The Japan Times, Japan’s leading English-language news publication, has published a very interesting article regarding complaints that International travelers have made about Haneda Airport since its International building opened three months ago. Chief among the complaints: Lack of amenities during the late-night and early-morning hours, including inexpensive public transportation and shuttle buses between Haneda’s three terminals (International, Domestic #1 and Domestic #2).
Haneda Airport is one of the busiest airports in the world, with its main focus being on Domestic (inter-Japan) traffic during daytime hours. Handling over 62 million passengers in 2009, Haneda ranks fifth behind London Heathrow, Chicago O’Hare, Beijing and Atlanta airports in terms of annual passenger traffic. In October of 2010, Haneda opened arrival and departure “slots” to international flights during the off peak hours of 11 PM to 7 AM, along with a fourth runway and a new International passenger terminal.
As I have stated in my earlier blog post, and as the article confirms, there is a problem with transportation and lodging options when arriving at such a late hour, as many of the International flights are now doing. Tokyo Monorail and Keikyu Railway, the two railway operators out of Haneda, run their final trains from the airport at around midnight. This is like most train operators do… the Japanese rail system, with few exceptions, does not operate around the clock. Lines shut down overnight in order to permit track inspections, maintenance and construction. This means after midnight, passengers who want to travel out of Haneda are limited to a limousine bus, which by then is extremely limited and charges a “night surcharge”… you can see it for yourself on this sample page from the Tokyo Airport Limousine website… or to a taxi.
The free shuttle buses connecting Haneda’s terminals also shut down at midnight. According to the Japan Times article one party had to pay 1,300 yen – the equivalent of US $15 – just to travel the short distance between terminals.
If you are interested in visiting Japan one day, of course you should look at the various airfare deals to see what appeals to you. Obviously I don’t have any experience myself using Haneda late at night, but based on my initial feelings and the article posted by the Japan Times, I strongly recommend NOT using Haneda Airport until amenities for late-night travelers (especially late-night International arrivals) are improved. If you want to visit Japan, use Narita Airport, which is a bit farther away from Tokyo but has the continued advantage of reasonable arrivals/departures, and numerous, convenient transit options such as the Skyliner, Narita Express and the new 1000 yen Super Shuttle bus.
Read the entire Japan Times article here: http://search.japantimes.co.jp/mail/nn20110107f1.html