Flying on AirDo: A Cheaper Alternative to Taxis in Tokyo

Flying on AirDo: A Cheaper Alternative to Taxis in Tokyo is an article that delves into the experience of traveling with AirDo, a lesser-known Japanese airline. The author highlights how the flight fare was actually cheaper than taking a taxi to the airport, which costs over 250 US dollars. The check-in desks at the airport are described as resembling something out of the Apple Store, adding to the unique experience. The flight from Tokyo to Sapporo offers amazing views of downtown Tokyo, and the narrator pays approximately 130 USD for the flight. Overall, this article provides a fascinating insight into an alternative travel option in Tokyo and showcases the writer’s love for Japan in just a few hours.

Introduction to AirDo

AirDo is a Japanese airline that offers a unique and affordable flying experience for both domestic and international travelers. While it may not be well-known outside of Japan, AirDo has gained popularity among locals for its competitive prices, excellent service, and convenient flight options. In this article, we will explore the various aspects of flying with AirDo, from check-in desks to cabin configurations, and why it is considered a cheaper alternative to taxis.

AirDo: An Introduction

AirDo, also known as Hokkaido International Airlines, was founded in 1996 and has since become a trusted name in the Japanese aviation industry. With its main hubs in Tokyo’s Hanada Airport and Sapporo, AirDo operates hourly shuttle services between these two major cities. This frequent flight schedule offers passengers the flexibility to choose a time that suits their travel plans.

AirDo’s Popularity in Japan

While AirDo may not be a household name outside of Japan, it has earned a solid reputation among locals. The airline’s commitment to affordability and reliability has made it a popular choice for both business and leisure travelers within the country. With consistent flight schedules and competitive prices, AirDo provides a convenient and cost-effective mode of transportation for those looking to travel between Tokyo and Sapporo.

Check-in Desks: A Unique Experience

One of the first things you’ll notice about AirDo is the stylish and modern check-in desks. These desks resemble something out of the Apple Store, with their sleek design and high-tech features. The check-in process with AirDo is quick and efficient, ensuring a smooth start to your journey.

Taxi vs AirDo: Cost Comparison

One of the most remarkable aspects of AirDo is its affordability compared to traditional transportation options like taxis. As mentioned earlier, the author of this article found that the taxi fare to the airport cost over 250 US dollars for a 45-minute ride. In contrast, the flight with AirDo from Tokyo to Sapporo only cost around 130 US dollars, making it a significantly cheaper alternative.

Immigration Process at Narita Airport

The author also mentions spending an hour at immigration at Narita Airport. While this might seem like a long time, it’s important to note that immigration processes can vary and are subject to factors such as the time of day and the number of passengers. However, it’s always a good idea to arrive at the airport with ample time to go through immigration and other security procedures.

Flight Details: Tokyo to Sapporo on a Boeing 767

The flight from Tokyo to Sapporo on AirDo is operated on a Boeing 767 aircraft. Despite its age, the plane has been well-maintained and offers a comfortable and enjoyable flying experience. The cabin configuration on the Boeing 767 is in a 2-3-2 layout, which provides ample legroom for passengers, especially on a short domestic flight like this one.

AirDo’s Hourly Shuttle Service

AirDo’s hourly shuttle service between Tokyo and Sapporo is one of its standout features. This frequent flight schedule offers passengers the flexibility to choose a departure time that suits their travel needs. With flights departing approximately every hour, travelers can easily find a time that works for them, whether they are traveling for business or leisure.

Unique Boarding Process

AirDo has a unique boarding process that sets it apart from other airlines. Instead of the traditional back-to-front boarding method, AirDo boards window seats first, followed by the aisles. This boarding process ensures a smooth and efficient experience for passengers, minimizing congestion in the aisles and allowing for a quicker departure.

Window Seat Experience

If you’re lucky enough to secure a window seat on an AirDo flight, you’re in for a treat. As the author experienced firsthand, the window seat offers incredible views of the city during takeoff and landing. There’s something magical about seeing Tokyo from above, with its sprawling urban landscape and iconic landmarks.

Impressive Cabin Configuration

Despite being a domestic short-haul flight, AirDo’s Boeing 767-300 offers an impressive cabin configuration. The 2-3-2 layout provides a comfortable and spacious seating arrangement, ensuring a pleasant journey for passengers. The cleanliness and modernity of the cabin interior contribute to an overall enjoyable flight experience.

Well-Maintained Boeing 767-300

Although the Boeing 767-300 operated by AirDo is nearly 20 years old, it has been meticulously maintained. The cleanliness and excellent condition of the aircraft are a testament to AirDo’s commitment to safety and passenger satisfaction. Passengers can rest assured that they are flying on a reliable and well-cared-for aircraft.

Efficient Boarding Process

One aspect that stood out to the author was the speed and efficiency of the boarding process. Despite a full flight, it only took around 10 minutes for all passengers to board the plane. AirDo’s unique boarding method, combined with the professionalism of the crew, ensures that passengers can settle into their seats quickly and enjoy a smooth departure.

In-Flight Entertainment

While AirDo’s Boeing 767-300 does not have personal TVs, it does offer overhead TVs for the safety demo. Passengers can still enjoy their flight by taking in the breathtaking views outside the window or engaging in conversation with fellow travelers. The absence of personal screens allows passengers to disconnect from technology and appreciate the journey.

Food and Drink Services

AirDo provides a drink service during the flight, offering a choice between barley tea or apple juice. While there are no personal TVs, the author noticed that many passengers had brought their own food, such as hot packets of noodles. For those who didn’t bring their own food, there may be options available for purchase onboard.

History of AirDo

AirDo, originally founded as Hokkaido International Airlines in 1996, has come a long way in establishing itself as a reputable airline in Japan. With a focus on affordability and convenience, AirDo has gained a loyal customer base and expanded its flight offerings to cater to the growing demand for travel.

Scenic Flight Experience

The flight from Tokyo to Sapporo on AirDo offers passengers the opportunity to witness stunning aerial views of downtown Tokyo. As the plane climbs out of the airport, passengers are treated to breathtaking vistas of the city. This scenic flight experience adds an extra touch of beauty and wonder to the journey.

Affordability of AirDo

One of the standout features of AirDo is its affordability. As the author experienced, the flight with AirDo was significantly cheaper than taking a taxi to the airport. This cost difference makes AirDo an attractive option for those looking to save money while still enjoying a comfortable and convenient flight experience.

Comparison of Airport to Downtown Travel

Another advantage of flying with AirDo is the convenience of traveling from the airport to downtown areas. In the case of the author’s trip, the taxi ride from the airport to downtown Sapporo took over an hour. However, by choosing AirDo, travelers can save time and arrive at their destination more quickly, allowing them to explore and enjoy their visit to the fullest.

JR Tower Hotel: A Convenient Stay

For the author’s stay in Sapporo, they chose to book a room at the JR Tower Hotel. Located next to the train station, this hotel offers convenience and easy access to transportation options. Staying at a hotel near transportation hubs can save travelers time and make navigating the city more convenient.

Impressive View from the Hotel Room

One of the highlights of the author’s stay at the JR Tower Hotel was the impressive view from their hotel room. Overlooking the city, the view provided a breathtaking panorama of Sapporo. This type of view adds an extra level of enjoyment and appreciation for the destination, allowing travelers to immerse themselves fully in the beauty of the surroundings.

Falling in Love with Japan

After just five hours in Japan, the author found themselves falling in love with the country. The kindness, friendliness, and helpfulness of the people, the efficient and well-organized systems, and the stunning views all contributed to a positive and unforgettable experience. Japan has a unique charm and allure that captivates visitors, making it a destination worth exploring.


AirDo offers a unique and affordable flying experience for travelers in Japan. From its stylish check-in desks to its well-maintained fleet of Boeing 767s, AirDo provides a cost-effective and convenient mode of transportation for those looking to travel between Tokyo and Sapporo. With its hourly shuttle service, efficient boarding process, and comfortable cabin configurations, AirDo continues to impress both domestic and international travelers. Whether you’re a frequent flyer or a first-time visitor to Japan, AirDo is a hidden gem worth considering for your next journey.