General Information

Airlines Adjusting Flights to Japan

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The natural disaster and subsequent radiation risks are having a significant impact on travel to the region.  Cruises are adjusting itineraries to avoid some Japanese ports and airlines are being cautious about flying to certain Japanese airports.  Those whose travel plans are being changed should check their travel insurance policy to see exactly how they are covered.  A recent article from CNN provided more detail about the changes being made to flights because of safety concerns.

Air carriers are watching the situation at Japan’s Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant closely, making contingency plans and routing adjustments to keep operations running smoothly and protect passengers and crew from radiation risks.

German airline Lufthansa and Italian carrier Alitalia have rerouted flights to and from the Tokyo area to other Japanese airports.

Lufthansa’s flights to and from Frankfurt and Munich are going to Osaka and Nagoya instead of Tokyo/Narita “in an effort to ensure that [the airline’s] operations to Japan remain as stable as possible and provide sufficient capacity for its passengers,” Lufthansa said in a statement.

The altered schedule is expected to last as least through the weekend. Since Sunday, the airline has been scanning aircraft returning from Japan for radiation.

A re-routed flight can result in unplanned expenses for travelers.  For example, if a new flight schedule caused the traveler to be delayed , travel delay coverage can reimburse for food, hotel and taxis during the delay.  Depending on the policy, the delay is required to be for 5 – 24 hours before benefits are available.

If the new flight plan causes someone to miss another flight, missed connection coverage can apply.  This reimburses expenses for catching up to the trip.  Like travel delay coverage, missed connection also requires a delay last for a set time before benefits are available, normally 3 – 6 hours.  Look closely at the policy language because some policies only offer this coverage for a missed cruise or tour departure.

It is always wise to check the policy exclusions.  This particularly important with the events in Japan, because some policies do not cover anything caused by radiation.  When this is the case, no coverage would be available for a delay or missed connection if the airline re-routed to avoid the radiation concerns in Japan.

Always refer to the certificate of insurance for details.

Source: Airlines monitoring radiation, making adjustments to flights in Japan