Relo Japan has great advice for traveling expats
Flying is a very frequent experience for many people, particularly among business people in dense and busy urban areas such as Tokyo. That being said, the American Chamber of Commerce in Japan is comprised of likely some of the most frequent travelers in Tokyo, being mostly American business people, with other internationally active Japanese as well. Flying, for many who don’t do it often, seems like a very rare or troublesome endeavor, however it’s quite the opposite as in the case of coming from Tokyo, you can literally be downtown one minute, and at your terminal ready to fly within about an hour and a half.
The one thing that is of course a major ordeal is arriving in the U.S to be met with long security and immigration lines, with the possibility of being called into a secondary inspection. After a long flight across the pacific standing in a line to go through the exact same motions and pointless security check is enough to irritate even the most conditioned flyer. Finally, there is an option.
The Global Entry program is a streamlined way to get through the regular checks upon arriving in America. This is mostly for frequent flyers, however even those who don’t fly often are eligible for the program after a thorough background check. The Global Entry privilege allows automated entry at kiosks placed in the arrivals area that are operated by scanning a passport, and your finger print, as well as requiring a customs declaration.
This is truly great for frequent flyers, because it contributes greatly to the sheer efficiency and accessibility of Tokyo. The Narita express, or Keisei skyliner run the perimeters of Tokyo, and smart planning can get you to the airport in no time. In fact, I’ve calculated it, as I have had to go from Tokyo to San Francisco or L.A a number of times, and with proper planning and arrangements for transportation upon arrival in America, it’s about 13-14 hours door to door. This may seem like a long day, but it really only is 1 day during the hours you would normally be awake. Let’s consider that, 14 hours from Tokyo to L.A. The speed is actually quite astounding, and this program will decrease the burden associated with international travel, encouraging greater international exchange. This is truly a necessary step to make on Japan’s part as well, to encourage more streamlined exchange of human resources.