Is it safe to travel to Japan during April?

By danwarne, April 4 2011
Is it safe to travel to Japan during April?

Travellers with trips booked to Japan during April are now asking the question: is it safe to travel to Japan yet?

Currently, the Australian Government is still advising "do not travel" to Tokyo and surrounding areas, its highest-level travel warning.

As travel insurance will generally not cover travellers when a government warning has been issued, or even if the traveller should reasonably have known their trip had a higher than normal level of risk, it logically follows that trips to Tokyo are a no-go at present.

For other areas of Japan, the government is advising "high degree of caution", which the government says mainly means you should follow news reports closely to stay up-to-date with the changing situation.

It is important that if you are travelling to other areas of Japan, that you get written advice from your travel insurer to state that they will cover you despite the government "high degree of caution" warning, and the generally reported risks in Japan.

Qantas extends change fee waivers

Qantas has extended its change fees waiver for passengers booked to travel to Japan up to 30th April.

The airline will even offer passengers full refunds if they want it (provided they haven't commenced their travel itinerary).

However, for any of the fee waivers, the tickets need to have been booked before the earthquake and tsunami occurred on 11th March.

Tickets can be changed within the original validity period of the ticket (usually 12 months for international flights), and passengers will be allowed to re-route their travel using the most direct routing available with Qantas.

Qantas is also allowing customer to avoid Japan as a stop-over point on longer trips.

Travellers booked to fly to Tokyo can change their flights to another destination in Japan if they wish.

The airline says it accepts that Japan is facing "changing circumstances" and says passengers should refer to Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade advice when deciding whether or not to travel to Japan.

Currently, flights to and from Japan have an extra stop-over in Hong Kong, so Qantas can manage staffing of the flights out of its safer Hong Kong base, rather than Tokyo.

For people who do plan to go ahead with their flight, Qantas warns: "Due to the damage to infrastructure affecting transport to and from Narita Airport, it is recommended that customers allow additional time for travel to and from the airport."

Anyone who needs help from Qantas while overseas can call Qantas on +61 3 9834 6400, or within Australia on 13 13 13.

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