Daunting, isn’t it? 40 million passengers a day use the Tokyo transit system. Image: Tokyo Metro
This is a bit of a different post for us, about something other than just airplanes, airports & airlines. Enjoy!
It was early Thursday morning on my last day in Tokyo. It had been a whirlwind trip. Sunday and Monday had been taken up on the inaugural All Nippon Airways (ANA) flight from Vancouver (YVR) to Tokyo-Haneda (HND). I spent Tuesday at ANA’s New Employee Ceremony, and then explored HND’s observation decks. On Wednesday morning I was treated to a somewhat manic half-day bus tour of Tokyo. After that, I explored a bit, and went back to my hotel at HND’s Terminal 2 to get some work done, and to recover!
My start and end point – HND’s International Terminal
But now, I had the whole day to explore the city before returning to Haneda Airport’s International Terminal for my 9:55 pm flight. I had a long list of suggestions of things to see from friends and colleagues. Everyone had said that the best way to explore Tokyo is by transit, and I had my maps ready to go.
The statistics are phenomenal; 40 million passengers use Tokyo’s transit system, every day. Most commuters travel on Tokyo’s extensive urban railway system, and eight million use the Tokyo Metro (subway) daily. There are over 130 lines and 1,000 stations on the fully-integrated rail system. No surprise, then, that the world’s busiest train station is in Tokyo, at Shinjuku Station, with over three million passengers per day. The entire system is clean, efficient, inexpensive, and operates exactly on time, all the time.
However, there are a few things that an explorer needs to master before venturing out.
All Nippon Airways Boeing 767-300ER lands at YVR on Sunday afternoon – Photo: Leighton Matthews | Pacific Air Photo
ANA – All Nippon Airways’ first scheduled flight to Canada landed at Vancouver International Airport (YVR) on Sunday afternoon. The arrival of the Boeing 767-300ER from Tokyo International Airport – Haneda (HND) ushered in the option of a new airline and new destination airport for Tokyo-bound passengers who originate or connect in YVR.
Located on Tokyo Bay, Haneda airport is a short 15-minute train or monorail ride for passengers to connect to Tokyo’s extensive transit system. Haneda was relegated to domestic flights in the late 1970’s, when Narita International Airport (NRT) opened to serve international traffic. Although a new express train now serves distant Narita, many consider traveling between downtown Tokyo and NRT to be a time-consuming and expensive ordeal.
Looking to return HND to its previous status as Tokyo’s convenient gateway, a new International Terminal was opened in 2010. Initially, international flights were limited, and slot-restricted to middle-of-the-night arrivals, which wasn’t particularly appealing to passengers or airlines. Fortunately, HND opened up daytime slots in 2014, most beginning this week. ANA’s YVR-HND route is just one of many new international flights serving the airport.
BONUS: Touring Haneda Airport’s New International Terminal
AirlineReporter was invited to join in the inbound flight’s arrival festivities at YVR, and to fly to Haneda on the inaugural. As AR.com’s Vancouver-based correspondent, I was given this ’œplum’ assignment. But not without much jealousy coming from our staff in the Seattle area, including our illustrious Editor-in-Chief!
The sitting area of ANA's Business Class Lounge at Haneda International Terminal. Click for larger.
Having one airline lounge is pretty sweet. However why only have one when you can have three all located in one terminal? All Nippon Airways (ANA) has three different lounges in the new International Terminal at Haneda Airport (HND) and each one is a bit different.
The first lounge I explored was their Business Class Lounge located after security. The lounge was quite large, very clean and futuristic looking and great views of planes.
Next door to the Business Class Lounge you will find the First Class Lounge. While walking over I joked with the ANA folks that the Business Class Lounge would be hard to beat, but I think they did it. The first class lounge feels a bit darker with a lot of black being used, but makes up for it with having a lot of personal space. The lounge is quite a bit smaller, but has cooler seating. You have the ability to sit in some futuristic looking chairs or in your own little cubical-like space (photo).
ANA's First Class Lounge at the Haneda International Terminal is very impressive with their fancy seating.
The third lounge is the smallest and has the smallest “wow” factor. It is located outside of security and is the arrival lounge (photo). It is a good place to take a quick shower, check your email or even charge your phone with their nifty free phone charging machine (photo). Actually all three lounges have access to showers (photo), which can be very helpful if you had a long day of travel and you are heading right to your meeting.
Since international flights will only be allowed to arrive at HND between midnight and 5am, the arrival lounge is also handy if you won’t get access to your hotel until later in the day.
Unlike some other airline lounges you need a Business or First Class ticket to get access; you can’t buy a day pass. But you don’t need just an ANA ticket, any Star Alliance premium ticket can get you access.
If you don’t have a premium ticket, you still can get access to the international terminal’s public lounge which is not connected to any airline (photo). You are able to buy a pass for only about $12. It is not nearly as fancy as ANA’s lounges, but for $12, you can’t go wrong!
CHECK OUT ALL 35 PHOTOS OF ANA’S LOUNGE
Disclaimer: ANA gave me and other invited guests free access to all three lounges to check them out.