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? 😉
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.