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ANA Ambassador Report 2: Connecting in Tokyo’s Narita Airport

It is not hard to tell just where you are, and if the sign doesn't help, perhaps all the ANA & JAL aircraft around are a clue - Photo: Mal Muir | AirlineReporter.com

It is not hard to tell just where you are, and if the sign doesn’t help, perhaps all the ANA & JAL aircraft around are a clue – Photo: Mal Muir | AirlineReporter.com

This is the continuation of a multi-part series covering my trip from Seattle to San Jose to Narita to Hong Kong and back as a ANA Ambassador. My flight was provided by ANA, but all opinions are my own. First read: ANA Ambassador Report 1: San Jose to Tokyo on the 787 Dreamliner.

A majority of flights to Asia from the westcoast, require a connection through an intermediary stop.  Cathay Pacific has their hub in Hong Kong, Asiana and Korean have their hubs at Incheon. However, four airlines have their hubs in Tokyo: Delta, United, All Nippon Airways (ANA) and Japan Airlines (JAL).

This means that on a good day you can see a variety of aircraft and flights in and out of Narita International Airport (NRT).  This makes the airport not only nice for the general traveler, but also for the AvGeek. I recently was able to take a closer look at transitioning in NRT while on my way to Hong Kong (HKG).

When you see a sign like this, sometimes you wonder just what you're in for  - Photo: Mal Muir | AirlineReporter.com

When you see a sign like this, sometimes you wonder just what you’re in for – Photo: Mal Muir | AirlineReporter.com

ANA mostly uses NRT for their long-haul international flights, but also offer some connections to regional Asian destinations.  The flights are all organized so that there is ample connection time.

Using my San Jose 787 flight as an example, I had two hours to easily connect  to destinations like Hong Kong, Delhi, Shanghai or Singapore.  On my way back to the US, flight connection times were planned to easily catch cities like New York, Seattle, San Jose or Los Angeles.

After arriving into Terminal 1, which is dominated by the Star Alliance and Skyteam Airlines, I exited to the international connections area.  There was no need to clear immigration or customs — the only a standard security checkpoint with polite staff.

I was not required to remove my shoes (as long as there was no metal in them), but liquids, belts & laptops still needed to go through screening separately.  Once all the connection formalities were complete I was free to roam about the terminal.

An elegantly designed oasis awaits you in the ANA Lounge in Narita Terminal 2 - Photo: Mal Muir | AirlineReporter.com

An elegantly designed oasis awaits you in the ANA Lounge in Narita Terminal 2 – Photo: Mal Muir | AirlineReporter.com

Luckily, I was flying Business Class, which gave me access to one of the two ANA Lounges.  These are the flagship lounges for ANA and the one by the “50-gates” has some of the best taxiway views.

Bonus: Got a Longer Layover Check out this ANA Narita Town Guide

The lounge was tastefully designed and had a multitude of areas for me to work, relax or eat while I waited for my flight.  All of the food in the lounge had a very Japanese feel, which was a good thing. If I felt like eating something more than sushi and rice crackers, there was a full noodle bar where I was able to order bowls of Ramen and Udon.

Lining up to a whole in the wall? They are not crazy, they are just getting their meal from the Cooked to Order Noodle Bar in the ANA Lounge - Photo: Mal Muir | AirlineReporter.com

Lining up to a whole in the wall? They are not crazy, they are just getting their meal from the Cooked to Order Noodle Bar in the ANA Lounge – Photo: Mal Muir | AirlineReporter.com

There was the one piece of technology that is likely the favorite for most visitors: the beer machines.  The lounges in Narita all have automatic beer machines, where one can press a button and it will pour the perfect beer into your chilled glass.

Bonus: Watch the Automatic Beer Machines in Action

No access to a lounge?  Not a problem since there are plenty of things to stay occupied in the main terminal.  With free WiFi, passengers are able to get their work done or check up on their social media. There are also a number of places to eat or get a drink from either one of the restaurants or from one of the many vending machines scattered around the airport.

Check out the ANA Lounge by the 40 Gates and you may see this piece of art - Photo: Mal Muir | AirlineReporter.com

Check out the ANA Lounge by the 40 Gates and you may see this piece of art – Photo: Mal Muir | AirlineReporter.com

On my way back home, stopping in Narita, I decided to check out some of the sweeter things in life: candy. Japan has some pretty unique snacks & candy and the terminal is stocked with so many options.

My mission during my connection was to get as many of the different flavors of KitKats as possible — especially the wasabi flavor.  With boxes of KitKats (10 packs of one flavor) running 1500 Yen ($15) and individual packs costing 150 Yen, it can be a cheap gift to bring back home.

Unfortunately, I wasn’t able to find the wasabi flavor but I did manage to get two different kinds of green tea, strawberry and blueberry cheesecake.

Decisions, Decisions.  Which flavour to buy? Dark Chocolate, Regular, Strawberry, Sakura & Green Tea or Matcha Green Tea Kit Kats. All available throughout the Terminal in Narita - Photo: Mal Muir | AirlineReporter.com

Decisions, Decisions. Which flavour to buy? Dark Chocolate, Regular, Strawberry, Sakura & Green Tea or Matcha Green Tea Kit Kats. All available throughout the Terminal in Narita – Photo: Mal Muir | AirlineReporter.com

Whether you’re connecting on to Asia or back to North America, Tokyo’s Narita Airport is a great place to spend a couple of hours.  And if you pass through and see some Wasabi Kit Kats, can you pick me up a box?

Soon I will continue my adventure on to Hong Kong and back home again.

This story written by…Malcolm Muir, Lead Correspondent. Mal is an Australian Avgeek now living and working in Seattle. With a passion for aircraft photography, traveling and the fun that combining the two can bring. Insights into the aviation world with a bit of a perspective thanks to working in the travel industry.

@BigMalX | BigMal’s World | Photos

4 comments to ANA Ambassador Report 2: Connecting in Tokyo’s Narita Airport

  • Tina

    Hi Mal,

    Thanks for an informative article. I’m doing the San Jose to Tokyo route on the way to New Delhi in a couple of weeks. I’m a little anxious, because I only have an hour and 25 minutes in between, but I believe both flights will be in terminal 1. Is that enough time, do you think?

    Thanks in advance.

    • Hey Tina
      You will enjoy the flight that much i know. It should be enough, minimum connect in Tokyo is an hour and going from an ANA to an ANA flight within terminal 1 is actually only 45 minutes. So I don’t think you will have a problem, unless your REALLY delayed… but then… no one can save you anyway!

  • Indi

    Hi Malcolm,

    thanks for the article. I plan to take Ana this coming April to Indonesia from JFK, New York. I see that the return flight only have 45 minutes layover at Narita airport. Assume I could make it switch to the next flight to NY, but how about my luggages? Do you think Ana would be able to transfer my luggages to the next flight? Thank you.

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