Friday, 24 October 2008

Lock It In Eddie

Travel agents in Japan are really misleading.

You see some really fantastic looking airfares in the local rags, Metropolis and Tokyo Notice Board. (The later has an unintentionally funny or desperate lonely hearts classified section).

One of the "tricks" is that all these wonderful fares are excluding any fuel and tax surcharges that you always have to pay. In Australia, Qantas tried to get away with the same stunt to bait people into buying their tickets.

Unlike Japan, a LOT of people didn't like these tactics, and not too long after that they decided to publish the real, full price of tickets that they sell. Japanese people don't want to "upset the harmony", so they just put up and shut up.

Another trick is to charge foreigners more than Japanese because of the mistaken belief that foreigners will buy a cheaper return ticket and not use the return flight.

Of course they can say the cheap flight seats have been booked out. Mark Up!

Another miserable, rainy day in Tokyo made me wish for a nice summer vacation back home with my family, my car and guitars. That, and the homesickness I'm feeling from too much Japanese and not enough English.

So I wandered into the local travel agent hoping for a decent fare to let me take a well-earned break (and to get the hell away from Japan for a while).

I tried a few weeks ago, but I baulked at a fare that was about 170,000 yen return.

I should have booked that. When I returned today the only option was a 167,000 fare. (Of course taxes were an additional 70,000 yen!). I politely declined and went to my lessons feeling a little more down than usual. It actually made me want to be back in Australia even more.

Coming back to the apartment, I got a second wind and thought if I couldn't go back home, I'd try to book a flight somewhere else like Hong Kong. Unfortunately while the fare was much more favourable, the timings weren't so great.

Feeling defeated I tried Plan C, which according to Plan C's wasn't the worst possible option. (That would be staying in Tokyo and bearing the freezing winter).

I thought to look at Jetstar, a subsidiary of Qantas. At the time of writing, they are the cheapest way to Australia, minus frills like food and drink.

The Australian dollar isn't so great right now (AU $0.58 = 100 yen), so it's a particularly good time to travel to Australia, and to be earning a salary in yen!

To cut a long story short, the fare was quite a bit cheaper than the one I was quoted at the agency, so I just went ahead and booked it. Once I hit that process button I felt an instant wave of calm thinking that soon I'll be back in a land without endless compromises and.. English!

Mostly I've been to-ing and fro-ing if I want to spend another year in this place. I know that coming home will help me decide for sure. If it's anything like last year's letdown, I'll probably be here for another one.

I guess we'll just have to wait and see, eh?

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