Sadly DTS is making us fly One World to SAN which means the use of the dreaded Jet Star LCC under American Airlines Codeshare as the only carrier to get off the rock. This makes sure we are extra frustrated by he time we get back home. First off Jet Star has no affiliation with One World and your one world status will get you nothing. You won’t even get a free beverage on your flight. So your 6 “American Airline” flights are just code share with JAL, Compass and Jetstar:
|AA Flight #||Real Flight #||Route|
|AA 8445||Jet Star GK 302||OKA-NRT|
|AA 8408||JAL 62||NRT-LAX|
|AA 5956||Compass Air as American Eagle||LAX-SAN|
|AA 5954||Compass Air as American Eagle||SAN-LAX|
|AA 169||real AA flight||LAX-NRT|
|AA 8449||Jet Star GK 309||NRT-OKA|
|AA 8479||JAL 65||SAN-NRT|
|AA 8462||JAL 903||HND-OKA|
I wrote this guide just to prepare yourself for some interesting connections. Your mileage may vary but this is an itinerary that may be troublesome if you are not aware of possible pitfalls at each airport.
OKA to NRT
Looks like everyone has AA 8445 which is actually Jet Star 302. You cannot check in more than 2 hours before your flight. Do not go to AA, do not use the international connection counters, you will be directed to the JetStar counter that won’t check you in until exactly 2 hours before your flight. The bags cannot be checked through to SAN, but rather have to be picked up at NRT and rechecked at JAL.
Not yours, move to the left
You will receive a grocery store receipt as your boarding pass, really. The upshot is if you have Sapphire or Emerald One World Status you can actually get into the Sakura Lounge since this is technically an AA One world Flight. They will match your status on Air Berlin if you are Star Alliance Gold. I used my drivers license address, you just need to email a photo of you *A card, Drivers License, and screen shot of your Air Berlin account to firstname.lastname@example.org .
Get rare access to Sakura Lounge on Jet Star
When you get ready to get on your flight you need to catch the bus that will depart from the lower bus terminal at Gate 28.
You will notice there is no free refreshments or food, so bring you own food and drink if you want to save a few bucks! The menu is not bad, but why pay more for the same stuff, I honestly take some snacks from the lounge since I’m super cheap. When you arrive is when the fun begins! So Jet star is whats Know as an LCC or a Low Cost Carrier. The rational is they are based at cargo terminals or other unsavory parts of the airport that are cheaper to rent, and they pass the savings on to you! The consequence of this is you don’t save a significant amount of money and your time is wasted to connect yourself and luggage to the rest of the airport. I wrote a piece on why LCCs like Peach are sometimes not worth it. Do yourself a favor and check how much you value your time here, this is your only precious non renewable resource.
Can’t even pay for a walkway
You will have to wait to get your bags at Terminal 3 carousel and drag them to the main terminal 2 where the JAL counter is. The distance is 600 meters and they have an appropriately marked running track that will connect you outside. The bus is NOT an option as the bus only connects Terminal 3 to 1. Good luck, you might look like this guy if your connection is short:
NRT to LAX
So once you check in Terminal #2 at the JAL counter they will check your bags to SAN, but you will have to pick them up for a second time at LAX and recheck them. That will be 12 hours later so I recommend you spend your time at the many free lounges open to you. If you have an Amex Platinum Card You could go to TEI lounge or IAAS outside security which are quite small and don’t have food. You are better off going thru security, passport control and gaining entrance to the American Airlines Lounge (Admirals Club) with Military ID and Orders. This has a lot of western food, sushi, beer and best part is you have total access without any credit card. It is located behind the LeSportsac store, just take the escalator down
They didn’t even give me any bad noise like the United Lounge. They let me in on orders and ID alone, and I pretty much had a nice free lunch. Boarding for the JAL flight was interesting as the terminal waiting area is super long and narrow causing a bottle neck and a complete breakdown in line dynamics.
The flight was actually very nice, and I had the pleasure to fly JAL both ways, it is looking like AA 169 is being used for the return flight instead on JAL 65 direct from SAN. When you arrive at LAX another rodeo begins, unless of course you had the foresight to get your global entry. Where you can pay the TSA $100 to do a background check and give you the good guy line. This fee is waived with MB Platinum, AmEx Platinum, Barclay Gold, and American Airlines Aviator Silver which in turn is waived for active duty military.
Global Entry: 15 mins from my seat to sweet USA Freedom
So I got off my seat, walked to immigration, went to the kiosk scanned my passport and finger prints, and got a photo taken. Showed the TSA agent who welcomed me back. Then I grabbed my luggage and walked out of customs. No wait, except a lonely one at the luggage carousel, and just glares from the basic line. Most importantly is you must RECHECK YOUR LUGGAGE before leaving the terminal so it can end up at SAN.
LAX to SAN
The JAL flight puts you at the TBI terminal of LAX, and if you have never been there you will realize its a old airport that was built in many separate buildings and terminals. I guess its not like one airport but rather 7 airports crammed together. So from TBI you have to walk outside to terminal 4. The ticket the JAL desk in Tokyo printed did not have TSA pre-check, but asking the Agent at the priority desk showing Mil ID did get a reprint with the TSA Pre-Check. If you did not enter your DOD ID number in for your Know Travel ID number then you will not have pre-check, and will have to wait in yet another line for security. Update your DTS profile to have you DOD ID number as the Know Traveler ID number so you will get this benefit. This is offered for all military and does not require any credit card. Do this even when you book personal flights.
LAX AA priority agents gladly reprinted my ticket for TSA Pre Check.
The pre-check line doesn’t suck, you can leave your shoes on and its a hell of a lot shorter. It’s unfortunate that the normie line can see you cut the line which always gets some more glares. Don’t let them be jelly since you totally deserve it by doing you homework. When you get into terminal 4 you actually have 2 lounges to go to. One AA lounge(Admirals Club) will have showers and let you in on ID and orders. This one has nice showers that will be perfect since you probably smell from 12 hours sitting in your own filth. Please use this shower! They will provide a key when you leave your boarding pass as deposit. There is also some food and drinks at this one as well. I guess you can have a drink too, but all well mixers and house wine and beer. The premium stuff is charged, so ask first.
The flight to SAN is in a tiny shack called the American Eagle Remote Terminal. You need to take yet another bus from terminal 4. Luckily you have access to yet another AA lounge(Admirals Club) there. Same deal, show your ID and orders. This one does not have showers and has a feel of a Hampton inn. There is American charcuterie though!
Hopefully after all this you end up in San Diego. It looks like they are putting people on AA 169 instead of my layover from hell from NRT to HND on JAL 65 and 903 so I have no advice for you there, it looks like its just the reverse of the way back with dragging luggage from terminal 2 to the LCC in Tokyo. Make sure your in the right terminal and not miss your flight it looks like AA 169 gets in at 4:25 PM and GK 309 leaves 6:35 pm. So you got a solid 2 hours and 10 mins to get off the plane, clear immigration, customs, drag your crap 600 meters to terminal 3 and check into Jetstar. Good Luck with that!
The only advice is to take advantage of the Air Space Lounge in Terminal 2 in San Diego. If you show your American Express Platinum Card (free for military), the Card Member’s spouse and children under the age of 21 or up to two companions may enter the club as complimentary guests. Your entry will get $10 in credit to use for food and drink, and if you choose food you can request it to be prepared for carry out!
The other beverages of coffee or tea are free as well, and some light snacks. Hopefully you are traveling with a AmEx Platinum holder and they can get you in! I wish I had more info on the flight back. I was able to get free WiFi on JAL using my AmEx Biz Platinum and GoGo internet. I hope you can do the same for American Airlines 169, just be glad they didn’t put you on the 13 hour layover overnight in Tokyo like me!