Japan begins to reopen
Japan has officially announced the start of its reopening to tourists in June but if you live in the UK I wouldn’t get too excited just yet. However, this is a big step in the right direction.
Japan will open for group travel in June for four counties – US, Australia, Singapore and Thailand. These countries make zero sense from a Covid point of view given that the US has surging cases again. The others maybe I can understand a bit more.
There are several stipulations for the travellers such as they must have had at least three vaccination shots and have medical insurance. Only those in small groups on package tours with approved operators will be allowed entry. Japan has also agreed to lift the cap on international passenger arrivals to 20,000 per day. Usually, it would expect around 90,000 per day pre-covid.
Lufthansa new business class
Lufthansa recently acquired four PAL A350s so it finally has a halfway decent business class seat on some routes. More details have now been revealed on the expectation of a new business class for 2023. It was originally meant to be on their B777X deliveries but since these have been delayed, they have decided to bring forward the seats on other delivered next year.
The new seats will not be available until summer 2023 and will be featured on their new Airbus A350s and Boeing 787s being delivered. Prior to this, they are taking aircraft (A350s and B787s) originally destined for other airlines such as PAL so will feature better business class seats but not the new design. We don’t know yet what these seats will look like other than the PAL ones already revealed.
Indonesia remove testing
Indonesia has announced that it will remove pre-departure testing for arrivals and masks wearing will only be required for indoors and public transport. I must admit the thought of having to wear a mask outdoors somewhere as hot and humid as Bali definitely put me off wanting to visit, so this is a huge improvement.
The lack of pre-departure testing is also likely to encourage tourism which hopefully will mean more flights and lower prices to Bali. Recently there have not been many options for flights and prices have been extremely high. It’s probably cheaper to fly someone like Finnair to Singapore and then fly on a separate ticket to Bali which is only a short flight.
US ease Cuba restrictions
The US has had travel restrictions in place with Cuba for many years on and off. Under Obama, these were eased and then of course reinstated when Trump was President. Travelling to Cuba in business class from the UK is quite tricky as only Virgin fly direct with proper business class and then you also need to be on a package holiday.
With the US easing restrictions, it means that flights will resume between the US and Cuba which it will provide more options for getting there. Airlines will also be allowed to fly to other airports as well as Havana.
Travel to Cuba will still be restricted to Americans for group travel only so it’s not clear how easy it will be for a UK citizen to get a flight without a group package. But it is definitely a step in the right direction.
I live in Japan. I would be very cautious about planning any trips as a foreign tourist at the moment. The restrictions on the group travel are onerous – no usage of public transport, only using approved restaurants, must be accompanied by a tour guide, etc.
I’m visiting the UK at the moment, and I’m a bit shocked by the total lack of mask wearing and other health precautions here. Japanese government and people are very nervous about foreign tourists behaving the same way in Japan. So it may still be a while before Japan fully opens up.
Interesting insight, thank you. We’re hoping to make it there for Christmas (rebooked c8 times!), but not booking anything more than the flights until there’s a bit more clarity. I am not quite sure what their game is, though… How long can you pretend you can keep the virus out, unless you do down the China route?
It’s very hard to know what will happen. I think there is a good chance Japan will be fully open for your Christmas trip. It might even fully open later this summer, but until they announce specifics, it is difficult to plan.
Fortunately, Japan is not going down the China route. It is learning to live with Covid, but much more cautiously than European countries.
Decision making in Japan is often based on emotion/perception rather than science and economics, and the attitude of the Japanese electorate will play a big part in the Japanese government decision making process.
If going to Cuba on an indirect flight then AF, KL and IB have business class, albeit AF has a bucket-and-spade fleet for the Caribbean and Indian Ocean routes, which sees only 14 J seats in a B777-300, with 36 Alize (Premium Economy) and 452 Y seats. I got permission to go walkabout and it took ages to get to the back (something like Dante’s Inferno). A very charming young lady asked my seat number and when I told her it was 1K she said that I would need a bottle of Y class wine to get me back to the front! On the return flight they only had one bottle of white in J, but my wife, now in 1C, was first to receive it, I was content to rely on champagne.
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