American, Delta, Hawaiian and United Get Tentative Approval to Serve Tokyo-Haneda Next Year

May 16, 2019

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Barring any unforeseen snafus, US-based passengers will soon have a lot more options when it comes to flying to Japan. On Thursday, the US Department of Transportatio proposed to select four US airlines — American, Delta, Hawaiian and United — to provide new daytime service to Tokyo’s downtown Haneda airport as early as summer 2020. The news comes nearly three months after the foursome submitted their requests for approval.

For anyone who has flown to Tokyo’s other airport, Narita, you’ll understand why this is a big deal. Traveling between Tokyo-Narita and Tokyo’s popular Shinjuku City can often take almost two hours via car to cover the 50-mile distance, and that’s saying nothing of the outrageous taxi fares. Haneda sits just 14 miles away, allowing a quick 30 minute transfer via car (or a commute via train that takes well under an hour).

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Delta Air Lines will begin flying nonstop to Tokyo-Haneda from five US cities next year. It will operate between Haneda and Seattle, Detroit, Atlanta, Portland, Ore. and Honolulu. The five new cities will join Delta’s existing flights to Haneda from Los Angeles and Minneapolis–St. Paul.

Delta said in a press release that the approval will “better position Delta to compete with US airlines that have previously been able to offer better access to Haneda through joint venture partnerships with Japanese airlines,” while also enhancing the “ability of Delta and its partner Korean Air to provide comprehensive service and connecting options across the region.”

Delta One Suites aboard an Airbus A350
Delta One Suites aboard an Airbus A350, flying in 2020 between Detroit and Tokyo-Haneda (Photo by Emily McNutt / The Points Guy)

For the Seattle to Tokyo-Haneda route, Delta plans to use the Airbus A330-900neo, an aircraft we’ll be reviewing on its inaugural flight between Seattle and Shanghai this July. Those who fly through Detroit will be treated to Delta’s first aircraft to feature Delta One Suites, the Airbus A350-900. Atlanta-based passengers will be flown to Haneda on a refreshed Boeing 777-200ER (featuring Delta One Suites, Delta Premium Select and the widest economy seats of the airline’s international fleet), while Honolulu flyers will be on a retrofitted Boeing 767-300ER. Portland to Haneda will be flown using an Airbus A330-200, which features Delta’s older interior and lacks a Premium Select cabin. Exact timings for Delta’s flights have yet to be announced, but we’d expect them soon after final approval later this summer.

None of the other awarded carriers have yet to confirm their own plans, but the US DOT has giving the (tentative) green light for the following flights:

Tentatively approved daytime Haneda slots

  • American Airlines: Dallas/Fort Worth; Los Angeles
  • Delta Air Lines: Seattle; Detroit; Atlanta; Portland, Ore.; Honolulu
  • Hawaiian Airlines: Honolulu
  • United Airlines: Newark, N.J.; Chicago O’Hare; Washington-Dulles; Los Angeles

The airlines have an opportunity to speak up on the decision by May 30, 2019, with a final DOT decision slated for late summer 2019. In the meantime, be sure to brush up on our guide highlighting the best ways to travel to Japan with points and miles. We’ll be adding more to Haneda as these new routes enter the system.

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Featured image of Asakusa, Japan, by Darren Murph / The Points Guy 

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