Wednesday, June 26, 2019

Tokyo from Davao: Narita or Haneda airport?

WHAT’S your top priority when traveling? Our prime concerns may differ but I’m pretty sure maximizing time at the destination lands on the list. That lands on top of mine.

Travel time to and from the destination eat up a chunk from the total number of days. Consider a five-day trip officially three days and four nights travel as the first and last days are spent on transfers.

We head to the airport two to three hours before departure, spend hours inside the plane, land, clear immigrations, pick-up luggage, clear Customs and travel to hotel. That takes off an entire day. Or night.

Cost of hotel is also a consideration. Arriving late in the day you lose time to explore the city and use up a night in your hotel. Arriving on a red eye flight you lose rest and you don't get to check in until 2PM, or 12 noon if you’re lucky. Chances are you’d want to take a nap after staying awake an entire night before exploring the city.

Here’s what I always do:

1. Choose an airline that can connect flights to final destination seamlessly. Meaning (A) less waiting time in between flights; (B) no picking up of luggage at midpoint and check in again. This happens when you use two airlines; and (C) no need to shuttle to a different airport terminal.

2. Select a flight that will get you to your destination at the earliest, preferably in the morning. Better to get off bed early, I can always sleep in the plane. This way, I can use the rest of the day to explore the place I’m visiting.

3. I always research on the most economical way to get to the city from the airport and back. Trains are faster, buses may be the cheapest fare but can take time, and taxis and hotel transfers can be costly.

4. When taking a public transportation, I select a hotel nearest the station in the area of my choice. Too far and it will be a burden to lug heavy luggage filled with OOTD wardrobe. The station will be the jump off point to my city tour, too.

In Tokyo, which airport is best to enter Narita International Airport or Haneda International Airport?

I have used both Philippine Airlines and Cebu Pacific getting to Tokyo. The two airlines offer flights from Davao to Tokyo via Cebu or Manila.

Philippine Airlines services the Manila-Tokyo and Manila-Haneda routes, and a Cebu-Narita link while Cebu Pacific have Manila-Narita and Cebu-Narita routes.

I have entered Tokyo through Narita and Haneda and I find the latter a more convenient entry since it’s nearer the city center. It can take an hour of travel from Narita Airport to Central Tokyo via the train or the limousine bus (which can be slowed down by heavy traffic). These two are the most economical, but if you have the moolah to squander, take a taxi and shell out an equivalent (almost) to your airfare.

If you ask me, the best route is PAL’s Davao to Haneda with flights Davao-Manila (4:25 a.m.), connect Manila-Haneda (8:55 a.m.) and arrive in Haneda at 2 p.m.

PAL’s Manila to Narita flight arrives at 8:10 p.m., which is quite late.

But you can take the Cebu–Narita flight which departs Cebu at 8:55 a.m. and arrives in Narita at 1:50 p.m. The downside though is PAL doesn't have an early morning flight that can connect you. You will have to stay a night in Cebu for this route.

Or you can take the 9:40 a.m. - 10:40 a.m. Davao-Cebu flight and wait for the 3:00 p.m. flight to Narita (arrives Tokyo at 8:30 p.m.)

Cebu Pacific has the Manila-Narita and Cebu-Narita links, but you will need to spend the night in Manila or Cebu to catch the earliest flight to Narita as the plane departs at 5:40 a.m. from Manila and 5:55 a.m. from Cebu. The airline doesn’t have an early flight from Davao that can connect you to these flights unless you stay the night.

However, morning flights from Davao can connect you to Narita from Manila via the afternoon plane (departs at 2:10 p.m., arrives 7:30 p.m.) and the red-eye flight (departs at 8:30 p.m., arrives 1:00 a.m. the next day).

Heading back home, I find the Haneda-Manila-Davao the most convenient, departing Haneda at 2:10 p.m., arrive Manila at 6:10 p.m. and catch the last flight to Davao at 9:00 p.m. I was able to use the entire morning in Tokyo for last minute tour before taking the short train ride to Haneda Airport.

There is a 1:15 p.m. flight from Narita to Manila but it takes longer to get to Narita from Central Tokyo. It arrives in Manila 5:30 p.m. and you can take the 9:00 p.m. connecting flight to Davao.

If you want to maximize your time in Tokyo on your next visit, enter through Haneda International Airport.


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