What are my rights as a passenger in this case?

I have booked a Japan Airline flight to Kuala Lumpur on Mar 22, 2022 with the below route,

YVR - Depart:Aug 4, 2022 2.05PM (JL17)
NRT - Arrive:Aug 5, 2022 4.30PM, Depart:Aug 5, 2022 10.30PM (MH7093)
KUL - Arrive:Aug 6, 2022 4.55AM

This travel was booked via Royal Bank of Canada's Rewards website, www.rbcrewards.com/travel/ (i.e Travel Agent) to allow me to use my rewards points towards the flight ticket.

On May 21, 2022 the Travel Agent have sent an email stating there are flight changes, as below

YVR - Depart:Aug 4, 2022 2.05PM (JL17)
NRT - Arrive:Aug 5, 2022 4.30PM, Depart:Aug 8, 2022 10.20AM (MH71)
KUL - Arrive:Aug 8, 2022 4.45PM

Note: The major change was, my initial 6 hour transit now became 3 days lay over. The options given were to "Accept the change" or "Full Refund"

I am not looking for refund as I really want to meet my family in this post pandemic era whom I did not had a chance to meet since 6 years ago. I am keen to "Accept the change". The challenge here was the routing option given to me is not tenable. This is because

  • the Japanese Government does not allow tourist in their country due to their strict Covid-19 measurement. Hence I can't come out from airport

  • NRT airport shuts down at night meaning, I can't stay within airport, and

  • they don't have airport hotel that does not require passengers to come out from the airport to stay there.

Am puzzled why this routing option was given when its not tenable.

Have contacted JAL-American Region Reservation Center to confirm the updated Covid-19 rules and regulation in Japan and they have confirmed the above. As I have booked via a travel agent they can't assist me directly in finding a better route. JAL advised me to contact my Travel Agent, and inform them to find a "same airport, same day departure" route for me. The Travel Agent was advised they can contact JAL via Agency Helpdesk if they need any help.

I have contacted my Travel Agent to inform them on this information. The Travel Agent tried to find another routing option but sadly the pattern in NRT have changed for YVR-NRT-KUL,

a) the flight arrive in NRT on 4.30PM
b) depart to KUL on 10.20AM the next day.

The Travel Agent was trying their level best to persuade me to accept a refund citing they are having inventory problem. I did my independent checking and found there is the below route with additional transit in Singapore which I am willing to take,

YVR - Depart:Aug 4, 2022 2.05PM (JL17)
NRT - Arrive:Aug 5, 2022 4.30PM, Depart:Aug 5, 2022 7.00PM (SQ11)
SIN - Arrive:Aug 6, 2022 1.15AM, Depart:Aug 8, 2022 7.10AM (SQ104)
KUL - Arrive:Aug 6, 2022 8.10AM

Informed the Travel Agent and they had tried to contact JAL for advice/approval, since May 22, 2022 via email but apparently did not attract a reply but upon checking with JAL they claim no email reached them. I got the phone number of JAL and given to the travel Agent, when the Travel Agent said the JAL phone number did not go through.

When spoke with the Travel Agent July 22, 2022, they claims the request YVR-NRT-SIN-KUL was not accepted by JAL in pretext they are not JAL managed route and the Travel Agent once again was convincing me to take the refund. When I called JAL once again, they rubbished the claim stating, I am innocent as the re-routing option with 3 day layover in NRT was not initiated by me but the airline. On JAL side they indicated they seen these cases many times which they have helped.

The Travel Agent apparently need to seek "Waiver Quote: Due to Immigration Restriction" from JAL through Agency Helpdesk or Call to absorb the cost differences. According to JAL they would be willing to give approval for the waiver quote to use the YVR-NRT-SIN-KUL route.

JAL says I am not getting a good service from my Travel Agent and JAL could not hep directly to reroute this due to their policy as I got the ticket through the Travel Agent. But the Travel Agent claim JAL did not approve the Waiver Quote. Shouldn't a tenable rerouting option must be given?

What are my rights as a passenger in this case?

For the record, I have called my Travel Agent 8 times in the duration of 4 months speaking with the 8 different agents. Each time I need to explain the whole issue again seeking a resolution but of no avail. The wait time is an hour to get an agent not including couple more hours to wait while they are processing/understanding the issue.

I am getting worried as I have one week before travelling. I could not buy another ticket as the cost have went up 3x and I can no longer afford it. As have said, this travel is important as I have not my family for the last 6 years.

  • I don't know what rights you may have which is why I am not answering, but you can try conciliation with, assuming the TA is a member, the assoc. of canadian travel companies, but I am sure nothing will come out of it in the very short timeframe Jul 28, 2022 at 4:49
  • Are you sure the NRT airport closes down overnight? A (very quick) Google search is giving me conflicting evidence, with an article in April saying they have sleep pods.
    – user25730
    Jul 28, 2022 at 4:51
  • 2
    @user25730 Yes. It closes past 12 midnight "Narita International Airport just operates until 24:00 daily " Refer:ana.co.jp/asw/topinfo/… "Please note that foreign nationals are, in general, prohibited from entering Japan for flight connections purposes." Refer: jal.co.jp/jp/en/info/2020/other/flysafe/flights-service/… Jul 28, 2022 at 5:08
  • @SaravananK I'd question if that is current. I just found this on the airport's official website (narita-airport.jp/en/faq_ask/airport) - "My flight leaves early in the morning. Would it be possible for me to spend the night at the airport? We have 24-hour convenience stores in each terminal, a 24-hour visitor’s area which passengers may use free of charge in Terminal 2, and 24-hour check-in capsule hotels at the P-2 parking lot (connected to Terminal 2)." This may warrant further investigation that I can't do at the moment.
    – user25730
    Jul 28, 2022 at 5:14
  • 3
    @user25730 NRT has always closed at night. In pre-COVID times, they would overlook people sleeping in the public areas of the terminal, but those required passing thru immigration and with Japan remaining closed to the world, this is unequivocally impossible now. (Unless you have a Jp visa, which will not be granted for transit purposes.) Jul 28, 2022 at 9:31

1 Answer 1


To answer the question, I'm afraid your rights as a passenger are exactly what has been proposed to you: you can accept the refund or the proposed new itinerary. The fact that the itinerary is impossible for you because you cannot enter Japan is unfortunate, but the airline will argue that this is not their problem.

In normal times, airlines would work with you to find alternatives that work for you. Unfortunately, flight capacity to/from Japan has been drastically cut and many typical transit options (NRT to HND etc) are not possible without a visa, so the airline's options in Japan are genuinely limited. Endorsing onto a carrier in a different alliance (here Singapore Airlines) is also not going to work.

JAL flies to Bangkok and Singapore as well, would these been options? It's easy to connect from both to KUL, by separate ticket if necessary, since passing through Immigration is not an issue for most passport holders. Their new subsidiary Zipair also flies NRT-SIN, although I'm not sure of you can interline bags to them.

  • 2
    Speculating: There have many many questions here along the lines of "why is the airline enforcing what it thinks the visa/passport rules are?" - surely Timatic will say that a non-Japan-passport-holder can't take this itinerary? So the airline won't accept this pax for boarding? So... it is the airline's problem, since they are proposing this itinerary?
    – AakashM
    Jul 28, 2022 at 15:02
  • 1
    @AakashM The airline is under no obligation to offer an alternate itinerary, nor does them proposing one obligate them to do anything extra. As always, the passenger is responsible for satisfying visa rules. It would be different if this were an EU 261 situation and the airline was trying to satisfy its 261 obligations with an impossible flight; but here the airline has offered the one option it's required to offer.
    – Sneftel
    Jul 28, 2022 at 16:19

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