They know exactly what you want, and they will tell you exactly what you need - if they have one. If not, just pass on to the next airline.
You will have a small list of agencies. Also look weekend newspapers of NY, SF, LA area - there are most immigrants from pacific rim, it's what you need and they have travel bureaus exclusively dealing with the needs of Asian population. Call.
Call everyone and compare the prices. Not always the cheapest price is the cheapest. For instance, you may decide to shop in Dubai or stay a few days in Singapore or Bangkok or Hong Kong and have some fun. Usually, Singapore Airlines, Malaysian, Cathay Pacific are the best. EVA Air of Taiwan is not bad. Aeroflot is improving, is cheap - but the SVO is not the most friendly transit place. Best airport of the world is Changi of Singapore. Garuda, Philippine Air is so-so. Some Middle Eastern airlines fly via Dubai (shopppppiiiing!!!!!)
It's a bit tedious process, there is no ideal solution. Some companies may have also "Asian Airpass" - usually, unlike railpasses, these are very good.
Also don't be shy to go by rail or alternative transportation: it may happen, you can get a deal going Pittburgh - Chicago or Pittsburgh-NY by rail or other transportation than fly to Tokyo or Osaka (more common destinations), than go to Kobe by rail (max.150) or the local no-frills airline, skymark : http://www.skymark.co.jp/en/index.html (max.100)
I would not worry much about how to reach Kobe once I am in Japan, but going from Pittsburgh to the getaway within U.S. is a bigger pain.
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