(Note: This is a continuation from my previous post.)
So flight AC003 was supposed to arrive in Tokyo at 17:25 and in order to catch the last Shinkansen to Shichinohe-Towada Station at 20:04, I needed to catch the 18:15 Narita Express (N'EX). (Actually, I later found out that I could've also taken the 18:48 N'EX but that would've left me with only 15min to catch the Shinkansen which is doable but difficult.)
I was hoping that the third time would be a charm and I'd arrive on time or early just once this trip (to recap: my original flight was delayed 4hrs, and the AC103 flight to Vancouver arrived almost 30min late) but my bad luck held and we arrived 20min behind schedule--leaving me with only 25min to catch the N'EX.
As soon as the seatbelt sign was off I jumped up, grabbed my stuff and raced to the front of the plane saying "Sorry, excuse me. I need to catch a train that leaves in 25min!!" I managed to be one of the first five passengers to get off and as soon as I had enough space I literally ran past the people who had gotten off before me and booked it to customs.
I'm horrendously out of shape so I only managed to sustain the run/sprint for about 15m (although in my defense I'd just gotten off a 10-hr flight and was carrying a fairly hefty backpack and duffle bag) and thereafter had to settle for a fast walk.
It was 17:56 by the time I hit the first movator (i.e. moving walkway) but thankfully the distance between the international gates and customs at Narita is a lot shorter than the distance between the domestic and international gates at Vancouver Airport! I made it to customs right around 18:00 and was lucky to have been able to go straight to the front of the line because they were just splitting one line into two when I got there. (I felt bad about basically butting in front of a bunch of people, but I was desperate, so...)
The one minor bump in my journey from the plane gate to the train platform was the fingerprinting. I'd forgotten that I had a bandage on my right index finger so I wasted a bit of time there first getting an error message and then having to hurriedly pull off the bandage.
But still, I managed to make it onto the N'EX train by 18:08--with 7 minutes to spare! I was embarrassingly out of breath and huffing and puffing like mad, but at least I was safely on the train!
So the lesson I learned is that it *is* possible to make it through customs within 15min of getting of the plane with a little luck and a lot of desperation.
To save myself from the stress, next time I'm not going to bother buying return train tickets. So even if my plane is super late (and with my luck recently I'm fulling expecting to get hit with more delays) at least I won't have to worry about the money I spent on train tickets going to waste.
Oh, and on a slightly random but related note, I *did* actually end up writing Air Canada to compliment them on their helpfulness in re-booking my tickets so I could have a chance to catch my trains. And as thanks for the email, they actually sent me a code for 5% off of a future ticket purchase (for travel up to Jan. 13 2012)!! Sweet!