Thank You Japan Airlines! Japan Airlines refunds due to COVID-19

Thank You Japan Airlines! Japan Airlines refunds due to COVID-19

Japan Airlines refunds due to COVID-19 are, in my experience straightforward, fair and don’t take long to process.  I would like  to thank Japan Airlines for their responsible handling of the Coronavirus travel restrictions and flight cancellations. This goes to show that with so many airlines in Europe just hanging on to your money, there are others you can trust.

Our Japan 2020 trip

In January 2020, I booked  flights on the Japan Airline website. We would  fly from Berlin to Tokyo  in September 2020. Although we booked directly with Japan Airlines, our outbound flight would be Iberia and the return flight  Finnair. Japan Airlines only operated direct flights  from Frankfurt – a pricey 5-hour train ride from home.

Our plan was to spend a day  in Tokyo, then take the Shinkansen to Fukuoka. We’d visit Nagasaki and a few ceramic villages.  Then we’d amble back up to Tokyo via Kyoto, Harie and parts of the Kumano Kodo, visit more pottery villages and spend time in Tokyo. All within in 2.5 weeks.  I also made reservations in my favourite ryokan in Tokyo, a  hotel in Fukuoka on a special offer and a pilgrim lodge in Koya-san.

The confirmation was partially in Japanese and the website not the most straightforward.  But we received our flight confirmations and all was well. Then came Coronavirus.  As the months went on and  Japan closed its borders to foreign citizens, we decided to sit it out. I visited the Japan Airlines website and felt reassured by the information there. It said  flights affected by coronavirus could either be rescheduled or refunded upon application.

In early July, Iberia cancelled our Madrid to Tokyo flight, followed by silence. Cases were increasing  in Europe.  There was no reassuring noise from the Japanese Embassy about entering Japan for tourism.  In late July we decided to cancel our trip and apply for a ticket refund. We didn’t want to reschedule.  Who knows what will be next year? My job is reasonably safe but  the coronavirus might bring unstable work conditions. My husband has just survived a second round of redundancies.  There is no way we are able to commit on holidays for next year now.

Japan Airlines refunds due to COVID-19 were swift!

With a heavy heart, I logged into the Japan Airlines website. I am a member of the JAL Mileage Bank, which doesn’t necessarily make navigating the website easier.  I located the section for “Special Handling for  international tickets following the COVID-19 situation”. There, the conditions are clearly laid down. Right now, all flights leaving between February and October 2020 could be changed or refunded provided the ticket was issued before 11 June. I filled in a form which took less than 5 minutes, pressed “Send” and received immediate Email confirmation, which mentioned a refund may take up to two months to process.

Imagine my surprise when yesterday, I went through my credit card transactions and found that my credit card had been refunded the price for the tickets – only two days after application! SInce it was a larger amount, I highly appreciate the fair and transparent dealing of Japan Airlines with the current travel restrictions.

Japan next year?

We still really want to visit Japan. We have decided to postpone until sometimes next year.  Probably in autumn again as not to clash with the Olympics – if they happen.

We will reassess the situation over New Year and book tickets once we have some idea when we can take leave. After this, there is no questions that I will book with Japan Airlines again given the fair policy of Japan Airlines refunds due to COVID-19. I just want to share this in the light of the complaints and media coverage of airlines refund policy in Europe. For now, here are some fun reasons to visit Japan. The pictures were taken on my trip in 2005. So they are a bit ancient now and not exactly the optimised Lightroomed super shots but I love them nevertheless.

The “Mazda Dance” at the Hiroshima Flower Festival. An example of successful advertising as my then boyfriend bought a Mazda soon after
Colourful float at the Kanda Matsuri in Tokyo
… and a somewhat more traditional festival: the Kanda Matsuri
ekiben, view on the Shinkansen
Train lunchbox “ekiben” somewhere on a Shinkansen
traditional breakfast at Tsurugata Ryokan, Kurashiki
Cook-it-yourself- breakfast at Tsurugata Ryokan, Kurashiki. The “honey eat your cold egg soup still echoes in my mind
Nagashi Somen “Floating noodles”, Kamakura, a tradition I have yet to fully comprehend
Or the plastic sushi. Looks good though and makes a great souvenir
Japanese washi paper
Another shopping drool… washi paper. Like, a calorie-free version of the chocolate shop… This is Kyukyodo or Itoya in Ginza, Tokyo – both are excellent
Another Japanese specialty shop which has my friend Yoko trying the wares- did you know you can have hundred different types of face-blotting paper?
Yours truly at the wishing tree – getting rid of an omikuji I’m unable to decipher – just to be on the safe side!


My experience with European Airlines – and why I don’t make longer term bookings now

Like most travellers, I had some trouble getting a refund for flights cancelled by airlines – Easyjet, Ryanair and we have booked some Lufthansa flights which we will see about – whether they operate.

As summer holidays are about to end here in Germany and generally the holiday season in Europe is winding down, the numbers of cases are sharply rising and there is a lot of noise about new lockdown measures. I won’t be holding my breath over the one trip we’ve planned to see family, and our annual holiday which we have shrunk from three weeks to one and will book just a week or two ahead in the light of the coronavirus situation.

What is your experience with flight cancellation and refunds? Would you like a post on how I eventually managed to get refunds for my cancelled flights this year?


None of this content is sponsored by anyone. I booked and paid my Japan Airlines tickets using my personal funds, and this is a genuine personal recommendation.



5 thoughts on “Thank You Japan Airlines! Japan Airlines refunds due to COVID-19”

    • The “nice” oracles you take home with you and the nost-so-nice ones you tie to a tree and leave it behind in the shrine – or so I understood it

  • It’s so nice to hear that Japan Airlines did the right thing! I know some other travel companies who should definitely follow their lead!

    • Hi Carly, me too! Its a tight balancing act between naming and shaming and throwing potentially litigious information into the internets, so I tend to recommend the positives mostly. I had to apply Paypal action or credit card chargeback on some Ryanair and Easyjet bookings, and as present, have a rescheduled British Arways flight (who are very transparent about their change policy). I had to put in all my leave for next year so will tentatively planning 2021 travel but Japan Airlines and British Airways are the only airlines I would personally book now

  • Oh, good to see it worked out not so bad in this case – I have some positive experonces with refunds this year (Lufthansa, got the full refund after 3 months without a hassle), Easyjet (got vouchers for 3 flights but honestly no clue when I´ll be able to cash them in haha), still waiting for Turkish airlines for our flights to Kenya in August for 5 persons and it´s really annoying. Such weird times, I´m really hoping to travel soon again (by flying) but I´m definitely not buying any more tickets until I´m sure we will be able to haha.

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