Emirates Tells Beijing Passengers To Show Up Eight Hours Before Departure

Filed Under: Emirates

Over the past several days we’ve seen a countless number of airlines cancel flights to China due to the Wuhan coronavirus.

The reasons given for cancelations have been all over the place, ranging from the safety of crew, to weak demand, to logistical challenges for staffing the flights. Well, Emirates is taking a different approach towards China capacity than most other airlines, per a directive from the UAE civil aviation authority.

Emirates suspending Guangzhou and Shanghai flights

Emirates has announced that they’re suspending flights from Dubai to both Guangzhou and Shanghai until further notice, as directed by the UAE authorities. Indeed, the UAE has required local airlines (including both Emirates and Etihad) to suspend flights to China, with the exception of flights to Beijing.

The decision to keep Beijing flights is an interesting one, and sure seems quite political, since no other justification has been given.

Emirates’ last flights to & from Guangzhou and Shanghai will be as follows:

  • Dubai to Guangzhou on EK362, departing Tuesday, February 4
  • Guangzhou to Dubai on EK363, departing Wednesday, February 5
  • Dubai to Shanghai on EK304, departing Tuesday, February 4
  • Shanghai to Dubai on EK305, departing Wednesday, February 5

Customers booked on these routes beyond those flights can choose to refund their tickets, or can reroute through Beijing or Hong Kong, with change fees and fare differences waived.

Emirates maintaining Beijing flights, but…

Emirates is continuing operations to & from Beijing as scheduled, though passengers will be subjected to additional medical tests when departing Beijing. Emirates is telling passengers to get to the airport eight hours before scheduled departure time. Yes, eight hours before departure. Wow.

It seems that the UAE will essentially require a mini-quarantine of passengers — presumably, they’ll be observing them for an extended period of time, or something. This seems like a logistical nightmare, and I’ll be very curious to see how they handle this.

Bottom line

No doubt politics has played a large role in how some airlines and countries have approached the Wuhan coronavirus. In the case of the UAE, Beijing flights are being maintained, but passengers are being told to show up at the airport eight hours before departure. Ouch. That doesn’t sound very fun for two daily A380 services.

I look forward to hearing some firsthand reports of how this works out. Do you get denied boarding if you only show up at the airport five hours before departure?

Given the latest information on the coronavirus situation, my thinking changed, and I ultimately canceled my flight through Beijing. For more on the rapidly-developing situation, check out these posts:

  1. Well, within 8 hours you can certainly detect anyone who already has symptoms. But passengers carrying the virus but who don‘t show symptoms as yet, will be hard to detect.

  2. That is very confusing if Emirate’s goal is to quarantine passengers… 8 hours is obviously not enough to observe any hidden symptom, while seems too long if they just want to test body temperature.

  3. So 8 hours before the departure, you have 200 people in the waiting area. You find one individual coughing and turns out he has the symptoms. Isn’t their now the possiblity that some of the other 199 passengers are potentially affected?

  4. Eight hours enforced wait is long enough to antagonize passengers, but far too short for virus vector control. Sure, if one passenger presents symptoms while waiting, you could chalk that up as a ‘win’. But overall, this measure is near worthless and not worth the time and effort. Quarantine: either do it properly or don’t bother doing it.

  5. This seems just too ridiculous to the average person -perhaps an intelligent explanation is required ? – A refund would be my answer

  6. Finally a common sense, middle ground solution that will satisfy everyone. If only US politics were this simple.

  7. @lucky

    Looks like Cathay pacific is cancelling all flights from hkg to Newark, NJ (ewr) from February 17th through March 29th. All of the flights are zeroed out.

    I am scheduled on one of these flights and have not heard anything from Cathay Pacific yet.

    Also, I know you don’t usually cover cruises but Royal Caribbean is denying boarding to all passengers and crew who have travelled to China and Hong Kong as well as those transiting Mainland China and Hong Kong in the previous 14 days prior to departure.

  8. @david, just keep in mind that The Epoch Times is a massively pro-Taiwan, anti-China newspaper, known for occasionally reporting exaggerated claims against the Chinese government. Not saying it’s necessarily wrong in this instance, but something to keep in mind.

  9. Don’t know the actual reason, but 8 hours may just be enough to: (i) check whether the person has been to Wuhan/Hebei (even domestic travel is monitored in China, so there will be records); (ii) have a preliminary test result back from labs if the UAE is planning on subjecting everyone to tests…

  10. Just put them in the Business class lounge and keep feeding them expired red wine. The Chinese love their cheap, horrible red wine. Maybe Emirates can also find away to segregate other passengers into the same room and go full on airline-genocide style. Seems to be the new UAE way these days

  11. Maybe there’s a blood test they can run that would show infection before symptoms appear and that’s why they need more time. I’d also expect almost all pax to be wearing masks and that they’d be physically somewhat segregated. DXB security checkpoint staff were all wearing masks yesterday which is something I’ve not seen before

  12. I just called Emirates to reroute my Shanghai flight and they waived indeed the change fee, but they insisted the fare difference needs to be paid…

  13. I’m flying Philippines back to Europe. One way flights. Return was Cebu Pacific MNL-HKG do a stopover and HKG-ATH on Emirates. Cebu Pacific has cancelled all flights to China & Hong Kong.
    Emirates swears Hong Kong is out of the danger zone even though they flagged GZ 100 miles north.

  14. Lucky have you seen Air China’s new US plan? Cutting everything except 4 weekly PEK-LAX-SFO and 3 weekly PEK-JFK-IAD. Crazy.

  15. The most recent diagnosis method takes six hours to detect Wuhan virus so Emirates might be trying to run full diagnosis of every passenger?

  16. @ David: That is not a good article. It makes use of flawed logic like confusing correlation with causation, claiming causation in one direction when it is equally likely to run the other direction, and falling for survivorship bias.

  17. @Steve-O

    If the Chinese love their cheap red wine so much, then how come it’s you who sounds like a rambling drunkard here? Irony is a beautiful thing, indeed.

  18. Antibody testing each passenger prior to boarding is the only reason that a 8 hour delay makes sense

  19. I read on line that these restrictions start 5th Feb. My wife is flying out tonight 4th and was thinking from this report that she could not comply as her connecting flight only gets her to Beijing 3 hours before her 11.40 pm departure. If this is so she should be ok but I wish the correct facts had been published earlier so she would not be worrying so much

  20. Maybe they plan on checking people’s temperature/fever status and want to prevent sick people masking issues with acetaminophen or ibuprofen . These have been used at other border checks already.

  21. What’s the chances that flight cancellations/suspensions will expand beyond China to SE Asia? I’m booked to fly to Singapore 29th March and it seems things will only get worse before then.

    Do you think Emirates would allow a change in destination with no fees to other destinations? Managed to get a decent deal on First tickets and cost to rebook would be somewhat pricey 🙁

  22. @ Mitch Cumstein,

    God knows that there are many questionable entries in these blogs but I have seldom seen an emptier and more meaningless post than yours. What exactly is middle ground, common sense, or satisfying in it ? The US bashing in the end is equally meaningless, what is there similar to do which would be remotely useful ?

    Void, sad and utterly ridiculous.

  23. @david

    You are either naive or don’t know the affiliations behind the Epoch Times.

    Think Chinese version of National Enquirer + Scientology.

  24. What about the crew? The Emirayes crew will be flying in & out of China and no quarantine after the flight in Dubai. The 2 week notification doesn’t apply..they will just operate more flights possibly contaminating other people/passengers/family?


  25. Emirates is putting everyone at risk. They should stop all flights to and from China including Beijing. 8 hours quarantine before a flight might not even indicate travellers infected with the virus. Everyone transferring through Dubai will be at risk, and the countries they will be travelling too. They are not acting responsibly. I wont feel safe on one of their flights, thats for sure.

  26. Exactly the contrary of Qatar Airways’ policy of cancelling ing all flights between China and Doha which makes a lot of sense. With aircraft cabins being enclosed spaces propitious to the dissemination of germs, transiting via Doha considerably reduces the risk of coming close to infected passengers in transit. And with ZERO flights between Dubai / Abu Dhabi and Doha, germs from Emirates and Etihad won’t spread out towards Qatar’s planes. One positive side effect of an otherwise ridiculous, effectless and dangerous blockade.

  27. I have cancelled my plans to fly via Dubai for safety reasons . I was amazed to see that flights to And from Beijing are still in place . I saw it on February 6 when transiting through Dubai that passengers on those flights had full access to the Airport which put other passengers at risk of infection from the present virus rampant in parts of China . Potential passengers from any part of China can get to Beijing by Train and travel to any country that Emerites fly to after transiting through Dubai. This seems a reckless regard for health of Crew ; people employed in the Airport and fellow passengers .

  28. It’s unbelievable the lack of responsibility and ethics. Glad that you made other arrangements. We are flying to Dubai on Saturday 29th to transit into South America. We would have had to pay for other flights to re direct, and I booked business class, so it was costly and was not able to make other arrangements. I have continued to let emirates know how unethical it is to continue with flights to and from Beijing.

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