The Wuhan coronavirus is the leading global news story right now, and for good reason. Yesterday I shared my take on whether or not I’d feel comfortable traveling to China at the moment, which is actually a relevant question for me, as I’m scheduled to fly through mainland China tomorrow.
As I said in my post yesterday, my thoughts might evolve based on the latest updates. And indeed, my thoughts have evolved. I’m definitely canceling my outbound flight through mainland China, and I’m trying to decide what to do with the trip overall.
Why I’m no longer flying through Beijing
I was supposed to fly from Boston to Taipei via Beijing tomorrow, with an overnight in Beijing. I’ve decided to cancel that and seek an alternative way to get to Taipei, if I do decide to go.
Why? Well, first and foremost because my parents are very concerned about it, and it’s simply not worth traveling in a way that creates anxiety for my parents. They’re going through enough, and I don’t want to add to that.
But I do have some genuine concerns that go beyond that:
- Access to & from Wuhan has been shut off completely, which I think points at the severity of the situation
- I have concerns about whether China is actually sharing everything they know about just how many people have been infected; they’ve been slow to communicate, and it seems to me like they’ve been trying to downplay it
- While Beijing is a ways from Wuhan, there’s high speed rail running between the cities, and given how easily the virus can be spread (even from people who don’t yet exhibit symptoms), I do think Beijing is at a higher risk than somewhere not as easily accessible from Wuhan
- This is all happening during one of the busiest travel periods of the year, at a time when more people in China are traveling than ever before (both by air and rail)
Do I think I would be putting my life at risk by traveling through Beijing, in any sort of material way? No, but I want to respect the concerns of my parents, and in general I do think this is getting more serious by the day.
Beyond that, I suspect there’s going to be a very high level of scrutiny for passengers traveling to or from cities like Beijing.
Should I cancel my Asia trip altogether?
This is the thing I need to decide on in the next few hours. I could easily reroute to Taipei, and then my trip takes me to Penang, Malaysia, on Starlux Airlines, and then back to the US via Manila, on Philippine Airlines.
This is a little tricky, because these are all paid non-refundable tickets, and none of them even touch mainland China, so the chances of getting fees waived are minimal.
I do think it’s safe to travel through Taipei, etc. My bigger concern is the general level of anxiety there may be. I’ve seen pictures of cabins of planes flying to & from Hong Kong (and not even mainland China), where just about everyone is wearing face masks.
I suspect the situation will only get worse.
This is a tricky situation for travelers. This is being taken very seriously globally, but at the same time airlines haven’t really updated their policies on flights to & from China.
Obviously flights to Wuhan aren’t possible at the moment, but we’re not seeing any other travel waivers from US airlines (at least) for their flights to other cities in China. Given what we don’t know, it seems perfectly reasonable that many may be reconsidering their trip.
In my case, I need to make a decision in the next few hours, because I’m supposed to leave tomorrow. I’m not going to be traveling through Beijing, primarily because the concern of my parents, though also because of the unknown, and in particular how many people travel daily between Wuhan and Beijing.
I’m reconsidering the trip altogether, not because I think it’s especially risky to travel to other parts of Asia, but rather because I’m not sure I want to add to this whole situation, given the general panic that seems to be associated with air travel at the moment.
Man, Starlux Airlines chose a really bad week to launch operations, eh?
Where do you stand on the Wuhan coronavirus right now, and what would you do in my situation?