Helping to drive the change is the expansion of two Tokyo airports, Haneda and Narita, which has opened up more landing slots for airlines.
Twenty-two-year-old graduate student Chie Kodama recently used Jetstar for an urban-planning research trip to Okinawa, and was surprised at how the planes were "normal," like any other airline's.
"And it is so cheap you forgive any shortcomings," she said.
As with other low-cost carriers around the world, flyers get charged for meals and extra luggage. Efficiency is critical and so the airlines use online advertising and reservations, fit more seats into each jet, and take off quickly after landing.
Booking early is a must for the best deals, and refunds and schedule changes aren't allowed. The gates are typically at the farthest end of airports. Flights are sometimes delayed. The wait feels longer because LCC users have to check in extra early.
Masato Yamaguchi, 22, said his friends had to run like mad when their AirAsia flight back to Tokyo from Okinawa was delayed, and they barely had time to catch the last bus.
As he noted: What would be the point of having to pay hundreds of dollars for a cab home, if they had endured the cramped space of a low-cost carrier to pinch pennies?
"There was no way to cross your legs," Yamaguchi grumbled. "You wouldn't want to use it if you're going someplace far away."
Still, the carriers are doing well, so far.
During the nation's Obon holidays in August, domestic flights at Peach were 94 percent filled, those at AirAsia were at 91 percent and at Jetstar, 89 percent. The companies are hoping to do as well for the year-end and New Year's holidays.