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I have a Hong Kong Airlines flight booked landing at Okinawa Naha airport at 15:00 on a Sunday. Our plans have changed slightly and we now want to fly immediately on to Ishigaki that same day. It'll be a self-transfer, so we'll need to wait at baggage reclaim, pass through immigration and customs, drop of our bags again and pass through security. We're British passport holders who have never been to Japan before; I've no reason suppose we will have any difficulty at immigration.

There is a very convenient onwards flight with Japan Transocean Air at 18:15 which gives 3h15 to transfer. Is this long enough? Hong Kong Airlines seem pretty reliable. Missing the connection would not be a total disaster: I'm sure we can find a hotel at short notice and book on to a morning flight, but it would set the holiday off to a bad start.

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  • Remember that you need to have checked in before the check-in deadline, which seems to be one hour before departure.
    – jcaron
    Sep 1, 2023 at 19:41

2 Answers 2

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Time for self transfer at Okinawa Naha airport

No one knows for sure. If all goes as planned, that should be fine. Maybe one hour to clear immigration, get bags and clear customs so you should be able to make it to the Transocean check in counter somewhere around 16:15 or which would be plenty for an 18:15 departure (and a 17:15 check-in closure).

So you have about one hour of buffer for dealing with "exceptions": delays, cancellations or rerouting, trouble with the paperwork, customs bag screening, lost luggage, etc. These are by nature unpredictable so it's up your own personal risk tolerance

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As usual with self transfers, the answer is “maybe”.

You need to have checked/dropped your bags for your connecting flight before the deadline, which seems to be 60 minutes before departure. This leaves 2h15 to deplane, go to immigration, queue, get through, wait for you bags, go through customs, go to departures, and queue again. Hopefully if you meet the check-in deadline you should make it to the gate in time.

If your incoming flight is on time and there are no peculiar issues, it should be more than enough. Not familiar with that airport, but in most airports this would usually take an hour or so.

The issue arises if there is any delay (flight, immigration, luggage…).

If missing your flight is just a minor inconvenience for you (remember that you would have to book a new flight at last minute prices, which may be a lot more expensive than flights booked in advance, that flights may be full, that last-minute hotel bookings may also be expensive or unavailable in some cases, and that subsequent flights on the same ticket are likely to be cancelled), then sure, go ahead.

Still, make sure you don’t travel on a major holiday and that there is no major event in town on that date. Probably don’t do it during typhoon season either. Check last minute prices for hotels and flights. Have good travel insurance and read the fine print.

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