As "violent" Typhoon Hagibis threatens to wreak havoc in Japan, travelers may find themselves having to change plans at the last minute.
The typhoon, which is the strongest of the 2019 season thus far, is expected to make landfall in Japan on Saturday, October 12. The United States Joint Typhoon Warning Center has classified Hagibis as a "super typhoon," on par with a category five hurricane.Tourists in Japan for the Rugby World Cup have already been affected by the impending storm. Two matches, England-France and New Zealand-Italy, have been preemptively canceled.
Japan's airlines are now preparing for the worst.
All Nippon Airways (ANA) has announced that "flights on October 12 [are] likely to be canceled", and further cautioned that transit options to and from the airports might be affected as well
A message from the airline further noted that team members are keeping an eye on the situation and will continue to share updates with passengers.
Meanwhile, Japan Airlines (JAL) is informing travelers that the company "will not charge any handling fees for the changes or refunds resulting from the anticipated effects on operations caused by bad weather (typhoon, etc) or natural disasters."
The East Japan Railway Company, which operates commuter trains to both of Tokyo's airports, has contingency plans in place as well. Their website notes that "there is a possibility that operations of the conventional lines and Shinkansen will be suspended on October 12 and 13 due to Typhoon No.19 [Hagibis is the 19th typhoon of this year's season."Japan is still reeling from the impact of Typhoon Faxai, which inflicted severe damage on Chiba prefecture in September. Some 100 flights were canceled while the Keikyu rail line, which connects Tokyo and Yokohama to Haneda Airport, temporarily shut down.
More than 13,000 passengers were stranded at Tokyo's Narita International Airport in the storm's wake, and airport personnel handed out water, snacks and blankets to people who were stuck in the terminal overnight.
ANA joined the relief effort, offering frequent fliers the opportunity to donate their miles, which would be converted into Japanese yen, to rebuilding efforts in Chiba prefecture.
"ANA HD has already announced a donation of 2 million yen to Chiba prefecture in recovery efforts and will be donating an additional 3 million yen to the Japanese Red Cross Society to help support victims of the disaster," the airline said in a press release.