No matter why you happen to be traveling at any particular time, one thing common to all travelers is, sometimes you get stuck at the airport. You see them at every airport you’ve ever been to; the unlucky whose flights have been cancelled, delayed, they missed their flight, whatever. They look uncomfortable, tired, bored, and depending on how long ago they left their point of departure, unclean.
Trying to find a comfortable bit of floor space to sleep for an hour or two, or scavenging for a free outlet to plug in their phone or laptop that’s just about to die. Being stuck at the airport is typically something people associate with misery. I would argue that this is just part of the experience. So relax, there’s nothing you can do about being stuck, but there may be something you can do about other stuff. With the right mind set, and a bit of knowledge about the airport you’re in and, for extended layovers, the surrounding area, you can relax, get some stuff done and get ready for the next leg of your excursion. Not all airports are created equal, so if you get stuck at Narita International in Tokyo, consider yourself lucky.
Baggage Storage/Coin Lockers:
Since you’re not going anywhere for however long, there’s no sense in dragging everything around the airport. Each terminal has a baggage storage service as well as coin lockers. The baggage storage is open from 6am to 10pm, and the prices are roughly the same, so check your flight time and choose accordingly.
If you’ve endured long flights in the past you know how great it would be to have the opportunity to freshen up before your next leg. Narita has showers you can pay for by the ½ hour (¥1030/$9.41) and the capsule hotel, if you’re in T2, has them by the hour (¥1000/ $9.14). The showers at the capsule hotel are open 24hrs, the others are open 6:30am-9pm. It should be a law that every airport have these.
Narita has some great food. All the Japanese food you can think of including sushi, noodle bowls, teriyaki, everything. There’s also the normal airport fare. However, since flight ops at Narita normally end around 10pm, so does nearly everything else in the airport. If you’re stuck overnight and you get hungry, you’re eating at Yoshinoya in T2, which offers beef and rice bowls, or you’re getting snacks at Lawson’s or 7/11, all of which operate 24 hours a day.
Capsule Hotel /Nap Rooms:
Odds are, if you’re not already exhausted from the flight, you will be at some point. Plan ahead and make reservations at the 9 Hours capsule hotel or reserve one of the nap rooms. If you’re going to be there all night, I’d go for the hotel. You can keep your luggage there and as a guest the showers are free, making it the cost effective and more convenient option. Chances are, if you don’t make reservations, you be relegated to a bench in the terminal. Terminal 3 has some long benches without arms you can lay down on.
Nap Rooms – 6:30am-9pm, ¥1540/ $14.07 1st hr, ¥770/$7.03 every hour thereafter
9 Hours Hotel 24 hrs:
Nap Rooms ¥1500/ $13.70 1st hr – ¥500/$4.57 every hour thereafter.
Full day stay – ¥4,900/$44.79 Check in is 12pm/Check out is 10am
Now that everything else is sorted out, and you can do whatever you want, why not utilize this time to get things done. If you’re a digital nomad like myself, take advantage of the free WiFi at Narita (FreeWiFi-NARITA) to get some work done. There are charging stations in a 3 terminals, so depending on the time, you shouldn’t have to search for one. Or go to the paid lounge (¥1200/$10.95) overlooking the runway and watch the planes come and go while you work or surf the net. The lounge operates from 6:30 am-9:30pm.
If you’re at Narita International, you don’t have to endure the hardships all too often associated being stuck at the airport. This list doesn’t cover everything, but this should help you get through the survival situation of being stuck at Narita Airport adequately.