British Airways about to announce flights to Osaka?

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According to reports in the Japanese business newspaper Nikkei (which is a credible source, it now owns the Financial Times), British Airways is about to announce a 4x weekly service to Osaka.

This would be a good result if true.  Tokyo is generally a decent route for Avios availability but you will struggle during the peak cherry blossom season.  There are currently no Avios Club World seats available between 23rd February and 3rd April for example.

Osaka is very convenient for Kyoto.  If you were only planning a short trip to Japan, taking in Tokyo and Kyoto, flying through Osaka would not be too bad.  The best option would be to fly into Tokyo and out of Osaka after visiting Kyoto.

(Here is my Conrad Tokyo review, here is Anika’s ANA InterContinental Tokyo review and here is my The Ritz-Carlton Kyoto – which is amazing – review.)

Nikkei reports that services are due to start with the global Summer timetable change, which is 31st March.

If true, getting an Avios seat during the first few days should let you catch the cherry blossom.  The season usually runs from the last week of March into the first week of April.

That said … it varies.  Nature is awkward like that.  We took a family holiday in Tokyo over Easter last year and caught it perfectly.  Cherry blossom season was running late (we flew on 8th April) and were told all the hotels had been sold out two weeks before, with nothing to see.  We got very lucky.

The photo above is one that Anika took when she was also in Tokyo last year doing our review of ANA business class – she flew in on 6th April.

Anyway …. nothing is confirmed yet.  I’ll let you know if / when a BA press release turns up.  The Nikkei article is here.

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  1. Japan is beautiful whenever you visit. We’ve been four times and we’re long overdue another visit. There’s plenty to see and do and the people are quite. charming. It’s certainly not like anywhere else I’ve ever been, and definitely worth the trip!

    • I can just imagine a Japanese travel blog saying similar things about the UK

      • Korean Airlines play a video when arriving in London which goes something like “Welcome to England, the land of gentlemen”.

      • I am sure that there is plenty of good things to say about England. I am sat here looking out across a beautiful sandy beach with the sun rising in across the sea, ‘up-north’ in glorious Northumberland, where everyone you meet has a ‘hello’. England isnt all miserable people, stuck on tubes, ignoring each other. ????

  2. Very handy timing for the Rugby World Cup.

  3. This year we went to Tokyo the last weekend in March and caught the first full weekend of cherry blossom. It’s a huge thing there, and having experienced it first hand that is totally understandable. That said, the guiding company we use think there is no bad time to visit Tokyo/ Japan.

  4. Why is nature awkward?? I think it’s our useless prediction. There are many factors that are involved in deciding when a plant will flower. Basically, if cold weather is longer than expected, it will be delayed.

    That said, autumn is way more impressive. You can find parks with cherry blossoms also in London (there’s a small but cute park near Old Street). I’d say that autumn is quite unique to Japan.

    I guess the key point is that BA is launching a new route in Japan with new possibilities. Whether there are Avios seats it’s almost secondary…

    • I dunno, I think some places outside Japan have autumn too…

      • Of course there’s autumn everywhere… but those Japanese gardens in autumn is just an unforgettable experience

        • New England in the Fall isn’t just a vacuous expression. Just drive north out of JFK and keep going…

        • I was disappointed with New England in the Fall – even in the White Mountains in October there were plenty of trees, but not enough vista – if they clear felled an extra few yards back from the verge of the road, it would be vastly improved, IMHO. Came back to Scotland craving a view of more than half a mile distance.

      • Wheres the upvote when you need it 🙂

  5. IMO Kansai is way more interesting than Kantou

    • As someone who studied at Osaka Uni, I’d wholeheartedly agree!

      Osaka itself is a lot of fun to explore, plus it’s a good base to explore (in addition to Kyoto) Nara, Himeji, Koya-san, Uji, and Kobe. Also the Suntory Yamazaki distillery is on the Hankyu line between Osaka and Kyoto.

  6. The Intercontinental Osaka is a fine hotel, def recommend it.

    • +1

      Used my AMB weekend certificate there earlier this year. Got upgraded from 2-bed deluxe room to a one bedroom suite. Paid JPY 36k/£240 (first night) – second night would have cost me JPY 131k/£880 without the cert!

  7. Rob: What’s your expected timeline to see movement (a press release?) on this? Today? This week? Later? Just so I know how fervently to check in search of cherry blossom seats.

  8. OT: I exchanged some expiring Emirates Sykwards points for £250ish of Heathrow Rewards vouchers in the handy promotion last month.

    Passing through Heathrow (T2) for the first time on Thursday I tried to buy a pair of shoes at Paul Smith only to be told they don’t accept the vouchers. A bit embarrassing after having spent 15 minutes trying shoes on.

    As far as I can see, nothing in the Ts&Cs indicates that Paul Smith or any of higher end boutiques are excluded from use of the vouchers. Have I missed something? Were they correct to turn me down?

    It would seem to me that if the high-end fashion chains are excluded, customers are limited to a fairly narrow range of options when seeking to use rewards vouchers.

    • No, they can’t turn you down. Only Louis Vuitton had opt-outs from Heathrow Rewards and they now seem to be on board. I would complain to Heathrow Rewards.

      • Thanks Rob, very helpful. I shall email them.

        • BlueHorizonuk says:

          You will not be awarded Points for expenditure in the following outlets: betting shops, Post Offices, vending and gaming machines, petrol stations, Louis Vuitton, temporary retailers/services; or for Transactions in relation to the following: lottery tickets, tobacco products, medicine, prescription items, infant formula, the retailer’s own pre-paid gift vouchers, postage stamps, Pay as You Go Internet access, or flights and/or hotels booked at or for Transactions paid for using Boots Advantage Card point.

        • Louis Vuitton is part of the current ‘fashion bonus points’ offer though, which implies that it must now be a partner.

    • Paul Smith high end??

      • Mr Greene says:

        Correct, very far from ‘high end’ (unless one’s high end is relative to HandM/GAP)

        High prices for perceived high end clothing….would be closer to the truth.

        I imagine the shop had large windows….

  9. We went in March this year on CW avios redemptions to Tokyo and were lucky enough to catch the start of the cherry blossom. Highly recommended.

    It’s well worth considering a rail pass as they’re great value if you travel around a bit. We spent 5 nights in Kyoto, at the Almont which was great value and a few minutes walk from Kyoto station. We used it as a base for day trips Osaka and Hiroshima as well – travel on the Shinkansen (bullet train) is efficient, comfortable (especially if you go for green class) and fast so a redemption into Osaka wouldn’t be a bad option even if you only wanted to visit Tokyo.

    • My advice is not to bother with green class. The trains are so comfortable anyway, the extras you get with green glass are not really worth the extra cost.

    • Lady London says:

      +1 for the Almont. Tiny rooms but suspect that’s par for Japan, and ok price compared to others there. very well run hotel with excellent access to trains although IIRC not central to other activities within kyoto..

  10. Rob – presumably being able to fly in to Tokyo and return from Osaka wouldn’t work with the BA 241 voucher, as it has to be a return?

    • Open jaw returns OK.

      • Open jaws work but you need to book them over the phone; the website can’t handle it.

        There is a rule that the open jaw can’t be bigger than the distance back to London but in this context that’s not going to be an issue.

        • Yes, we did an open jaw, albeit both Tokyo airports (into Narita and out of Haneda) and have also done so many times before, such as flying into Vancouver and out of New York last year on a 2for1.

          As Stu says needs to be booked over the phone – you should be able to get them to waive the telephone booking fee on the basis that the transaction can’t be done online.

        • Surely you could book and open jaw online if it would just be the different airports in the same city? Looks like you could even do LHR-EWR JFK-LGW if you wanted to online

        • If I have an existing open jaw booking that I might want to change, (different arrival airport on outbound leg only), will they also waive the fee as I cannot do the change online?

        • Lovely, thanks for your help

        • @lumma I think open jaw with 241 are the issue

        • @Lumma – true, you probably can book different airports in the same city online. The point is though, its possible to book any open jaw (subject to the constraint around the distance between them not being greater than the distance from the start/end point) over the phone.

          If you’re not using a 2for1 the only way to book an open jaw redemption (same city aside) online is to book two one-ways. You obviously can’t do that with a 2for1 and benefit from it on both legs, hence the need to call.

        • Lady London says:

          Osaka also has the smaller Itami airport (ITM) which might be able to be used if there is any problem with Osaka availability.

          I landed at ITM and left from Osaka. It was shocking how quickly it was possible to depart from Osaka airport. I dawdled and I think the whole process took about 20 mins from arrival out of the bus(as trains from Kyoto cancelled due to earthquake damage on the track) to the plane.

        • Itami is Osaka airport. Kansai is Kansai.

        • @Genghis it’s always a bit of a grey zone of which is which
          For domestic flights they position Haneda as ‘Tokyo’ and Narita as ‘Narita’ while for an average UK reader ‘Tokyo airport’ is first and foremost Narita and then Haneda

        • But we’re not talking about Tokyo…

        • @Genghis This was to develop the argument about whether Kansai could be counted as Osaka or not. For some it is, for others it isn’t. Nowadays, it’s just about marketing and fuzzy edges. Lots of examples in Europe as well

        • Genghis says:

          I think Kansai should be marketed as Osaka. But Itami is more Osaka airport than Kansai in “I landed at ITM and left from Osaka”

        • Could be exactly the same logic for TYO: “Landed at Narita and left from Tokyo” (meaning Haneda)

        • @Genghis out of curiousity – how do you manage to monitor comments and replies to older posts? This forum – ANNOYINGLY – has very limited functionality: no notifications about replies, no option to edit or delete comments, etc. and Rob for some reason is very reluctant to do anything about this. But you seem to have found a way round this. Can you share? Thanks!

      • @Tom1 – they should waive the phone service fee; you may have to prompt the call handler to do this. You will still pay the change fee of £35 to amend the booking.

  11. DaveWinch says:

    Completely OT, but:

    I joined Iberia on June 23rd – I tried logging into to combine my avios and got the message that I had to wait for three months. Tried logging in this morning and I now get “Sorry, your log-in details have not been recognised. Please contact us” – logins still work fine on Iberia.

    Any ideas where I’m going wrong? Anybody else having this problem?

    • Your Avios account has been closed as part of the closure of ALL Avios Travel Rewards Programme accounts, as discussed many times on here.

      You need to open an Aer Lingus AerClub or Vueling Club account and then log in to using those details. All will then be well and you can transfer.

  12. OT, I used the spend 600 get 200 back on my Platinum card for two shows in Vegas in October. instead of showing as £613 on my account it has split into two 498 and 115, anyone else had this? I’m concerned that this wont track as an over 600 spend and i wont get my 200 statement credit.

    • Michael Blume says:

      I am interested in this scenario too.

      Also, a related question. If you save the offer to both supp and main card, can you spend 1200, half on each card and get 2 x 200 back? The terms say one offer per card rather than account, and the offer has appeared in both dashboards separately…

      • Yes, offers are specific to each card, not guaranteed that both cards will get the offer though they usually do

        No way to split 1200 over two cards though (at least online), needs to be two spends of 600+

      • Yes, £600 on each card will both trigger the offer. On that note, anyone have a tip for a superb hotel for 2 adults and 2 kids in midtown NYC which I can prepay for £301 per night !? Need a 2 night stay in April….

        • Look at the CasaBlanca: No. 1 on Tripadvisor (part of the small ‘Library Collection – 4 hotels in Manhattan and take spots 1, 2, 3 and 6 on Tripadvisor). Free continental breakfast, 24hr tea, coffee, soda, cookies etc and cheese and wine between 5-8pm. Not stupidly expensive. Next to Times Square. Am booked to go in January and can’t find any negative reviews, everyone raves about it.

        • Thanks Nicky, I looked at the Giraffe hotel in same group. Annoyingly its not bookable on amex travel online though. might give them a call

        • Spurs Debs says:

          I’ve booked hotel giraffe for beginning of April. Really helpful sorting my two rooms out and no resort fee! Should be in your budget.

        • Yeh that whole chain looks decent. Only issue us i want to book via amex travel to get the 200 off 600 spend offer. These hotels arent loaded on to Amex travel website though

      • fivebobbill says:

        On the first question, won’t be a problem. Have just made my 600 (£637) up with 4 different Amex “experiences”, got an email as soon as I went over £600 and the £200 credit appeared in my account a few days later.

        As to the second point, the offer is per card, not account, so yes, if it’s on the supplementary card you can get the £200 twice.

      • Yes I have it on my supp card and was waiting till I seen the credit post on my main card before using the supp card. Iv just noticed it’s saying ‘redeemed’ in my offers section so now for the supp card. 1200 spend and 400 back can’t be bad for Vegas shows!

  13. OT (no bits today): my wife has the SPG Amex and points have gone out of the account for August and September. She called Amex earlier and they said that the linking to the new accounts was meant to be done by mi-September however the project has over-run, and that it will probably be a few more weeks to sort it all out. They said there’s nothing they can do at their end, but it looks like points from the SPG Amex won’t be hitting accounts until perhaps mid-October at the earliest. Rather frustrating as want to shut her card down but won’t do it until the points have been transferred properly.

    • I’m in exactly the same situation and was told similar over Live Chat. However, they also requested that I provide them with my new Marriott / SPG number (the new number following account merger). I was assured that all outstanding points (Aug + Sep) would be transferred over when points from my October statement are sent (for my account: 27th-ish Oct).

  14. OT: Another Hertz / Amex question. With the Amex Platinum hire car insurance, can I decline all insurances including the basic CDW and theft protection cover, not just the super cover?

    The Amex wording is “Cover applies only when rental agency allows refusal of their insurance”, so I think that means if Hertz let me decline a cover option, I can and Amex will apply. Am I right?

    • You can, but there are legal requirements country-by-country as to what insurance MUST be included. You cannot decline that.

  15. OT – I am travelling back from Barbados next month to LGW south and unfortunately have to go straight to work. Do you know if there is a lounge after arrivals that I can have access to a shower and maybe some sustenance before joining the rat race back to London?

    • No, the BA arrivals lounge in the Sofitel closed a couple of years ago and there are no independent options.

  16. OT: anyone have contact details (email) for someone senior at Like global CEO or UK CEO. Have been dealing with a complaint with them for over a week with no luck.

    • Shoestring says:

      Mr Marco Corradino Chief Operation Officer
      [email protected]

    • I have the email address of the global CEO if Rob/Anika wants to connect us. Not going to post publicly.

      • Shoestring says:

        I’ve got the Chairman’s – happy to post publicly! 🙂

        • Shoestring says:

          tbh the email pattern is obvious enough, so you just need the names

          Fabio Cannavale – Executive Director and Group CEO
          Marco Corradino – Executive Director and CEO
          Laurent Foata – Non-Executive Director
          Marcello Distaso – Non-Executive Director
          Roberto Italia – Non-Executive Director
          Anna Gatti – Non-Executive Director
          Marco Corradino – Chief Operation Officer and Co-Founder
          Sergio Signoretti – Chief Financial Officer

        • Lady London says:

          er… has fallen under the control of an Italian group then?

        • Shoestring says:

          Yes, a couple of years ago now – all on wiki

        • Not sure what you mean by “fallen”.

          It was purchased by Bravonext some time ago (after the british emperor turned out to indeed have no clothes).

        • Marco and Fabio run the business. Not much point emailing a NED.

        • Shoestring says:

          True enough, poor form provided the Execs sort out the issue. I think with the IB 90K problems, people were firing emails at non Execs as well and getting quick results – IB deserved it for their lies, obfuscation and general poor customer service.

  17. I had a great visit to Japan last month with 2 Rtn F class on 241 voucher and avios. I’ve seen Tokyo but I much preferred out of Tokyo so Osaka would be great. I really enjoyed Hiroshima and would definitely go back there. I also stayed at the Conrad Osaka and the ANA IC in Roppongi and enjoyed them both.

  18. Booked my first long haul business Avios redemption to Japan (via Seoul, Korea) thanks to this site. Fly in November – very excited! Thanks as always to Rob, Anika and all the regular commenters.

  19. Will Avery says:

    Shame. If only the Yen was affordable. Last time I checked hotels in Tokyo were at least double what they were when we visited 2014 :(:(. Kyoto will be even worse…for us peasants.

    • Indeed. Ritz-Carlton in Kyoto was £1100 per night for a standard room (facing a wall) when we were there, such is cherry blossom pricing ….

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