Narita airport domestic-to-international question
June 15, 2014 8:12 AM   Subscribe

I'm going to Fukuoka in September. On the way back to USA, I'm looking at just a little more than 1 hour to make a transfer from the domestic Jetstar flight (Fukuoka-Tokyo) to the international JAL flight (Tokyo-Boston). Is that enough time to make the switch? Uncertain what Narita's airport structure and procedure are. Hand-carry luggage only. The 2 bookings are separate. Thanks.

The Jetstar flight from Fukuoka will arrive in Narita at 10:05am; the JAL flight from Narita will leave at 11:20am. I'm wondering if I'll be able to stay inside the terminal(s) and make the transfer without passport control and such, in which case an hour and 15 minutes seems fine. Or if I have to go through immigration in Narita, in which case it feels tight. I won't be checking in luggage so that isn't an issue. Due to conference-related issues, the bookings are not connected. Should I go for this itinerary? Or instead I could fly from Fukuoka to Tokyo the night before, stay overnight somewhere near Narita, and be at the airport safely the next morning.
posted by shortfuse to Travel & Transportation (7 answers total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
Its not like a straight forward change in the same terminal. You'll get off your plane and then go to a different level. You def have to clear passport control. I'm pretty sure you have to go through security again as well.
posted by JPD at 8:39 AM on June 15, 2014

Seconding JPD: You definitely have to exit immigration, and probably have to change terminals and do security again. You don't have to settle for an airport hotel: Narita is a nice place in its own right for a short visit, and has a couple beautiful temples. You can take a short bus ride back to the airport when it is time to leave.
posted by whatzit at 11:03 AM on June 15, 2014

The international terminal is its own secure entity, and the JAL flight will begin boarding around 10:40. You're probably expected to check in for that flight by either 10:20 or 9:20 depending on current requirements (and that would be US security requirements, not Japanese) or risk losing your seat or having to go through extra security checks.

How would you expect to avoid passport control from a domestic flight? Is there something special about the Jetstar flight that you expect to go through immigration before boarding (as far as I know that isn't sufficient for you if the flights aren't booked as a continuous trip anyway)?
posted by Lyn Never at 11:52 AM on June 15, 2014

Yeah, no. I wouldn't do that unless the airline booked you through from Fukuoka to the U.S. via Narita and had some kind of way to pre-screen you internationally at Fukuoka and then shuttle you to your gate at Narita.

It is physically possible I think, with only hand-carry bags, but consider: you may land at 10:05 and not make it off the plane and into terminal 2 until 10:20-10:30-ish. That's about when your international flight is going to start thinking about giving your seat away, and you still have to get to the train, take it to terminal 1, check in, go through security (which is fast at Narita, but still), go through the passport line, walk to your gate...

How many ways could a small hiccup in something screw that up?
posted by ctmf at 1:05 PM on June 15, 2014

I would not recommend this. Last time I looked at the schedules, JAL has only one flight a day to Boston. If you miss it, your going to be really delayed.
posted by dyslexictraveler at 1:37 PM on June 15, 2014

Earlier this year when I flew out of Narita on JAL it took about 45 minutes to get into the right part of the terminal, check bags, get through security, and get to the gate. And that was on the shorter business-class lines. Also, the JAL international terminal isn't small. Not huge like HKG, but it takes some time to get to those last few gates, especially if you're lugging heavy carry-on bags. This itinerary sounds way too tight.
posted by Guernsey Halleck at 4:21 PM on June 15, 2014

I've had to do this a few times though not in that short amount of time. I would pick your second suggestion. IIRC, you arrive then you have to walk a bit to get to the shuttle and then get on line to go through immigration and security and then get to your terminal. Narita is efficient but there is too high a chance of anything and everything delaying you.
posted by spec80 at 7:16 PM on June 15, 2014

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