My experience with the typhoon flight cancellations in Japan

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Ishigaki snorkeling tours
Super typhoon Hibigis hits Japan
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Typhoon flight cancellations
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ANA first class NRT-SFO review

The typhoon and the 1st re-booking

Super typhoon Hagibis struck Japan's Honshu in spectacular fashion in early October 2019.  Nearly 2,000 flights were canceled from the Fukuoka Kyushu region all the way past Tokyo to the north.  I dodged the bullet as I was in Ishigaki (ISG), Okinawa, but my nonstop flight to Tokyo, which I booked using 8k United miles with ANA, was cancelled.  I was scheduled to be in Ishigaki from October 10th through October 12th, and when I landed into Okinawa on October 10th,  I received the notification via text from ANA that my return flight to Tokyo Haneda (HND) on October 12th had been cancelled.  So I immediately called United, who re-booked me for the next day (October 13th) for ISG-KIX-HND as the nonstop ISG-HND was not available.  Problem solved, right?

The 2nd re-booking

With the extra day in Ishigaki paradise, I booked another snorkeling tour and redeemed my Chase IHG Premier card's anniversary free night for the ANA Intercontinental Ishigaki Resort.  But on the morning of my scheduled ISG-KIX-HND flight on October 13th, I checked the ANA website and saw that my itinerary had been canceled!  ANA's hold times were 4+ hours with all those cancellations, so I once again called United to have any available that flight booked.  Surprisingly, United was able to reconfirm me on the same ISG-KIX-HND flights, although nobody had an explanation as to why ANA canceled my itinerary.  With the problem averted, I hit the gym.

The 3rd re-booking

At the gym, I decided to check my flights to ensure that everything was on time.  That's when I found out that my ISG-KIX segment had been delayed by 5 hours and my KIX-HND straight up cancelled.  So then I called United once again who then booked me onto the last KIX-HND segment available for the day.  At this point, I was desperate and needed to get to HND by any means possible as my NRT-SFO flight would be departing the next day on October 14th.


I went to the airport early as to not take any chances based on my now 3 flight cancellations.  At the check-in desk, I asked if the nonstop ISG-HND flight was available, and the agent said that I could go standby.  Thankfully, I was able to get onto the nonstop flight literally 10 minutes before take-off!  So I rushed onto the flight, but of course nothing was finished until I actually hit the tarmac at HND, which was just before 6 pm.  Woohoo!


This was quite the "adventure" per lack of a better term.  My ISG-HND flight on October 12th was rightfully canceled due to the super typhoon.  United came to the rescue and of course waived all change fees.  But then on the morning of my first re-booked flight, my flight was yet again canceled with no explanation, so United re-booked me a second time and waived all fees.  Finally, my secnd re-booked flight got delayed by 5 hours and my connecting flight canceled, so United re-booked me a third time onto the last connecting flight available.  And at the airport, I lucked out and got onto the ISG-HND nonstop flight!

United isn't known for their customer service, but I have to hand it to them as all 3 of the agents I called understood my situation and was able to get me onto alternative flights even though they were not the operating carrier.  In fact, the final KIX-ISG flight wasn't even available as an award, so United straight up bought the refundable ticket for me since it was the only way I could get back to HND.  Even though I ultimately was able to get onto the ISG-HND nonstop flight by standing by at the airport, this doesn't take away from United's professionalism and speed of handling all my flight cancellations that they definitely weren't even responsible for.


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