Why Smart Travelers Prefer Flying to Tokyo Haneda

Feb 22, 2019

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As those of you who already receive our daily newsletter are well aware, on Thursday a handful of US-based carriers announced plans to launch new service to Tokyo’s Haneda Airport (HND), in some cases even shifting flights over from the larger Narita (NRT) hub.

As I recapped in the newsletter:

In total, the Department of Transportation has 12 slots to award, with requests breaking down as follows:

  • American Airlines: 4
  • Delta Air Lines: 6
  • Hawaiian Airlines: 3
  • United Airlines: 6

For those math whizzes in the room, that’s a total of 19 requests for 12 slots — unless Japanese authorities decide to offer up additional slota, seven of these proposed new routes won’t be taking off this time around.

That said, in the off chance all are approved, the map of US airline routes to Haneda would go from looking like this:

to this:

In some cases, the airlines may be counting on some of these requests not being fulfilled — American’s Las Vegas (LAS)-Haneda nonstop seemed to come out of left field, and does United really need yet another widebody flight to Guam (GUM)?

If you’re a frequent Tokyo visitor, the shift from Narita to Haneda makes perfect sense, though, while anyone who has yet to visit Japan’s capital city might be left scratching their heads — sure, I trust that the airlines know what they’re doing here, but what’s in it for me?

Truth is, quite a lot. Cheaper transportation to and from Tokyo, for one, but also more time to explore the city’s Instagram-worthy temples, or chat up the chef at a sushi bar, or shovel down a bowl of delicious ramen. HND is located just 12 driving miles from Tokyo Station, while Narita’s a full 40 miles, with one-way transfers taking in excess of two hours during peak times.

Just how much will you save? Well, if you’re booking an Uber, quite a lot. At this moment, a one-way trip from Haneda to the famed Park Hyatt Tokyo will run you just under $75:

Not bad. But the same trip from Narita? Almost $250.

Of course, public and shared transportation will save you a bundle from both airports, with bus transfer times to the Park Hyatt taking as little as 45 minutes from Haneda and from two and a half hours from Narita, and trains running roughly 55 minutes from Haneda and a bit over 90 minutes from Narita, including a moderate walk.

While Haneda is clearly the more convenient option for travelers visiting Tokyo, Narita offers more connections throughout Asia, so passengers flying through the city may prefer NRT instead. HND is a stronger pick for domestic transfers, though — US flyers continuing on to other destinations in Japan may find better onward options there, so it’ll always be worth comparing options once these new Haneda flights launch in time for the Tokyo Olympics in 2020.

Featured image by visualspace via Getty Images.

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