Major earthquake strikes Japan & related impact to airline flight operations

Terrible news this morning, as I’ve just finished reading about the horrendous magnitude 8.9 earthquake in Japan, the corresponding tsunami & enormous loss of life. My sincerest thoughts are for the region and everyone impacted today.

The vast majority of flights (if not all) headed to Narita Airport outside Tokyo were diverted to other airports in Japan, or some, including United Airlines flight 881 from Chicago to Narita, landed in Anchorage, Alaska. One Flyertalker, was on flight 837 from San Francisco to Tokyo’s Narita Airport and has been posting information on this thread, as well as providing Twitter updates and images. His flight, along with several others, landed safely at Yokota Air Base (US) located just Northwest of Tokyo. Emergency rations (granola-type bars) and water were distributed to passengers while they awaited refueling, and eventually flights departed for other airports in Japan, such as Osaka and Nagoya.

several airplanes at an airport

Image courtesy: Yokota Air Base

As of this posting, some flights to Narita are on schedule today, although many are showing cancellations. After such a devastating earthquake, it is impressive that the airlines are attempting to get back to normal operations, in part, to enable people to travel to the region to render aid & be with family. Again, and most importantly, my deepest healing thoughts are with those affected.


  1. To give you a sense of how powerful this earthquake+tsunami is: I’m 5,396 miles from Tokyo and water here is expected to rise up to 3 feet

  2. The flights from U.S. to Narita are not all on schedule. My son, who was on TDY in the U.S., but, had a flight out of Chicago, was canceled today, to Narita. They suggested he rebook for Sunday to give time for assessments and clean up, etc. So he rebooked for Sunday. My daughter-in-law and grandson live near Tokyo, and she said the conditions are extremely dangerous, and she also stated the airport was closed, as she called Narita to check.

    • @LM: Thank you for your comment and glad to hear your daughter-in-law & grandson are safe. I didn’t do a proper sweep of all airlines’ flights to Tokyo, so I do apologize and updated the post to reflect the cancellations that still exist today. I hope your son reunites with his family soon.

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