Japanese earthquake: Airlines waive change fees for flights to Tokyo's Narita and Haneda Airports

By David Flynn, March 12 2011
Japanese earthquake: Airlines waive change fees for flights to Tokyo's Narita and Haneda Airports

Last updated at 1300 Wednesday March 16th, Sydney time 

We now have details on the temporary suspension of rebooking fees, and in some cases cancellation fees, to change a flight to Japan on Qantas, Jetstar, Air Canada, American Airlines, British Airways, Cathay Pacific, Delta, Emirates, Etihad, Finnair, Garuda, JAL, Singapore Airlines, Thai, Lufthansa, United-Continental and Virgin Atlantic.

Following the Japan earthquake and the closure of Tokyo's international Narita and Haneda airports, causing widespread cancellation of flights into and out of Japan, airlines are suspending the fees usually charged to change a flight or even cancel a ticket. This also applies to non-refundable tickets.

Narita Airport, which is Japan’s main international gateway, remains closed, although a spokeswoman for the airport said there was no visible damage to runways. Haneda Airport, which opened to international traffic late last year, has reopened several runways to resume flights.

However it's expected that flights to Japan will continue to be affected across the weekend and early into next week.

Australian Business Traveller has contacted all major airlines around the world flying to Narita and Haneda to confirm the details of their policy regarding changes to tickets, and will list them on this page as we receive details.

(You can keep up to date with new additions to this list, and other developments in the Japan earthquake as affecting air travellers, by following us on Twitter at @AusBT.)

Here's our roundup of the change fee waivers in place:


Qantas has rescheduled yesterday's delayed Sydney-Tokyo, Perth-Tokyo and Tokyo-Sydney services for today, Saturday March 12.

The airline has removed all fees for passengers wishing to change their travel plans, provided they hold a Qantas ticket issued on or before March 11 for travel to or from Narita, up to and including March 14.

Passengers may, without paying any additional fee:

  • Rebook to alternative Qantas flights
  • Cancel the booking and receive credit for future travel within 12 months from the original date of departure. If the new fare is more expensive than the existing ticketed fare, the fare difference is payable by the passenger (Qantas also warns that some 'ticket taxes' may apply but these will not be the change fees usually levied by the airline)
  • Change destinations, with the value of the existing ticket used towards the purchase of a new ticket. If the new fare is more expensive than the existing ticket fare, the fare difference is payable by the passenger. Applicable taxes may apply.
  • Re-route their travel via the most direct routing using Qantas
  • Return to their origin port of departure via the most direct routing using Qantas
  • Bypass Tokyo as a stopover point and continue to the next ticketed destination via the most direct routing using Qantas

These options are detailed on the Major Disruptions section of qantas.com; passengers wishing to change their bookings can call Qantas on 13 13 13.


Having diverted two Jetstar flights, en route to Narita when the earthquake struck, to Guam International Airport, Jetstar is now working to get those passengers on to Narita.

The airline expects to resume regular scheduled services to Narita from today (Saturday March 12) "pending airport operation status and the latest weather advice" – check here for details. Services to/from the southern Kansai International Airport have not been affected and continue to operate as scheduled.

Passengers travelling to/from Japan through to Sunday March 13 (inclusive) can rebook on alternative Jetstar services or to an alternative Jetstar destination in Japan. The revised travel dates must be within two weeks of the original planned dates of travel. Jetstar will waive change fees and fare difference.

Air Canada

Air Canada passengers travelling to or from Narita until March 14 can change their travel dates without penalty. The airline's Delayed Flights & Cancellations page contains full details, and passengers should also check the Daily Travel Outlook page for updates on flights.

An airline spokeswoman said that "those customers wishing to make alternate travel arrangements can do so without penalty, space permitting, using our online rebooking tool: check your alternate travel options currently available; re-book yourself and check in before arriving at the airport."

American Airlines

American Airlines will waive the standard ticket reissue fee for one ticket change for passengers travelling to, from or through Narita or Haneda between March 11-18, as long as the ticket was issued no later than March 11 and the rebooked travel begins no later than March 24. See AA's Current Travel Alerts page for full details.

British Airways

British Airways flies to both Narita and Haneda airports, and the airline has cancelled its two flights from Heathrow to Tokyo today.

A spokesman for the airline told Australian Business Traveller that under their standard policy, if a customer's flight has been cancelled they can either rebook or claim a refund.

If your booking also includes any other BA flights that are not cancelled you will be able to change these flights at the same time. The policy is detailed at BA's website.

Cathay Pacific

Cathay has set up a dedicated Web page with all its updates regarding flights to Narita and Haneda, which have been cancelled until the afternoon of Saturday March 12, while other flights have been rescheduled for the late evening.

All rebooking and rerouting charges will be waived for tickets issued by Cathay worldwide on or before March 11, for travel on Cathay Pacific and Dragonair involving Narita, Haneda, Fukuoka, Nagoya, Osaka, Okinawa and Sapporo airports between March 11 and March 16. Revised travel must begin on or before April 14 2011.

The waiver covers all confirmed bookings irrespective of the type of fare, including those sold as 'non-refundable' fares.

Delta Air Lines

Customers booked on Delta-ticketed flights to, from or through all airports in Japan from March 12 to March 15 are permitted to make "a one-time change" without fees, provided routing remains the same and new flights are ticketed and rescheduled with travel beginning by March 31.

Changes to either the origin or destination of the trip :may result in a fare increase and any resulting fare difference would be collected at the time of rebooking", the airline says.


Passengers holding tickets issues on or before on/before March 11, for travel on or before March 31 to or from Narita, can be rebooked or cancelled and Emirates will waive all usual administrative fees.

Rebookings must be made for an Emirates flight to Narita for travel within a 14 day period after the scheduled departure time of the original flight, and in the same booking class. Rebooking is also permitted for the return journey within a 14 day period after the original flight date and in the same booking class.

An Emirates spokesman also said that "refunds for cancellation will be based on the residual value for remaining coupons, valid for one year from date of issue."


Etihad Airways says that flights between Abu Dhabi, Narita and Nagoya Airport will remain on schedule but passengers are advised to check etihad.com for the latest information regarding flights, "as the situation is subject to ongoing review" a spokesman for the airline told Australian Business Traveller.

For all Etihad tickets issued prior to March 11, for travel to and from Narita and Nagoya before March 25 2011, the airline will offer:

  • a full refund on fully unutilised or partly utilised tickets, irrespective of the ticket type. All refund fees are waived. Refund may be applied for before April 15, 2011; and
  • the ability to change the date of travel, for flights scheduled before May 31, 2011. All date change fees are waived. New bookings must be in the original class of booking.



Passengers with tickets to Japan issued from March 15 to March 31 can rebook their flights to Japan, or change to another Finnair destination, without penalty provided the trip finishes no later than June 30 2011.



Passengers holding tickets issued before March 11 can defer their travel to as late as February 29 2012 without penalty, or choose another Garuda destination, but the rebooking must be made by March 31.

Japan Airlines

The Japanese flag-carrier has set broad rules for ticket change and cancellations, which apply to purchased tickets of all grades as well as redemptions using JAL's Mileage Bank frequent flyer programme.

Passengers holding a confirmed JAL international ticket for flights between March 11 and April 11, issued on or before March 11 to Narita, Haneda,Sendai, Hanamaki, Aomori, Misawa, Yamagata, Akita, Niigata and Matsumoto airports can obtain a refund without penalty.

Travellers can also rebook their flights without penalty provided travel begins on or before May 10.

For full details visit this page on JAL's site.

Singapore Airlines

Singapore Airlines flies to both Narita and Haneda airports and has an update on the latest flight details at SingaporeAir.com – click the red 'News Alert' near the top-left corner of the page.

The airline will allow rebookings, rerouting and refunds without penalty and will waive all administrative fees for those changes, provided passengers hold a confirmed ticket issued on or before March 11, for travel to and from Tokyo from March 11-20 (both dates inclusive).

Thai Airways

According to a Thai Airways spokesperson the airline will waive all fees for changing flights on routes between Thailand and Japan, and will provide full refunds without any fees. This also applies to redemption tickets issued using Thai's Royal Orchard Plus frequent flyer programme booked for travel through to March 21.


Under Lufthansa's "goodwill policy" passengers holding Lufthansa tickets for services to and from Japan from March 11 until March 15, issued on or before March 11, will be permitted one rebooking free of charge.

The new date of travel must be on or before June 30th 2011 or within the ticket's validity period. Passengers can also request a full or partial refund of a ticket, with the waiver of all cancellation penalties and/or cancellation service charges.


Customers on United and Continental flights " to, from or through the impacted areas" through to March 15, the airline says, can reschedule their itinerary with a once-only change to the time or date without incurring a change fees.

If you're booked on one of the cancelled flights "a refund in the original form of payment may be requested. Complete details and eligible travel dates are available at united.com and continental.com".

Virgin Atlantic

Passengers booked on Virgin Atlantic's VS900 or VS901 flights to or from Narita/Tokyo up to and including March 19, can rebook to the same flight departing before April 10 2011 (subject to availability in the same ticket class, with the passenger required to pay any difference in fare, such as seasonal or weekend supplements).

However, the airline notes that refunds are not available "as we are still operating our normal flying programme to and from Narita."

"Passengers holding non refundable tickets who no longer wish to travel will incur cancellation charges in accordance with the relevant fare rules."

Australian Business Traveller will continue to update this page as we receive responses from other airlines around the world. You can keep up to date with new additions to this list, and other developments in the Japan earthquake as affecting air travellers, by following us on Twitter at @AusBT

More coverage of the Tokyo earthquake and tsunami:

Sendai Airport hit by tsunami triggered by Japan earthquake

Jetstar planes flying into earthquake hit Tokyo, Japan

Tokyo Airports evacuated following major earthquake

BREAKING: Major earthquake in Japan: Tokyo's Narita and Haneda airports closed


David Flynn is the Editor-in-Chief of Executive Traveller and a bit of a travel tragic with a weakness for good coffee, shopping and lychee martinis.

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