American Los Angeles To Tokyo Haneda Flight Announced

American has just announced that they will launch daily Boeing 787-8 flights between Los Angeles and Tokyo Haneda as of February 11, 2016. The new flight will become bookable this Sunday, November 8, 2015.

History of the Tokyo Haneda “battle”

At the beginning of the year I wrote about the battle going on between Delta, American, and Hawaiian, over a slot at Tokyo’s Haneda Airport.

Delta had been granted a slot to operate a Seattle to Tokyo Haneda flight, though they weren’t using it within the spirit it was issued. The route had highly seasonable demand, so in winter Delta operated the flight only 11 times, which was the minimum number of frequencies required to keep the route.

American and Hawaiian complained, and urged the DOT to take away Delta’s Tokyo Haneda slot.

American-Haneda

In late March the Department of Transportation issued their ruling regarding Delta’s Tokyo Haneda slot. They said that Delta could keep their Seattle to Tokyo Haneda slot, though only if they operated it daily on a year-round basis.

After the DOT’s ruling, Delta issued a statement thanking the DOT for their ruling, and indicating that they planned to continue the service. Only Delta changed their mind a couple of months later, and conceded the slot to American, so they could operate a Los Angeles to Tokyo Haneda flight. One condition of the deal was that American had to inaugurate service within 60 days of receiving the backup authority.

American didn’t start the service within 60 days, so Delta petitioned for them to have the authority revoked. American claimed they couldn’t launch service that quickly because they couldn’t get a “viable” slot. So it looks like the service will finally be launching.

Details of American’s new Los Angeles to Tokyo Haneda flight

As stated above, American will be launching 787-8 flights between Los Angeles and Tokyo Haneda as of February 11, 2016. The flight will operate with the following schedule:

AA27 Los Angeles to Tokyo Haneda departing 6:00PM arriving 11:00PM (+1 day)
AA26 Tokyo Haneda to Los Angeles departing 1:30AM arriving 6:20PM (-1 day)

As you can probably tell, those aren’t the most ideal time, though the issue with Tokyo Haneda is that they restrict longhaul flights to off-peak hours, and as a result those flights have to arrive and depart in the middle of the night.

American’s 787s feature a total of 226 seats, as follows:

  • 28 Business Class seats (fully flat)
  • 57 Main Cabin Extra seats (featuring an extra 5″ of legroom)
  • 141 Main Cabin Seats (in a 3-3-3 configuration)

American-787

The business class product is solid enough, though apparently hasn’t come without some issues, as American is switching the seat manufacturer being used for these seats long term.

American-787

American-787-2

Will American keep their Tokyo Narita flight?

American also operates a daily flight between Los Angeles and Tokyo Narita, so what remains to be seen is whether American will keep that flight as well, or if this new Haneda flight will replace it.

On one hand I have a hard time imagining American will keep flights to both Haneda and Narita, especially since their joint venture partner Japan Airlines also flies from Los Angeles to Tokyo Narita.

At the same time, that might be exactly why it could work. American has a good amount of feed onto these flights due to their joint venture, and Japan Airlines operates a flight from San Francisco to Tokyo Haneda.

JAL-777

The press release seems to suggest that American will be keeping both the Haneda and Narita flights:

“It’s important for our customers to have direct access to Tokyo Haneda, and we’ll be proud to serve this key airport from Los Angeles,” said Andrew Nocella, American’s chief marketing officer. “This new flight is a fantastic addition to our growing network to Asia and a great complement to our existing service to Tokyo Narita. We thank the Japanese authorities for working with us to find appropriate slot times, and the U.S. Department of Transportation and the State Department for facilitating the process and recognizing the importance of American offering year-round service to Haneda.”

Though it could also be interpreted differently, to suggest that it complement’s American’s other existing services to Narita, out of Chicago and Dallas.

So time will tell for sure, but I can see it going either way.

Bottom line

Personally I still view longhaul Haneda flights as being a bit of a fad. In theory it’s convenient that Haneda is considerably closer to Tokyo than Narita, but the flight times sort of ruin it for me. Furthermore, public transportation options are limited to Haneda in the middle of the night, and taxis can be quite expensive.

And it seems like the airlines aren’t actually that hot about Haneda either, but rather just want to prevent one another from serving the market.

Call me when airlines are able to operate daytime flights to Haneda, please!

What do you make of American’s new flight between Los Angeles and Tokyo Haneda?

Comments

  1. The DOT should have awarded Hawaiian the slot. It makes the most sense with timing due to the relatively short flight time to the islands (compared to the mainland US). I blame the conspiracy of prioritizing business over leisure.

  2. Ben, are you kidding? Couldn’t disagree with you more re: Haneda.

    The airport is very close to the center of Tokyo, and the new freeway tunnel makes it possible to get from Shinjuku to Haneda — especially at off-peak times — in 15 minutes or so. Cabs aren’t cheap, but they compare to a cab from LAX to West Hollywood — around $50 or so. The public transportation and Airport Limousine options are very reasonably priced.

    The airport’s international terminal is really gorgeous — a very, very pleasant place to fly in and out of.

    As for the flight times, I feel like they’re only universally regarded as awful in this community. Flying out of LA, you get a full work day and you leave at 6 (on AA) or 6:40 (on DL), landing the next night in time for a full night’s sleep. Flying out of Tokyo, you get a full day in Tokyo without springing for an (expensive) hotel, and you land in the early evening in LA, which is perfect. Admittedly AA’s 1:30 departure is that much later than Delta’s 12:30am out of Haneda, but are these flight times any worse than the 3am departures out of the Gulf states?

    Anecdotally Haneda is vastly preferred by Americans doing business in Tokyo, and as Tokyo prepares to host the Olympics and has put money into making Haneda shine, I can only expect those routes to continue. Bottom line is Haneda is about an hour closer to central Tokyo than Narita is, and is just a no-brainer if it’s an option.

  3. But as an airport, I love Haneda and the JAL lounge. Travelers without too much luggage can handle the 2 monorails and 2 rail line connections from Tokyo Disneyland needed after the last Airport Limo Bus.

  4. “As you can probably tell, those aren’t the most ideal time, though the issue with Tokyo Haneda is that they restrict longhaul flights to off-peak hours, and as a result those flights have to arrive and depart in the middle of the night.”

    Actually it’s because HND is slot-restrained; long haul flights aren’t restricted from arriving/departing at reasonable hours. AC5/6 is a good (only) example

  5. I’ve flown to/from Tokyo once for leisure: into NRT and out of HND. I preferred HND because of its proximity to the city, and didn’t mind the late departure time. So, I think Nick has the better argument!

  6. I’ll take HND over NRT all day long. The 1:30am departure time is worth it. Also for the EXP’s, the First Class lounge in HND is awesome.

  7. i second the sentiment of HND over NRT. both airports are quality but man, NRT is far off. after having to do the Narita Express six times in a week a few years ago, I started exploring more HND options.

  8. Ben, thanks for posting this. I have a travel plan to Asia in late spring next year. I have enough miles for any of the alliances, although using AAdvantage is nice, since the requirement for J is relatively modest. However, I have not been able to find any space in their own metal at all, at Saver level, all the way to September next year, from any of their gateway cities (DFW, ORD, LAX, to PVG, ICN, PEK, HKG, HND, NRT).

    CX has been spotty too, at least until May next year. JAL is relatively better, their 787 DFW-NRT route shows some J space. The routes with shell flat neo seats also has better availability.

    Anyway, do you also notice the stingyness of AA, especially for the J cabin saver space? I can’t even find this flight listed when I look for award space (Saver or Anytime) on AA.com.

  9. I don’t think a 1:30am departure time is that bad. And the JAL First Class Lounge is awesome. Lucky would love the Red Suite.

    If you’re actually spending time in Tokyo, HND is more convenient. If you’re connecting, I love the CX 747 that flies from HKG to HND.

  10. Actually only US flights are limited to these crazy hours. The bilateral governing HND needs to be renegotiated so that US flights can get daytime HND slots.

  11. Is that your picture??? Of the AA 787-8?

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  12. HND is ideal for those just visiting Tokyo and not connecting beyond. The arrival/departure times (an example of Japan’s approach to “open markets”) make this an impractical transit airport for flights within Japan, or to other countries in Asia. It is for this very reason AA would not give up its NRT flights since they connect with dozens of JL flights both domestic and international. (Not to mention boasting one of AA’s better Admirals Clubs is at NRT.) It’s essential for AA’s Pacific strategy to have this NRT hub (just as it is for DL and UA). I agree getting to/from HND at these hours by the otherwise excellent public transit options is a problem if flights arrive later than 11p, but for business travellers — AA’s bread and butter — a cab to/from the hotel is reasonable and permits a night at the hotel to prepare for next day meetings, and gives a full business day/evening before departing. Flights from NRT to the US proscribe the departure day to breakfast meetings at best. As long as these flights have good on-time reliability HND should be a winner. But if flights are delayed into HND, they’ll be a disaster for those without expense accounts.

  13. Haneda is absolutely much better than Narita for OW flyers. Though agree that for AA, the arrival time at 11pm Jpn time, you aren’t going to go anywhere and taxis in Japan have a 20% increased taxi rate in the night. So you are looking at around 70-80 USD just to get to your hotel in town.
    Interesting to see how they would make the LA route work… Would have loved to see a Hawaii – haneda route though as a person living in Japan. The load factor to Hawaii is way higher and much better for those times.

  14. I’m flying this one eastbound at the beginning of March, as part of a RTW business itinerary, LHR-ICN-GMP-HND-LAX-open-SAN-LHR. Three out of the total four legs on 787, which I’m quite chuffed about

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