Hokkaido Snow Storm and Weather Delays
Hope everyone is having a great holiday season. Wanted to write a few of my comments about the whole Hokkaido snow storm flight cancellation debacle and recommendations on how to handle similar situations in the future.
In case you haven’t heard, due to 96cm of snow, flights were understandably cancelled and passengers were stranded around Dec 23, 2016 – Dec 26. While a lot of snow for one storm in Sapporo, it’s not unheard of as the US Northeast and Midwest experiences similar snowstorms every few years on a regular basis. Those passengers don’t need to be “rescued.” haha.
- 6,000 people stuck at New Chitose Airport
- Cathay Pacific flies back 1,600 city residents overnight
- Angry Chinese Tourists Attack Japanese Airport Workers Due to Cancelled Flights
- Hong Kong Airlines offers compensation
I’m going to grossly generalize the traveling public, so don’t take offense. However, in general many of these passengers mentioned in these news article are ridiculous in their demands and handling of travel issues. Here’s my analysis of what transpired according to my knowledge, and what to do instead.
1.Snow storm, flights cancelled:
Passengers headed to the airport anyway, and just stayed there. Hotels near airport full, as expected.
Why would you go to the airport if there’s no flights going out? Even if you didn’t realize until you got there the flight was cancelled, go back to Sapporo and hunker down there. There’s plenty of hotels in the city and you don’t have to deal with the mob at the airport.
Find lodging ASAP and book a few nights if you think it’ll last awhile. You can make each night a separate reservation, and many hotels allow same-day cancellations, so you can cancel the booking if you don’t need it and can get a flight out. Unless you like sleeping on dirty floors, and in loud terminals, fork up the cash.
2. Check other options
Most travelers aren’t that bright, and don’t think about other options if their flight is cancelled. Also Asian airlines tend not to go out of their way to re-route you unless you ask. So passengers just didn’t do anything.
Check other flights to cities such as Osaka, Tokyo, or wherever really to get a connecting flight back home. There were some flights flying out on the 24th. Or try a train which may still be running (not sure if other transport options were viable during the storm.) I read a passenger went to Tokyo to catch a flight back to HKG.
Call the airline if the line to talk to the staff directly at the counter are busy. Most airlines can rebook you over the phone easily these days.
3. Don’t fight the employees
This is a usual characteristic of mainland PRC passengers. If flights get delayed or cancelled, lets just injure the staff. Not sure the logic here. Apparently there were people protesting and attacking the staff and I don’t think they got anywhere, shocking.
Don’t fight the staff. Do you think the staff want you there at the airport yelling at them? If they get you on your way, they don’t need to deal with idiotic travelers. lol. Plus if you injure them, who the heck is going to get the plane ready to board and leave?
Arrest and blacklist such travelers. There’s no need to have them disrupt the system and other passengers.
4. Compensation awarded to passengers
Weather related delays result in no compensation. This is a worldwide policy on every airline. Travelers should not demand compensation due to events of god.
Hong Kong Airlines apparently offered some passengers $300 and others $1,200. This was a mistake on their part to try to be nice. Now passengers are saying why different amounts? Also that both amounts aren’t enough compensation. I’d be happy if I got anything for weather related compensation.
Airlines should not offer compensation for weather, as it sets a bad precedent. So next time there’s a weather delay I’ll demand it because they gave it to the Hokkaido passengers, it’s really stupid on Hong Kong Airlines part.
This is what travel insurance is for, it will cover your expenses due to delay. Get a policy if you don’t want to pay out of pocket. However, I think travel insurance is for suckers and many credit cards already offer some form of insurance included. It is very popular in HK though, as you can even buy it through the ATM.
5. Rescue flights
Apparently the HK government got involved and asked Cathay to send planes to bring home HKers. This was nice, but why in this instance? It’s basically free compensation. It’s not a political event where passengers are in danger and need to urgently get back to HK. They were stuck in a white Christmas wonderland, boo hoo. If anything, they should’ve rescued those poor Japanese airport workers who were getting attacked.
HK Gov’t set a bad precedent in that during other weather related delays they’ll be obligated to send “rescue” missions. Next time your flight is cancelled, get a bunch of passengers together and ask the government to send a plane for you, it might work, lol.
Don’t send rescue flights unless the public is legitimately at danger. e.g. during the Bangkok protests or after the Phuket typhoon. Now the public can just demand rescue flights basically anytime, it’s pretty hilarious.
Overall this whole thing is a joke. In the US when there are huge storms and delays, airlines preemptively cancel flights and you know you’re stuck where you are. Then when the weather clears they clear the backlog ASAP. It’s not rocket science.
Passengers sleep at the airports in the US, but it’s not generally a huge fiasco as most people find lodging in the city. There’s almost never compensation for weather and no one attacks staff. Income could be a factor of being unable to pay for a hotel, but lets be honest, if you’re going to Hokkaido to vacation, you aren’t starving.
If you’re stuck, it sucks. Believe me, I know from experience. Make the most of the situation, and go enjoy the extra day or two. If you really need to get home, go through alternate routes and suck up the cost if you need to. This is where frequent flyer award miles can come in super handy. (Check first and business class availability too.)