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I have booked a flight from SIN to LAS, with connections at NRT and LAX, on a single ticket. This is ticketed by American Airlines, but the operating carrier for both the SIN->NRT and NRT->LAX sections is Japan Airlines. My transit time at NRT is exactly one hour, which is tight, and any delay getting to NRT is probably going to make me late for my next flight.

Usually, a one hour connection where both legs are long international flights is risky, but most flights from Southeast Asia to the US on Japan Airlines have tight connection times, and it seems that this is by design.

How likely is it that I or my luggage miss my connecting flight at NRT? Does Japan Airlines usually hold back the outbound flight to wait for connecting passengers?

(First side question: If I or my luggage does indeed miss my connecting flight at NRT, who is responsible for getting me to LAS - the ticketing airline or operating airline?)

(Second side question: Entry for foreign tourists into Japan is currently not allowed due to COVID, but if everything goes well this is okay, because I will never leave the airport. However, if I miss my connecting flight at NRT, what would happen?)

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How likely is it that I or my luggage miss my connecting flight at NRT? Does Japan Airlines usually hold back the outbound flight to wait for connecting passengers?

With the connecting flight confirmed as JL 62 (AA 8408) from NRT to LAX, it can be concluded that missing the connection is highly unlikely. I have flown this route from Southeast Asia to North America — and similar ones — a number of times starting in Singapore, Bangkok, Hong Kong, or Taipei.

In general, Japan Airlines runs a tight ship and a one-hour connection in Narita is common. If all goes as designed, and it almost certainly will, you barely will enter the airport. There will be a person with a sign from the gangplank telling you which direction to go, there will be a security scan (the queue will make you nervous, but it will go quickly enough), and finally you will head to your next flight.

Recently, JL 62 has been delayed many times; it has departed late 18 times in the last 30 days. This even improves your odds of making the connection. It very well may be that the airline is delaying departures to make sure that everyone on a single ticket from Japan Airlines or a codeshare partner makes the connection despite extra time needed for documentation checks, etc.

If I or my luggage does indeed miss my connecting flight at NRT, who is responsible for getting me to LAS - the ticketing airline or operating airline?

Try not to worry. Japan Airlines would make sure you get on a subsequent flight.

Entry for foreign tourists into Japan is currently not allowed due to COVID, but if everything goes well this is okay, because I will never leave the airport. However, if I miss my connecting flight at NRT, what would happen?

Unfortunately, you would be required to hang around in the departure terminal (airside) until your replacement flight. According to the Narita website, you currently can't hang out overnight airside, so it isn't clear what would happen if there were an extreme delay, but it is highly unlikely that you would be allowed to go to a quarantine hotel without a visa to enter Japan. Japan is a by the book kind of place and it isn't permitted by current regulations.

In early 2021, I had a scheduled seventeen hour overnight layover in Tokyo Haneda en route to Bangkok where I was confined to the then empty departure terminal with little more than a Pokémon vending machine for company. Those were strange days; with any luck you won't have to have a similar experience now.

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    You're correct, my flight is AA8408/JL62.
    – Bernard
    Aug 21 at 2:39
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How likely is it that I or my luggage miss my connecting flight at NRT?

You have a very good chance of making it, otherwise they wouldn't have sold you the ticket. A missed connection (passenger or bag) incurs significant cost for the airline so they know quite well that a "almost safe" connection time is. Some airlines go down to as little as 25 minutes (Austrian Airlines in Vienna). One hour isn't particular aggressive if you don't have to do deal with immigration and customs.

Does Japan Airlines usually hold back the outbound flight to wait for connecting passengers?

Unknown. Airlines policies do change over time and circumstances and they are not published. United used to be brutal: I once had a delayed incoming but still made it to the gate with maybe 2 minutes to spare (I can run fast). My boarding pass beeped red and I was told "Sorry Mr. L, we didn't think you would make it so we already gave your seat away". They have mellowed out recently but it's still hard to predict.

If I or my luggage does indeed miss my connecting flight at NRT, who is responsible for getting me to LAS - the ticketing airline or operating airline

Technically the "responsible" airline is on the hook, which in this case would be Japan. Chances are that One World has a process for this in place, so both AA or JAL would be able to handle it.

Entry for foreign tourists into Japan is currently not allowed ...

Not sure about this specific case, but there is typically a process in place. If you need to stay overnight, they would probably cart you to a quarantine hotel, where you can stay but are not allowed to leave the premises. I've seen that for cases where a passengers got stranded but didn't have documentation to enter (re-enter) the country.

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    out of curiosity, what was the remediation path for "we didn't think you'd make it so we gave your seat away"? Aug 20 at 17:23
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    @RoddyoftheFrozenPeas: Needless to say, I expressed my unhappiness with the situation in no uncertain terms. They managed to find me a seat on this plane. I was pretty high up the pecking order at the time, so it's possible that they bumped someone else, but I didn't see anyone deplaning..
    – Hilmar
    Aug 21 at 14:36

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