• Thursday, March 2, 2017

    The Narita Express (NEX) from Tokyo to Narita Airport

    View from the Narita Express NEX

    I'm not even going to sugarcoat it: I hate Narita Airport. You can read my Yelp review about it if you really want to know the details, but I'll outline them for you here:

    • It's far away
    • It's expensive to get to
    • It's inconvenient
    I much prefer Haneda Airport because of it's proximity to the city, but unfortunately most of the flights that go there are way more expensive and there are less flights a day because it's a smaller airport.

    Because I live in Yokohama, I used to take the Airport Limousine Bus from YCAT in Yokohama Station to and from Narita. They have a really good deal for youths and seniors. If you're 25 and under, or 65 and older, you can take this bus for only 2,500 yen. Otherwise it's almost 5,000 yen one way! 

    However, I decided to try the Narita Express once because I was getting tired of the inconsistent arrival schedule of the bus. They have approximate times of arrival, but because of traffic, it's not guaranteed. Whereas with the train, there's no real traffic to speak of, so the departure and arrival times are almost always accurate!

    NEX Narita Express reserved ticket
    My reserved seat ticket
    I bought my ticket from Shinagawa Station (JR) because I can ride my regular train line, the Keikyu Line, all the way up there without transferring. You can also buy a ticket that departs from Tokyo Station as well as Shibuya Station and Yokohama Station, I believe, among many others, The routes do run at slightly different times, though, so you should be careful about where you need to board and at what time!

    You also need to choose whether you're getting off at Terminal 1 or Terminal 2. Which airline you're flying will determine this. You can check online or on your boarding pass and your terminal should be noted.

    The waiting platform for the NEX
    The platform I was waiting at had commuter trains running through as well - make sure you don't get on the wrong train by mistake!
    I got to the platform about half an hour early. The morning commute can be rough, so I wanted to make sure I had enough time in case the train was too full for me and my suitcases. (It almost was! I actually missed the first train because it was too crowded and I was too far in the back of the line.)

    If you buy a reserved seat, it'll say the car number on it, much like a Shinkansen ticket does. Just look above to see where you should stand for your assigned car.

    The interior of the NEX
    The interior - so empty!
    Maybe it was because I decided to get an early NEX train, but the car was so empty! I was starting to regret paying extra for a reserved seat... Though I didn't see the unreserved part of the train, so that could've been a totally different story!

    There are racks in the back for your luggage. Because it wasn't a full train, there were plenty of available spaces for the bags. There are 2 rows and they both have locks to secure your baggage in place while you're sitting down and other people are disembarking the train.

    Wifi information on the NEX
    There's wifi!
    I have my own pocket wifi that I carry everywhere, so I didn't need to use the free wifi provided. However, if you don't have that luxury, don't worry... You won't be bored on the train because they provide wifi for you!

    The view from the NEX Narita Airport Express
    The view from the window of the NEX train
    The ride was really nice and peaceful. Much more relaxing than taking the airport bus! Going through Tokyo was cool to see, but once we left the city and got to Chiba prefecture, the scenery was a bit more bland.

    Kuro neko airport baggage shipping slip
    My shipping receipt
    I opted to get one of my suitcases shipped to the airport because I didn't want to go through Tokyo with two rolling suitcases and my rolling carry on! I'm really glad I did because the two bags were almost too much for me with the crowds.

    If you're planning on shipping something to the airport, it's always the same price. No matter the size/weight of the suitcase, there is a specific airport fare that you pay of 1952 yen! And don't forget to bring this paper with you... Otherwise they can't locate your bag/prove that it's yours. I almost forgot this slip... Yikes.

    The gates leaving the NEX platforms
    Where you'll swipe out after leaving the platform
    To exit the station and enter the airport is much like any other JR rail station. You put your ticket into the machine and walk through. However, I also saw people using their Japan Rail Passes, so I'm not sure if the airport is a viable route! If it is, that's a really good deal!

    Narita Airport pillars guiding the way to the terminal
    Follow the signs to your terminal!
    It's really not a far walk at all from the train stop to the terminals. Honestly, it's about the same distance as the Yokohama bus is. There are a few escalators that you need to take (like 4 or 5 floors worth) but they just spiral up. Also, if you need to hit up the ATM one last time (like I did) there's actually one on one of the escalator floors. Keep your eyes peeled and you can't miss it. It's much closer than the JP Post one in the terminals.

    Waiting line at the airport for Asiana Air
    The lines... Ugh!
    I flew Asiana Air, and the lines were ridiculous! Good thing I got there early because it took me an hour and 20 minutes to reach the desk and check my bags in. (Yes, I counted the time...) They had all their desks open too so I don't know what was the problem. There were just too many people!

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