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Taking a flight from Los Angeles to Tokyo is an exciting opportunity to travel across the vast Pacific Ocean.

As one of the longest nonstop flight routes in the world, the journey between LAX and Tokyo covers over 5,000 miles and can take around 11-12 hours.

If you’re short on time, here’s a quick answer to your question:

The most direct and common flight path from LAX to Tokyo goes northwest over the Pacific Ocean, passing near Alaska before crossing over eastern Russia and continuing southeast to Japan.

The exact route can vary slightly based on factors like weather and air traffic.

In this comprehensive guide, we’ll break down the typical flight path in detail, including the major waypoints, distances, and times.

We’ll also discuss what determines the exact route on any given day. Let’s explore the wonder of traversing the largest ocean in the world by air!

The General LAX to Tokyo Flight Path

When flying from Los Angeles International Airport (LAX) to Tokyo, passengers can expect a specific flight path that takes them across the Pacific Ocean, over Alaska and the Aleutian Islands, across eastern Russia, and finally south towards Japan.

This article will provide a detailed overview of each leg of the journey, giving you a better understanding of the route you will take when traveling from LAX to Tokyo.

Northwest over the Pacific Ocean

After departing from LAX, planes typically head northwest over the vast expanse of the Pacific Ocean. This leg of the journey can take several hours, depending on factors such as weather conditions and air traffic.

Passengers can enjoy breathtaking views of the ocean below and may even catch a glimpse of islands or ships along the way.

Near Alaska and the Aleutian Islands

As the flight progresses, the plane will approach the vicinity of Alaska and the Aleutian Islands. This region is known for its rugged beauty and stunning landscapes.

While flying near Alaska, passengers might have the opportunity to witness the awe-inspiring sight of snow-capped mountains and icy fjords.

The Aleutian Islands, a chain of volcanic islands, also offer a unique and captivating view from above.

Across eastern Russia

Continuing on the flight path, the plane will traverse across eastern Russia. This leg of the journey can be particularly interesting, as passengers will have the chance to observe the vast and diverse landscapes of Russia.

From the window, you might catch a glimpse of sprawling forests, stunning mountain ranges, and perhaps even the mighty Siberian rivers.

South towards Japan

Finally, as the plane nears the end of the journey, it will turn south towards Japan.

This leg of the flight offers passengers a chance to appreciate the beauty of Japan’s coastal areas, including its iconic Mount Fuji if the weather permits.

The descent into Tokyo will provide stunning views of the city’s skyline and the sprawling urban landscape below.

Waypoints and Distances on the Route

LAX to ANAV: Crossing the West Coast

The flight from Los Angeles International Airport (LAX) to Tokyo begins with crossing the West Coast of the United States. The first waypoint on this route is ANAV, which stands for “Anchor” in aviation terminology.

This point is typically located over the Pacific Ocean, a few hundred miles off the coast of California. The distance between LAX and ANAV is approximately 1,500 nautical miles.

ANAV to BET: Over the North Pacific

After crossing the West Coast, the aircraft continues its journey over the vast expanse of the North Pacific Ocean.

The next waypoint on the route is BET, which represents “Bethel” in aviation terms. This point is situated in southwestern Alaska and serves as a reference for navigation purposes.

The distance between ANAV and BET is around 1,200 nautical miles.

BET to KONAN: Near the Aleutians

As the flight progresses, it approaches the Aleutian Islands, a chain of volcanic islands that extend from Alaska towards Russia. The waypoint KONAN, which signifies “Korean” in aviation language, is located near the Aleutians.

This point helps aircraft navigate their way through this challenging region. The distance between BET and KONAN is approximately 800 nautical miles.

KONAN to NIPPI: Across the Bering Sea

From the Aleutians, the route takes the aircraft across the Bering Sea towards Russia.

The waypoint NIPPI, derived from “Nippon” meaning Japan in Japanese, marks the transition from the North American continent to the Asian continent.

The distance between KONAN and NIPPI is around 900 nautical miles.

NIPPI to TACTO: Into Russian Airspace

After crossing the Bering Sea, the flight enters Russian airspace. The waypoint TACTO helps guide the aircraft through this portion of the journey.

It is essential for pilots to follow established air traffic procedures and regulations while flying in foreign airspace.

The distance between NIPPI and TACTO is approximately 1,000 nautical miles.

TACTO to URAWA: South to Japan

Finally, the aircraft makes its way towards Japan, the ultimate destination. The waypoint URAWA serves as a reference point for pilots as they approach the Tokyo area.

From URAWA, it is a relatively short distance to Tokyo’s Narita International Airport or Haneda Airport, where the plane will eventually land.

The distance between TACTO and URAWA is around 400 nautical miles.

Understanding the waypoints and distances on the flight path from LAX to Tokyo provides insights into the complexity and precision involved in long-haul air travel.

It showcases the meticulous planning and navigation required to ensure safe and efficient journeys across the Pacific Ocean.

Flight Duration and Time Zone Changes

Total flight time of 11-12 hours

When traveling from Los Angeles International Airport (LAX) to Tokyo, you can expect a total flight time of approximately 11-12 hours. This duration may vary slightly depending on factors such as weather conditions and air traffic.

It’s important to keep in mind that this is an estimate and actual flight times may differ.

Departing in the morning from LAX

Flights from LAX to Tokyo typically depart in the morning, allowing passengers to make the most of their day upon arrival.

This early departure time gives travelers the opportunity to settle into their seats, relax, and enjoy the in-flight services provided by the airline.

Some flights may also offer breakfast service to start your journey on a delicious note.

Losing time as you fly northwest

As you embark on your flight from LAX to Tokyo, you’ll notice a time change as you fly northwest. Tokyo is ahead of Los Angeles in terms of time zones, so you’ll be losing time during your journey.

It’s important to adjust your watches and devices accordingly to avoid any confusion once you arrive in Tokyo.

Arriving in the evening in Tokyo

After a long flight across the Pacific, you’ll arrive in Tokyo in the evening. This gives you the opportunity to experience the vibrant nightlife and cultural attractions that Tokyo has to offer.

Whether you’re looking to indulge in delicious cuisine, explore bustling city streets, or immerse yourself in Japanese traditions, arriving in the evening allows you to make the most of your time in this incredible city.

Factors That Can Alter the Flight Path

When it comes to the flight path from LAX to Tokyo, there are several factors that can alter the route across the Pacific.

These factors include weather conditions, jet stream winds, avoiding turbulence, and air traffic control requirements.

Weather conditions

Weather conditions play a crucial role in determining the flight path. Pilots and air traffic controllers closely monitor weather patterns to ensure the safety and efficiency of the flight.

Thunderstorms, hurricanes, and other severe weather conditions can force the aircraft to deviate from the original route to avoid turbulence and maintain a smooth journey.

By analyzing weather data from reliable sources like the National Weather Service or the Weather Channel, airlines can make informed decisions about adjusting the flight path.

Jet stream winds

Jet stream winds are fast-flowing, narrow air currents in the upper atmosphere that can significantly affect the flight path. These winds can reach speeds of over 200 mph and can either assist or hinder the aircraft’s progress.

Pilots often take advantage of tailwinds provided by the jet stream to shorten the flight time and reduce fuel consumption.

However, they may also need to adjust the flight path to avoid headwinds that can slow down the aircraft and increase fuel consumption.

Avoiding turbulence

Turbulence is a common concern during flights, and pilots always try to avoid it whenever possible.

Turbulence can be caused by various factors, including thunderstorms, wind shear, or even mountain ranges.

To ensure a smooth and comfortable journey for passengers, pilots may alter the flight path to avoid areas of known turbulence.

By receiving real-time updates from air traffic control and utilizing advanced weather radar systems, pilots can make informed decisions to navigate around turbulent areas.

Air traffic control requirements

Air traffic control plays a crucial role in determining the flight path. They ensure safe separation between aircraft and guide them through their designated routes.

Air traffic controllers consider various factors, including weather conditions, airspace restrictions, and traffic flow, when determining the flight path.

Additionally, they may need to accommodate other aircraft in the vicinity, which can lead to adjustments in the flight path. Following air traffic control requirements is essential for maintaining the overall safety and efficiency of air travel.


The flight path from LAX to Tokyo is a modern marvel of long-haul aviation. By mapping out the major waypoints and distances, we can better appreciate the immense journey over the Pacific.

While the exact route may flex on any given day, understanding the general path helps us feel connected as we traverse between two distant megacities on opposite sides of the planet.

The nonstop flight connects cultures, languages and people – it’s an incredible human achievement.

Next time you embark on this long-haul route across the ocean, you’ll have deeper knowledge of the pathway linking the West Coast of America with the Far East.

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