To be clear, compared to what the Japanese people are going through right now, my dilemma is quite unsubstantial, but because this is my travel blog, I trust you won’t find it in poor taste to speculate about my upcoming travel plans.
A week from Tuesday I am scheduled to fly from Los Angeles to Tokyo via Honolulu and Guam on United and Continental. A room has been reserved at the Park Hyatt in Tokyo and I was really looking forward to a few days of relaxation and the ability to check out a city and country I have never set foot in before.
But with radiation levels high and a travel waiver in effect that would allow me to receive a full refund on my ticket, I am leaning toward postponing the trip. Having worked in political press offices in the past, I know that threats of danger can often be sensationalized, but I just read a news story reporting that Japan’s food supply has been tainted. As much as I would like to support Japan in a small way by visiting in "the face of danger" and spending some money in what will probably be a very depressed tourism market in the months to come, I am increasingly viewing the trip as a risk not worth taking.
I’ve got a few other variables to consider, though. First, I already have a separate ticket booked from Frankfurt to Los Angeles and I doubt UA would be willing to let me cancel or modify it. Second, living in Germany has made mileage running prohibitively expensive and I could really use the miles on this trip to insure that I am not scrambling in December to re-qualify for 1K status on United.
Furthermore, this was meant to be a special trip with my uncle. With travel now just over a week away, I am finding alternate destinations quite expensive. My uncle would be very happy to go to Tahiti instead, but economy tickets on Air France or Air Tahiti Nui from Los Angeles are over $1,500 and award availability is scarce.
At this point, I am just going to wait a few more days and see how the situation unfolds in Japan. This is not a decision I look forward to making.
In today’s (Dallas) paper, an AA official said that about 75% of their passengers were taking their trips to Japan as planned. AA has 6 flights a day to Tokyo.
I say postpone it if possible. I’m due to go to NRT as well in July and am even considering canceling that. In all honesty, if the trip isn’t for an incredibly long time, I’d say go, but if it is, then it may not be so beneficial for your health.
I would see if you can get a good deal on ANA flights to somewhere else from NRT. I am a firm believer in getting out of the way whenever people are trying to recover from a crisis. By flying somewhere on ANA you actually help out the Japanese economy while still not being a burden on them.
I don’t envy your position. The nuclear situation is, of course, the most concern and unlike the H1N1 scare of the past, the current environment might not make for the Japan you were hoping to visit. I love your routing… what a great way to get there, and I totally understand your predicament re: requaling for 1K (although your recent SEA-everywhere-EWR itin should help ease your worries). With that, if I were in your situation, I’d first try to plead my case re: the FRA-LAX United ticket, and see if they’d refund it. If not, I’d still journey home to LAX and I’m sure your Uncle will understand if you cancelled the Japan visit. So… I’d be leaning toward canceling if I were in your shoes.
@Nick: But TYO (to my knowledge) wasn’t hit hard. Or am I wrong?
It was not hit hard, but is a heavy base of operations. It is a heavy clearing house right now for foreigners leaving, and aid coming in.
I would go. I think it would be a fascinating time to be there and would help the local economy. Though, I tend to think these things are sensationalized.
Didn’t you just post last week about taking advantage of travel opportunities because you don’t know when they’ll come up again? 🙂
I can’t really see going, but I would call the Hyatt, and see if they are even running at full tilt with the power regulations they are under…there are few trains in TYO right now, and I just think being there at a time like this would be in very bad taste…
Joel: How would it be bad taste? I actually see it as the opposite. Perhaps Matthews tourist dollars will go a long way in a tough time. Maybe he takes an afternoon and donates his time to help a charity, etc.
You are more likely to die and will get more radiation in reaching 1K status then you are walking around Tokyo for a few days.
As it stands I don’t think you are in any danger.
But I would not go and would recommend that you do not go. The stability of the reactors are still in question. Today it looks as things are going to be ok. Odds are things will be ok. But if the reactors only begin to worsen, not even become truly threatening, you might find yourself in a bad situation.
I was supposed to go next weekend but decided to cancel. I was just visiting a friend and we were going to tour Japan for a bit.. but I figured with the nuclear issue and everyone just being in a somber mood that it’d be better to save my trip for another day.
Don’t do it!
I am of the opinion the US [and French] media are blowing the radiation risk way out of proportion. British media are provide more balanced commentary. Japan’s authorities are screwed either way – they have to advise the public of all the risks and are under criticism because they haven’t found an “easy” solution. Yes it’s bad near near the Fukushima plant. Tokyo is presently hardly affected by that risk.
Tokyo is NOT the story, it’s further up north and east. Osaka, Kyoto, Kobe are all good as well. Unless you want to go north I am of the opinion the fears are overblown and you are safe to go. Tokyo, Osaka and Kyoto were very pleasant to visit when I went.
Also, for what it’s worth, a very close friend of mine who lives in Tokyo (along with his wife who is due to have their child any day now) is staying put, not evacuate or move further south or west which he could readily do. He’s very well informed. If you need links to what he’s reading or an on-the-ground perspective let me know.
They are still having rolling blackouts, and they are having problems getting food. WHY would you add to that?