With the growing affordability of air travel, places like Japan are becoming more and more accessible and popular amongst western tourists looking to embrace the rich culture of this once hard-to-reach country.
Boasting some of the best cuisines in the world, astounding historical landmarks, sprawling futuristic cityscapes, and some of the best natural beauty spots in the world, Japan is an exciting place to visit.
But how long does it take to fly to Japan, and what are the options for western travelers looking for the best route?
United States To Japan: Average Flight Times
For travelers in the United States, most flights travel east across the Pacific Ocean when journeying to Japan.
This, of course, makes the most sense, otherwise, the whole process would take too much time, resources, and most importantly fuel to reach the destination.
However, this flight time is still long, with an average duration of 13 hours of travel time for Americans traveling to and from Japan.
The extent of this time obviously depends on the location within the United States, but either way, the flight time is still a grueling one.
United Kingdom To Japan: Average Flight Times
Flight times are relatively similar when flying from the United Kingdom too, with average flight times from London airports tending to be around 12 hours and 17 minutes.
This will vary somewhat depending on which part of the United Kingdom – or the Republic of Ireland – you are flying from, but the variations will be minimal, making this a relatively long flight as well.
European Flight Times
Europe is undoubtedly a large place, but you can still make rough estimations depending on which capital city you fly from.
If you are flying from western Europe, such as Paris (France) or Madrid (Spain), the general flight time tends to be between 12 and 14 hours long, with the surrounding countries and their subsequent airports offering flights of similar durations – based on airspeeds of around 500mph.
However, if you are flying from central Europe, then the flight time should be slightly shorter.
For example, if you are flying from Berlin (Germany), then the flight time will be 11 hours and 37 minutes, while flights from Warsaw (Poland) take around 11 hours and 11 minutes.
Eastern Europe boasts even shorter flight times, with flights from Moscow (Russia) taking around 9 hours and 18 minutes, and flights from Prague (Czech Republic) taking around 11 hours.
Alternative Forms Of Travel
However, prospective travelers can opt for alternative forms of travel to break up the tedium of air travel.
Cruise ships are a popular way to travel from the United States to Japan, with voyages from California taking around 20 to 28 days to reach Japan.
This is obviously more suited to longer periods of travel, or for visiting multiple destinations across a multitude of countries and territories, with Japan being the end destination.
This is obviously less suited to people with shorter vacation periods, but some travelers looking to see more of the Pacific might enjoy this travel method.
There is also the option for flight splitting. North Americans have the option of traveling to Alaska, which roughly takes around 6 hours, and then catching either a later flight from Alaska to Japan, which takes around 7 hours.
Alternatively, those flying west from the UK or Western Europe, have the option of taking a 9-hour flight to India, followed by a later flight to Japan – taking roughly around 8 hours.
Of course, these are more suited to those seeking multiple destinations, and depending on where you are in the world, and where you want to go, you can flight hop from multiple countries, with Japan as the final destination.
Why Does Air Travel Take So Long?
Unfortunately, air travel from the United States or Western Europe to Japan takes many hours, which can make it difficult for those with small children, elderly people with disabilities, or those who have trouble traveling for so long.
This is obviously because, for most countries in the Western world, Asia is on the other side of the world, and while modern air travel is impressive, it is not fast enough to reach the speeds needed to get there sooner.
How Fast Are Commercial Planes?
Most commercial passenger planes have a maximum airspeed of around 500 miles per hour, which is the equivalent of around 438 knots.
The flight time that air travel takes can be calculated by dividing the distance the plane needs to travel, by the speed the aircraft can go.
Thus, if the speed was increased, then the travel time would be significantly shortened.
However, as the speed of aircraft increases, additional safety measures need to be put into place to ensure that the aircraft can sustain such speeds, do not sustain damage, and do not put the passengers at risk – for example from things such as G-force, and travel sickness.
Why Can’t Planes Travel Faster?
There are many factors that determine the maximum speed of airplanes, including the materials used to make the aircraft, and the number of passengers (and luggage) that can be stowed on board during the flight.
However, the main reason planes don’t fly faster is that they burn more fuel at higher speeds, meaning that going faster would require larger fuel reserves, and be uneconomical.
And there we have it, everything you need to know about traveling to Japan from the west, and the best ways to go about doing it.
Air travel might be tedious, but it is still the cheapest, fastest, and most convenient method of reaching far-off destinations, and while it might seem like a hassle at times, we have never had it better.