Post-pandemic travel in late 2021 (Update)

What actually happened to me while travelling to JapaN

Last week, I wrote about how I was getting ready for my trip to Japan.

I have now arrived in Japan safely. However, there was a bit of drama during my travels and unfortunately, I encountered situations that I wanted to avoid the most.

So, I would like to share what happened to me in case it helps someone else (seeing is believing!).

Rejection due to incorrect documentation

At the Singapore Airline check-in counter at Melbourne airport, I wasn’t allowed to check-in and my flight was rescheduled to the next day due to my documentation for my COVID results being incorrect. This is something I wanted to avoid.

When I went for my COVID PCR test, I brought with me the official format that is requested by the Japanese government. This clearly shows 3 options of specific samples in English and Japanese: “Nasopharyngeal Swab”, “Saliva”, or “Nasopharyngeal and oropharyngeal swabs”.

However, what I received was all in English with a simple word “Nose/Throat swab” instead of “Nasopharyngeal and oropharyngeal swabs”.

I was told to call the pathology company’s customer service centre, and was then persuaded to trust them as the Australian Olympians used their service for the Tokyo Olympics.

However, the ground staff at the check-in counter deal with the travellers for various destinations, and they told me the Japanese requirement is very specific and unfortunately the documentation I had would not allow me to travel to Japan.

Re-arrangement of my travel plan at the last minute

While I was frustrated at being rejected due to the scenario I was afraid of the most, the people at Singapore Airlines were helpful.

The lady at the check-in counter suggested that I have another test at a clinic in the airport. They acknowledged the correct format and gave me my results in both a PDF file and a hard copy. Furthermore, the results came out in one hour! 

Thankfully, I didn’t have to pay the cancellation fee for the accommodation I booked for the night at the airport in Osaka, Japan. However, the hotel was fully booked for the following day. And, even if it were available on the day, I would have had to pay full price.

So, I had to change my plans. I organised accommodation outside of the airport and hired a limousine to take me there (as taxis are considered public transport and travellers from overseas aren’t allowed to use them).

Luckily, even though it was last minute, I was able to book a limousine service (very expensive!) and accommodation that has a designated area for overseas travellers.

After staying at the accommodation for one night, I was able to hire a rental car to take me to my mum’s place where I will stay for my quarantine period.

Lessons from my experience

First of all, I’d like to say that it’s probably better to wait for a few months to travel overseas if  possible. My trip has been very expensive and stressful.

Personally, I would rather have spent the same amount of money on a luxurious holiday after this situation has settled.

If you need to travel during this uncertain time, make sure you check the cancellation policies and book accommodation and transport well before you’re due to leave.

Also, talking to the relevant people helps a lot! I was impressed to see how kind people are.

Up-to date information from Japan

Despite the vaccination rate getting closer to 90% and the COVID case numbers being extremely low in Japan, the international border in Japan hasn’t opened yet. Luckily, I’m a Japanese citizen who can enter Japan.

So, for the next few months I will be based in Japan (which means I have some extra time to provide tailored up-to-date information for your company!).

Would you like to do some real market research in Japan? Let’s chat further!

Real customer feedback which leads to quick successful outcomes

I’m a copywriter who helps Australian businesses market their products and services in Japan. If you’d like some real customer feedback or need help tailoring your marketing for the Japanese market, please message me or email me at hello@kakohealthcare.com.au

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