Waking Up in the Tropics: United Airlines’ Tokyo/Haneda to Guam Flight UA848 [Flight Report]

United Airlines inaugurated its Tokyo/Haneda to Guam service on May 1. This route is a completely new addition, as no other airline, including competitors, had previously operated the same route. It marks the fifth route connecting Japan and Guam, alongside others originating from Tokyo/Narita, Osaka/Kansai, Nagoya/Chubu, and Fukuoka.

Initially, United Airlines had applied for the launch of this route in February 2019 in line with the expansion of international flights at Haneda Airport but was not approved. In September 2023, the airline requested the U.S. Department of Transportation (DOT) to reallocate the unused slots that Hawaiian Airlines held, which faced opposition and initial rejection. Ultimately, a slot for one daily round trip was surrendered, and it was allocated to the Tokyo/Haneda to Guam route, fulfilling United Airlines’ long-standing goal after five years.

The Boeing 737-800 aircraft, configured with 16 business class seats and 150 economy class seats for a total of 166 seats, operates one round trip per day. The schedule has the Guam-bound UA848 flight departing from Tokyo/Haneda at 11:55 PM and arriving at 4:45 AM the following day. The return flight, UA849, leaves Guam at 7:00 PM and lands in Tokyo/Haneda at 10:00 PM.

Kenichi Kiriyama, the Sales Office President for Japan and Micronesia at United Airlines, emphasized the flexibility the Tokyo/Narita route provides in connection, stating, “For example, if you want to go to the resort just for the weekend, you can leave Haneda after work on Friday and return on Sunday night, which is definitely feasible.”

This report focuses on the usability of the Tokyo/Haneda to Guam late-night flight, UA848. Please refer to previous reports on the Tokyo/Narita to Guam route for information on in-flight amenities.

To reiterate the schedule, UA848 departs Tokyo/Haneda at 11:55 PM and arrives in Guam at 4:45 AM the next day. Due to the one-hour time difference with Japan, the flight duration is 3 hours and 50 minutes. Despite Guam’s proximity to Japan, the short flight duration on a late-night flight might be considered a disadvantage for those trying to maximize sleep on board.

However, there are also many advantages to this schedule. Arriving at Haneda Airport by approximately 10:30 PM suffices. It’s conveniently possible to return home after work, take a shower, change, and then head to the airport. The schedule is also favorable for connecting domestic flights to Haneda.

I flew on the inaugural flight on May 1. The departure gate was number 149, which tends to be in the 140s range. Given it was during Golden Week, many passengers were Japanese, with a noticeable number of families. United Airlines has not disclosed the number of passengers, but the flight was reportedly “full” that day, with nearly all seats occupied, though fortunately, the seat next to me remained empty.

UA848 departed at 11:46 PM, heading south along the west side of the Izu Islands, and approximately 1 hour and 40 minutes later, the seatbelt sign was turned off.

Despite being a late-night flight, a full meal service is provided. Chicken was served to me about an hour after the seatbelt sign was turned off, which was around 3:30 AM local time in Guam.

During meal service, the cabin lights are turned on, making it difficult for those who wish to skip the meal to continue sleeping. According to Kenichi Kiriyama, the airline is considering switching to lighter meals, such as snack boxes.

After the trays are collected, the lights are dimmed again, but by then, Guam is nearly in sight. Even if one manages to sleep from that point on, it would be for only about 30 minutes. Arrival in Guam was at 4:35 AM, swiftly entering an eternal summer American resort.

▲A welcome water salute greeted the inaugural flight upon arrival in Guam

Though I stayed mostly awake for the report, if you’re taking this flight, I recommend “sleeping” as soon as you get onboard and settle in your seat. It’s important to efficiently secure sleep time on this flight. Bring an eye mask if necessary.

If all goes smoothly, you’ll be outside the airport around 5:00 AM, but for those wondering what to do so early in the morning, some accommodation facilities like Hoshino Resorts RISONARE Guam and Guam Reef Hotel offer early check-in plans starting at 6:00 AM to coincide with this flight (Note: there’s generally no shuttle service from the airport to hotels early in the morning, so booking a taxi or rental car is advisable). Dropping off your luggage at the hotel and then heading out after breakfast might be a reasonable way to start your day without pushing yourself too hard. (Flight date: May 1, 2024, Report collaboration: United Airlines & Guam Visitors Bureau)

▲ Hoshino Resorts RISONARE Guam offers an early check-in plan in line with the Tokyo/Haneda to Guam flights

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