Airport #87/100: Tokyo–Narita (NRT)

Narita International Airport · Narita, Chiba, Japan
First visit: 10 February 2019 · flighthistorian.com/airports/NRT

This was my first trip to Japan, and as such, my first time visiting a Japanese airport. Since both my incoming and outgoing flights were on American Airlines, I only got to experience Terminal 2.

Welcome to Japan sign

As the customs exit left me in the landside part of the terminal and I had to catch a shuttle into Tokyo anyway, I didn’t have the opportunity to explore the terminal on my way in. However, on my way home, I made sure to arrive at NRT about three hours before my flight so I’d have time to look around before departing.

The landside part of the terminal had a decent amount of shopping and I still had a couple of souvenir requests from friends to fulfill, so I headed up to the T2 shops. While I was up there, I found an observation deck.

Terminal 2 north observation deck

After going through security and exit immigration, I took a walk around all of the international gates of Terminal 2.

World clock with daylight map

The Platinum status I’ve earned with American Airlines grants me lounge access on international itineraries, so after I was done exploring I decided to go visit the Admirals Club.

View from the NRT Admirals Club, with a few OneWorld tails visible on the ramp

It was a nice enough airport and I wouldn’t mind flying here again, though if I do, I might try to fly a Star Alliance or SkyTeam airline so I can check out Terminal 1.

My “Worst” Layovers

Flying out of a smaller city like Dayton, I’m used to having flight layovers on the way to nearly everywhere I travel. While any layover is going to lengthen a trip, one of the most common complaints I hear from traveling companions is when a layover forces them to fly east to go west, or vice versa.

Traveling east (DAY–IAD) to go west (TUL)

[All maps in this post are generated by Paul Bogard using the Great Circle Mapper – copyright © Karl L. Swartz]

I started thinking about a way to quantify how bad a layover was, and ultimately decided that it would be best to compare the sum of the (great circle) distances for each of the flights flown compared to the (great circle) distance of a direct flight from the origin to the destination:

{ratio}_{layover} = \dfrac{distance_1+distance_2+\ldots+distance_n}{distance_\text{direct}}

This would give me a ratio of how much further I flew than I needed to, where a higher ratio would mean a worse layover. A ratio of 2 would mean I flew twice as far as I needed to, a ratio of 3 would mean three times as far, and so on. A ratio of 1 would mean a layover didn’t add any extra distance at all.

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