It still takes some work to find an international connection through Tokyo’s Haneda International Airport. Haneda, located in a prominent urban location on Tokyo Bay, was the city’s only international airport from 1937 to the 1970s. But in 1978, Haneda ran out of space so international flights were moved to a new airport in Narita, a 90 minute train ride from central Tokyo. For 30 years, Haneda focused on domestic and regional charter flights. Then, a few years ago, a new runway and a dedicated international terminal opened at Haneda and international traffic is once again on the rise.
1. Free Wifi
Yes. Signing up is easy, but if you need help, grab a copy of the step-by-step pamphlet with pictorial instructions, narrated by a cartoon bear. There are power outlets (North American configuration) scattered through the new terminal and pods of desks with reading lights if you really want to get something done.
2. Train Connection To Somewhere Worth Seeing On A Four-Hour Layover
Yes. Unlike Narita, Haneda is close enough to the action to make it worth leaving the airport to see some sites. Two metro lines connect Haneda to downtown Tokyo, and it’s a 45 minute trip to Shibuya to check out the scramble crosswalk.
3. Duty Free Costs
Fair, but they are missing the basics! Haneda duty free does not sell Bombay Sapphire, my universal indicator for liquor costs. They do have entire walls of expensive champagne, whiskey and cognac, but no sultry Bill Murray advertisements.
Coco Mademoiselle eau de parfum 50ml = JPY9200 (CAD$98)
4. Security Screening
Orderly. There is a single security screening point for international transit passengers. My plane wasn’t full so even with only two scanning lines, the whole process took less than 10 minutes. Haneda has three types of plastic boxes to unload your bags into, and each is a different colour and size. One of the security officers sizes up your stuff and hands you the right sized bin, with that very Japanese attention to detail.
5. Ease of Orientation
Effortless. The new international terminal is a long rectangle with 50 gates and excellent signage. International arrivals and departures occur on different floors of the same building. Every few gates there is a digital map with a bouncing ball showing you exactly where you are.
6. Pre-Flight Food
Like it’s not even an airport. Food quality is high and there are none of the usual clusters of Starbucks-and-friends international chains. There’s a mix of Japanese and Western cuisine, a few coffee shops, and at least one bar.
7. Architecture/Interior Design
Simple, modern, immaculate. The international terminal still feels new. The curtain wall along one side of the building has great views to the planes and the older domestic terminal buildings. Inside, the high ceilings and pale blues and greys feel calm but not clinical. The furnishings are attractive, there’s the right amount of space around them, and the bathrooms are full of typically Japanese futuristic fixtures. Every part of the building was immaculate, thanks to the men with hand-held mini vacuums, chasing imaginary dust.
Overall Rating for HND: 86%