Trial: Narita Airport Eliminating Security For Some US Passengers

Filed Under: Japan Airlines, Security/TSA

Different airports handle transit security in different ways. For example, if you’re flying domestically within most countries and are connecting, you usually don’t have to clear security twice, since being screened the first time is sufficient.

However, there are also instances where you don’t have to clear security when connecting on an international itinerary. For example, if you’re flying from New York to Frankfurt to Paris, you wouldn’t have to clear security in Frankfurt, because of the security agreements in place.

Currently if you’re flying from the US to Asia and connecting, you have to clear security at your connecting airport in Asia. Well, at least that has been the case up until now, though it’s changing shortly, as an airport will run a trial that eliminates this.

Between April 3 and April 12, 2019, select passengers connecting at Narita Airport from the US to other points in Asia won’t have to clear security at Narita.

This is only valid for select flights, and only applies if flying from the US to Narita and connecting onwards, and doesn’t apply if connecting from other points in Asia to Narita and continuing to the US.

What’s interesting is the airport’s motivation in offering this. Haneda Airport is about to get a bunch more flights to & from the US, and Narita is worried this will lead to a big reduction in the number of flights between Narita and the US. For example, Delta could pull out of Narita entirely if they’re granted the Haneda slots they want.

So Narita Airport is trying this initiative as a way to make the process of connecting easier, hoping this will give them a competitive advantage.

I’d love to see more airports offer this. Currently this only applies for flights from the US to Canada and select European gateways, but it would be awesome to see the same be the case in Asia.

Well, at least I think that would be a good thing. The problem is that I don’t have much faith in the TSA’s ability to screen properly. So one hand a second security screening might not be a bad thing, though on the other hand at that point people have already taken a transoceanic flight, so…

Bottom line

Between April 3 and April 12, 2019, Narita Airport has a trial where passengers coming from the US won’t have to clear security before their connections. They’re doing this to try and get a competitive advantage, though it remains to be seen if this will actually be expanded.

Are you in favor of transit security being eliminated at more airports, or do you think it poses a security risk?

(Tip of the hat to View from the Wing)

  1. ICAO regulations require that passengers be re-screened during transit, unless they are deemed to have been screened to an “equivalent standard” at the point of origin.

    The TSA regulations with regards to crew exceptions in particular are where most of these “equivalent standards” break down with regards to the US. Most countries do not permit crew to carry items such as liquids, etc… through security where those same items are not permitted for passengers.

    So, with few exceptions (notably where the country is willing to accept and codify the same exceptions TSA provides), this is unlikely to become a widespread thing.

  2. Lucky,

    Do a quick edit…

    “So ON THE one hand, a second security screening might not be a bad thing, though on the other hand, at that point, people have already taken a transoceanic flight.

  3. Jan 3, A person brought loaded gun on ATL-NRT flight.

    Apr 3, just 3 months, NRT trusts TSA!!!!

    What a joke.
    And by the way, if NRT thinks that this would attract more airlines, they probably forgot to think that HND can do the same and everything is back to square one.

    I don’t mind that much spending on security. What bothers me is they are spending on ineffective security. That is wasting money.

  4. In ZRH it is quite convenient if you arrive from the US, SIN (and maybe others?) that you don’t need to clear security again for connecting flights. Makes sense to trust other security agencies!

  5. I am for this. I am based on BOS and I f I were to be visiting Tokyo, I’d probably fly to HND, even if it means adding a stop. But if I were to be connecting in Japan and NRT didn’t require rescreening, I would probably stop there instead. I agree with Lucky, TSA sucks at their job, if someone wanted to blow up a plane they would have already. There really is no point in another security check. Though to be honest, I’d do anything to get extra time in a good lounge.

  6. At HEL, pax from arriving flights from the EU, the US, Canada and Singapore will not need to go through the security theater to reach their connecting flights.

    I wonder why there are so big differences in the EU. Last time I flew DFW-FCO-HEL, there was a security theater at FCO (Rome), which was completely unnecessary.

  7. In Doha, if you arrive from SIN or slected other countries you don’t get re-screened; in HKG, you do. Guess where I connect when flying out not SIN?

    Re-screening is a huge waste of resources, increases costs of tickets, and makes airport transfer miserable. Than you HND for doing something about it!

  8. It’s not so much a matter of TSA being so good, although of course the US always thinks it is the best at everything. The point is that these passengers have already been on a widebody long-distance flight and caused no issues; how likely are they to take down a lesser plane on a shorter flight carrying less fuel?

    I have bypassed security at AUH when arriving from the US. It is random; you never know when you’ll be diverted past security.

  9. I can see the point why you have to do security once you land in a different airport. But, some countries like Delhi, India you have to do TWO security clearance before you board a plane. One for the General and then one exclusively before boarding. Whats up with that ?

  10. I for one wish the whole transit security theater could be eliminated in more situations. I agree with Daniel from Finland. At best, transit security is annoying. At worst, it’s a major PITA that adds even more stress to an already stressful connecting experience thanks to the increasingly tight connections the airlines try to force you on (I’m looking at you, DL through CDG). It’s a waste of resources in either case, resources which could be used to more effectively screen passengers using a facility as a point of origin. I personally just don’t see the risk profile with passengers who’ve already been through check-in/APIS screening/security at origin if they’ve never left the sterile area on a connection.

  11. So I take it this only impacts you if you are flying onward to another country in asia and not switching to a domestic flight in japan? Meaning if I am flying to Sapporo via NRT I would need to clear immigration/security at NRT?

  12. Considering how relatively frequently it is reported that passengers from the US have a gun in their carry on when connecting in Japan, travellers from the US with US passports should be targeted for extra thorough screening and inspection. Not less.

  13. Daniel from Finland says:
    March 31, 2019 at 12:32 pm
    At HEL, pax from arriving flights from the EU, the US, Canada and Singapore will not need to go through the security theater to reach their connecting flights.

    A couple of weeks ago I flew SIN-HEL-LHR and had to re-clear security @ HEL. Is this something new?

  14. This makes perfect sense given that transit security in Narita and Osaka has always and continues to be handled by the most slow, incompetent and incredibly inept security crews to be found literally anywhere in the world. I say that having transited Japan multiple times and every single time cursing them for how pathologically incompetent they are. It’s as if they hire unemployed kids who hid in their Moms’ apartments until age 30 and only finally got a job because Mom was desperate to get them out of the house.

    Not kidding.

    So it finally appears someone in the bureaucracy has noticed it can take MINUTES just to get one person through the scanner.

  15. I am all for elimination of redundant screenings. Some airports are well organized for moving transit passengers through without re-screening already screened belongings, while others waste everyone’s time. I wish NRT’s project well.

  16. @Tom
    India is anal about airline security as it has been the target of maximum Airplane bombings and hijackings . Most of them have happened when Air India flights starting from outstation had bombs put on them or weapons smuggled in to the extent for certain unreliable countries like Canada and Nepal, Air India does an additional security at the gate. It also does not fly if a passenger misses boarding without unloading their suitcases. India has had long experience dealing with this shit.

    Part of it was that prior to 9/11 if a plane blew up or got hijacked, the standard US State Dept response was lets talk to these folks and find out why they are so angry. (Instead of condemning the terrorists)
    Sure changed when it was American planes getting blown up

  17. Ben,

    I think a correction is necessary here. While it may be true that you DO NOT need to be re-screened if transiting through a European airport to a NON-Schengen destination, you DO need to be re-screened at the first port of entry into Schengen if traveling elsewhere in Europe.

    So, in your example, if you’re traveling EWR-FRA-FCO, you WILL be re-screened after Passport Control in FRA. This has been happening for decades and still happens today – I’ve undergone re-screening during transit to European destinations via DUS, FRA, MUC, and AMS and expect it at other points of entry into the Schengen zone. And, if you are transiting via FRA to the United States, you MUST pass through a security checkpoint before being allowed to enter the dreaded Z Concourse.

    And, speaking of Doha, I was subjected to re-screening while transiting from my arrival from ICN to my flight to WAW.

  18. Idk how TSA does their job but I really believe security check in NRT might be more likely a joke (and wastes time in transit). At least TSA got the equipments right.

  19. @Damian,

    You are wrong about FRA. When arriving at the Z concourse, walk to the far end in the direction away from the entrance. There is a row of passport control counters. Just beyond that, there is an escalator down to the A concourse. No security check involved when transferring from the US to Schengen area. Probably the easiest connection in the EU.

  20. Lucky

    you hated THAT country and cursed it for a thousand times, why you still want to go there?

    people there do not like to be cursed

  21. If you fly to Guam or CNMI on Delta, you fly through Narita and have to go through security even though you’re flying from/to US territory. Hopefully this is one of the exceptions being tested

  22. It never ceases to amaze me that all European airports (I don’t know about the wider world in this context) insist on re-screening passengers who have as a point of origin Tel Aviv which must be the safest place in the world and undoubtably has the most thorough security screening there is.

    I just don’t know what they expect to find in the chaos that is FRA on someone from there but then I guess security is about keeping the worried worried and inconveniencing the rest of us.

  23. @Flyer

    Interesting note about FRA. I’ll check it out next time I’m there. Only thing is, one doesn’t always arrive at the Z Concourse. Frankfurt being Frankfurt, I’ve found myself often arriving at a remote stand and then being taken by bus to a passport control point that forces me to go through another checkpoint.

  24. EU recognizes security of US/CANADA/MONTENEGRO as equal to EU standards. As long as airport is setup correctly (ie AMS) passengers from those countries can skip security for any connecting flight regardless of destination.

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