American Airlines Announces New Tokyo Flight, Throws Down At United: ‘Newark Is Not New York’

American Airlines has just announced the schedule for its new New York JFK to Tokyo Haneda flight which starts June 28 on board a Boeing 777-200.

  • New York (JFK) – Tokyo Haneda (HND), 10:25 a.m. – 1:30 p.m.+1
  • Tokyo Haneda (HND) – New York JFK (JFK), 3:30 p.m. – 3:35 p.m.

This is in addition to the two existing Japan Airlines flights between New York JFK and Tokyo Haneda that are part of the joint business between the two carriers.

Haneda is where you want to fly when going to Tokyo. When you land at Tokyo Haneda airport you’re a 20 minute drive from your hotel without traffic. You hop in a cab and go. At Narita airport a cab can run nearly $300. So you take a 70 minute ride on the Narita Express and then have to take a cab to your hotel. Or you cram into a bus that stops at several hotels. This can take hours in traffic.

American Airlines bested United Airlines for this slot at Tokyo Haneda airport. United sought to move its Houston – Tokyo Narita flight to Haneda airport.

United operates a hub at Newark, and flies from Newark to both Tokyo Narita and Tokyo Haneda airports. In making the announcement, American threw down at United – American will be the only U.S. airline flying to Tokyo from New York.

Whether or not ‘Newark airport’ is really New York has been a top of some controversy since 1934, when New York City’s mayor Fiorello La Guardia pulled a stunt refusing to get off of a TWA flight from Chicago at Newark airport because his ticket said his destination was New York. He demanded to be flown to New York. The end result was LaGuardia airport.

  • At LaGuardia’s urging American Airlines tried operating flights to Floyd Bennett Field in Southeast Brooklyn, but it was farther from Manhattan than Newark. La Guardia offered police escorts (!) to airport car services to try to make the service work.

  • Ultimately the new Queens–Midtown Tunnel made expanding North Beach Airport a better option. The entire project was completed in just two years.

In some sense the question of whether Newark is a New York airport was settled last year by IATA, the International Air Transport Association, which now treats the “NYC” code for airports as meaning New York JFK or LaGuardia – and no longer JFK, LaGuardia and Newark. Newark is no longer a New York “co-terminal.”

That’s really about airfares – fares are now filed separately for travel to and from “New York” and travel to and from “Newark.” So what does this change? For the most part… very little, except you see airlines serving both New York JFK and Newark with fares that are different between the airports, since they’re now more distinct markets.

American Airlines Terminal 8, New York JFK

United Airlines has run ad campaigns on New York City taxis highlighting the time it takes to get to Newark versus JFK airport from a given spot in Manhattan. From parts of the city it is a faster transfer!

At the end of the day Newark is unquestionably a New York City airport if you’re literal about Staten Island being part of New York City, but what United Airlines learned when it pulled out of New York JFK was that it lost corporate accounts on the West Coast because those companies didn’t want to fly to Newark.

About Gary Leff

Gary Leff is one of the foremost experts in the field of miles, points, and frequent business travel - a topic he has covered since 2002. Co-founder of frequent flyer community, emcee of the Freddie Awards, and named one of the "World's Top Travel Experts" by Conde' Nast Traveler (2010-Present) Gary has been a guest on most major news media, profiled in several top print publications, and published broadly on the topic of consumer loyalty. More About Gary »

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  1. Two poorly performing airlines having a go at each other; how grade schoolish. Also, why fly AA, when you can fly JAL?

  2. Who cares? This is all subjective. If you’re in Hell’s Kitchen or Lower Manhattan, EWR is “closer.”

    These squabbles only impress the impressionable.

  3. EWR may technically not be in NY, but it took me 22 mins door-to-door from EWR’s Terminal A to my apartment in lower Manhattan on Tuesday night. No way I could’ve made it that fast from JFK or LGA. Nonsense semantics by AA. For anyone in Manhattan that lives below Houston St. (or those on Staten Island), EWR is the best bet.

  4. Initially it seemed JL would drop one of the JFK-HND frequencies, but now that doesn’t seem to be the case. 3 x on JFK-HND, even with schedules spread across the day, seems like a lot. AA has the benefit of HND connectivity via JL, but given that JL is transitioning JFK-HND to the brand new A350-1000, I just don’t see how the 25 year old AA 777-200ER competes.

  5. AA flight times are actually not bad since they get into HND right before the big afternoon rush. And on the return to JFK, the flight leaves a little later than the JL flight giving one some more time to connect (if you are fortunate to have those options) before getting in later as is the case with the late JL departure. There might also be more award availability!

  6. Never been a fan of Newark and even though it may be closer to some parts of The City………JFK is the primary Gateway to NY and everyone knows it. When an International Carrier begins service to the USA it is JFK, always has been and always will be the case. EWR will always play second fiddle.

  7. EWR is both less of a complete cluster***, particularly at immigration, vs JFK and is a shorter cab ride into Manhattan, where let’s be a honest a disproportionate amount of the passengers on a flight like Tokyo to New York will be coming from / go to. The fewer people that realize how good it is to fly into EWR vs JFK, the better, as that will keep EWR less crowded and less of a mess. Let all of those who demand to fly to “New York JFK” suffer the long lines and drive times

  8. @Dominic huh? EWR is the most delayed airport in the US and has the lowest customer satisfaction rating of any US airport. Not to mention, it is a complete clown show when it comes to ground ops especially at security – I have never seen an airport so regularly either 1) have pre-check closed b/c of lack of staff or 2) have 45 min.+ lines for security for pre-check. In the last year I have faced both issues at EWR more than 2 times.

    JFK is more accessible for most of Manhattan (and even for lower Manhattan it’s more cost effective w/ the subway + Air Tran or LIRR + Air Tran from the East side of Manhattan than for EWR) and has better ground ops and on-time %. Your comment makes no sense.

  9. While there will be those that argue incessantly about which airport is closer to Manhattan from their own perspective, the largest NYC markets to just about every city are from LGA – if inside the perimeter – and JFK for outside perimeter markets.
    UA’s own CEO – who gave away 1/4 of US’ LGA slots while he was in leadership there – acknowledges that it was a mistake for UA to leave JFK, thinking that EWR would serve all of the NYC market. Corporate travel is not beholden to any airport and UA is in very difficult position of not serving all 3 airports – something DL – which has 15% more flights from the 3 airports than UA – as well as AA and B6 all recognize by serving all 3 airports. Add in the effective caps on EWR to prevent more operational disasters like last summer, and UA will be fighting an uphill battle to remain relevant in NYC.

    Specific to Tokyo, as soon as it became evident that DL wasn’t going to bid on the PDX-HND frequency it vacated, it was AA that had the advantage because it always said it would supplement JL’s service.
    Since JL and NH both provide premium configured service to HND, the value of AA’s service is that it competes with UA’s standard international configured service from EWR to both NRT and HND. It is a given that AA will pull traffic off of UA’s flights and probably most negatively impact the UA EWR-NRT flight.

    Since Tokyo is UA’s only E. Asia destination from EWR now because of Russia airspace and China flight caps, UA’s competitive situation from EWR is significantly weakened. DL will announce a restart of JFK to Asia service, likely within a year to ICN and India which will mean that DL could overtake UA from NYC to Asia if DL keeps growing with flights that the A350 can do but the B787-9 cannot.

    Asia is recovering and AA, DL and UA are all trying to get a piece. AA had an advantage in the route case because of its small size to HND while DL will have a larger number of flights between LGA and JFK and more capable aircraft.

  10. American’s reluctance to fly the 787 out of JFK and Delta’s reluctance to fly the a350 out of JFK irks me. The new premium AA 787-9 would have been the perfect plane for JFK-HND to match up with JAL A350 and ANA Room Business Class. Delta’s reluctance to fly the A350 out of JFK better not be the reason why Delta didn’t bother to apply for JFK-HND back in October.

  11. “A taxi in Tokyo? That’s no fun.”

    Oh, it’s fun (with the automatic door opener and the grandma doilies inside). The fun quickly ends when it’s time to pay the driver. Literally the cost of regional airfare elsewhere.

  12. My choice (between EWR and JFK) for getting to my destination/s in Manhattan is EWR. Everyone’s experience is different. As a Senior, I just get off (UAL normally), get to the AirTrain, then to the AMTRAK station, and then to Penn Station, all with minimal hassle, even if I need a little patience. And the cost is very affordable (for me) as I get those Senior fares.

  13. DL does not fly any A350s out of JFK because it doesn’t fly the markets that need it. Even the ex-Latam A350s have been used out of ATL where it is far easier to generate massive volume and do it with a very cost-effective aircraft.
    DL flew JFK-BOM and JFK-NRT but BOM only worked with the 777-200LR which DL got rid of because they already had A350s on order that Airbus said could fly as far as the 777LR and that is happening now. Airbus has increased the capability of the A350s and DL will be getting the first of 16 of the most capable A350-900s with at least 20 more A350-1000s to follow.
    Both versions of the A350 can fly up to a couple hours further than the 787-9 with a viable payload. DL simply did not have enough A350s and certainly not the right versions in terms of capability in order to try to grow but that is quickly changing.
    the second part of DL’s lack of use of A350s at JFK is the lack of markets to Asia that could be profitable for DL. Nobody flies JFK-NRT any more and DL believes the poor JPY to USD exchange rate will make it difficult to make money; AA will have a slight advantage over DL and AA’s previous JFK-NRT service by flying to HND but they face an uphill battle.
    DL will start JFK-ICN and that could be an early route for the A350-1000. UA left a list of a half dozen cities that it served from EWR to Asia but which they can’t serve but the A350 can make work.

    I have long said that part of AA’s problem w/ JFK routes is using the 777-200ER when it is far less economical to operate than the 787-9. Not putting the right airplane will make it harder for AA to make every route it flies from JFK work and that will be true w/ the new HND flight.

  14. @shoeguy – let’s see in a year. If the three are successful, then great. Otherwise you can guaranteed, one JL will be moved.

  15. The huge mistake UA made soon after their takeover by Continental was abandoning its few remaining international flights and moving everything to Continental’s EWR hub, .and domestic too Instead they should have added to their JFK presence . A major world airline not flying out of JFK and little presence at LGA is mind boggling.

    Management and board permitting this should have been throttled.

  16. Unfortunately, flying to a foreign destination on a US carrier only happens if it is my only option. I also know it’s not allowed but if hypothetically available, I’d fly a foreign carrier on any flight domestically as well. The downfall of US carriers continues. From nickel and diming us to poor service and flight options. Anyone who has ever flown anywhere else in the world knows what I mean.

  17. Everyone is arguing over JFK and EWR meanwhile I, an MIA boy watch another Tokyo flight opportunity fly away…
    It’s like a man dying of thirst watching two men argue if Spring Water is better than Purified Water

  18. @M. Casey ORD has the most domestic connections, but JFK has the most international destinations served.

  19. EWR and LGA…I’d say kinda even on the distance to Manhattan. But, EWR is by “far” closer to Manhattan than JFK (see what I did there?). Sometimes I’m not even sure if JFK should even qualify as a NYC airport it’s so far from mid-town.

    EWR also has way upped its game with the new Terminal A. As has LGA with their makeover. JFK is still incredibly large, busy, seemingly forever under construction, and always difficult to navigate. I use it when I have to…but…only when necessary.

  20. This SHOULD have gone to Delta, in lieu of their PDX flight. Delta has a much larger presence and connecting base at JFK than AA, and while AA has JL as a Oneworld Partner, DL has no Japanese partner in Skyteam.

  21. @John S,

    Delta has more slots at HND than any of the US carriers that use it. DL clearly didn’t have interest in a JFK-HND service. No, DL has no Japan partner, but it has others in Asia, so HND is all O&D for DL.

    Not sure how it “should have gone to Delta” when they’re the one who gave up the slot anyway?

  22. Orrrrr…. When the Narita Express gets you to one of train/subway stations in Tokyo, you use its amazingly comprehensive rail network to get where you want to go.

  23. I have flown through EWR and never to or through JFK or LGA. Not the best but not the worst. You can see the lower Manhattan skyline from it including the twin towers before 9/11 and their absence after. I doubt that could be said about JFK or LGA.

  24. Several have touched on it, but @shoeguy said it best: “Given that JL is transitioning JFK-HND to the brand new A350-1000, I just don’t see how the 25 year old AA 777-200ER competes”. No kidding, the 777-200ER is a joke compared to an Airbus A350-1000.

  25. Cute jab but what happens in a year when AA pulls the flight, and continues to run a distant third to DL and UA in virtually every respect?

  26. To keep things consistent, American Airlines can begin referring to the two NFL teams in the region as the Secaucus Giants and the Secaucus Jets. By their reasoning there is only one NFL team in New York, the Buffalo Bills.

  27. It’s telling that the West Coast companies were the ones most upset by this. They don’t realize Newark is closer to much of Manhattan than LAX is to Beverly Hills.

  28. @gary : what’s the over/under for #of months before AA loses so much money they’re forced into the humiliating action of returning the route authority ?

    I’d say 21 months

  29. @tim Dunn : wow you truly are beyond brain dead aren’t you

    UA never “left” any of those EWR-Asia services – lack of Siberian air space access made all of them prohibitively costly to operate for the time being. it has nothing to do with equipment.

    but it’s obvious you don’t even know how to read maps with great circle flight paths so why any of us should be wasting time with a worthless Atlanta loser like you who only knows how to be an apologist and propaganda mouthpiece for DL’s *failed* PDX-HND authority ?

  30. If EWR is not a NY-airport, then IAD is not a Washington airport, LHR is not a London airport, CDG is not a Paris airport.. the list goes on and on. Newark is the fastest airport to Lower Manhattan, driving or by train.

  31. “ When you land at Tokyo Haneda airport you’re a 20 minute drive from your hotel without traffic. You hop in a cab and go. At Narita airport a cab can run nearly $300. So you take a 70 minute ride on the Narita Express and then have to take a cab to your hotel. Or you cram into a bus that stops at several hotels. This can take hours in traffic.”

    There are so many things wrong with this I don’t know where to begin.

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