To be clear, compared to what the Japanese people are going through right now, my dilemma is quite unsubstantial, but because this is my travel blog, I trust you won’t find it in poor taste to speculate about my upcoming travel plans.
A week from Tuesday I am scheduled to fly from Los Angeles to Tokyo via Honolulu and Guam on United and Continental. A room has been reserved at the Park Hyatt in Tokyo and I was really looking forward to a few days of relaxation and the ability to check out a city and country I have never set foot in before.
But with radiation levels high and a travel waiver in effect that would allow me to receive a full refund on my ticket, I am leaning toward postponing the trip. Having worked in political press offices in the past, I know that threats of danger can often be sensationalized, but I just read a news story reporting that Japan’s food supply has been tainted. As much as I would like to support Japan in a small way by visiting in "the face of danger" and spending some money in what will probably be a very depressed tourism market in the months to come, I am increasingly viewing the trip as a risk not worth taking.
I’ve got a few other variables to consider, though. First, I already have a separate ticket booked from Frankfurt to Los Angeles and I doubt UA would be willing to let me cancel or modify it. Second, living in Germany has made mileage running prohibitively expensive and I could really use the miles on this trip to insure that I am not scrambling in December to re-qualify for 1K status on United.
Furthermore, this was meant to be a special trip with my uncle. With travel now just over a week away, I am finding alternate destinations quite expensive. My uncle would be very happy to go to Tahiti instead, but economy tickets on Air France or Air Tahiti Nui from Los Angeles are over $1,500 and award availability is scarce.
At this point, I am just going to wait a few more days and see how the situation unfolds in Japan. This is not a decision I look forward to making.