American Airlines Officially Launching Service To Tokyo Haneda Airport

After some wrangling to get slot times that work for them, American Airlines will launch their service from LAX to Haneda airport in Tokyo shortly.

The flights go on sale this Sunday with the first flight scheduled for February 11, 2016.  The flight times look like this:

LAX-HND
Flight: AA27
Departs LAX at 6 p.m.
Arrives at HND at 11 p.m. the following day
HND-LAX
Flight: AA26
Departs HND at 1:30 a.m.
Arrives at LAX at 6:20 p.m.
The flight times out of LAX line up closely with Delta, who operates a flight that departs shortly before 5pm.  ANA has a flight that leaves at midnight and arrives at 5am.
From HND, Delta and ANA both leave at roughly midnight.
Overall, I think these flight times are commercially viable for American. The flight out of LAX leaves late enough to connect from elsewhere in the country and to get most of a day’s worth of work in before taking off.  ANA’s flight times are probably a bit better for me in that I could work a full day elsewhere in the country and connect in LAX.  However, given the length of the flight, a 6pm departure would give me the time to eat dinner before falling asleep (a bit on the early side) for a full night of sleep.  ANA’s flight is probably better for those that need to connect at HND for onward flights.  The return flight time is rough, but all the flights leave pretty late in the evening.
This has been a long time coming for American, who petitioned the DOT for the rights to Delta’s Haneda slot amidst poor utilization.  After some back and forth between Delta and the DOT, they ultimately gave up the slot, and the DOT awarded it to American.
American had some trouble acquiring a good slot at Haneda and had petitioned the DOT for some more time to get things set up.  Nonetheless, Delta filed a complaint the first day American was due to start operating service, claiming that American should forfeit the slot.  That seems to be a moot issue now with American poised to start the sale of tickets in the next few days.
So, why all the stink over Haneda?
A couple of reasons:
1.  Haneda is a lot closer.  I used the Park Hyatt Tokyo, one of my favorite hotels in the entire world, as the example below.
Haneda
Haneda
2.  Connecting flights.  There’s some belief that Haneda is a better airport for onward flights since it has more traffic.
The hope is that over time American Airlines (and other US airlines serving Haneda) will get better flight times to make it easier to connect.  This would be especially helpful for American Airlines given it’s partnership with Japan Airlines.
American Airlines is planning to use the -8 variant of the 787 Dreamliner.  I had a chance to fly that plane on the inaugural flight to Chicago earlier this year and enjoyed it.  I’ll be interested to see if American puts a 787-9 on this route when they start receiving those planes.  It would be a small indication of how the route is performing for them.  As of now, they appear to be the only one operating a 787 on the route, though ANA has plenty of them if they wanted to switch it up.
 I won’t be on the inaugural, but I’ll look to add this line to the map at some point in the future.

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