Typhoon Jebi in Japan: Singaporeans make alternative travel plans, tour agencies may change itineraries

Passengers stranded overnight at the Kansai International Airport in Izumisano city, Osaka prefecture, on Sept 5, 2018. PHOTO: AFP

SINGAPORE - Typhoon Jebi, the most powerful storm to hit Japan in 25 years, has disrupted the travel plans of Singaporeans in Osaka after the closure of Kansai International Airport due to flooding.

Public servant Ben Ang, 29, who is on holiday in Osaka with his wife, had to change their return flight to Singapore from Wednesday (Sept 5) to Friday.

Their flight on budget airline Scoot from Kansai airport was cancelled, so they decided to book a Singapore Airlines flight from Tokyo instead. "The shinkansen bullet train just restarted today so we thought that would be the most reliable option in making our way home," Mr Ang told The Straits Times on Wednesday.

He said that all the stores in the area were closed on Tuesday but the situation was "not too chaotic" where they were at. "Everything reopened and ran very smoothly on Wednesday," he said.

However, Mr Ang estimates he and his wife will be spending about $1,500 more for their additional days, and is trying to make insurance claims. "But we are quite thankful we didn't get stranded at the airport instead," he said.

Another Singaporean, who wanted to be known only as Marc, arrived in Osaka on Tuesday from Kyoto, a day ahead of schedule.

"We left Kyoto earlier as we heard the shinkansen might be affected by the strong winds," said the 27-year-old public servant, explaining that he and his two friends did not want to risk missing their pre-booked accommodation in Osaka.

He also said the weather was good on Wednesday. "Everything is as per normal today, so I reassured my family that there's nothing to worry about."

Some Singaporeans living in Osaka were also affected.

Mr Tan Aik Hui, 21, a student at Osaka University, said classes were cancelled on Tuesday but resumed on Wednesday.

He said there were a lot of fallen trees on campus but no building damage, though there was a disruption to electricity and water supply from 2pm on Tuesday to 10am the next day.

Travel agencies in Singapore said they are helping stranded customers to book new flights, and may amend itineraries if necessary to ensure their customers' safety.

Tour agency Dynasty Travel said it has a "handful" of customers stranded in Osaka who are mainly corporate business travellers as it is not the peak period for leisure travel. It added that it is helping those stranded to book new flights back.

"Customers flying into and out of Osaka Kansai International Airport may have to land in other airports such as Nagoya or Kobe or fly out from there," said company spokesman Alicia Seah. "We will also continue to monitor the situation and adjust or amend itineraries which include affected areas in the Shikoku and Tokushima prefectures."

Chan Brothers spokesman Justine Koh said it did not have any travellers in Osaka, but that it had received a few calls from travellers seeking advice about their options.

The Ministry of Foreign Affairs (MFA) said Singaporeans should defer non-essential travel to Osaka during this period.

Those whose flights were affected may wish to consider alternative transport arrangements, including flights out of nearby airports such as the Kobe Airport, said an MFA spokesman.

For more information, Singaporean travellers can refer to MFA's travel advisory at https://www1.mfa.gov.sg/Countries-Regions/J/Japan

Those who require consular assistance may contact the Singapore embassy in Tokyo on +81-90-32084122 or the 24-hour MFA duty office on +65-6379-8800/8855.

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