Quick — where is Tokyo International Airport? If you haven’t flown into Japan recently, your reflex response might be “Narita,” the airport located well over an hour east of the capital by train or even longer by taxi or shuttle bus.
However, closer-in Haneda (HND) is also known as Tokyo International Airport. In recent years, this near-city-center airport has expanded and modernized its international terminal and added more nonstops from the US.
However, those US flights were scheduled to arrive at Haneda very late at night or very early in the morning, making Haneda a somewhat unwieldy option. But that’s about to change.
Reuters reports that that the US and Japan have agreed to add new landing and take-off slots at Haneda on routes to the United States, allowing daytime flights by both nations’ carriers from Haneda to the U.S. for the first time.
Those inconvenient flight times have made Haneda flights only effective for flights to and from the US west coast– opening up the schedules should make it easier for United and American to offer flights from midwest and east coast hubs.
Delta had held up this deal because it feared that United and American were more likely to benefit with more Haneda flights because of their close ties to ANA and JAL via the Star and Oneworld alliances.
Haneda is the second busiest airport in Asia and the fourth busiest in the world.
In a statement, American said, “It’s important for our customers to have convenient access to downtown Tokyo during the day, and this agreement also allows for desirable arrival and departure times in the U.S. for Haneda service. Last week, American began daily, year-round, nonstop service from Los Angeles International Airport (LAX) to Haneda utilizing nighttime slots. American’s flight arrives at HND at 11 p.m. and departs at 1:30 a.m. The departure and arrival times will change this fall when daytime Haneda slots are anticipated to be available.”
Good Advice for getting to or from Haneda:
Keikyu, the primary railway company for access from Haneda, is probably the best way to get to or from Haneda for most business travelers, and offers three options: $10 on a fast, clean train to Shinagawa station in 12 minutes for Y410 (knock off two zeroes to convert approximately to USD, so about $4) or Tokyo station in 20-30 minutes for Y580). Compare that with over $30 on the NEX train from Narita or $25 on the more complicated Keisei option.
Second, Keikyu and other companies offer limousine buses that are direct with no transfers, take about an hour and range from $10-25 depending on your destination. That’s less than half the time and about half the cost of Narita limousine buses.
Third, there’s a set-fare taxi option that will set you back the best part of $85, but is obviously door-to-door to or from your hotel. That’s less than a third the price of a taxi from Narita, which is in excess of $200.
And, lastly, there’s the Tokyo Monorail, which is a bit of an advanced user option that connects to four lines including Tokyo’s circular Yamanote Line. If you’re familiar with Tokyo and know how the Suica card system works (it’s a tap-the-card payment system that works across Tokyo and several other cities in Japan for everything from transport to vending machines), then this is probably the best option for you.
Do you fly frequently to Japan? What airport do you prefer and why? Please leave your comments below.
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