Since Haneda added its International Terminal in 2010 the Haneda versus Narita Airport decision is a common hassle for travellers and residents alike. Haneda has the luxury of being located significantly closer to the main cities of Tokyo and Yokohama. While Narita is located out in far-out Chiba and can be quite a trek if you use the local train or bus route. Here we will explore the differences between both in greater detail, both advantages and disadvantages.
Haneda hosted some 85.4 million passengers in 2017, and since its expansion in 2010 claims to be able to cater to 90 million per year. This makes it the third busiest airport throughout Asia, and fourth busiest globally. However, most of its traffic is domestic only.
2010 saw the opening of a dedicated International terminal, along with a new fourth runway. This could also cater to long-haul flights during the evening. In 2014, it subsequently opened the runway for daytime long-haul flights also.
Narita catered for around 40.6 million passengers in 2017. It also caters to a lot of Japan’s international air freight (around 60%) and around half of Japan’s international passengers.
It has 3 terminals in total, with a single terminal dedicated to LCC traffic. Terminal 1 and 2 are used for the main airlines, while Terminal 3 built in 2015, is used only for the LCC carriers.
Domestic vs International Services
Haneda has long predominantly been the main domestic base for flights throughout Japan. It’s busiest domestic traffic heading north to Sapporo and west to Fukuoka.
The 2010 introduction of the International Terminal has now seen its International Traffic expand. This is expected to continue also has tourism booms and the Olympics approaches in 2020.
Narita has always been the major International airport for Tokyo and handles almost 50% of all international traffic in Japan. Its recent rise in domestic services is a result of the new dedicated LCC terminal that was built in 2015.
Domestic services also continue to build gradually as the amount of domestic traffic from LCC Airlines grows.
From Tokyo station, Haneda is roughly a 20 plus minute train ride, and can be accessed via the Keihintohoku line to Hamatsucho station, and then swapping for the express monorail service direct to the terminal. This comes at a cost of 650 yen for the total journey.
The Haneda Airport Limousine Bus is more convenient being a direct service but takes more than double the time at 54 minutes and costs a little more at 930 yen for the ride. The obvious advantage being no line transfers and you can collect your luggage at the end of the trip.
Narita on the otherhand can be accessed by the JR Narita Express train line which is the fastest service available. This takes roughly around 50 minutes and costs around 3,220 yen for a one-way trip and is a direct journey without any stops.
You can also take the Narita Airport Limousine Bus which takes a little over an hour and costs only 1,000 yen. This seems like the best value considering the time it takes, plus the fact that the service is a direct route.
Travelling from Yokohama to Haneda Airport is most convenient by train if you take the Keikyu line. The total journey is around 25 minutes and is cheapest at 450 yen.
The Haneda Airport Limousine Bus service is around 580 yen but takes around 45 minutes direct to the terminal.
Narita, however, is on the complete another side of Tokyo, and no matter which transportation option you choose, you’re at least looking at an hour and a half journey. Via the JR Narita Express line, you’ll have to pay 4,490 yen for an hour and 25-minute trip. This service is almost direct, stopping at major staions only like Shinagawa and Tokyo.
Should you prefer the bus route, you will still have to pay 3,600 yen for a journey that takes about 1 hour and 45 minutes.
Haneda – Pros and Cons
Being responsible for most of Tokyo’s domestic air traffic in Japan, you will find most flights inside the country will leave from here. Especially, if you are flying to places like Fukuoka or Sapporo where the Bullet Train takes a considerable amount of time to reach. In this case, air travel is much quicker and convenient.
Haneda’s International Services will continue to grow as it tries to maximise its capacity, but Narita will still host the majority of global carriers and flights.
Some of the other facilities available at Haneda International Terminal Include:
- Wheelchair and Baby Carriage rentals
- Childrens area including play area, change facilities and nursery
- Medical and Police services
- Banks, ATMs, Currency Exchange and Travel Insurance agencies
- Lockers, Luggage Storage and Delivery Services
- Sky and TIAT Lounges (Can be booked in advance)
- ANA, JAL and Cathay Pacific Airways Lounge
- Internet PCs and Free Wifi
- Mobile Phone and Router Rentals
- Showers and Refresh Rooms
- Prayer and Smoking Rooms
- Dining Area, Various Shops and other services
Narita – Pros and Cons
Narita is the main international hub of Tokyo hosting more than half of Japan’s passenger and air freight traffic. It is also the main international airport for both of Japan’s major carriers JAL and ANA, and has a dedicated terminal purely for LCC airlines.
As a result of adding its LCC Terminal, domestic services from Narita have also started to grow.
Some of the facilities available at Narita International Terminal consist of:
- Airline, Credit Card and Airport Lounges
- Currency Exchange, ATMs and Travel Insurance vendor
- Baggage Storage and Delivery services
- Cellular Phone, Wifi Rental and SIM Card outlets
- Showers and Nap rooms
- Capsule Hotel
- Free Wifi and charging ports
- Barber, Beauty and Nail Salons
- Tourist Information and Ticket counters
- Children’s Play area and Nursery
- Health Clinic
- Prayer Room
- Dry Cleaning
- Pet Hotel
- Lottery Tickets Outlet
Which Airline Should I Use?
Ultimately, your decision is going to come down to a few factors namely flight origin, choice of airline and of course price.
For those island hopping between Tokyo and many of Japan’s domestic locations, you should be able to land yourself in Haneda. However, if you choose to go via an LCC carrier, you may find your only option is Narita, due to their dedicated terminal for LCC Traffic.
International Flights will generally head Narita too, but as services increase at Haneda you be able to luck yourself a flight there. For example, Qantas fly directly to Sydney from Haneda daily.
The most important thing to consider I would think is your landing time. This is because public transport only services the airports later than 5 am and earlier than midnight (12 am). Do your research via google maps and check your transport options. This is because if u arrive outside these hours, you could be paying a hefty taxi fare or waiting several hours before you can get to your hotel.