In the midst of their operational adventures last week, Delta quietly announced a reduction in service to Tokyo Narita airport.
This comes on the heels of improved access to Tokyo Haneda for the U.S. carriers, so isn’t incredibly surprising. Three routes to/from Tokyo Narita will be cut this fall:
- New York JFK (ends October 3rd)
- Bangkok BKK (ends October 30th)
- Osaka KIX (ends October 3rd)
For further analysis on the reasons for this move, and what it could mean for Delta’s presence in the Asia-Pacific region, I suggest checking out CrankyFlyer’s post (even if you’re not interested in industry nuances, the post is worth it for the Godzilla references alone).
In the meantime, I want to address the practical steps for rebooking your flights, as this is a particular blow for New York-based travelers.
Schedules are being updated, but slowly
This could be related to the outages last week, but Delta doesn’t seem to be being particularly proactive in notifying passengers that their flights won’t be operating. In some cases online itineraries don’t even reflect the flight cancelations yet.
If you are traveling on any of those routes, I would suggest proactively calling Delta and asking for accommodation. Delta will eventually have to rebook everyone, but availability will be best for those at the front of the queue.
Option A — Different Delta connections
Delta’s first preference will be to accommodate you on other Delta flights.
This might mean connecting in another Delta city prior to flying to Tokyo, or shifting your arrival to Haneda rather than Narita.
Option B — Move to a SkyTeam partner
If Delta’s flights don’t work with your schedule, or if you’re planning on continuing to Bangkok, you can ask to be rebooked on a SkyTeam partner.
|Aerolíneas Argentinas||China Airlines||Kenya Airways||TAROM|
|Aeromexico||China Eastern||KLM||Vietnam Airlines|
|Air Europa||Czech Airlines||Korean Air||Xiamen Airlines|
|Air France||Delta Air Lines||Middle East Airlines|
Of those, I would first try to be rebooked on Korean Air or China Airlines. They have easy connections at their hubs in Seoul and Taipei, respectively, and solid business class products. Moving to another SkyTeam partner shouldn’t be a problem.
China Airlines business class
Option C — Ask for flights on Japan Airlines
If you were only flying Delta between Narita and Bangkok or Osaka, Delta is also endorsing tickets on to JAL (though you may have to ask specifically).
Regardless, you don’t have to take the first option Delta provides. I recommend looking at available flights on your dates and being prepared to guide the agents towards the best options for you.
Award tickets vs. paid tickets
It doesn’t actually matter how you paid for your ticket in this case. If you used miles, Delta will move you to another flight, and award space shouldn’t need to be available. If you paid for your flights, you shouldn’t need to pay any fees or differences in fare.
Where it could get tricky is if you have an award ticket booked through another carrier — say if you used FlyingBlue miles for flights on Delta. You should still be able to change your tickets, but it may take a few phone calls to get everything coordinated between carriers.
We’ll likely see further reductions in Narita service as Delta shifts their strategy in Tokyo.
The New York and Bangkok markets will be the most significantly impacted by this round of cancellations, but on the plus side Delta has historically been generous in how they rebook passengers.
Are you impacted by these network changes? Were you able to change your flights?