Train: Rapid Airport 162 (Hokkaido Japan Railway)
Route: Sapporo to New Chitose Airport (CTS)
Time: 16:20- 16:57
Duration: 37min (47km)
Seat& Class: Coach 4, Seat 10A (Reserved U Seat, Ordinary Car)
Hokkaido is the furthest north of Japan. This Rapid Airport Train connects its central city, Sapporo, and its main gateway, New Chitose International Airport. It takes about 40 minutes and runs every 15 minutes (less frequency at night). You can search for fares and timetables here.
Only ordinary cars are in operation (no Green Cars), but you can choose either the non-reserved seat or the reserved U Seat. The fare ticket is around 1100 JPY, and you need to pay extra 550 JPY if you take the reserved U Seat. The luggage storage space is only available in reserved U Seat. U Seat, by the way, seeks more comfort than the normal Ordinary Car (Second Class). The seat comfort and the fare are between Green Car (First Class) and Ordinary Car (Second Class). Premium Second Class (like airline’s Premium Economy), so to speak.
My recommendation is to make a seat reservation beforehand. The Rapid Airport seems to be always crowded as a result of the recent sharp rise of tourists in Hokkaido. In addition, many office workers also use this train in the morning and in the evening, so it may be hard to book a seat just before the train departs (only one car out of all six cars has the reserved U Seat car). When I took this reserved U seat (Rapid Airport), it was full even in the weekend evening…
Therefore, if you would like a comfortable and convenient ride, try to make a seat reservation as soon as possible. If you feel uneasy regarding reservations, you can book your seat or fare ticket at the ticket office in the stations, but this online booking system should be more helpful to those who want to save time (English, Chinese and Korean are available).
There is also the bus service from and to the airport. It costs less than the train (around 1100 JPY), but it takes much more time (more than 60 minutes). If your destination is closer to the bus stop, it should be better for you to use it, but if you just go to the central part of Sapporo city, I recommend you to use the train.
You can check the bus stops and timetables here (Hokkaido Chuo Bus). Purchasing the ticket on arrival is possible, but if you need the bus ticket going further from Sapporo, you can search for routes and other details here (including unlimited ride pass).