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The Perils of Transiting Through Japan: Jetstar Passengers Stranded in Airport With “No Food or Water” Because of Lingering Pandemic Rules

The Perils of Transiting Through Japan: Jetstar Passengers Stranded in Airport With “No Food or Water” Because of Lingering Pandemic Rules

Around 25 Australians were left stranded in Tokyo’s Narita Airport on Sunday night without access to “food, water or bedding” after their connecting flight to the Gold Coast was cancelled at the last minute and lingering pandemic restrictions meant they were barred from leaving the airport.

The passengers had arrived in Tokyo on a flight from Helsinki, Finland and were due to fly onto the Gold Coast aboard Jetstar flight JQ12. They arrived at around lunchtime on Sunday, but as the evening’s departure time approached, they discovered the flight had been cancelled.

It was at this point that Japan’s COVID border rules turned what should have just been a minor travel irritation into a very uncomfortable night spent trying to sleep on the floor of an airport without access to food and a single drinks machine for hydration.

Technically, Japan reopened to international tourists earlier this year but the country currently only lets foreigners enter the country if they are part of a pre-approved tour group.

Visitors must have a pre-departure PCR test, complete a written ‘pledge’, download a special smartphone app and be counted into a daily arrivals cap of 20,000 foreign visitors.

Unsurprisingly, Japan hasn’t seen a rush of international tourists this summer and plans to ease existing restrictions from September 7 by dropping pre-departure testing will still retain a daily arrivals cap – although that is likely to increase to around 50,000.

Gordan Knight was one of the Australians left stranded at Narita Airport on Sunday night.

After tweeting about his experience, Gordan told the Australian Financial Review: “I had zero sleep last night. There was no food or water. We asked for blankets and pillows, but that did not happen. The staff did not understand our situation. We were not allowed to leave the airport due to COVID rules.”

“Less than 60 percent of Jetstar flights are taking off as planned,” Gordan warned. “Jetstar is suffering terrible logistics problems and is trying to save money by providing poor service. This is the new normal for them now.”

Australia’s Smart Traveller programme notes that transit is still possible through Japan, although the government doesn’t warn that passengers could end up stranded in the airport if their travel plans go awry.

The U.S. State Department says passengers should “reconsider” plans to visit Japan due to pandemic border rules.

View Comments (5)
  • Sorry, this is just silliness. Have transited Narita three times this year. Plenty of places to buy food and anything else needed for a delay in the airport. Far more comfortable seating than in any Australian airport. That some apparently quite thick passengers couldn’t navigate basic human preservation skills is not a failure of Japanese immigration. Australian education seems a more plausible explanation.

  • I went through Narita in May and agree with @Miamiorbust that there were enough shops open, plentiful empty seating and even water fountains spouting delicious, cold water for free. The problem is not transiting through Japan but flying on LCCs like Jetstar. Their tickets are cheap because they cut down on costs like customer service and spare planes. Jetstar must have known many hours earlier that the plane wasn’t coming yet they did not inform the passengers or make arrangements for them. The title should have read “The Perils of Flying Jetstar”.

  • Like the others, I don’t buy the “there was no food, there was not water!” line. Really, no water? Utter BS, there are plenty of places to buy snacks and drinks airside at NRT. The fact that JetStar didn’t provide vouchers to pay for some of it is a valid complaint. So it the lack of overnight accommodation. That was scummy of JetStar and a good reminder of why not to fly them. But it’s not like they closed all the restaurants and cut off the drinking fountains so as to starve people to death.

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