Updated April 23, 2024

Haneda vs Narita: Which Tokyo Airport Is Better?


Japan Dev Team

Japan Dev contributor

Tokyo is undoubtedly one of the most unique cities in the world, attracting visitors all year round. 

As such, it serves as a major international travel hub with two airports: Haneda (HND) and Narita (NRT).

This isn’t anything new, of course, as many large metropolitan hubs have multiple airports to accommodate the large number of flights going in and out of the city. 

That said, things work a little differently in Tokyo’s case. Both airports serve both international and domestic flights, just at different capacities. Naturally, it can be hard to decide which airport to use, as you'll often be able to choose between the two.

So, let’s look at some of the potential advantages and disadvantages of each airport and try to answer which is better, Narita or Haneda.

The Main Difference Between Narita and Haneda Airports: At A Glance

At first glance, Haneda Airport may seem like the better one: Haneda is closer to Tokyo’s 23 wards and accommodates both domestic and international flights.

That said, Narita Airport is the larger one of the two, with a larger flight capacity. So, you may choose it due to the sheer availability of domestic and international flights, which is one of Narita Airport’s strongest suits.

Still, while Narita is known as the more “international” one, it’s important to note that Haneda was the sole international airport of the metropolis until 1978. 

With more and more international flights becoming available through Haneda in recent years, the airport has been gaining popularity among international travelers despite its smaller size. Still, it’s safe to say that over half the passengers that use this airport use it for domestic flights.

Transportation To/From Narita and Haneda: The Accessibility

As I mentioned, in terms of sheer proximity, Haneda Airport, or HND, is the closest one to the Tokyo 23 Ward area. It’s located right outside the bustling city center in Ota City, and it served as the city’s main airport for years until Narita was built.

If we consider Shibuya as Tokyo’s “downtown”, Haneda Airport is located just 13 miles (20 km) or a 40-minute car ride away, while Narita is much further out at 47 miles (75 km), and it takes an hour and thirty minutes to get there by car. These times are based on average traffic and can change, depending on the traffic.

So, it’s no surprise that taking a cab or other private transportation will cost you more if you’re flying out from Narita (anywhere from around 15,000 JPY to 30,000 JPY from downtown Tokyo) than if you were to fly out of Haneda (around 8,000 JPY to 15,000 JPY from downtown Tokyo). 

Things are even faster and cheaper when taking the train. You can get to the closest one of the two, Haneda, in just 20-25 minutes with a ticket that costs around 500 JPY to 1,000 JPY, which makes it the clear winner when it comes to accessibility.

Flight Options From Narita and Haneda Airports: The Capacity


In terms of flight capacity, I’ve mentioned that Narita is the larger, and expectedly, the one that offers better flight options out of the city’s two airports. 

As opposed to Haneda, which also offers international flights, Narita offers a lot more overseas flights, with more long-distance flight options available to and from countries like the United States.

For instance, at Haneda, Japanese airline companies currently offer flights to 16 major U.S. cities, including Chicago, New York, Los Angeles, Honolulu and San Francisco, whereas at Narita Airport, you’ll find flights to 19 locations in the U.S., including Denver and San Diego. 

Admittedly, Haneda Airport has been going through a revival in terms of its international flight capacity, with several new airlines being approved to schedule flights to the airport from the United States. 

While this is scheduled to take effect in the summer of 2024, it’s still unknown whether this will affect the number of U.S. flights going in and out of Narita, as there’s no significant change in the overall traveler demand that can accommodate such an increase in flight availability.

Airlines Operating at Narita and Haneda

Japan has two major airlines: ANA (All Nippon Airways) and Japan Airlines (JAL). There are other smaller ones as well, but these two offer the most flights and cover much larger distances. 

Both airlines operate at Haneda and Narita Airports, where you’ll also find airlines like Qatar Airways, Emirates, Air France, Singapore Airlines, and British Airways. 

That said, many more airlines operate at Narita Airport, and some are even exclusive to this airport, like Swiss Airlines and KLM.

So, in terms of options, Narita offers so much more. However, as I said, U.S. airline companies are expected to begin scheduling flights to Haneda Airport soon, which might make this comparison a little harder down the line.


Facilities At Narita and Haneda: Shopping and Dining Options

It can be argued that the “better” airport is the one that offers more flights, but what makes an airport truly great are the facilities it provides. 

When comparing the two airports in terms of the shopping and dining options available, it’s hard to pick a winner, as both airports are among the nicest you can travel to and from. 

In terms of the quality of the facilities, Terminal 3 in Haneda is a great international terminal with a newly built complex with shops, luxury hotels, and an express bus terminal.

Narita, on the other hand, has two terminals that operate internationally, and while Terminal 1 is a great one to travel from on all accounts, Terminal 2 seems to receive less attention overall and has fewer waiting areas.

For both airports, I wouldn’t hold out for a duty-free heaven or a culinary feast as you’d find in some of the more popular airports in Asia. That said, there are still a good number of brands and restaurants available. 

Lounges Make A Difference

When it comes to airport lounges, the comparison becomes much easier. 

Narita might be the larger and younger one of the two airports, but Haneda has way more lounges. To be exact, Haneda has a total of 28 lounges, while Narita Airport has 20.

Besides, the lounges you’ll find at Haneda Airport are far newer, as they were more recently opened. For instance, Delta recently launched its Sky Club lounge at Haneda, which is exceptional.

That said, Narita’s JAL first-class lounge is famous for its world-class sushi chef. In comparison, JAL’s Haneda Airport first-class lounge offers a teppanyaki bar, which is still pretty great.

Of course, not all passengers fly first class, and that’s where the biggest difference between the two airports becomes the most apparent. While Narita Airport boasts five Priority Pass lounges, Haneda Airport sadly has none.

Transportation Options Between Narita and Haneda

You now probably have a good understanding of each airport’s strong suits and how to get there. However, in some cases, you may need to travel from one to the other. So, let’s see what your options are.

First off, you have the Keisei Narita Sky Access Train that takes you from one airport to the other. The ride, which costs 1760 JPY, takes 90 minutes, and you can find one departing every 40 minutes or so.

The Limousine Bus service is another quick option that’s available from both airports every 20-30 minutes but may take longer than the train, especially during rush hours. This option costs about 3,200 JPY.

If public transport is not your thing, you can also arrange private transport. This is great for large families and groups, and even though it costs more, it’s worth it if you have a lot of baggage.

Lastly, as I explained in my post about ride-sharing in Japan, you also have the good old taxis at your disposal, which can cost over 40,000 JPY, along with Uber, which provides a good airport transportation service. It costs about 25,000 JPY for an Uber ride between the two airports.

NRT vs HND: A Conclusion


As you can see, both Narita and Haneda are great airports. That said, the main difference between the two boils down to the following points:

  • Haneda Airport is much closer to downtown Tokyo and it’s easier to reach

  • Narita Airport is larger and offers more variety in flight options

  • Haneda Airport has more lounges and is better for first-class passengers

  • Narita Airport has fewer lounges but offers lounges for non-first-class passengers 

Still, judging from different aspects, the scale may easily tip in either airport’s favor. For instance, the upcoming new flights between Haneda and the United States are bound to make a difference, adding to the airport’s already-existing edge of being located closer to downtown Tokyo.

So, in most cases, whether you travel to/from Haneda or Narita is usually up to whatever is available at your desired time, and if you have the option, pick the one that scores better in the categories that matter to you. 

Also, expect to have connections between the two airports at some point if you travel in Japan frequently. You may not realize this as it’s a connection from Tokyo to Tokyo, but some people miss flights thinking their connection flight is at the same airport, so watch out for it.

And that’s it! You now have a pretty good understanding of the two airports around Tokyo, but you still need transportation in the city. If you’re looking for options, check out my posts on electric scooters in Japan and renting bikes in Tokyo.


Japan Dev Team

This post was written by our Japan Dev editorial team.