Delta Reducing Service To Tokyo Narita — Check Your Reservations

Filed Under: Delta, SkyTeam

In the midst of their operational adventures last week, Delta quietly announced a reduction in service to Tokyo Narita airport.

This comes on the heels of improved access to Tokyo Haneda for the U.S. carriers, so isn’t incredibly surprising. Three routes to/from Tokyo Narita will be cut this fall:

  • New York JFK (ends October 3rd)
  • Bangkok BKK (ends October 30th)
  • Osaka KIX (ends October 3rd)


For further analysis on the reasons for this move, and what it could mean for Delta’s presence in the Asia-Pacific region, I suggest checking out CrankyFlyer’s post (even if you’re not interested in industry nuances, the post is worth it for the Godzilla references alone).

In the meantime, I want to address the practical steps for rebooking your flights, as this is a particular blow for New York-based travelers.

Schedules are being updated, but slowly

This could be related to the outages last week, but Delta doesn’t seem to be being particularly proactive in notifying passengers that their flights won’t be operating. In some cases online itineraries don’t even reflect the flight cancelations yet.

If you are traveling on any of those routes, I would suggest proactively calling Delta and asking for accommodation. Delta will eventually have to rebook everyone, but availability will be best for those at the front of the queue.

Option A — Different Delta connections

Delta’s first preference will be to accommodate you on other Delta flights.

This might mean connecting in another Delta city prior to flying to Tokyo, or shifting your arrival to Haneda rather than Narita.

Option B — Move to a SkyTeam partner

If Delta’s flights don’t work with your schedule, or if you’re planning on continuing to Bangkok, you can ask to be rebooked on a SkyTeam partner.

AeroflotAlitaliaGaruda IndonesiaSaudia
Aerolíneas ArgentinasChina AirlinesKenya AirwaysTAROM
AeromexicoChina EasternKLMVietnam Airlines
Air EuropaCzech AirlinesKorean AirXiamen Airlines
Air FranceDelta Air LinesMiddle East Airlines

Of those, I would first try to be rebooked on Korean Air or China Airlines. They have easy connections at their hubs in Seoul and Taipei, respectively, and solid business class products. Moving to another SkyTeam partner shouldn’t be a problem.

China-Airlines-Business-Class-777 - 13
China Airlines business class

Option C — Ask for flights on Japan Airlines

If you were only flying Delta between Narita and Bangkok or Osaka, Delta is also endorsing tickets on to JAL (though you may have to ask specifically).

Regardless, you don’t have to take the first option Delta provides. I recommend looking at available flights on your dates and being prepared to guide the agents towards the best options for you.

Award tickets vs. paid tickets

It doesn’t actually matter how you paid for your ticket in this case. If you used miles, Delta will move you to another flight, and award space shouldn’t need to be available. If you paid for your flights, you shouldn’t need to pay any fees or differences in fare.

Where it could get tricky is if you have an award ticket booked through another carrier — say if you used FlyingBlue miles for flights on Delta. You should still be able to change your tickets, but it may take a few phone calls to get everything coordinated between carriers.

Bottom line

We’ll likely see further reductions in Narita service as Delta shifts their strategy in Tokyo.

The New York and Bangkok markets will be the most significantly impacted by this round of cancellations, but on the plus side Delta has historically been generous in how they rebook passengers.

Are you impacted by these network changes? Were you able to change your flights?

  1. Just read this too, can’t wait to finally be able to fly to TSA airport without having to switch from NRT-HND from MSP 😀

  2. Wait, I thought Osaka was KIX(?).

    Or does Delta use a different airport in Osaka? (I’ve only been to KIX, and that was years ago, so that’s all I know…)

    I love your posts!

  3. Really bad news for DL flyers… I fly to TPE from JFK via NRT sometimes, in C+. If DL would place CI and KE in group 1 for MQM, then I’d be more than glad to take CI or KE to TPE.

    I guess I have to keep praying for discounted J class (actually, I class) on MU via PVG then… 150% MQM at least.

    @James, do you have the URL of the press release on the end of LAX/NRT? Thanks!

  4. Delta doesn’t fly NRT-ITM (Osaka Itami). They also don’t fly NRT-KIX (Osaka Kansai). They may code-share with Skymark or ANA; therefore, you should correct that, Tiffany, a child.

    ITM is only a local hub for JL, NH, and any local low-cost Japanese subsidiary.

    NRT-BKK was a rotten service by Delta, good riddance to it.

    The International Airport that represents Osaka is KIX; aka, Kansai. ITM is a local, non-International airport inside Osaka which I use very frequently.

  5. Well…. that’s not good. Our company doesn’t allow us to fly on Korean Air or Asiana so this just narrowed our options even further.

  6. @mellisa. Delta does fly NRT to KIX but only for transit passengers coming from the US. They added this a few months after they dropped SEA-KIX. But now this route is also getting the axe.

  7. Wow. This is huge, but it has been predicted for about two years now. Delta has been trimming back NRT for two years. It’s too bad. You couldn’t ask for a more interesting airport with great connection time — literally 5 minutes through security to the Sky Club — and friendly staff.

    Will NRT-Singapore be next?

    And how does this effect Manila or Guam?

    It also hurts those of us who still do Delta mileage runs through NRT.

  8. @Tiffany-
    you are a little off in your post. You write that Delta is ending service to osaka (ITM) from Narita. Then on your map you show Osaka KIX. These are two different airports. Delta has no service at all to Osaka ITM at all. They only fly to KIX. I suggest you edit this for clarity and veracity.

  9. @ James — Yes, but that one is being effectively replaced by LAX-HND, and doesn’t seem to be causing as many problems as the JFK cancellation.

  10. @ Jason — Thank you! Obviously I knew it at one point, as I made the map correctly, but it’s been a little complicated here today.

  11. @Tiffany Yes. Maybe I’ll just fly up to SEA then to NRT.. I would prefer to fly Delta all the way to MNL.

    @Ben no, but October 29 there is no direct flight

  12. Delta has been streamlining or reducing their operations. In Manila, they have reduced their staff size and downsized the equipment from their old B 747-400 to a B-767.

  13. @Tiffany I’m currently booked on a Delta award ticket MNL-NRT-JFK. I called to proactively switch my flight and they wouldn’t let me. Agent said I have to wait until the system automatically rebooks me and then I can call back if I don’t like my new itinerary. I’d love to switch it to JAL. Any suggestions on how should proceed? Best options?

  14. @ Michael — I would call again. That’s not an unsurprising response. I’m not sure they’ll rebook JAL for the longhaul though, but you can ask.

  15. Is Delta abandoning BKK altogether? Or will they fly there through Haneda? Really sucks ….enjoyed that leg many times over the years…

  16. @Tiffany Just spoke to Delta again and they said they couldn’t rebook me on JAL because “there hasn’t been a bulletin posted to reprotect” but they were willing to proactively switch me to Delta metal. I guess I’ll try again to switch to the JAL flight at some point in the future. Thanks for the heads up about the Delta cancellation.


    We booked business/first or “DeltaOne” from LAX to BKK earlier this year (LAX-NRT-BKK) flying to Thailand mid-November.

    First call: They told us to reroute to Seattle (LAX-SEA-NRT-BKK).

    Second call: They told us our first flight from LAX departs at 6am instead of 6:30am.

    Third call (today): They told us to fly ANA both NRT-BKK and BKK-NRT. We had to call ANA to get our seats assigned, and here’s the number.

    To us, we feel like they kicked us to ANA and said good luck finding our seats there.

    Worth to pay for DeltaOne? No!!

  18. I’m having a very difficult time re-booking my cancelled JFK-BKK with award, business class inventory. Delta re-booking defaulted me into 2-stop service through DL Detroit (before onto DL S. Korea and finally KE Bangkok). The booking online consistently shows China Southern and China Eastern 1-stop inventory, but when I call the agents, they advise those seats are not open. Shanghai Air segments (code shared with parent China Eastern) are not honored either.

    Their current recommendation is for me to continue calling to inquire if any seats open, since the booking tool is clearly not pulling accurate data. Even more frustrating is ExpertFlyer shows available inventory. Very frustrating and time wasting.

  19. Hi everyone, I’m new to this forum, but found the topic quite relevant. I’m booked from MSP to BKK via NRT on Delta for Dec 26th-Jan 10th. My husband and I were WL for Business with Global Upgrades. Now that NRTto BKK is gone, we will need to be rebooked. But it isn’t that simple since DL is replacing MSP-NRT with the recently announced MSP-HND, but hasn’t officially scheduled that route yet. Even if we flew DL to HND there would not be any same day connection from HND to BKK (any airline). So considering my upgrade situation, what are the best options? I called the Diamond desk and they said I had to wait for carrier agreements to be worked out before they could do any rebooking. To add one last wrinkle to this, two friends are going on this trip with us, one from PHL whom had booked her tickets to connect in MSP and NRT to mirror ours and a second friend coming from RDU that hasn’t booked yet but wants to do so ASAP to avoid a steep fare. She was about to book right before the BKK flight was dropped by DL and so now we are in limbo.

  20. I had booked an award ticket direct delta one JFK NRT Nov17-Nov18. Found out about the cancelation from this websited and called proactively. First I asked to be rebooked direct on another airline which they said would only be possible if I paid for my ticket. Then I asked for a refund in of 67k miles which was the difference between a one stop award ticket and a non-stop award ticket at the time of booking. They said the best they could do is refund me 30k miles as a token of good faithh because I was a gold skymiles member. I took that and rebooked JFK-DTW-NRT delta one because the only other option was refunding my points which I see as worthless now.
    Does anyone know of any other recourse to have delta book me on a direct flight with ANA or JAL? I feel I was ripped off here because I booked this way in advance when prices were a lot lower (and more award tickets available). I would have booked JAL or ANA direct if I knew this would have happened.
    Please let me know if anyone who booked with an award ticket had a better outcome. Thanks

  21. @ Amber @ Ross — I would call again. They should accommodate you, but it might take some finagling of the computer system. Just be super nice, and be prepared to call a few times.

    @ Nick — Same answer, but if you’ve already accepted an alternative routing it might be more difficult.

  22. It just to show that Delta only cares where the money is at. Also, if they worry about competition, they should have partnered with Solaseed and Vanilla Airlines which both fly in Japan a long time ago and the cancellation from jfk-nrt or the other routes wouldn’t be eliminated. I mean, who wants to fly from either jfk-atl, jfk-msp, jkf-las, jfk-sea, then from those airports to reach Tokyo? JFK is a major airport for Delta and yet they eliminate it for the sake of competition and growth. Executives from Delta have screws loose on their heads.

  23. Wow. This is the first I have heard of this. I’ve been pushing back a SEA-NRT-BKK trip the past few weeks, wnd have actually rescheduled omce already.

    Finally just pushed back travel to January only to discover that DL iron no longer flying to BKK at all. And if you want to get to BKK using one of their codeshares, the itineraries are just plain awful. While I always found the stop over in NRT with the pass through security somewhat irksome, it definitely was faster and easier than say, PVG. Finding fewer and fewer reasons to stick with Delta when they make bizarre changes like this.

    Reduction in service? Sure. But to completely eliminate it and force you to rely on “partner” airlines that really don’t extend the same benefits isnt worth the money. I’ll fly DL domestic and look to other carriers for my long haul segments now.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *