Haneda Airport to be opened to daytime arrivals for U.S. airlines

This week, the governments of Japan and the United States reached an agreement with regards to U.S.-based airlines  flying into Haneda, the closest airport to Tokyo.

A few years back, U.S. airlines were permitted four daily round-trips from U.S. cities to Haneda, but these flights were restricted to evening hours, when the airport is not busy… and close to the times that public transportation options become limited. This could have proved to be a headache, as I suggested back in 2011, though the opening of a hotel within Haneda’s International terminal in 2014 eased the travel worries somewhat.

Under the new agreement, however, U.S. airlines will be permitted to land at Haneda during regular daytime hours. The slots will change from four round-trips during the night hours to five round-trips during the day, and one round-trip during the evening. The changes will be implemented as early as this coming autumn.

This is tremendous news for travelers between the United States and Japan, as you can now enjoy all of the amenities that Haneda has to offer, while being able to travel into Tokyo quickly and cheaply by train or monorail.

Two of the three major U.S. airlines – American and United – support this agreement. Delta Air Lines, on the other hand, opposes it. Delta feels that the slot change at Haneda to permit more U.S. arrivals during the daytime could compromise its hub operations at Narita Airport and put its U.S.-Japan flights into jeopardy, since travelers would prefer to land at Haneda.

One other aspect that tilts against Delta is the fact that American and United have partners in Japan: American partners with Japan Airlines in the Oneworld alliance, and United partners with All Nippon in the Star Alliance. With Haneda Airport offering plenty of domestic flights from its two domestic terminals, there is an opportunity for US travelers to easily connect between international and domestic flights. In fact, Japan Airlines already offers easy International-to-Domestic connections from the International Terminal building – once you clear customs and immigration and drop off your baggage, you clear security in the International terminal and then board a bus to the secure area of the JAL domestic terminal.

In my opinion, this is a win for travelers who now have better ways to see Japan through the new daytime arrivals and departures at Haneda. What are your thoughts?

Double American Airlines Miles to/from Japan

Announced this week is a promotion for American Airlines AAdvantage frequent flier members to earn double the normal number of miles on select routes to/from Japan and a few other cities in Asia that are operated by either American Airlines or Japan Airlines. If you are big on frequent flier miles, this is a promotion you may wish to consider.

The offer is valid on all First class, all Business class, and “select” Economy fares on NONSTOP American and Japan Airlines flights between Tokyo Haneda airport and San Francisco, and between Tokyo Narita and the following cities: Chicago (ORD), Dallas (DFW), Los Angeles (LAX), San Diego (SAN), New York (JFK), Boston (BOS), and Vancouver (YVR). Click here to read the full terms and conditions, and to register. You must book and complete all travel by March 21, 2015.

In addition, double miles are being offered on nonstop flights on Japan Airlines from Tokyo to the following Asian cities: Shanghai, Beijing, Guangzhou, Dailan, Jakarta, Hanoi, Singapore and Delhi. Click here to read the full terms and conditions, and to register. You must book and complete all travel by March 20, 2015. Blackout dates are: From Tokyo, February 23-March 1, and returning to Tokyo, February 13-18.

Read the terms and conditions carefully, because the most discounted fares are ineligible for the double miles promotion.

For example, if you wanted to fly from New York to Japan in February (from the 4th to the 11th), I sampled a fare of $1,328 round trip, connecting in Los Angeles on the way to Tokyo and connecting in Chicago on the way back. You’d think you’d earn the double miles on the Los Angeles-Tokyo and Tokyo-Chicago legs, right? But upon closer inspection, the prospective flights would be booked in O and Q classes, which are all ineligible for the double miles offer.

To see what would be eligible, we can go to Google ITA Matrix and search for the fares. Pull up the advance routing codes and enter for both legs of the trip:

AA,JL+ /f bc=s

This forces the matrix to search for any direct flight on AA (American) or JL (Japan Airlines) with the booking code of S, which is the least expensive fare bucket permitted for the double miles.

When we search now, we get a result of $1,704 round-trip, which is for the nonstop from New York to Tokyo on JAL, booked through American Airlines codeshare. Quite a hike from the original $1,328 fare quoted!

If we add an X to the routing codes to look for connecting flights, so that it looks like this:

AA,JL+ X /f bc=s

We then get a $1,696 round-trip fare, connecting in Los Angeles. For that, you might as well pony up $10 for the nonstop!

If the matrix does not come up with any results, you can change the S (in bc=s) to the next letter that is permitted, such as V, L, etc.

It turns out that you CAN book this round-trip on the American Airlines website, and the S fare will show up. In case it does not, however, you might have to give American Airlines a call and ask them to make a reservation that is eligible for the double miles bonus, and hold the reservation. Then you can go online to your AAdvantage account to complete the ticketing. I have read some people that have done this to save on the $25 American Airlines telephone charge, but I’ve never tried this on my own.

In effect, you will be paying extra to secure the double miles. How many miles would you get?

Great Circle Distance of 6,745 miles between New York JFK and Tokyo Narita
x 2 (round-trip) =
13,490 miles
x 2 (Double miles bonus) =
26,980 miles

Congratulations, you just earned yourself a round-trip MilesAAver domestic ticket for one person on American Airlines within the contiguous US and Canada! Essentially, any nonstop AA or JAL flight over 6,250 miles booked accordingly will give you enough miles for the free domestic ticket. Boston, Chicago and Dallas flights are over this number, while flights from the West Coast will leave you a little short.

If you have an American Airlines credit card, you can earn bonus miles from the cost of the airfare… 3,408 miles in the New York-Tokyo example.

Is it worth it to pay the extra to secure the miles bonus? In an era where other airlines are switching miles-earning to a revenue model, which to many is making American Airlines the more frequent-flier airline (failed grammer of the day on that one), this is an offer to seriously consider. Then again, if you are more price-conscious, don’t worry about double miles. Besides, for February 4-11, the cheapest fare is still $1,328 on American. 🙂

As always, I disclaim any responsibility if you decide to do some fare-hunting. Corrections from any savvy travelers out there would be greatly appreciated! The fares in this post are correct as of January 24 2015,12 Noon Eastern Time, and are always subject to change.