Japan Airlines Becomes Latest To Offer Passengers COVID Insurance

Japan Airlines is joining just a handful of other airlines and offering COVID-19 insurance for passengers on international flights. The airline made the announcement late last week and becomes the first Japanese airline to offer complimentary COVID-19 insurance. It joins a select club of airlines including WestJet, Emirates, and Cathay Pacific to offer the product in an effort to bolster demand on international flights.

Japan Airlines is now offering free COVID-19 insurance on international flights. Photo: Getty Images

“While it may take time to welcome back customers on a global scale, we hope this coverage with Allianz Travel will provide reassurance to those that need to travel today,” said Hideo Ninomiya, Managing Executive Officer of Passenger Sales at Japan Airlines.

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Japan Airlines the first Japanese airlines to offer complimentary COVID-19 insurance

The complimentary insurance is offered on Japan Airlines operated and marketed flights between December 23, 2020, and June 30, 2021. The airline notes that these dates refer to the boarding date. So if you board a flight on June 30 that runs through to July 1, you’re covered. The insurance is valid for 31 days from the first leg of a Japan Airlines international flight taken or until you return to your country of residence, whichever is earlier.

The insurance will provide medical fees up to approximately US$182,000, resulting from a COVID-19 positive test. Also covered are any costs incurred from needing to isolate or repatriate. But the coverage for isolation and repatriation costs isn’t quite as generous as coverage for any medical costs. Japan Airlines will provide coverage up to US$121 per eligible person per day for a maximum of 14 days, should that person need to isolate. If a doctor says you must go home, Japan Airlines will cover up to US$1820 in repatriation costs.

Still, it is a complimentary product, and it is better than nothing. The cover is automatic, and no application is needed in advance.

Japan Airlines has continued to maintain international flights. Photo: Getty Images

A smart move to push up demand

This might seem an additional expense for an airline in a cash-strapped flying environment. Rather, it’s a carefully calibrated move based on Japan and Japan Airlines’ effective handling of COVID-19 risks. Japan Airlines continues to maintain a scaled-back schedule of international flights. In doing so, it is keeping Japan connected with the world and helping to facilitate the flow of people and freight.

Japan only allows unrestricted entry to citizens from certain countries – and even unrestricted entry comes with restrictions. For travelers coming from COVID-19 hotspots such as the USA and UK, there are more stringent immigration restrictions. Any traveler coming from a designated hotspot will be tested for COVID-19 upon arrival in Japan.

Complimentary COVID-19 insurance is a smart move to drive up demand. Photo: Getty Images

Everyone, regardless of where they come from, has to register their Japanese address and identify how they are getting there upon arrival in Japan. They then have to quarantine there for 14 days.

The effect of this policy is that any COVID-19 cases can be properly contained and managed. It means that while some inbound travelers to Japan will inevitably test positive for COVID-19, they won’t be out and about spreading it. On the Japan Airlines flight, strict hygiene measures and efficient HEPA air filters mean the risk of picking up COVID-19 in the air is minimal.

As a result, It’s not going to cost Japan Airlines much. But it might encourage more people to book a long-haul flight on Japan Airlines, thereby boosting revenue and helping fill seats. If the airline brings in more revenue from this strategy than it pays out, then it’s onto a winner.

Would complimentary COVID-19 insurance encourage you to book a flight? Or would it make no difference at all? Post a comment and let us know.