Super Typhoon Hagibis cancels 1,187 flights in Japan, including mine

Super Typhoon Hagibis is slowly making its way towards Tokyo with sustained winds of 200 knots.  Landfall will likely be reached on Saturday with winds of 165 knots.  In anticipation of the typhoon, all flights out of Osaka Kansai Airport have been canceled on Saturday and most flights out of both Tokyo Haneda and Narita have been canceled on Saturday with many posed to be impacted on Sunday.  I was scheduled to fly nonstop between Ishigaki in Okinawa to Tokyo Haneda on Saturday, and I received both a text and an e-mail from ANA that my flight had been canceled.  The e-mail actually advised me to contact my ticket issuer, which was United Airlines as I had booked this flight for only 8k award miles.

It's pretty much never a good place to be when you book a partner award and the operating partner cancels the flight.  There's typically finger pointing, as the operating carrier will point to the partner carrier that you booked with, and vice versa.  To make matters worse, my NRT-SFO flight is scheduled for the following Monday, so getting out of Okinawa is an absolute must.  Fearing the worst, I immediately called United Airlines, who said that my flight had not been canceled yet according to their system.  But I explained to them that I had been contacted by ANA regarding the cancellations as result of the typhoon.  The agent took my word for it and re-booked me for Sunday for Ishigaki-Osaka Kansai-Tokyo Haneda as the Ishigaki-Tokyo Haneda nonstop flight was not available.  She waived all change and ticketing fees, and added a note on the booking to waive any further changes to the booking.  While on the phone, I checked my reservations on United's website and sure enough the change had already been made.

This is actually the one and only time where I would have preferred the Osaka Kansai layover as the Ishigaki to Kansai flight will not be canceled on Sunday as the typhoon would be just north of Tokyo.  There is still a chance that the connecting KIX-HND flight may be canceled, but if worse comes to worst, there's the option to take the 2 1/2 hour Shinkansen to Tokyo.  The important part is getting off of Okinawa to Honshu, and United was able to do just that while waiving all fees.

Bottom line

I definitely wasn't in a good place with a partner flight award being canceled.  But to my surprise, a 12-minute phone call with United solved my problems (knock on wood!) as there was no finger pointing and the agent took my word for it that my flight had been cancelled due to the super typhoon.  Word has it that both ANA and JAL are both nearly impossible to reach other the phone right now with almost all of their flights being canceled.  In fact, ANA has even asked passengers requesting refunds to call after Tuesday when they won't be as slammed!  I never thought I'd say this, but it's a good thing that I got to deal with United with a quick phone call rather than the legendary Japanese carriers.  Here's to hoping that none of my other flights get impacted, but for now, I get to spend another day in Okinawan paradise, which avoided the typhoon entirely.


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