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How To Catch an Early Morning Flight When Trains Are Not Running

A recent study has shown that out of all the world’s major metropolitan cities, Tokyo residents sleep the least amount of time. The bustling streets and flashing lights never stop. But even in the city that doesn’t sleep, unfortunately the trains and many of the buses do. This can be a real problem if you need to catch an early flight.

The train lines in Tokyo stop service between 12:00 AM-1:00 AM depending on the line and begin running again at 4:00 AM. This may not cut it if you have a 6:00 AM or even 7:00 AM flight. Narita International Airport is actually quite far from the center of the city, while Haneda is more centrally located and much closer.

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There are several options if you do get caught in such a predicament. Taxi services run 24 hours a day, have English speaking operators and are easy to book (Click here for making a reservation). However, they can cost you upwards of 25,000 JPY ($204.27 USD) considering that Narita is 60 km away. Haneda is closer but will still cost about 7000 JPY ($57.12) Do yourself a favor and avoid them in Tokyo if at all possible, at least for your wallet’s sake.

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If you aren’t willing to shell out that kind of cash, a cheaper and perhaps more practical option is an early morning bus. There are a couple of services that run from several stations, including centrally located Tokyo Station and go to both Narita and Haneda.

Getting to Haneda Airport for an early flight should not be much of a problem. The JR Keihin-Tohoku/Negishi Line Local begins service to Haneda at 4:42 AM and will have you there by 5:20 AM. But if this will absolutely not work, there are early morning bus services that leave from several locations around the city.

Getting to Narita for an early morning departure will take longer so trains are out of the question if you need to be there early. The Access Narita, early morning bus service, is one great option. It runs from both Ginza Station and Tokyo Station. The first bus is a “Women-Only” bus that leaves from Ginza at 1:05 and Tokyo at 1:10. Both sexes may catch the next two at 1:15/1:20AM and 4:05/4:10 AM. The buses are spacious and have restrooms and reserving a seat is easy to do online. The journey will take about 1 hour and 15 minutes. Early morning buses cost 2000 JPY ($16.34 USD). Access Narita can also be an easy and cheap way to get from Narita to the city upon your arrival.

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Airbnb rentals can be unbelievably comfortable with many, if not more, amenities than a hotel. One thing that they might not have however is a wake up call service. Unless your willing to ask your host for an early morning wake-up call (which might not work out so well) check out this wake-up call service that will call you any time wherever you are in the world so you won’t risk missing that early morning flight.

Even when the trains and public buses turn-in for the night, there are several options for getting to the airport and catching your early morning flight. Plan ahead and make reservations to guarantee yourself a seat on the early morning buses. And be sure to check-out TRIPals for other travel tips, ideas, and suggestions for getting the most out of your time in Japan.

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