Why Smart Travelers Prefer Flying to Tokyo Haneda
Beginning as early as summer 2020, a handful of US-based carriers will launch new service to Tokyo's Haneda Airport (HND), in some cases shifting flights over from the larger Narita (NRT) hub. Delta's even planning to end service to Narita entirely, scrapping its NRT-Singapore (SIN) flight in the process.
The US Department of Transportation (DOT) finalized its route approvals in August, giving the formal OK for the following flights to Haneda:
- 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
Some of the more interesting proposals didn't make the cut — American's Las Vegas-Tokyo suggestion, for example — though, when all is said and done, most flyers will now have an opportunity to fly their preferred carrier across the Pacific with at most one stop.
With the route assignments now final, they'll join the handful of existing routes US airlines already flew to Haneda. By summer 2020, the map of US airline routes to Haneda will go from looking like this:
If you're a frequent Tokyo visitor, the shift from Narita to Haneda makes perfect sense, 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. Depending on the time of day, a one-way trip from Haneda to the famed Park Hyatt Tokyo will run you around $75:
Not bad. But the same trip from Narita? More than $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. So 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.