In terms of size Tokyo Haneda ranks alongside giant international hubs such as London Heathrow,
Paris Charles de Gaulles and Los Angeles International.
Japan’s largest airport handled 66.73 million passengers last year, making it the busiest airport in Asia and fourth busiest in the list of the world’s largest airports behind Atlanta-Hartsfield,
Chicago O Hare and London Heathrow.
What marks Haneda out from the rest of the pack, however, is that the vast majority of passengers passing through are travelling on domestic flights. Tokyo’s increasingly overcrowded Narita airport
has traditionally handled the capital’s international flights, leaving Haneda, located 30 minutes south of the city, to cover domestic services.
It is a shame that flights to the two airports have been set up this way. Haneda is situated much closer to Tokyo than distant Narita. In fact, it is a short, half-hour train ride away. Customers also give the airport a big thumbs up for its light, airy check-in halls, speedy security checks and boarding procedures, as well for its quick and efficient baggage system.
In the near future Haneda will handle more international flights as Japanese aviation authorities try to take pressure off overworked Narita. A five-story, 159,000 square foot terminal is currently being built at Haneda and is scheduled to open later this year. It will almost certainly handle long-haul flights to Europe, and will increase the airport’s overall flight capacity by 40%.
A more important international role may beckon for Haneda, but for the moment its main drawback is that the airport primarily caters to local travellers. Japanese signs and information display screens are the norm, and most airport staff have limited English. Finding your way around is a challenge although you can glean some decent information before you travel from Haneda’s English website, http://www.tokyo-airport-bldg.co.jp/en/
Haneda has a large range of shops and restaurants, although it is fair to say the majority of outlets are understandably targeted at local travellers. It is also worth mentioning that the main shopping centres in Terminals 1 and 2 are both located before security. The post-security line up of stores and restaurants is much more limited, so bear this in mind when you plan your time at the airport.