Planning for a week-long vacation to Hong Kong with his wife and young child, Tokyo-based Julian Ryall checks out the flight options and prices offered by two Japanese LCCs – Peach Aviation and Vanilla Air – and makes his choice
APPEARANCE I’m not certain if purple is ever a great corporate colour, as the homepage is a little jarring to look at with lots of bling. It is also a challenge following the changing promotion displays.
PRODUCT I chose round-trip flights departing for Hong Kong on Friday, July 29 and returning on Friday, August 5 for two adults and a child.
The Happy Peach Plus fare comes with a rather measly baggage allowance of 10kg and one free checked bag per person. The total came up to 98,160 yen (US$925). Standard seats come at no extra cost but a top-of-the-range “fast seat” would cost an additional 2,200 yen.
Meal options are limited to a picnic boxed lunch (900 yen) or the even less appetising eel-flavoured catfish (1,350 yen). The beverage list includes beer (500 yen), a small bottle of sparkling rose wine (1,000 yen) and apple juice (200 yen).
EASE OF BOOKING Beyond the garish landing page, things become easier on the eyes. All the information on a specific flight is easy to see and the site compares very favourably with those operated by full-serviced carriers.
PRICE As with LCCs the world over, what you initially see is not what you end up paying. Still, the basic Happy Peach one-way fare of 8,380 yen is still very reasonable. It is a marginal 440 yen lower than Vanilla’s price, but departs Osaka instead of Tokyo. Taxes add an extra 1,540 yen to the total.
APPEARANCE Vanilla Air provides a much more sedate welcome than its rival, with an image of a picture-perfect ocean (at time of writer’s visit) and a clean and clear set of booking options greeting visitors on the homepage.
PRODUCT My booking for two adults and a child flying on the same dates – with up to 20kg of luggage, complimentary standard seat and a 500 yen charge for changing the flight – came up to 110,190 yen.
Extra baggage allowance, with up to 40kg, adds an additional 4,000 yen. Reserving a “relax seat” would have cost an extra 1,300 yen. Infants under the age of one would fly with no ticket charge and a 1,500 yen handling fee.
A can of beer costs 400 yen, a sparkling white wine costs 600 yen, and apple juice was 200 yen. Meals are primarily of the snack variety, although a spicy tomato curry was on the menu at 750 yen and pork cutlet sandwiches at 650 yen.
EASE OF BOOKING Very straightforward, plus the website offers some appealing on-screen graphics to look at while waiting to complete the booking. It took three attempts to load the page for the return flight though, but that’s a minor quibble as the pages are well designed and make it easy to compare prices.
PRICE The teaser price on the homepage promises a flight from Tokyo’s Narita airport to Hong Kong for 8,840 yen, but that seat is not available until the last day in September. Unlike Peach, Vanilla’s base fares do not include checked baggage. Nevertheless, prices are still pretty competitive.
VERDICTIt is a close call when it comes to products and prices. Based on the online booking experience, I prefer the simplicity of Vanilla over the purple prose of Peach.
This article was first published in TTG Asia, August 5, 2016 issue, on page 13. To read more, please view our digital edition or click here to subscribe.