Special flights from Indonesia cost 460,000 yen ‘scam’

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Japanese nationals who wish to flee COVID-19-stricken Indonesia and return home on the few seats available find they have no choice but to pay the extravagant cost.

If they ask an airline to make all the arrangements, including hotels or facilities for quarantine and PCR testing, they have to pay 460,000 yen ($ 4,186) per person for a flight.

As it is currently difficult for travelers to book a hotel room on their own, a Japanese in Indonesia called the rate a “ripoff”.

Special flights that will carry Japanese nationals from Indonesia, where cases of COVID-19 are increasing, to Japan are scheduled for July 21 and 25.

However, a series of Japanese wishing to leave Indonesia were unable to book the special flights due to a lack of seats.

A man in his thirties working at an affiliated trading house in Japan hoped to return to Japan with his three family members. He looked for a special All Nippon Airways flight scheduled for July 21 and received a nasty surprise.

An economy seat costs around 140,000 yen per adult, and the “optional tour,” including a hotel or facility for quarantine, meals and PCR testing, costs around 320,000 yen for 11 nights. The total bill is said to be around 460,000 yen.

The cost would be a little cheaper if he is with children, but he said, “Just calculating, my family would have to pay 2 million yen. My business is a small to medium sized business so it is a heavy burden to pay even for the business. I feel guilty for going home spending so much money.

His company gave him permission to book the special flight, but as he pondered what to do, seats were sold out.

There were around 200 seats each for the special flights, but Japan Airlines’ special flight scheduled to depart on July 25 is also already full.

A manager of a manufacturing company could not buy tickets for his employees.

“I thought they could surely get on the special flight because it is being helped by the government,” the official said. “Our reservation was delayed even for scheduled flights, so we were only able to schedule flights at the end of August.”

The JAL special flight also costs around 370,000 yen, including accommodation costs.

“Meals and testing costs are included, but the accommodation costs per night are too expensive,” said an official at a local travel agency.

Some people have raised concerns about issues with the system. To board the special flight, it is necessary that a Japanese-based company or group vouch.

In addition, the traveler must sign a written commitment to ensure that they will be isolated for 14 days after returning home. They are also urged to bear the costs of quarantine facilities and PCR testing after their return to Japan.

It is possible for companies to make such arrangements, but another official from a manufacturing company said, “Indonesia is considered ‘dangerous’, so it is difficult for normal hotels to meet demands. The obstacles for special flights are too high. Does the government think it is acceptable for companies to charge such a scam price? Said the official.

Another employee of a manufacturing company said that when the Japanese return to normal flights, the government takes the bill for their quarantine period but not for special flights.

“We have to bring our employees home, and that’s what we have to do even if we have to pay a premium,” the employee said. “The government is taking a stand as if it is saying, ‘If you want to go home, we have the power to do it.’ Their response is too cold for people who want to go home.

During this time, to board the special flight, the passenger must present the results of a negative PCR test carried out within 72 hours of departure.

Large numbers of people are flooding Japanese affiliated medical facilities in Indonesia to take PCR tests.

“Too many people want to take the tests, so affiliated clinics in Japan are being forced to stop accepting reservations for testing,” a source said. “We also need to respond to COVID-19 patients, so the current situation is beyond our capabilities. “

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