Who came up with the flight times to Haneda?!

As many of you may know, there are several airlines starting transpacific service to Tokyo’s Haneda Airport, which is much more convenient than Narita when terminating your journey in Tokyo. There has certainly been one nice thing about the new Haneda service on my end: when the flights were loaded into the system, there were tons of award seats, even in business class around the holidays. It seems like most of those are gone now, though.

Over the past weeks I’ve spent tens of hours searching for award space in and out of Haneda for clients, and there’s a few things I’ve noticed. The first thing I noticed is that they sure as hell don’t want you to connect at Haneda. Fair enough since the airport is definitely intended for origin and destination traffic, though you’d think they wouldn’t want to take the risk of just targeting that market, given the newness of the concept of Haneda service. Given that they have flights from Los Angeles to Haneda, and then from Haneda to Hong Kong, Bangkok, and Singapore, you’d think it would be a good back up. But they don’t time the flights in any way to connect. The shortest connection I’m finding is about 18 hours.

Second, I’ve noticed that basically every flight out of Haneda is a redeye. No, really. Virtually every flight operating out of Haneda is a redeye. I can only imagine what the airport looks like around midnight, because it seems the busiest hours are between 12AM and 6AM.

I understand that the concept of transpacific service to Haneda is targeting business travelers for the most part, but you have a whole plane to fill, and I doubt even half of the passengers on most of these flights are business travelers. But even if they were, what the hell is up with the flight times?!

Take the Los Angeles to Haneda flight, for example:

NH1005 departing Los Angeles at 12:55AM and arriving in Haneda at 5:00AM+1

That’s actually logical enough. Though truth be told, as a business traveler, I’d much rather take a “normal” flight to Tokyo, departing the US around noon and arriving in Tokyo the next afternoon. Get into the city, grab something to eat, and go to bed early enough, waking up refreshed the next morning. But arriving at 5AM just makes no sense to me. First of all, everyone’s going to be having a hard time checking into their hotel at that hour. Second, even though most passengers probably got a decent amount of sleep, most won’t be fully functional that day. And that’s especially true without an arrivals facility at Haneda to shower at, since once again, checking into a hotel at that hour is a challenge unless you booked a room for the night before.

The real pain comes with the return flight:

NH1006 departing Haneda at 12:05AM and arriving in Los Angeles at 5:55PM-1

Now the first cool thing is that the flight arrives a day before it leaves. What could be cooler than that? šŸ˜‰

But come on now, what’s up with those flight times? The 12:05AM departure is fine. You’re able to be productive all day, and get a solid night of sleep aboard, which is great. But then you arrive in Los Angeles wide awake when it’s almost time to sleep.

Anyway, I’m not meaning to nitpick, but rather I’m just trying to point out that these Haneda flights are killers when it comes to jetlag, whether you’re a business traveler or not. I know I’ll be sticking to the Narita flights when visiting Tokyo.

Filed Under: ANA
  1. Interestingly enough, in most of the itineraries I’ve tried to make, I don’t mind this. Haneda makes the trip into Tokyo much shorter. When going back, if need be, HND can connect with KIX or HKG to get away. Besides, there’s a new train from NRT! it’s only like 40 minutes by train to city Tokyo. I’ve yet to try it, but if that suits, then I’d much rather connect through NRT too =)

    Also, I travel a lot to other Japanese cities so having routes through HND is great for me and for stopovers in Tokyo.

  2. If there were a way to tag posts and revisit them in 20 years this would make a good candidate. I think your point of view on this might be different in the future.

    For example put yourself in my shoes, you run your own company and have to go to Tokyo to hold the hand of a client while they make a few changes to a drawing or contract. I would prefer the early am LAX departure as it gives me the whole weekend at home. Arriving early in the AM allows me to have meetings with the client during the day, and even dinner before catching the early AM flight home. These flights allow me to leave on a Monday, have a full day and dinner and then head home. Meanwhile someone on the “normal” timed flights are still yet to meet with the client while I am already back in the office or spending time with the family.

    Neither option is wrong, I just think the viewpoint might change with age and situation. The “normal hour” flights “waste” the late afternoon and overnight times. I would rather overnight on the plane in such a situation.

  3. Welcome to the joys of a slot-controlled airport. Those are the slots that they’ve made available for the new services. If HND really is that much more convenient then folks will take the flights anyways.

  4. @George — The Narita Express takes 90 minutes from NRT to Tokyo Station, and it has been operating for 19 years, so I wouldn’t call it “new”.

  5. Seth is right – this is all about the slot controls at HND. I believe that it’s pretty fully scheduled during the prime times, so when the government opened it up to allow international operations, these were basically the only slots that were available.

  6. These are the conditions of the Memorandum of Understanding between the US and Japan as it relates to operations out of Haneda.

    Under the terms of the 2009 MOU, scheduled operations between the United States and Haneda will be subject to the following conditions:
    (1) U.S. operations at Haneda will be permitted between 2200 and 0700 hours local time;
    (2) departures from Haneda to a point in the 48 contiguous U.S. states are not permitted prior to midnight; and
    (3) extra sections are not permitted.


  7. @Left Seater – I’m on the same page. Nothing better than night flights that arrive at 5am – forcing you to stay awake the whole day and be exhausted when it’s time for bed. Agree with lucky that landing LAX at 5pm sucks – but I very much like the departure times in both directions.

  8. @Gene: The new train that @George is talking about is the new Keisei Skyliner that cuts the trip from Nippori to NRT to 36 minutes. Although the NeX is slightly more convenient, offering direct service to various stops in the bottom of the Yamanote loop, if you’re heading to the top of the loop, the Keisei is a better option; faster and cheaper to boot!

  9. HND is really busy during the day with shorthaul flights. The new medium and longhaul slots are mostly for the quieter times at the airport.

  10. I believe there is going to be an overhaul of schedules from HND-HKG this fall. CX will operate double daily to HND (CX542 HKG-HND at 09:05 and CX 546 HKG-HND at 16:10 return flights CX543 HND-HKG at 20:45 and CX 547 at 12:45.

    JAL will also have new schedule (while JL731/732 will be eliminated), JL27 HND-HKG dep. at 14:05 and return flight JL28 HKG-HND dep at 15:45 (the timing of the return flight does sound a bit funny).

    ANA NH1275 HND-HKG dep 12:55 and return flight NH1276 HKG-HND at 14:30. (NH 909/10 flights are supposed to be retained).

    Not sure when exactly the schedules will be implemented. Sounds like sometime this fall. I’ve got the information from the Hong Kong Aviation Discussion Board, trust that it’s reliable.

  11. Breathe. Relax.
    I have lived in Tokyo for over 15 years; let me shed some light.
    Let’s first talk about connections thru Haneda. If you are flying from anywhere, and connecting in Tokyo to fly somewhere else, without wanting to go into Tokyo, then it makes absolutely no difference in terms of time whether you change planes in Haneda or Narita. If you clients are saying they want to fly LAX-BKK for example and want to change places in Haneda and not Narita, it simply makes no sense.
    If you do want to go into Tokyo between the connection, and have no luggage, Haneda is about 40 minutes closer, each way, by train to Tokyo station than Narita.
    Now about why airlines steer connections to Narita instead of Haneda and why even direct international flights predominantly leave late at night, there is a simple explanation: Haneda is first and foremost the domestic airport that serves Tokyo. Therefore daytime and early evening departures and returns are skewed towards domestic flights and international flights are pushed to the off hours.

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