Flying to Japan or any international destination with kids can be a challenge, we’re not going to lie. Trying to get kids to sit still for eight or more hours will test the patience of any parent. The only thing that can get them used to it is experience, although an iPad full of movies and games doesn’t hurt! As you have probably noticed, we fly to Japan quite often. If you’re considering a trip to Japan with kids, which airline do you plan on flying with? We usually try to choose between JAL vs ANA.

Why do we like to choose Japan Airlines or ANA? They are the two national airlines of Japan and provide convenient flight times from Canada. Depending on where you are, you might not have the option to fly JAL or ANA. That’s okay! If you do, this JAL vs ANA review will provide you with everything you need to know about flying to Japan with kids!

Check out our article on the 10 Best Places to Go in Osaka with Kids

What is Japan Airlines (JAL)?

Japan Airlines is probably the first airline that comes to mind when you think of flying to Japan. It is the flag-carrying airline for Japan and was founded in 1951. JAL is based out of Narita Airport but also has main hubs at Haneda Airport and the Kansai and Itami Airports in Osaka.

JAL’s logo is the familiar red crane that you will see all over Japan. It is an Oneworld Alliance member which includes other major airlines like British Airways, Cathay Pacific, and American Airlines.

Japan Airlines has a number of domestic and international subsidiaries. These include J-Air, Zipair Tokyo, and Jetstar Japan. More often than not, if you fly into Japan with JAL, you will land at Narita Airport.

What is All Nippon Airways (ANA)?

ANA is the other national airline of Japan. It was founded in 1952 as a helicopter and aircraft manufacturer but turned to international travel for civilians in 1971. The company has a number of domestic subsidiaries as well including ANA Wings and Air Do, and is the largest stakeholder in regional discount airline Peach.

All Nippon Airways is based in Minato, Tokyo with its central hub located at Haneda Airport. ANA is a Star Alliance member which includes other brands like United Airlines, Air Canada, and Lufthansa.

JAL vs ANA: Which is Better for Flying With Kids?

So it’s time to choose between JAL and ANA for flying to Japan with the kids. Let’s start off by saying that our experiences with both have been amazing. Both airlines have a very professional and courteous staff that can speak both English and Japanese.

When it comes to deciding which airline is better for flying with kids we looked at a few different criteria. Remember, that this is from our personal experiences. This might not apply to you and your family and that’s okay! We just want to share with you what we’ve found when flying with kids on JAL and ANA.

JAL vs ANA: Booking Tickets and Seats

Both websites are fantastic, although we’ve found the JAL site to be a little bit more user-friendly. Still, we’ve had no issues booking with either website and they offer assistance in multiple different languages.

JAL and ANA block off the front rows to each section of the cabin so you can’t reserve them through the site. What you will need to do is contact customer support and request that your family sit together. The airlines have those seats saved specifically for parents with small children.

From our experience, neither JAL nor ANA will charge you for reserving these seats as long as you prove you are travelling with kids. One thing to consider is that from North America, ANA flights usually have three rows of three seats, while JAL usually has rows of two, four, and two. Depending on the number of kids you have, this could make a difference!

Verdict: A slight nod to JAL for having a more user-friendly site!

JAL vs ANA: In-Flight Meals

Both JAL and ANA have special meals for children with paid tickets and infants who are free. We haven’t found too much of a difference, although we prefer the food on JAL. Our kids have been hit and miss on the food provided by both airlines but that’s to be expected from kids. Even adults don’t love airline food!

It was nice to see that both airlines also provided an ample selection of snacks for the kids to have in between meals. Overall, both airlines are great when it comes to food but don’t expect your kids to be gobbling down either meal!

Verdict: Tie, at the end of the day nobody loves airline food!

JAL vs ANA: Toys!

Yes, both airlines will give your kids toys to play with on the plane. From our experiences, this has ranged from inflatable planes to wooden toys to a deck of playing cards. We’ve even received a really cute cup and plate set from JAL once that our kids still love using.

There isn’t really a big difference between the two airlines when it comes to toys for kids. The fact that both do provide toys is a testament to how enjoyable they want to make what could be a challenging flight!

Verdict: Tie, who doesn’t love toys?

JAL vs ANA: Convenience

Convenience is a big thing when it comes to travelling, especially with tired kids after an 8+ hour flight. If we can provide you with one tip for travelling to Japan, it’s trying to get a flight that lands at Haneda Airport.

Why? Because for most people, the first stop is going to be Tokyo. If you fly into Narita, you will need to take the NEX train which takes about an hour to get into Tokyo proper. But if you fly into Haneda, it is about 20-30 minutes into one of Tokyo’s main train hubs, Shinagawa.

If you want to cab, it can be upwards of $300.00 to get from Narita to Tokyo. From Haneda, you are looking at about a third of that price and time.

For us, this means we actually choose to take ANA more because it flies into Haneda whereas JAL takes us to Narita.

Verdict: ANA, or any flight that lands at Haneda

JAL vs ANA: Pricing

This will entirely depend on where you live or where you are flying from. For us, the tickets for both JAL and ANA tend to be about the same. When there are sales, it seems that JAL is a bit cheaper than ANA though.

We like to set up notifications in Google Flights for approximate times throughout the year when we want to travel. If you don’t have a specific time, you can also consider looking at 14-day or 21-day time frames without specific dates. You will get notifications from Google whenever the prices of those flights change!

Verdict: Tie, although for us it’s usually JAL

The Bottom Line: JAL vs ANA with Kids

At the end of the day, the decision of which airline to fly with is a personal one. JAL and ANA both service most countries around the world and provide similar flight experiences and prices.

If we were to choose, we’d like to say ANA has a better experience overall. Why? Convenience to us is the most important part of travelling with kids. Landing in Haneda will save you a few hours from your trip and several hundred dollars in train or taxi fees.

With that being said, we find ourselves flying with JAL more because they are often slightly cheaper. We have two kids so we also like the two-four-two-row setup on the plane.

Leave us a comment about which airline you like to take to Japan. If you’re considering travelling to Japan with kids, check out our other content to get you ready for a trip that will change your lives!

Bon Voyage!


Which is Better JAL or ANA?

This will ultimately come down to your personal preference. Both airlines provide excellent service and a wonderful flying experience to Japan. We love to fly ANA because it takes us directly to Haneda Airport. At the same time, JAL is usually slightly cheaper for us to fly on even if it takes us to Narita Airport.

Which Japan Airline is Best?

Both JAL and ANA were ranked among the top airlines in the world once again. JAL did rank higher than ANA for overall service and experience. Again, both airlines are comfortable, clean, and provide excellent service. You can’t go wrong with either JAL or ANA when travelling to Japan!

Is ANA Good For Travelling With Kids?

Yes! ANA has always been a fantastic experience for us. With ANA, you can contact customer service to reserve the seats at the front of each section. ANA reserves these rows for travelling families. You can also get early boarding to get your little ones set up for the long flight. Flying ANA with kids has been one of our favourite ways of getting to Japan!

Is Japan Airlines Kid Friendly?

Yes, JAL is extremely friendly for travellers with young children. Like ANA, JAL will allow you to board early to get your children settled in as well as reserve the front rows for your family. JAL and ANA both provide toys for your children and have kid-friendly snacks for long flights. JAL flight attendants are accommodating and patient and will do everything they can to help parents on the flight.