Tokyo’s two airports – Narita VS Haneda – which to choose?
There are two airports in Tokyo area, that is Haneda Airport (HND) and Narita Airport (NRT) , and international flights can arrive both of them.
- Haneda Airport is closer to Tokyo city center unless you go to destination with direct access from Narita such as Nippori, Ueno.
- Some airline companies use only either Haneda or Narita.
- Narita may have better airport facilities.
- LCCs usually use Narita’s terminal 3.
Where airports are
Haneda Airport is about 10 km (6miles) south of Tokyo City center and you can access to the city by Tokyo Monorail, train line and buses and taxis. The cost of train is about 460 Yen to 650 Yen/ $3.5 – $5 depending on where you go in the city, and buses to Shinjuku is about 1300 Yen ($10). The taxi will be around 8000 Yen ($60) to Tokyo city center; it’s costly and not a common way to access to the airport thinking of the traffic, but if you have big bags, are with children or with someone who has less mobility, taxi can be a good choice too.
For more details about Haneda Airport such as how to get to Tokyo City center and terminal information, I made a video about Haneda.
All Explained Tokyo Haneda Airport (HND).
Narita Airport is about 70 km (43 miles) away from Tokyo City center, and it takes some time to get to Tokyo city center. There are two train lines and several bus services, and thinking of the distance, taxi might not be the realistic choice considering cost. The common way to get to city center is Narita Express by JR and Skyliner by Keisei Line. Narita Express takes you to Tokyo, Shibuya and Shinjuku directly, and Skyliner takes you to Ueno. There are cheaper bus around $10 to Tokyo Station too. That is especially convenient if you use Terminal 3 (LCC terminal) because Terminal 3 is far from train station, but buses take you to the T3 directly.
For more details, I made an article about how to get from Narita Airport to Tokyo city center
If you are staying in Ueno or Asakusa, it’s not that bad access from Narita, but otherwise, Haneda is winner for access to the city.
If you are connecting from international flight to other international flights, Narita is much more convenient. This is because Narita is specially made for international routes, so facilities are much bigger and well designed. On the other hand, Haneda has mostly been used as a domestic airport, so there is a special international terminal, but it is quite small and there are not many things you can do.
In Narita Airport, there are three terminals: Narita Airport Terminal 1, 2 and 3. There are two train stations for airline passengers “Narita Airport” under Terminal 1, and “Airport Terminal 2” under Terminal 2 which is also a station for Terminal 3.
- Terminal 1 – South Wing : mainly ANA and other Star Alliance carriers
- Terminal 1 – North Wing: mainly Sky Team (Delta only uses Haneda) and other non alliance carriers
- Terminal 2 – Japan Airline and other One World Alliance carriers
- Terminal 3 – LCCs for both domestic and International. *some LCC uses T1 and 2
Haneda Airport has 3 terminals: T1 to T3. Both T1 and T2 are domestic terminals specially serving for JAL (T1) and ANA(T2), but ANA is planning to introduce some international flights to T2.
T3 will be probably what you will use and that is the international terminal of Haneda. Since Haneda has been used mainly for domestic flights, T3 is not that big as a facility. Only JAL, ANA, Cathay Pacific and Delta has their own lounge.
Do you have choice? Which airlines fly to which?
Most of the airline companies fly to both airports, but some airline and some route has only to either one of the airport.
Right now, due to the border control in Japan, not many flights are back to normal operation yet, but probably you’ll see a choice of flights to both airport depending on where you are from.
Japanese major airline companies JAL and ANA both have flights to both airport.
For the US companies, United, American has flights to both Haneda and Narita. United has codeshare ANA and American has codeshare with Japan Airlines, so you can have more choice from your local airport to Tokyo and even to other cities in Japan. Delta doesn’t have partnership in Japan, but they have flights only to Haneda, so Delta is a strong choice if your final destination is Tokyo.
If you see choice of Haneda or Narita, usually you can go for Haneda flight, but if that has $100 difference, I feel Narita is fine.
Then, Haneda Airport is much better? Not always.
Other things about Narita
Even if you have a few hours in Narita for transit, probably it’s difficult to come to the city center to do some sight seeing. But Narita city is only one station away from Narita, and it is a great place for a little sight seeing as they have a famous temple and shopping street with souvenirs.