AvGeek Heaven: The Haneda Airport Observation Deck

Yesterday I found myself with a long (and expensive) daytime layover at Tokyo’s Haneda Airport. Believe it or not, this was my first time ever using Haneda Airport. I’ve flown through Narita Airport dozens of times, though never Haneda Airport, which is significantly closer to the city of Tokyo. I guess I’ve never flown through Haneda because for years, a vast majority of longhaul service to Tokyo has been to Narita rather than Haneda, but that’s slowly changing, as the airport is opening up daytime slots for longhaul flights.

Tiffany mentioned that I had to check out the observation deck at Haneda Airport, so I did. I had heard about it in passing, but never fully realized how cool it was.

The observation deck is located just a very short walk from the check-in hall.

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Take the elevator up a couple of levels to the fifth floor while still landside, and you’ll see signage leading to the observation deck.

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There’s a wall with dozens of airplane models.

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Then there’s an area with a flight simulator for kids (color me jealous!).

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When you walk through the double doors, you’ll find yourself out on a massive deck, which spans almost the entire length of the terminal, with an immediate view of the gates, and views of the runways in the distance.

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Perhaps what I loved most was the interesting mix of people on the deck. You had airport employees take a break, hardcore aviation geeks with lots of camera equipment, little kids looking at planes in sheer amazement, etc.

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In terms of being a hardcore aviation geek, I think the below guy takes the cake, as he had two bags of camera equipment and was listening to ATC through an earpiece.

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If you have a camera with zoom, you could easily capture planes landing and taking off. The view can be a bit awkward if you’re trying to capture pictures of planes at gates, at least in some instances, due to obstructions.

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Once you’re done geeking out, there are some great retail therapy opportunities immediately inside, like this Hello Kitty Japan store.

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Bottom line

If you find yourself at Haneda Airport, visiting the observation deck is a must. It’s a great way to get some fresh air while having amazing views of the planes at the airport. I wish more airports had observation decks like this.

Big picture, though, I have to say that I greatly prefer Haneda Airport to Narita Airport. It’s much nicer, and the Japan Airlines lounge was also significantly nicer than the one at Narita Airport.

Have you visited the Haneda Airport observation deck? Do you have a preference between Haneda Airport and Narita Airport?

Comments

  1. I was in Tokyo a few months ago: I flew into Haneda on a Japan Airlines B777-300ER in Business Class (I just published my flight clip on that today: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=UTputSFQN_g) and left from Narita. I prefer the Haneda airport as its much closer to the city center and the JAL lounge is better. Thx for the tip about the observation deck (didn’t know about this). Will visit it on my next trip to Japan next month. Btw, if you are in Tokyo right now, you should visit the Aman Tokyo for afternoon tea (since I assume you are much a hotel enthousiast as I am): the lobby and overal decor is AMAZING, with terrific skyline views.

  2. Wow! I have never been to Japan but if I did I would definitely want to check out the Observation Deck, if I fly to Haneda.

  3. @Lucky

    C’mon man….we need a separate review of the Hello Kitty store. There’s not a single person who reads your blog that doesn’t think you spent at least 45 minutes in there.

  4. That’s a great feature for an airport to have!
    Did you sneak in to the flight simulator when the kids were gone?

  5. If you ever come through ZRH and VCE, let me recommend those as well:

    ZRH has the deck above the whole B concourse and you can walk all around, there´s a place where they patch through ATC Comms, they have binoculars with flight info overlay for all aircraft, at every gate, there´s info on flight destination and aircraft and on gate, they extended the walking area to the end of the little pier the jetbridge is attached to.

    VCE´s airport operated Lounage (Sala Marco Polo) is overlooking the international gates and has an open air terrace whereby you can have a glass of Prosecco (local bubbly!) while looking at widebodies just below you.. A reason I tend to arrive way, way, way too early when flying out of VCE 😀

  6. @steve Truth. At least 45.

    (Hello Kitty is not a cat. She is a girl. She is a Scorpio and lives in suburban London, formerly of the EU.)

  7. AMS has an unbeatable observation deck too. It stretches around the terminal and if the active runway is any other but the “Polderbaan” you have great take off and landing action within view for the normal eye (no binoculars or zoom through camera needed).

  8. Nagoya has a similar observation deck as well. It doesn’t have as many supplementary items like model airplanes and a kid’s area, but it does span the entire length of one of the concourses. The terminal at NGO is shaped like a T, and the observation deck is on the part of the T that sticks out into the airfield, so every gate is visible from the deck.

  9. For many years , China Airlines (CI) was the only foreign carrier to use Haneda; that was punitive as part of a deal with the mainland airlines and Beijing. I doubt that CI complained much as they became a very popular choice for flights into Tokyo ( including from Hong Kong, Singapore and Bangkok…with a Taipei connection).
    Haneda is so much more convenient than Narita…although to and from NRT has improved greatly from the early days.
    Those readers of a certain age will recall the pitched battles between police and farmers during the construction phase: land was compulsorily acquired to build it but the resistance, quite violent at times, went on for years, 10 or 15.
    I suspect if they could start over they would choose a KIX type airport on reclaimed land

  10. There’s a CX lounge at HND that’s supposed to be great as well. We spent all our time in the JL lounge, so we didn’t get to try the CX one.

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