By Amanda Lynn Marcroft
Bet you’ve never thought of the airport as a tourist destination! But think about it! Those hard plastic chairs, the lacklustre food, the endless tedium of waiting in line upon line, and that indefinable nauseating quality of fluorescent lights, white walls, and no windows. It’s a jet-setter’s dream!
Okay, not really. No one really *likes* airports; I’ve spent a good chunk of my life in them (and I get airsick so let me tell you, that is not fun). And even on a list of the best, Aomori’s dinky little offering certainly isn’t going to appear. But there’s one thing AOJ is really good at and that’s getting you out of Aomori.
With frequent flights to Tokyo, Sapporo, Osaka, and Nagoya, AOJ is a great way to travel to more interesting areas in-country. In fact, flights to Osaka can be less than 20,000yen round trip which makes it financially tempting as well.
But AOJ’s best quality, really, lies in its international terminal—sure it’s only one route and it doesn’t even fly every day, but that one route leads to Seoul’s gorgeous Incheon International Airport which is a major hub and your ticket to better and brighter places. Beijing….Rome….Rio….I’ll leave it to you to decide where you really want to go (and your wallet to decide where you actually can), but if you’re looking to get out without wasting time and money getting to Tokyo, AOJ is your golden ticket.
Now that I’ve got you dreaming, a caveat (I’m a pragmatist, bear with me). International travel through AOJ isn’t as user-friendly as Narita or KIX. First off, there are only three flights a week, miss yours and it’s 残念 for you. (I kid you not, they can’t even change the time on the gate. My flight was delayed once and they broke the sign trying). Secondly, Immigration does not care that you live here, you go with the other foreigners—if this means you’re stuck waiting in one line with all of creation while the two “Japanese Only” lines are completely empty…well, that’s just AOJ. And if you’re hoping to catch the bus to Aomori Station (that leaves just 15minutes after the flight lands) you’d better do your best to be at the front of the line and pray you don’t have to explain too many times to Customs that your intended residence in Japan is your apartment.
Those warnings aside, Korean Air is a lovely airline to fly on with outlets, in-flight entertainment, and surprisingly good food (remember the airsickness thing? I am *very* discriminating in what I eat while flying). And the people operating the check-in counter have always been incredibly kind and helpful towards me. So next time you’re looking up travel routes add in AOJ and see where it can take you.
Check out Aomori Airport’s website for information about flights
Check out Korean Air’s website for routes
Pro Tip: Check-in opens 2 hours before, security opens 1 hour before. Get there early and you’ll just be doing a lot of waiting in the omiyage shops.
Driving to AOJ is nice because you’re not reliant on the ridiculous bus schedule. On the downside, parking is 700yen a day.
It’s very easy to get to and from AOJ from Aomori Station. Upon leaving the station, the Tourist Information peninsula to the left has a bus stop, No. 11. Hop on your bus at the appropriate time and take it all the way to the terminal.
There’s nothing around the airport but freeway. Aomori City is a short trip away but you just came from there. Instead, dream about where you’re heading as you huddle around a coveted outlet.
Duffel bags are your best friend when flying. Their squish-able shape makes them cabin-size. They add minimal weight. They can be molded into a pillow when sleeping in the terminal. And they can be held over your head as you dash frantically for a connecting flight. And best of all, they’re impossible to mix up with the standard black suitcase 90% of humanity uses.
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