Japan, Reviews

ZIPAIR Flight Review: Budget flight from Singapore to Tokyo

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At the end of every year, my family spends most of our time in Japan. We would fly from Singapore as a family to spend the holiday season with our family who lives in Tokyo.

Maneki Neko Welcoming us to Tokyo
Maneki Neko Welcoming us to Tokyo

This is a tradition we have kept for many years. We usually fly Japan Airlines (JAL) overnight to Haneda for this annual trip. Before COVID, this flight would reliably cost us about S$800-900 per person.

But in 2023, after Japan finally opened up from its COVID lockdown, there was a record-level renewed interest in visiting Japan – especially from Singapore. This high demand drove the price of flights to Japan by multiple folds and we could no longer justify flying our usual flights.

A ZIPAIR Plane in Narita Airport

That’s when I learned about ZIPAIR and decided to give it a try. While I’m not usually one to fly low cost carrier for flights over 4 hours, the price was too attractive.

For comparison sake, if we had flown our usual flight with JAL, it would have cost us SG $5,000 for 2 adults and a 4-year-old child for a roundtrip from Singapore to Tokyo.

With ZIPAIR, we only paid SG $1,500 for the three of us! This includes round trip ticket with paid amenities of two checked-in bags at 30 kg each, three meals on one of the legs and extra legroom seats for all three of us, making it a nearly identical experience to flying the full-service carriers.

Let’s go into more detail about what it was like to fly the ZIPAIR flight from Singapore to Tokyo! Here are a few topics I will cover:

  1. What is ZIPAIR?
  2. My experience on the ZIPAIR flight from Singapore to Tokyo
    1. ZIPAIR Schedule and Flight Release
    2. Booking ZIPAIR
    3. Flight Check-in
    4. Inflight Experiences and Amenities
    5. Pre-booked hot meals
    6. Types of Seating on ZIPAIR
  3. Tips for flying with ZIPAIR and what to pack
  4. Conclusion: Is ZIPAIR worth it?

What is ZIPAIR?

ZIPAIR is a relatively new airline, a subsidiary of Japan Airlines (JAL). First launched in 2020, ZIPAIR offers similar Japanese hospitality you can expect on full service JAL flights but at a much lower cost, because you only pay what you want. At an additional cost, you could still enjoy the same amenities as when you fly full-service economy class – such as inflight meals, snack, drinks, blanket, check-in bags.

Lastly, I want to note that ZIPAIR currently only flies to Narita Airport, which is a bummer as Narita is much further away from Tokyo than Haneda.

As we were traveling with a young child and plenty of luggage and our accommodation was not near a subway station, we ordered a private car transfer to reach Tokyo which cost us an extra SG $150 one way. But, even then, it’s still much cheaper than flying full-service carriers!

If you do not want to order a private car, make sure to check out the Keisei Skyliner route or the Narita Express (N’EX) and see if your accommodation can be easily reached from there.

ZIPAIR Flight landing in Narita
ZIPAIR Flight landing in Narita

My experience on the ZIPAIR flight from Singapore to Tokyo

Having flown ZIPAIR on my most recent flight to Tokyo (and then back to Singapore), here are things I noticed on the flight:

1. ZIPAIR Schedule and Flight Release

Flight Schedule – ZIPAIR currently only flies one flight daily between Singapore and Narita Airport. This is a bummer as it gives no flexibility in terms of the timing of the flight. As of Winter 2023, the flight schedule is as follows:

SIN to NRT01:20 AM – 09:05 AM
NRT to SIN5:20 PM – 11:50 PM
All times are in local time

Parents with small children will immediately notice that none of these timings are ideal, but we sucked it up and took it anyways. I have to tell you, that 1:20AM flight time was rough. We were quite tired when we arrived in Narita at 9 AM since we could not sleep on the plane until around 3 AM!

Schedule Release – When does ZIPAIR release its flight schedule? Well, speaking from experience, ZIPAIR releases its schedule per season for each of its routes. There is no specific time for this, so if you’re booking for next season then all you can do is pay attention to the notification page and see when they have released the next season’s schedule. And again from experience, it is usually released in bulk about 1.5-2 months before the start of the new season.

Here is an example of the announcement when they released the schedule for the Singapore route Winter 2023 schedule.

2. Booking ZIPAIR

Flight Package and Optional Services (Amenities) – While booking your flight, you will be asked to select the flight package:

ZIPAIR Flight Package
ZIPAIR Flight Package

If you are keen on all the benefits included in the package, then you can go ahead and add the package. However, you will also be able to add them separately later on as Optional Services. Here are the prices:

  • ZIPAIR Express Services (S$29.05) – Priority Check-in at the airport
  • Amenity Set (S$24.20) – Includes blanket, slippers, eye mask, neck pillow, ear plug
  • Inflight Meal – Ranges from S$13-28 depending on the dish you chose
ZIPAIR Inflight Menu
ZIPAIR Inflight Menu During Booking

Here are the fees for selecting seats:

  • Extra legroom: SGD 48.00
  • Window or aisle near the front: SGD 18.00
  • Middle seat: SGD 13.00
  • Window or aisle near the back: SGD 16.00
  • Not able to recline: SGD 4.00

And here is the baggage fees:

  • Baggage Check-in (30KG): SGD 51.00/piece
  • Sports Equipment: SGD 72.00 – 109.00 per piece depending on the size

Given the fees, the price of the packages is justified. However, if you’re traveling as a family with small children, you might not want to select the package for everyone since your children might not need their own check-in baggage.

3. Flight Check-in

The check-in experience at Changi Airport was very smooth. ZIPAIR Check-in desk at Changi is located at Terminal 1. We arrived 2 hours before our flight and though there was a queue forming, we only spent about 15 minutes in the queue.

As we have prepaid our check-in baggage, the luggage processing was immediate. We also brought 3 check-in bags (one per person) but they did not check or weigh our bags.

Boarding our ZIPAIR flight

On the way back to Singapore from Narita Airport, the check in was equally smooth. There is a machine that will print your boarding pass, but we ran into issues with the baggage self check in. They also weighed our carry on this time.

4. Inflight Experiences and Amenities

Being a low-cost carrier, there were no free amenities on the flight unless you had paid for it when you booked the flight. However, there was FREE Wifi (!!) and limited entertainment.

Let’s dig more into them!

Free Wifi – YES! A budget airline that comes with inflight wifi at no additional cost? I am in heaven. In my experience though, the wifi was spotty. It is good for messaging and light browsing. Sometimes, I can’t load anything at all. However, I don’t think this was specific experience to ZIPAIR. It was consistent with my experience with inflight wifi on Singapore Airlines. Inflight Wifi relies on satellites, so the connectivity highly depends on the location of the plane when you’re trying to access wifi.

Inflight Food and Drinks Menu – Yes, ZIPAIR does offer meals, snacks, and drinks for purchase during the flight. Everything can be either ordered when you book your ticket, or inflight through the web app that you can access by scanning a QR code on board. The inflight menu is available about 1-1.5 hours after take-off. I have to say, I was quite impressed with the menu. It was very sensibly priced. A 500ml bottle of water costs ¥250 or SG $2, which is comparable to the price in convenience stores in Singapore and Japan.

I do have to warn you that the meals are limited in quantity and some of them sold out halfway through the flight.

Inflight Shopping – There are a few items available onboard that you can purchase, such as neck pillow, blanket, sanitary napkins, etc.

Inflight Entertainment – Similar to the inflight menu, entertainment can be accessed through the web app. You do need to access them from your own device though, so bring an iPad or tablet if you want an extra screen to watch the movies. You will also need to bring your own earphones or headphones for sound.

Charging Port / Power Outlet – YES, there is a charging port on the plane! I did not notice them until the end of my return leg back to Singapore because I had booked the extra legroom seats. For these seats, the charging port is located below the seat and I did not see it. Anyway, the charging port consist of one USB charge and one universal plug.

5. Pre-booked hot meals

On my way back to Singapore, I pre-booked some meals for us since we were flying from 5 PM to midnight. I booked the Pork Katsudon, Beef Gyudon, and Soba meal. ZIPAIR is a subsidiary of JAL, so I expected the meal to be at the level of JAL. However, the meals that I ordered were… let’s just say, all of them left much (MUCH) to be desired, both in terms of presentation and taste.

If I fly ZIPAIR again next time, I’ll pack my own meal from the konbini or eat before the flight at Narita Airport.

6. Types of Seating on ZIPAIR


Extra Legroom Seats – Since the flight was already significantly cheaper than a full-cost carrier, I decided to “splurge” by getting extra legroom seats. My husband is pretty tall and he suffers onboard low-cost carriers, so I figured it was worth it.

ZIPAIR Extra Legroom Seat
ZIPAIR Extra Legroom Seat
ZIPAIR Exit Row seats
ZIPAIR Exit Row seats

Overall, we were happy with the seat, but it’s worth noting that the armrests on most of these seats are fixed. It was not ideal for my son, since he would want to lie his head on my lap to sleep.

ZIPAIR Extra Legroom Seat
ZIPAIR Extra Legroom Seat

However, the first two of the extra legroom seats in the middle (seats D and E, to be exact) do have armrests that you can lift. I booked these seats on the flight back to Singapore and it helped my son sleep.

ZIP Full-flat seat – For most people, this is what truly separates ZIPAIR from other low-cost carriers. ZIPAIR doesn’t have a business class, but they have seats that can lie flat just like a business class seat would. And they cost the same or even less than flying economy at a full-service airline. If you are not flying with a child, I highly suggest the full-flat seats. The fully reclining seat will allow you full comfort on the overnight leg to Tokyo! I was keen to book this, but we couldn’t since my son is too young. Only children 7 years old and above can enjoy the ZIP Full-flat seat.

Tips for flying with ZIPAIR and what to pack

Here are some items that I would do and bring on the next flight with ZIPAIR:

  • Snacks for my son – Yes, there is an inflight service where you can order snacks, and it was reasonably priced, but there was not much that my son would like from the menu. Also, it takes about 1-1.5 hours after take off for the inflight services to become available. On the overnight flight, this means the inflight service wasn’t available until about 2 AM.
  • A tablet and headphones – There is no dedicated screen for inflight entertainment, but there are a few movies you can watch on your device.
  • Bring your own entertainment – The inflight entertainment option was quite scarce, so I would recommend downloading your favorite shows through Netflix or Disney+.
  • Extra blanket or scarf – It gets pretty chilly in the plane, so dress appropriately and bring extra layers if you aren’t planning to buy the amenities set.

Conclusion: Is ZIPAIR worth it?

Yes, absolutely! If you’re cost-conscious, ZIPAIR is one of the best ways to travel to Tokyo at the moment.

Of course, it has its pros and cons:

  • Pros: Cost-effective, comfortable seats, reasonable inflight amenities pricing, reasonable luggage fees, free wifi, charging port
  • Cons: Flies only to Narita Airport, inflight meals left a lot to be desired, only one time per day on the Singapore <> Tokyo flights

But all things considered, for me, the pros outweigh the cons.

And that’s all my experience and thoughts about flying ZIPAIR! Overall, I was quite happy with the cost paid and the experience on the flight.

Tokyo Travel Guide: If you are visiting Tokyo, you might want to check my Tokyo Itinerary post. I have also written many posts about traveling around Japan.

See you next time! 👋

ZIPAIR Flight Review

Note: I paid for my family’s tickets for the ZIPAIR flight referenced in this post. All thoughts and opinions are honest and remain my own.

Links in this post may generate small commissions that keep this website running for free, at no extra cost to you. Thank you for your support.
Filed under: Japan, Reviews

Written by Melissa

Hi there! 👋🏻 I'm the "Girl" in Girl Eat World. I love eating, traveling and sharing my travel experiences in this blog. During the day, I work as a designer in tech. More about me →


  1. Herbert says

    Singapore Chinese are infamous for their miserliness. Always looking for a discount, even if it means boarding a flight at 1:20 a.m.! Seriously, such cheap-skates and penny-pinchers!

  2. Yuni says

    Hi, I read yr reply regards to the check bag size. Base on yr own booking, may I know what is the size of yr luggage bag that you check in? 24″ / 28″ / 29″ or 30″? And I understand that each bag must not be more than 30kg. But I’m just curious on the size type. Thank you

      • Yuni says

        Thank you Melissa, with the link you provided regards to the baggage size

        Sorry, another question..
        You did mention you went during winter, if don’t mind which month? And roughly at that time, which month you manage to book yr flight?

        As im going in Nov, but booking period is not open yet. I’m just worried will it be too late then?
        Like hotel arrangements, attractions ticket etc

        • Melissa says

          I booked as soon as it was released – so on 12 September 2023 I booked for my tickets. I flew on 30 November. I recommend monitoring their Notification page since that’s where they will announce schedule release: https://www.zipair.net/en/notification

  3. Allysia says

    Hi Melissa,
    Comprehensive review, Zipair should give you a discount the next time you book with them 🙂
    I need your input for luggage size. I have 28-inch luggage and is this size acceptable? My friend was telling me Zipair allowed only 24-inch with 30kg weight limit. Please clarify. Appreciate your response.

  4. Jude says

    Both my son and I are flying zip air in July from Singapore to Tokyo. However, we only brining one big luggage and one carry on which is 7kgs. I decided to just bring one ticket with the package for my teenager son, and for myself, just the ticket on the way there. On the way back, we bought both tickets with package. I tried to go back their website to change and add on the package afraid that our seats won’t be assigned together so decided to add on the package as we booked the tickets with rush and didn’t think carefully. Anyway, it seems impossible to make the change now. Was wondering zip air can’t do amendments and add ons after the booking reservation has been made?

    • Melissa says

      Hey Jude, I think you might have to call or email Zipair on this one. I am not sure if it’s possible.

  5. luca says

    Nice artcile, thanks for all the deatils, I live in Tokyo but have to work a lot in LA and zipair flies that route, I think I will switch. One suggestion: do not get an expansive private car from Narita, the Keisei Skyliner train is amazing (big comfy seats, ton of space for large luggage, fast etc..) and takes you from Narita into central Tokyo (Ueno or Tokyo station). I actually prefer to fly into Narita than Haneda because the skyliner is so much more convenient than taking the monorail and subway.

  6. chet mcguire says

    They straight up ripped us off. We bought a flight LATE at night last year. Next morning we found out we would have no dog-sitter. at 3pm we cancelled our flight. You are supposed to have 24 hours. We did not hear back from them until the NEXT day saying they were refunding $127 of our $3000 flight. They are not like any other Japanese company I have EVER dealt with. They are, from what we learned, truly dishonest.

    • Melissa says

      Hi Chet, sorry to hear that! We don’t even get 24 hour refund window in this part of the world 🙂

      This is what I can see from their website Fare Rules, do you fulfill the requirement? Is the flight you booked at least a week before it was set to depart?

      “If you purchased a flight to/from the United States or if you purchased a flight to/from Canada, you can get a full refund of your flight ticket within 24 hours of your reservation with no additional charge. However, your reservation must be at least one week before the departure of your flight. Please contact the contact center for the refund.”

    • Melissa says

      Hi Minnie, I have a section on “Schedule Release” in my post above for this! Let me know if you have further questions

      • Minnie says

        I saw that , but I gotta refer to 1.5 to 2 months before autumn or winter to book for the end Nov tickets ?

        Actually it will be late for planning perspective if they released at such late timing ?

        • Melissa says

          I don’t work at Zipair, so I can only offer your historically when they released their schedule. That was when they released their winter schedule last year. You can also take a look when they released their schedules for the more recent seasons if that gives you more data point.

  7. Denise says

    Hi Melissa

    Thanks for sharing your experience. This is so helpful.
    Does buying the “Value” package allows for 1 carry-on baggage?

  8. Hi, how do you book the lay flat seats? I don’t see that as an option on the seat selection portion of your post. planning a trip in April from Vancouver! that’s a new route so thinking about trying our Zip. Thanks.

  9. Eklima says

    Hello! how do you let your son sleep on the plane? i’m planning with 4 and 2 yo!

    • Melissa says

      Hey Eklima, he slept with his head on the seat divider. I let him sleep on my jacket for some cushion.

  10. Yup, read that from their website. Was hoping for a real feel… Fingers crossed, hopefully bigger (but doubt that too)?

    • Melissa says

      I don’t think it’s bigger :/ I’ll double confirm on the way back, but pretty much felt like any other economy class

  11. Hi, your RSS subscriber here again 😀

    I normally fly ANA economy to Haneda, which have very good seat ptich (34 inch according to ANA). Plenty of legroom for an economy seat.

    How is Zipair’s and JAL’s seat pitch as compared to ANA?

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