Wednesday, February 8, 2012

HND-LAX - February 8-7, 2012

Greetings from Los Angeles! I flew here direct from Tokyo International Airport, more commonly known as Haneda. It was my first flight to North America from the sparkling new international terminal that is just 15 minutes from Shinagawa station.

Haneda is so much more convenient than old standby Narita, but due to the fact that domestic flights take up all the landing slots during the day (HND is the fourth busiest airport in the world), international flights leave and arrive at odd times. The flight I took, DL636, left at 12:30 am on February 8th, arriving in LA at 5:45 pm on February 7th. The advantages of such a late departure include a fairly empty airport, no lines at check-in or security (see the photo above), and it is easy to fall asleep on the ride over.

Unfortunately, nearly all the shops are closed, but you can spend time on the observation deck as long as it isn't raining too hard.

After we landed, I was surprised to see that was raining in LA as well. The plane was parked at a domestic gate and then passengers were bused over to the Tom Bradley International Terminal for immigration processing. Most might be annoyed by this, but for me, it's great to be driven around an active airport tarmac with planes taxiing, taking off, and landing all around you. By the time we got going, it was dark and with the rain, there wasn't a good chance to take pictures, the one below is as we were taxiing.

The immigration and customs procedures were unbelievably smooth and speedy, as we were the only international flight arriving at that time. There was no line at immigration, and when I walked to baggage claim, my suitcase was right in front of me, a very rare happening. A good start to the trip.

Interestingly, the return flight also has odd times, leaving LA on February 29th at 11:45 p.m., arriving in Haneda at 5:30 a.m. on March 2nd. Which means no March 1st for me, an effect of the international date line. Before then though, lots of sports, starting tomorrow with an NBA D-League game between Tulsa and L.A. Check back for a recap then.



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