Trip Preview: The New Jinbei Jet Inaugural with an Unexpected Detour to South Korea

While I’m still in the process of posting individual articles about my September trip to Europe, I thought I’d write briefly about a short trip I have coming up next weekend.

The New Jinbei Jet Inaugural

Back in March, JTA (Japan Transocean Air) announced that it would paint two of its 737-800s in blue and pink Jinbei Jet liveries to replace the existing 737-400s in the same special liveries.

In September, it became clear that the first of the new Jinbei Jets would fly for the first time on October 22, 2017 from Naha in Okinawa to Fukuoka. Being a fan of inaugural flights, when a friend asked me if I wanted to join him on the first flight, it was hard to say no.

And, as such, I booked the flight – NU50 departing Naha at 7:10AM and arriving in Fukuoka at 8:50AM – for 10,500 yen (about 95 dollars).

That was the beginning of the planning process of the trip and at that point, I still had no idea how I’d get to Naha and back from Fukuoka.

Getting to Okinawa

Continuing with the planning, first, I had to get a ticket from Tokyo to Naha. Given that the Jinbei inaugural leaves early in the morning, I needed to look for something the day before.

At first, I contemplated going with one of the paid LCC options – either with Vanilla Air from Narita or Skymark from Haneda both of which offered some decent fares.

In the end, however, I decided to spend 7,500 Avios miles that I bought through Groupon some months ago plus 290 yen (2.5 dollars) in taxes for a Japan Airlines flight operated by a 777-300.

JAL Japan Airlines 777-300

For accommodation, I booked a night at one of local hotels in Naha through Agoda to earn 100 United miles that I need to be able to get the award ticket I want.

No Well-Timed Cheap Flights Back to Tokyo

With the flight to Naha sorted out, the only remaining part of the trip to plan was between Fukuoka and Tokyo.

Technically, this should have been the easiest one with many carriers connecting the two cities.

However, finding a well-timed flight for a less than 100 dollars seemed like an impossible task. And, so I tried looking for another Avios redemption. However, there were no seats available on afternoon flights either.

The South Korea Detour

I was ready to stay overnight in Fukuoka and take the first morning flight out until I found out that there was a ferry between Fukuoka and Busan in South Korea and that I could get a Busan to Tokyo flight with JAL for the same 4,500 miles as a Fukuoka to Tokyo flight would be.

Japan Airlines 737-800

At that point, I thought that if I am extending the trip by one night, I might as well go with the Korea route and visit a new country for me – however briefly. I checked the availability and went with the following…

A ferry from Fukuoka to Busan leaving a couple of hours after my arrival from Naha. While the ferry takes more than 7 hours, at just 2,500 yen (less than 25 dollars) it is a steal.


Then, after staying a night at Toyoko Inn hotel in Busan, I will take a JAL flight back to Tokyo Narita.

There are two daily flights, and the morning flight was available in economy class for 4,500 miles. However, since I wanted to spend at least half a day in Busan, I booked the afternoon flight which was only available in business class for 9,000 Avios miles instead.

JAL Avios

Stay Tuned!

As you can see above, the final itinerary will look as follows (map generated by Great Circle Mapper):

  • Tokyo Haneda to Naha on a JAL 777-300
  • Naha to Fukuoka on a JTA 737-800 (the inaugural New Jinbei Jet flight)
  • Fukuoka to Busan on a ferry
  • Busan to Tokyo Narita on a JAL 737-800 in business class

Trip Preview: The New Jinbei Jet Inaugural with an Unexpected Detour to South Korea

Once I am back, I will start posting detailed articles about the trip, so stay tuned!

When a Typhoon Ruins Your Travel Plans…

While the above was nice in theory, in the end, a typhoon came – forcing me to change travel plans completely. To read more about the changes to the itinerary, see this article.

List of Articles Related to This Trip

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