Tokyo Narita Eliminating Transit Security for US Passengers Connecting to Asia in April Test

Tokyo Narita airport is going to forego transit security screening of passengers flying from the United States and connecting to other destinations in Asia.


Tokyo Narita Airport Terminal 2

This will be going on between April 3 and April 12, and will be for certain U.S. arrivals only. Passengers originating in Asia and connecting to the United States will still go through security at Narita airport.

The goal is to make Tokyo Narita a preferred airport for connecting passengers, noting that Tokyo Haneda will be growing with the addition of new U.S. slots. At the same time other airports in Asia, like Seoul Incheon, are building their U.S. connecting business as a result of Korean Air’s joint venture with Delta.

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  1. This kind of thing can make a major difference in making transits faster and easier, but if it’s not easily known in advance by passengers about which flights have this kind of arrangement applicable to avoid transit security, then it doesn’t do as much good as it can do.

    Airports in the Schengen area which went with getting rid of transit security for passengers coming in from the US and heading onward by air within at least the Schengen zone have gotten more of my business than they otherwise would have.

    Given that you’re probably going to be flying with a young child even more, minimizing additional security screenings is definitely something you may want to consider in your air travel plans. And minimizing the number of security screenings experienced during a trip can definitely make travel easier for a lot of other people too.

  2. I’m assuming because of the China trade tarriffs imposed by the US as retaliation? I think I am wrong, but please do by all means correct me. Thank you.

  3. Do NRT-transit passengers originating at other Japanese airports need to clear transit security at NRT? I would have assumed that they wouldn’t, need to clear transit security at NRT, but perhaps the “Asia-US traffic direction” comment was made for the sake of simplicity rather than for the sake of being accurate and precise?

  4. This is great but, really, who’s going to know about it, and then make their travel plans based upon that information? It’s too obscure to make a difference. I always wonder whether I’m going to have to clear security again when I transit a separate country. I do it often, but I can’t remember the procedure — especially since it sometimes changes. What I dislike is getting to the transit country’s airport, clearing security and then have to clear EXTRA, “surprise” second security for my USA flight. It’s actually kind of a game for me: how bad is the extra security going to be for my USA bound flight. From experience, I know to get to the gate early to get through this extra, unpredictable punishment.

  5. This is nice and all. But I’ve never spent more than minutes in NRT transfer security. It’s a non-factor.

  6. I agree with Bob, in my experience the transfer security lines are seldom longer than 5 minutes. Also, I have seen staff at Narita meet passengers who have tight connections at the arriving plane door and escort them through the process.

    I believe all passengers, including domestic connections to international have to go through security @ NRT.

    Perhaps a small incremental improvement, which perhaps may have more to do with Japan’s chronic labor shortage than passenger convenience.

  7. Given the vast majority if such transits occurred when UA and DL/NW used NRT as their major Asian hub and have pretty much elimitated onward or inbound SIN, BKK and other flights, this is a desperate but futile gesture to keep US carriers from their movement of flights to HND. Having endured dozens of these useless transit security screenings I’ve never understood why they were necessary if one’s inbound flight originated from a country with high levels of screening other than as a job creation program.

  8. @Michael — Agreed — my last transit security experience at Narita lasted about 2 minutes. Honestly, the only bad experience I can remember from the past year or two was at Heathrow. They were sticklers. Like not believing my travel liquid was under 100 ml (they claimed it was 120 ml).

    As I said, the annoying security check is usually the second, stricter check on USA-bound flights at the gate. I don’t recall having that at Narita, though.

  9. NRT Transit security is fast. Never had a problem. However, one less thing do deal with would be good.

    However, I am guessing Asia to USA would require additional security at the gate which is a pain.

    I have to agree with Chopsticks, I hate the transit security in Heathrow. (1) It takes a really long time to get to Transit Security, (2) there are long lines, and (3) they have stolen my contact solution (which I need) several times because it is more than 120ml rather than 100ml, (4) it is a zoo, and (5) it is hard sometimes to see what is happen with your carry-on as it is transiting through the security process. You really have to make sure there about 3 hours in the connection to not be worried about missing the next plane.

  10. My MIL is flying JAL LAX-NRT-MNL tomorrow (before these changes take place). The connection time is 1h10m. I remember the transit security being fast but 1:10 seems kind of short to me still. NRT lists MCT as 45 min. How comfortable is 1:10?

  11. I think that the real benefit here (since this doesn’t apply to all flights originating from the US and not all passengers will be affected) is to reduce the minimum connection time required. If a customer in the US is booking a flight to Bangkok and will have to connect in Asia, and if the prices are similar, then overall travel time is likely to be the determining factor, and this will boost load factors on those flights that enable a faster connection time.

  12. I’m always for eliminating redundant screenings when transit could be done entirely airside. Some airports are very good about this, and others are not. I’d rather be at the gate or in a lounge than standing in line to have my already screened stuff screened again.

  13. @brteacher — you’re probably right, plus I suspect it may give them more flexibility in assigning gates.

    As for whether passengers know about it — I suspect a lot of premium passengers do, and that can make the difference in terms of profitability.

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