Then the Narita dramas began. After circling a few times, we landed on time when the curfew was lifted at 6am. Unfortunately our Paris flight didn’t depart until 11.10am. We thought long and hard about whether we could get out of the airport and make the 10 minute train trip to Narita township where there is a shopping complex, cute village streets and a temple.
Here’s what happened and why we don’t want to see Narita airport again any time soon!
Hubby wanted to go through security into the connecting international flights area to check out where we would be departing from. I did ask if we would be able to get out again but he was sure that we could.
6.15am We found our departure gate and I convinced him to head for Narita. The only way out seemed to be back through security where we had come in. However, there were no exit signs which should have given us a hint. So we asked one of the ladies that was scanning people in. Unfortunately she was only programmed to speak 5 words of English (ie ‘boarding pass please’ and ‘no time’). They wouldn’t let us out!
So we wandered off to find the Qantas lounge (which took quite a bit of wandering and a shuttle train) only to find that it didn’t open until 8.30am! Even domestic Qantas lounge in Australia opens at 6am!
7am After looking at all the closed shops, we decided to try to escape the airport again. We tippy toed back to the security area hoping to avoid the person that we had spoken with before. Luckily we found someone else who had at least double the number of words of English and let us out!
We dashed for the Immigration area only to find a queue snaking along at least 6 lanes. By this time all the flights that had been waiting for the curfew to lift were landed and passengers queued. We debated again but decided to still go for it and turn back if we had to.
The queue moved at a very nice pace to start with and we soon reached the 30 minute waiting point. Then the pace trickled to s standstill at the 15 minute waiting point. It limped along a bit while we clock watched and we made it to two lanes from the Immigration counter.
7.45am After much converting of time backwards and forwards between timezones with fuzzy brains we decided that we wouldn’t make it out of Immigration before 8am and then we still had to clear Customs before we could search out the train. That would mean getting to Narita around 8.45 and we would then have to jump back on a train by 9.30 to allow enough time to get back through Customs etc. Based on the current queue experience who knew how long that would take. Regretfully we forced our way back against the tide of the queue and headed back to the security entry of the international connections area.
We then spent a further 30 minutes queued up there as it painfully progressed through one scanner. Over 2 hours after arrival we ended up back exactly where we had started, having achieved nothing but some exercise.
We hopped back on the shuttle train and headed back to the Qantas club which was of course still shut.
Shops were slowly starting to open so we cruised those and spotted some hideous looking green Kit Kats that we thought the kids might like. This required Yen. So we trekked from one end of the gates to the other looking for an ATM. None in sight. Hubby headed off back on the shuttle train to the main building to find an ATM…
He eventually returned to say that the minimum withdrawal amount was 10 000 Yen or $100AUD.. Bit over the top for a Kit Kat. So we gave up on that one.
8.45am We headed back to the Qantas Club which was finally now open!! Only to find that we weren’t eligible with our membership!! Grrr.
So we headed off to find somewhere to eat and hoped that we wouldn’t have to withdraw 10 000 Yen to do it. After trawling all shops, we settled on a cafe that took credit card, sold a few recognisable foods (ie hot chips), and sold coffee. After admiring all the plastic models of food we settled on chips and sushi for whatever meal you call it at 9.00am when you’ve had breakfast at 4am.
Restored, we cruised the shops again and concluded that Narita airport would be fine if you had a half hour stopover and were in the market for a Tiffany trinket or something from Bvglari!
And that’s how we filled in 5 hours and trekked 7208 steps which equated to 5.2km!
11.10am Au Revoir Narita airport!