Helpful Insights from Voices of Experience

Tokyo Narita Airport (NRT)

Narita Help Desk

There is a helpful desk in the airport for Hotel bookings. This link can point you to the location in the airport to get the information you need.


Tokyo to POM – Sleep & Showers

In January of 2009, we had about an 8 hour layover at Narita. Had I been traveling with adults, I probably would’ve been up for some “sushi bar hopping.”  But our companions were our young children, so we were all ready for some real sleep.  We arrived, around 8 pm I think, in Terminal 1 from LA and made our way through customs. We had a long, cold wait to catch a shuttle to Terminal 2 which is where Air Niugini (normally) departs. We picked up a few snacks in one of the airport convenience stores and found our way to the Dayrooms.  It was the one in Terminal 2, Main Building, 3rd Floor (after passport control). We had a Twin room, which was small with two twin beds for five of us.  Didn’t matter to us…we were out as soon as our heads hit the pillows. They’ll give you a wake-up call, so that kept us from worrying about sleeping through an alarm clock and missing our next flight. The steaming hot shower was priceless at that point. I looked at the current prices and they’ve gone up, but if I found myself in the same situation, it would still be worth it to me.  Our luggage was checked all the way through (we’d flown United from LAX), so I guess that why this worked for us, unlike the other poster who was coming from Frankfurt.

As a sidenote, my parents returned through Tokyo last year and had close to a 24 hour layover. They stayed at the Narita Tobu Hotel Airport (formerly Holiday Inn Narita) and were pleased with the experience.

Tokyo to POM – $3,500 in Baggage Fees!

Bracing ourselves for 43 hours of travel and 26 hours of actual economy “chair” time, signs of foreboding showed up early and often. In Washington DC we found out for the first time that our bags would not be able to be checked all the way to PNG. No problem, we’ll just lug all 15 action packers and numerous carry-ons around the LA airport and recheck them there. At our 2nd check-in of the day, we were assured our bags were going all the way to PNG this time, and with a hop in our step we boarded the largest plane in the world, the A380 for Tokyo, arriving 11 hours later.

With no hop but a casual trod, we get off the plane and are met by an airport attendant at the end of the gate, with 2 hours until our next flight. She informs us that Air Niugini will be leaving from a distant terminal that will require a bus trip to a far off piece of airport real estate.  She didn’t mention the walk to the bus would also be a long, arduous trek. We walk on and on through underground tunnels and survive the death march only by telling the little kids that they are really still asleep and that they should keep sleep walking one step in front of the next toward the bus. The bus whisks us further away from civilization to an outlaying terminal possibly in a different country where we see our plane awaiting.

Now this is where the story gets good! As we make our way into the terminal we are kept from entering the gate. It seems that they would like to discuss our baggage. I’m not much for conversation but it soon dawns on me through their Japanese and broken English that they are telling me that if I don’t pay $3,500 in baggage fees, they are not letting us on the plane. They tell us that Air Niugini has different baggage rules than any other airline and we just tipped their scales in the wrong direction. I act aghast… actually it’s not an act. My wife does a pretty good job also of acting “disappointed.” I said I guess we’re going to have to start to learn Japanese ’cause were not going any further at that price. Thankfully they come back with a discounted price of just over $2,900 dollars. I say thankfully not because we could afford that any better but because now I know that we can barter our way on!  I have the children act depressed and miserable… again not much acting needed.  My wife does her part in a rousing good cop, bad cop routine. Eventually we’re through for a little over $700 but we are happy because it’s almost over.

Arriving in PNG, we get through immigration and drag ourselves across the finish line when we pass through customs. Home free!  Now for our last domestic flight we get our bags together to have them transferred to the domestic terminal automatically only to find that, yes, once again there will be no automatic check-in available.  I will not bore you with the details of what it was like to go into a 3rd world domestic airport and the 3 hours it took to get our bags re-checked among the throngs of people and the $300 in fees we had to pay for those bags. The fact is, we made it to Goroka with everybody accounted for and all our bags too!  Prayers answered!

Tokyo to POM – Dayroom Confusion

We have a little tip to give for those coming to PNG through Tokyo. We came from Frankfurt, Germany and had a 12 hour overlay in the Tokyo Airport, which happened to be daytime in Tokyo, but nighttime for us. So we thought that we wouldn’t be able to just sit at the airport for all those hours, but would rather sleep in a bed. We found out that the Airport has Dayrooms and booked a double room there. But what we didn’t realize was that the rooms are in the waiting area beyond the departure check-in. We had to get our luggage in Tokyo and do the check-in again because we weren’t able to check it all the way from Germany. But the Air Niugini check-in counter didn’t open until two hours before the departure, which meant that we couldn’t get into the dayrooms until then either. We had to go to a near-by hotel instead and that worked well too and was even a bit cheaper. Now when I look into the website, I see a sentence there saying “Available only to departing passengers who have completed passport control formalities.”

Tokyo to POM – Excessive Luggage

We flew LA-San Francisco-Tokyo-Port Moresby-Goroka via American Airlines (AA) and then Air Niugini (ANG) for the Tokyo to PNG portion. Our AA international luggage allowance was two 50 lb bags each and we paid for 2 extra bags. We could not check them all the way to PNG because there was no “baggage agreement” between AA and ANG, so we would have to collect our bags in Tokyo, go through customs there and then check them in for our ANG flight.

When we got to Tokyo Narita we collected our 6 huge bags, went thru customs and then upstairs to the Air Niugini counter. When the counter opened they directed us to the agent at the very end of the line (Japanese Airlines manned the Air Niugini check-in counter). They started weighing each bag and adding up the weight and then they told us the problem. Air Niugini charges excess baggage per kilogram (1 kg = 2.2 lbs). Our ANG luggage allowance was two 20 kg/44 lb bags per person, so that meant we were more than 50 kgs/110 lbs overweight!  The amount they charge is $50 per kg so our total charges would have come to over $2,500 USD. Needless to say we were overwhelmed and didn’t know what to do. Then they informed us that they had decided to give us the first-class luggage allowance of two 32 kg/70 lb bags per person if we could combine our 6 bags into just 4 bags. The process was very involved and by that time the rest of the passengers had all checked in so we had at least a half dozen ticketing agents down at our end helping us. We ended up emptying out two duffle bags into the other ones, throwing away one of the cheaper duffle bags and our other empty one they strapped to one of our trunks and then wrapped the whole thing in bubble wrap. We kept saying we would throw away this or that and they kept telling us to keep trying to fit it in so, though we did discard a few “unnecessary” things, the rest made it. They were not only polite and helpful, but they even relaxed a bit on the 32 kg weight limits as I saw a couple bags on the scale in the 33 kg range.  It ended up costing us nothing! Praise the LORD!

In Port Moresby we were not charged any customs (they didn’t even open one bag) and they didn’t question our huge bags as we checked them straight through to our domestic flight up to Goroka. One of our carry-on bags was too large for the smaller plane, so they took it from me as we went through the gate and just loaded it underneath for us. All arrived safe and sound 🙂