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zipair review

Zipair Review: Navigating the Skies with an In-Depth Look at ZIPAIR Economy

Zipair is widely acknowledged as one of the most budget-friendly options for travelers heading to Asia. And with sub 700 USD roundtrip options, who can say no to that?

Notably, Zipair operates from four U.S. gateways to Tokyo’s Narita Airport, offering connections to other Asian destinations like Bangkok, Manila, Seoul, and Singapore. 

Those four major gateways are Los Angeles International Airport (LAX), San Jose International Airport (SJC), John F. Kennedy International Airport (JFK) in New York, and Seattle-Tacoma International Airport (SEA).

For U.S. West Coast cost-conscious travelers, Zipair’s appealingly low fares for nonstop flights to Tokyo often stand out as the primary draw. 

However, is Zipair a good airline, and are the budget tickets really that alluring and worth boarding a plane carrying this airline’s name? Let’s take a look at and go through a full Zipair review below.

Booking Process with Zipair 

You can kick off your Zipair journeys with Google Flights. Simply input your destination and add a filter to target Zipair flights only. If you are interested in mastering this flight search engine, check out our in-depth guide, which will prepare you to take your travel planning to a whole new level.

The first thing that might strike you is the price difference between tickets and other flights. Zipair is much cheaper, but everything that glitters is not gold. As with other budget-friendly options, you can expect everything extra attached to your ticket – baggage fees, seat selection – to come with a price.

That’s right when traveling with Zipair, passengers are assigned a random seat and are permitted one carry-on bag. It’s important to note that carry-on baggage up to 15 lb (7 kg) is free of charge.

However, if the weight exceeds 15 lb and goes up to a maximum of 33 lb (15 kg), an additional fee will be charged. 

Keep in mind, that you must purchase the overweight charge for your carry-on baggage at least 24 hours before departure, as this option is not available at the airport on the day of departure.​

For checked-in baggage, the fees and regulations vary. Checked baggage must adhere to a size limit where the sum of the three dimensions should be 80 inches or less, and passengers are allowed a maximum of five pieces within this size limit. The fees for checked-in baggage depend on the weight and the destination. 

For instance, the fee for a bag up to 30 lb (13.5 kg) from the Narita International Airport to Seoul is 3,000 JPY, while from Narita to Manila, it’s 3,500 JPY. The fees increase with the weight of the baggage, reaching up to 70 lb (31 kg) per item​.

​And for those wishing to book a Zipair flight using points, it’s important to know that these flights are not available through the Amex or Chase travel portals.

However, there’s a workaround for cardholders of the Capital One Venture X Rewards Credit Card or Capital One Venture Rewards Credit Card. By purchasing your Zipair flights with either of these cards, you can utilize your Capital One Venture Miles to offset the cost from your statement.

If you want the latest updates on fees that Zipair Tokyo charges, you can read more about them on their official site here.

Considerations for Extra Fees

While booking on, pay attention to the details. The initial fare displayed is just the starting point. For those needing more than the basics, adding services like extra carry-on weight or a checked bag is most cost-effective when done à la carte. This means that you should consider each additional service separately, tailoring your booking to your specific needs without paying for unwanted extras.

A crucial aspect to consider while booking with Zipair is the stringent ticket policy. All tickets are basically “use-it-or-lose-it”, with no scope for changes or cancellations after the initial 24-hour window post-booking. This policy applies across all fare types, meaning even more expensive tickets don’t offer the flexibility for changes, even for an additional fee.

If your plans change after this period, the only option is to absorb the cost and purchase a new ticket. This rigidity can pose a significant challenge for travelers requiring flexible travel plans.​

When the free-of-charge cancellation policy was introduced to almost all of the major airlines, frequent travelers were very happy as they could better plan their trips and enjoy cost savings if a better deal came about.

Going on, ​Zipair’s check-in process plays a crucial role in shaping your travel experience. While online check-in may sometimes be unavailable, airport check-in is typically efficient and swift, especially when there are no lines. 

So, to be extra safe, arrive early at the airport and ensure that you enjoy uninterrupted and stress-free travel.

During check-in, your carry-on bag and checked bags will be weighed and tagged. To enjoy more savings, it’s recommended to prepay for any extra baggage during booking, as the fees can be higher at the airport check-in​.

​Seamless Travel Logistics with Zipair Airlines

Once at the airport, Zipair’s check-in process is designed for convenience. If you prefer to check in online, simply enter your booking reference and last name on the Zipair website, choose your seat, and print your boarding pass. 

At the airport, self-service kiosks are available for easy check-in, or you can opt for the traditional counter service. The efficiency of the process, whether online or in person, is a testament to Zipair’s commitment to a seamless travel experience.​

Zipair recently became a participant in the TSA PreCheck program, as announced in August 2023. This inclusion provides passengers with an expedited security screening experience, significantly reducing wait times and the hassle of security procedures. 

The TSA PreCheck program, known for its expedited and less invasive screening process, is a major benefit for frequent travelers, especially on international routes. It ensures a more streamlined and stress-free journey through the airport, enhancing the overall air travel experience.​

For those holding premium credit cards, airport lounge access becomes an added luxury, transforming waiting time into an opportunity for relaxation and comfort. Credit cards have democratized access to airport lounges, regardless of travel class. 

The most common provider of such lounge access is Priority Pass, which boasts the largest global network of lounges. Priority Pass also offers alternative amenities such as F&B credits and access to sleep pods or nap rooms in select airports, further sweetening the pre-flight experience for travelers.​

Exploring the Economy Cabin

Seat Configuration and Legroom in Zipair’s Economy Cabin

Zipair’s economy cabin features 272 seats across rows 18 to 57, with a focus on maximizing passenger comfort. Premium seats in row 18 and exit row 46 offer extra legroom but may feel a bit cramped due to the tray table design.

Rows 19 and flat seat 45 also provide additional legroom, and the plane’s seating arrangement transitions from a 3-3-3 configuration to two seats near the windows in the last two rows.

To reserve a seat of your choice on Zipair, there is a fee that varies depending on business class seats and the route. For instance:

  1. Tokyo ⇄ Seoul
    • ZIP Full-Flat:
      • Tokyo to Seoul: From 29,010 JPY
      • Seoul to Tokyo: From 266,100 KRW
    • Standard:
      • Tokyo to Seoul: From 12,010 JPY
      • Seoul to Tokyo: From 104,200 KRW
  2. Tokyo ⇄ Manila
    • ZIP Full-Flat Value:
      • Tokyo to Manila: From 49,000 JPY
      • Manila to Tokyo: From 360 USD
    • Standard Value:
      • Tokyo to Manila: From 18,000 JPY
      • Manila to Tokyo: From 120 USD
  3. Tokyo ⇄ Bangkok
    • ZIP Full-Flat Value:
      • Tokyo to Bangkok: From 64,000 JPY
      • Bangkok to Tokyo: From 15,750 THB
    • Standard Value:
      • Tokyo to Bangkok: From 21,000 JPY
      • Bangkok to Tokyo: From 4,950 THB
  4. Tokyo ⇄ Singapore
    • ZIP Full-Flat Value:
      • Tokyo to Singapore: From 62,810 JPY
      • Singapore to Tokyo: From 662 SGD
    • Standard Value:
      • Tokyo to Singapore: From 18,710 JPY
      • Singapore to Tokyo: From 212 SGD
  5. Tokyo ⇄ Honolulu
    • ZIP Full-Flat Value:
      • Tokyo to Honolulu: From 79,000 JPY
      • Honolulu to Tokyo: From 561 USD
    • Standard Value:
      • Tokyo to Honolulu: From 30,000 JPY
      • Honolulu to Tokyo: From 202 USD
  6. Tokyo ⇄ San Francisco
    • ZIP Full-Flat Value:
      • Tokyo to San Francisco: From 125,000 JPY
      • San Francisco to Tokyo: From 917 USD
    • Standard Value:
      • Tokyo to San Francisco: From 53,000 JPY
      • San Francisco to Tokyo: From 357 USD
  7. Tokyo ⇄ San Jose
    • ZIP Full-Flat Value:
      • Tokyo to San Jose: From 125,000 JPY
      • San Jose to Tokyo: From 917 USD
    • Standard Value:
      • Tokyo to San Jose: From 50,000 JPY
      • San Jose to Tokyo: From 337 USD
  8. Tokyo ⇄ Los Angeles
    • ZIP Full-Flat Value:
      • Tokyo to Los Angeles: From 124,000 JPY
      • Los Angeles to Tokyo: From 907 USD
    • Standard Value:
      • Tokyo to Los Angeles: From 47,000 JPY
      • Los Angeles to Tokyo: From 312 USD

It’s important to note that once you select a seat if you decide to change it later, another seat selection fee will be applicable​.

In-Flight Amenities and Entertainment

The airline’s in-flight amenities are basic. However, passengers can enhance their experience by pre-ordering an amenity kit containing a soft blanket, slippers, earplugs, an eye mask, and an inflatable pillow. 

This is what sets Zipair apart from other airlines. Having earplugs and an eye mask is a big bonus in our books, especially for long-haul flights.

The current Wi-Fi service primarily supports the airline’s shopping menu and a limited movie streaming selection. And while it says that you can stream music through Spotify, sometimes the connection can get interrupted, and your songs will not load at all. 

The in-flight amenity kit offered by Zipair, which includes a blanket, earplugs, eye mask, neck pillow, slippers, and a bag full of them, is priced at 3,000 JPY​ or 20 USD.

Upcoming High-Speed Internet Service

As mentioned, the WiFi is not the best on Zipair. However, Zipair is collaborating with SpaceX’s Starlink Aviation to introduce high-speed internet across its fleet. 

This service aims to provide smooth streaming and faster downloads, supporting activities like online gaming and VPN usage. The timeline for implementation is still under process as the airline works through regulatory certifications.

Importance of Pre-Planning Entertainment

Given the current limitations of Zipair’s entertainment and Wi-Fi offerings, passengers are advised to pre-plan their in-flight entertainment. 

This might involve downloading movies or creating a playlist of favorite songs so that the trip is much more enjoyable.

Here’s how you can pre-plan effectively:

  • Download movies or TV shows: Most streaming services allow you to download content to your device. Before your flight, select a few movies or TV series that interest you and download them. This way, you’ll have access to them even without an internet connection.
  • Create a music playlist: Compile a playlist of your favorite songs or explore new music and download it to your device. This personalized playlist can be a great way to relax or energize yourself during the flight.
  • Bring e-books or audiobooks: Download e-books or audiobooks that you’ve been wanting to read or listen to. Long flights provide the perfect opportunity to dive into a good book or story.
  • Load up on podcasts: Podcasts are a great way to entertain yourself and learn something new. Download a variety of podcasts that align with your interests.
  • Install offline games: If you enjoy gaming, install a few games on your device that can be played offline. This is a fun way to pass the time, especially on longer flights.
  • Pack a physical book or magazine: Sometimes, it’s nice to take a break from screens. Bringing a physical book or a couple of magazines can be a great alternative.
  • Plan work or study tasks: If you need to get work done or study, prepare all the necessary documents or materials in advance so you can be productive during your flight.
  • Charge your devices: Ensure all your devices are fully charged before your flight. Consider bringing a portable charger or a power bank in case your seat does not have a power outlet.

Enhancing the In-Flight Journey with Zipair

Although Zipair’s services are minimalistic, they are thoughtfully designed to cater to the essential needs of travelers while offering the flexibility of choice.

And while it is true that everything you get extra with Zipair comes with a price tag, the prices are quite reasonable.

Inflight Amenities: A Blend of Complementary and Optional Offerings

As discussed in the previous segment of our Zipair review, the basic amenities include a seat and a carry-on bag allowance, with the option to enhance comfort through purchasable extras. 

The optional amenity kit, of course, comes with a price. And whether it is worth it is entirely up to you and your flying preferences. 

Efficient Ordering of Additional Drinks and Snacks

Zipair’s in-flight service model revolves around an efficient, tech-driven ordering system. Through an accessible Wi-Fi connection, passengers can browse a variety of snacks, meals, and beverages, ordering as per their convenience and preference. 

This system emphasizes personalization and eliminates the constraints of traditional meal timings, providing a sense of control to passengers​.

​​A Diverse Inflight Menu: Catering to Varied Tastes

With offerings ranging from hot meals and instant ramen to a selection of beverages, Zipair ensures that passengers have a diverse menu to choose from. The pricing, kept reasonable, allows for a tailored dining experience, ensuring that passengers can enjoy a meal or a snack without worrying about excessive costs.​

On Zipair, the prices for inflight meals and other items are as follows:

  • Meals are approximately 10 USD.
  • Drinks range from about 2 to 6 USD.
  • Snacks start at around 3 USD.

These prices provide a general idea of the costs for in-flight dining and amenities on Zipair. Keep in mind that prices may vary slightly depending on the specific flight and menu options available.

You can view the menu online on Zipair’s official website. Here’s a sneak peek of this handy tool.

Service and Staff

The experiences reported by passengers indicate a range of service quality that seems to swing between extremes.

On the one hand, the airline’s staff has been noted for their efficiency and friendliness in some instances, particularly in-flight, where, despite minimal services, the crew’s accommodating nature stands out.

The seating arrangements and the flight attendants’ general effort to ensure passenger comfort on board, even within the constraints of a budget airline, are commendable. Also, the inclusion in the TSA PreCheck program and the availability of lay flat seats in business class add points to their favor.

However, there are aspects that raise concerns. The strict policies regarding carry-on baggage, though understandable from a budget airline perspective, seem to cause inconvenience and, sometimes, dissatisfaction among passengers. 

The rigidity in ticket policies and extra costs for services typically included in standard fares of other airlines, like food and beverages, could be off-putting for some. 

Zipair’s Offerings vs. Their Competitors’

It is no wonder that Zipair’s standout feature is its highly competitive pricing, often beating other airlines, making it an attractive option for budget-conscious travelers despite some of the drawbacks we’ve discussed above.

Additionally, Zipair’s fleet, being relatively new, offers a fresh and comfortable travel environment. The airline’s seats are well-designed and equipped with USB ports, universal sockets, and device holders, enhancing passenger convenience.

A notable offering is its Business Class with “lie flat” seats, providing a luxurious experience at a fraction of the cost compared to other airlines. 

While Zipair does not have TV screens, it compensates by providing free Wi-Fi, allowing passengers to use their own devices for entertainment, including access to music and movies, without additional costs.

This modern approach to in-flight entertainment sets Zipair apart from competitors like Jetstar Japan, which offers more traditional services. 

Additionally, Zipair boasts an impressive on-time arrival rate of 93.85%, significantly higher than many other airlines, ensuring reliability and efficiency in travel. 

These factors, combined with above-average food and comfortable seating, even in economy, position Zipair as a top choice for travelers seeking an economical yet comfortable journey to Japan.

Bottom Line

In this ZIpair review, we hope we answered the question “Is Zipair a good airline?” for you and provided you with everything you need before purchasing a ticket. We will leave it entirely up to you to make that decision and decide whether you want to fly with them. 

However, there is no denying that if you are planning a trip to Asia, Zipair should be on your shortlist as a carrier that will take you there without emptying your entire budget.

If you love traveling without breaking the bank, check out our other guides and reviews on other budget-friendly airlines – Frontier, JetBlue, and Spirit.

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