Best of luck if youTokyo has 2 airports, and handling a Transit between them is a nightmare. I thought I was the only one who didn’t notice that. Last week I found I was not alone.

Top Tips

  • Avoid the transfer if you can
  • If not, do online checkin to save time,  and try the bus.
  • Look at your tickets carefully. I found 2 families who figured this out only that morning.

Why am I telling you about this? Its a common mistake and I hope your trip is easier

Many cities have multiple airports, but as we don’t use Tokyo much, we forget it does too. As the transit between Narita & Haneda is schedule to take 75-90 minutes, best of luck if you get it wrong.

At U$300, cabs are expensive. In the land of the bullet train, I though there would be one linking the airports that would whisk us there in 15 minutes but there isn’t. The bus seems to be the best option.

In addition, the transit involves a 2nd checkin. Landing in Tokyo on a domestic flight, and then taking an international connection mean you to have to check in again in Tokyo.

As In the recent past  have done this twice. Once by taxi (we had to take 2 and it cost U$600), and last week by bus (U$80 for 4 of us). They were both at the same time & took 60 minutes. In fact the bus actually took less time to travel as the 60 minutes included a 10 minute wait.

Taxi Transit experience in December 2015

It was the end of a great trip and we were looking forward to our flight back home. We reached Haneda with 2 hours to spare for our 6PM departure to Singapore. I could not find our flight number & had this horrible feeling that our flight was from Narita, and it was!

If we could not make it, as it was Xmas time, finding alternative flights and hotel rooms would have been impossible. My wife was also to catch a flight to Hong Kong to meet her parents a few our after our scheduled arrival in Singapore!

We had lots of luggage and rushed into 2 cabs. It cost U$600, but we managed to reach Narita at 5PM and caught our 6PM flight to Singapore. Flying business & luck helped!

In Feb 2017, I did it again

Booking flights to Sapporo and back, on the return leg I chose a Haneda-Narita transfer with a 3 hour 20 minute gap. I booked through the JAL website that highlighted the airport change, as does

After booking, I had 2nd thoughts and called JAL. When I split the journey up into (1) time to get our luggage in Haneda (2) buy bus tickets (3) the bus journey to Narita (4) time to check in and board in Narita, it was a lot more than 3.20 hours. They still said it was enough. Besides, it cost too much to change, so I stuck with it.

To save time, I tried online checkin the day before departure. The Sapporo-Tokyo leg did not come up, and the Tokyo-Singapore leg failed, perhaps due to different country codes for citizenship.

What the Transit was like on the day

We left Alpenridge (the serviced apartments we stayed at in Niseko) at 9.15am to catch our 9.30 bus from the Niseko city centre to Sapporo airport.

We had to catch JL510, scheduled to leave Sapporo at 1pm for Haneda. The bus reached the airport at noon & disgorged us in the open where it was cold. We didn’t have all our woollens ready so the kids found it cold. There was a lift nearby to take us up to departure, but there was a long queue, so my wife took the kids up on the escalator, while I took the luggage up in the lift.

Once we were upstairs, we found ourselves near the ANA side (gates 1-3), and had a walk to the JAL side (gates 4-6). When we got there, there were many queues (1 to 8), the numbering being different from gates 1-6. I asked round and was told to go to International Connections (queue 7). While waiting there, I asked again and was told to go to queue 3/4 (quick transit). I repeated our story when transiting in Haneda on the way here – lots of kids, luggage & a short transit time, Again, we kept waiting till called to the priority queue closer to departure.

Security was quick. JL510 as again a Boeing777-300 with 3-4-3 configuration in Economy & we were seated in 2 rows in the middle. The flight was smooth & we landed 10 minutes early at Haneda Tokyo at 2.30pm.

Having got out luggage by 2.55, we had bought tickets by 3PM for the 3.10PM bus. After you exit the luggage carousel, the counter is just outside. The next buses were at 3.25 and 3.40, so quite frequent.

The bus bay was close by and after a short wait, we left at 3.10. There were no traffic jams & tension on the way, and we actually reached Narita T2 at 4PM after just 50 minutes.

We reached Narita at 4pm for our 6pm departure. We had no priority status & got into the economy queue. While waiting, we were guided to online kiosks that needed us to show passports, after which we got boarding passes. The queue was long and after 30 minutes we got our luggage tags. On the way to security, we met up with friends from Alpenridge who had taken the bus from Haneda 30 minutes after us, but using the priority checkin, had caught up.

Security was smooth.

At immigrations, we got a shock 

In the queue, we saw a sign showing departure cards. I remembered having filled these up when we landed, and asked the officer if we needed to do it again. He stood up at his desk & seemed confused, not saying anything. We lost one slot in the queue as the next person went up. We followed him & found that we did not need to.

It was 5pm & we were hungry. Our departure gate was 99 and next to gate 91 we found a restaurant where we had sushi & sausages and chips. It took a while to eat & pay, but we were at our gate on time & boarded soon.

Since we left our hotel at 9AM we had been constantly on the go, except for the last bit when we ate. If any leg had been delayed by even 15 minutes, we would have been in trouble. It is an avoidable transit and I won’t do it again.

I hope this post helps you in avoiding the transit, and if you have to do it, saving as much time as possible.

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