JAL Coronavirus Travel Waiver and Japan Travel Tips

JAL Coronavirus Travel Waiver and Deciding to Visit Japan

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Japan Airlines (JAL) has Issued a Coronavirus Travel Waiver for select tickets, providing a free change or cancellation. Here are the details, for those opting to postpone or rebook their JAL flights:

  • Original tickets must have been booked on or before 2/28/20 for travel between 2/28/20 and 3/19/20
  • No charge to make one date change to travel until 4/20/20
  • When changing, the origin and destination and travel class must remain the same
  • Alternatively, may cancel without penalty

Deciding Whether to Visit Japan, Given the Coronavirus

We have several clients trying to decide whether to visit Japan or not. Some have already cancelled but are planning a similar trip next year. Others are still visiting in late March-early April, which is peak cherry blossom season. Here are some of the pros and cons to consider:

Pros of Visiting Now

  • Flights to Japan are less crowded; you're more likely to be able to find award ticket availability, including in JAL First Class and JAL Sky Suite Business Class
  • Popular shrines, temples and parks are less crowded. You're more likely to be able to enjoy the sites and get great photos, without being jostled
  • It may be easier to get into hot restaurants and sushi bars (although local favorites are still very challenging if you haven't booked well in advance)
  • Onsen (hot springs) in areas where there are no coronavirus cases are still open, and are less likely to be crowded with foreigners
  • The Japanese are extremely focused on good hygiene given the coronavirus outbreak. Should coronavirus spread in NYC, I suspect that Tokyo would be preferable as a place to be, given the average Tokyoite's hygiene vs. the average New Yorker's.

Cons of Visiting Now

  • While small, there is a risk of coronavirus. At time of writing, 39 coronavirus cases have been reported in Tokyo, and 2 in Kyoto. It's advised to bring your own masks and hand sanitizer.
  • Should coronavirus cases spike in Japan, there's a risk that when returning to the U.S. or a home country, the traveler may have to self quarantine
  • Certain museums and festivals have temporarily closed. Check the specific ones you're interested in.
  • Most hotels have closed their pools and have switched from extensive breakfast buffets to a la carte breakfast

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