Is it safe travelling on a Chinese airline and transiting through a Chinese airport whilst the Corona Virus is active?

15 replies

Crane62

Qantas - Qantas Frequent Flyer

Member since 16 Mar 2018

Total posts 9

None of our family members have ever flown via China, however as it happens 1 family member is flying via China to Europe and another via Shanghai (China Eastern) coming back from Vancouver. How safe are Chinese airports and being on board of a long haul flight coming out of China when it comes to the Corona Virus? Other than a functional face mask (N95) what else would be important to do/take whilst at a Chinese airport, passing through China on any carrier? Hand Sanitiser? Eye Protection? Para-Shoot???

Surely anybody working at Chinese airports and flight crews will could be exposed to the virus.....


djtech

Qantas - Qantas Frequent Flyer

Member since 02 Sep 2018

Total posts 344

The likelihood of contracting the Coronavirus remains slim but as always the usually hygiene precautions should apply when travelling through China. You should regularly use hand sanitiser or wash your hands with anti-bacterial soap after contact with a person or touching public facilities. You should wear a surgical mask (or N95 mask if you don't find that too uncomfortable). These are all the usual precautions you should take when travelling to prevent spread of the virus via your respiratory systems such as your mouth and nose.

Depending on the city you fly into, most already check the temperature or have health declaration forms or both so that it can ensure passengers who are sick or suspected of the Virus do not travel.

Lastly, I would say that whilst Corona virus is scary, we've seen this type of virus before. It can be prevented like how we prevent the spread of the flu - with proper hygiene and wearing face masks. In 2003, during the period of SARS, people were scared to death to travel to Asia because of it but in the end, we all learned the importance of face masks and good hygiene so we all ended up okay. Right now, the virus is only killing roughly 3% of victims and most of those already have existing illnesses or disabilities. The chances of you fatally contracting the virus is extremely slim indeed.

anonymous

Member since 24 Dec 2013

Total posts 99

I must say it does sound a little scary being trapped in a small metal tube for almost 24 hours with hundreds of other people, a handful of which may unknowingly already have the virus. Not everyone will be wearing masks, especially at meal and snack times, and all it could take is just one unexpected sneeze. Staff can at least take off their masks and eat in private away from the passengers.

Some airlines are now cancelling flights to China so they obviously think the risk is high.

Last edited by anonymous at Jan 29, 11.55 PM.
Last editedby anonymous at Jan 29, 2020, 11:55 PM.

Ourmanin

Singapore Airlines - KrisFlyer

Member since 08 Jun 2018

Total posts 131

I'm not sure a Chinese airline is intrinsically a higher risk than any other. The thing to consider is the passenger load. I fail to see that a flight from, say Shanghai to Sydney is any safer on Qantas than on China Eastern. Most governmental advice is to avoid visiting China unless essential and frankly if you chose to think you know best that has to be on you. I'd find it incredible if any business traveller was compelled to fly to (or through) China at the current time. That's nothing to do with any view I have of the risk. But the duty of care an employer has for their employees.

Dan22

Qantas - Qantas Frequent Flyer

Member since 07 Aug 2013

Total posts 82

Would travel insurance cover cancelling and cost of rebooking a new ticket stopping over other then China? since it's now a reconsider your need to travel to China.

nix584

Virgin Australia - Velocity Rewards

Member since 10 Jan 2012

Total posts 102

Originally Posted by Dan22

Would travel insurance cover cancelling and cost of rebooking a new ticket stopping over other then China? since it's now a reconsider your need to travel to China.

Travel insurance doesn't cover change of mind usually, and a 'reconsider your need to travel' is not a 'Do not travel'.

Crane62

Qantas - Qantas Frequent Flyer

Member since 16 Mar 2018

Total posts 9

I tend to agree that it shouldn't matter much if a Chinese Carrier flies in or out of China versus any other carrier.

Hopefully transiting is less concerning than in fact visiting main land China. We booked via QF frequent flyer the sector Vancouver/Shanghai/Melbourne and it will be interesting to see if QF will try to fly us via the US (if things get worse), the route we wanted to book, but as always there are never any seats available, hence we ended up with China Eastern.

Back to the actual topic, there is very little info on just transiting through a Chinese port versus visiting China as a tourist or for business. Also, do I assume right that a business class seat providing more space and privacy should provide reduced risk over an economy seat? Further, there is a good chance that most flights in and out of China will end up being less crowded as travellers will terminate plans where possible.

Does anybody know if the cabin air is somehow treated when being circulated?

Crane62

Qantas - Qantas Frequent Flyer

Member since 16 Mar 2018

Total posts 9

well, me again. Have done some research on masks and even the N95 type masks are not providing total virus protection. These masks can filter out particles as small as 0.3 microne, however the C-virus can be as small as 01 microne.

Basic surgical masks are not recommended and further more some masks (the wrong type of mask) can in fact increase the risk of contracting any virus.

Please see the link https://www.forbes.com/sites/leahrosenbaum/2020/01/29/should-you-get-a-face-mask-a-guide-to-coronavirus-face-protection/#1c9c65530a5d for further info. May I suggest a space suit could be the answer.

s4172249

Jetstar Airways - Qantas Frequent Flyer

Member since 18 Feb 2018

Total posts 32

I wouldn't. Bear in mind that with the latest recommendations announced today you'll have to self-quarantine yourself for 14 days upon arrival back in Australia if you touch down in China even for a stopover.

It's also worth noting the virus is droplet spread, not airborne (in the medical sense) so that means there is an approximate 1-2m danger zone around an infected person (ie. as far as their respiratory secretions can travel). What is less clear is whether there is fomite transmission, meaning, we don't know how long the virus survives for on surfaces outside of the body and therefore can be picked up by someone else and infect them, if they touch an infected surface. This is a far bigger problem because in general people's hand hygiene is woeful. It's all well and good to be in business class and have a wider privacy radius around you, but all you need do is touch a surface on the plane or at the airport that an infected person has touched who hasn't washed their hands, and you could be in trouble.

levinn

Etihad - Etihad Guest

Member since 19 Mar 2018

Total posts 9

The Corona virus is actually spread courtesy of CR high speed services from the Greater Wuhan area via Shenzhen North and HK West Kowloon, boarding Cathay Dragon and Cathay Pacific flights exclusively.

Like every country's people, Chinese prefer foreign carriers which is why the foreign airlines are the ones canceling, not the Chinese. CX remains the largest carrier of Chinese passengers. MU is doing a bulk of SkyTeam traffic because KE is slot constrained. CZ is largely like AA, mostly domestic.

Avoid HKG at all costs.

If you're flying via PKX PEK PVG CAN you're fine, these places are more hygiene conscious or as conscious as Japan.

Last editedby levinn at Feb 05, 2020, 02:59 PM.

levinn

Etihad - Etihad Guest

Member since 19 Mar 2018

Total posts 9

Understand the spread of the Corona virus, it will do loads to help dispel unwanted paranoia. Even United Airlines has a map.

China has a really huge population, and as such, the Chinese do not often have the luxury to choose their port of disembarkation.

Beijing, Shanghai function as the primary gateways for foreigners flying into China, while Guangzhou, Hong Kong and Shenzhen function as the gateways for Chinese who are travelling overseas and are not native nor permanent residents of the Greater Beijing area or the Yangtze Delta.

Wuhan, is the Chicago of China, and January was CNY, with tens of millions of Chinese who found their Chinese New Year holiday cut, and China has recalled all Wuhan residents home, and so far, has largely contained the spread.

Wuhan is not a designated international gateway, so China observed that most of them predictably boarded high speed trains for one of the 3 exit gateways for Chinese going overseas.

Hong Kong, which didn't care much about Corona virus, did not take precautions because still busy protesting, was found to be the weakest link, allowing infected passengers to board Cathay flights to Los Angeles, Thailand etc everyday between 19 January to 23 January.

Due to the warmer than expected winter, it is very difficult to discern Corona virus from "spring" fever. It's not like SARS or Avian flu where it causes a fever. When an infected person leaves China, they might simply believe it to be acclimatization sickness or something.

CAAC is probably the single largest oversight and while they are strict they show why they earned their credibility.

CAAC demands all aircraft to be disinfected prior to touchdown in China, and all Chinese airlines are directed to do this before arriving at all destinations. You'll see the cabin crew hold what looks like two aerosol cans, walking down the aisle, and letting the contents out.

When you arrive in China, you'll pass at least 3 checks of temperature. If you've a fever, and you do not have medication with you, they'll make you see a doctor. They are very strict on this, and have been since a while.

Asia has a culture that consciously demands that we all have a part to play in society — if we can't solve the problem, we should be conscious not to add to it. Hence Asians wearing masks, speaking in lesser tones, and being more patient than usual. It's something that Westerners can learn and adopt.

And a little goes a long way.

Thank you = “xie xie ning (pronounced see-eh see-eh ning)”

Understand that most Chinese airline pilots are not Chinese. This is why the announcements that we usually hear from pilots are spoken by the in-flight service manager.

Know your e ticket number. Chinese airlines in IROPS rebook faster than can be communicated, so rather than expressing your anger , find yourself a WiFi connection or an airline self service kiosk and check your status.

Notsinrub

Qantas - Qantas Frequent Flyer

Member since 14 Dec 2016

Total posts 4

I will be transiting through HK at the end of this month enroute to Delhi returning 10 days later starting to have second thoughts would insurance cover me if I went via Bangkok At this point in time I'm booked on Cathay

nix584

Virgin Australia - Velocity Rewards

Member since 10 Jan 2012

Total posts 102

Originally Posted by Notsinrub

I will be transiting through HK at the end of this month enroute to Delhi returning 10 days later starting to have second thoughts would insurance cover me if I went via Bangkok At this point in time I'm booked on Cathay

Cover the costs to change? Insurance won't cover costs where you change your mind. And if you took out the cover after January 23 there's most likely no cover for anything Coronavirus related anyway.

Crane62

Qantas - Qantas Frequent Flyer

Member since 16 Mar 2018

Total posts 9

thanks for all the many responses, tips and views. Really appreciate. It is a tough time for the aviation industry (and cruise ship businesses) in particular Chinese carriers. Face masks seem to be more suitable for a person already having a virus by assisting in not spreading it, but less suitable for anybody not having the virus. Basic hygiene such as washing your hands is a logical recommendation. Possibly the traditional hand shake will suffer as well as close up chats. I wonder if airlines are increasing their hygiene when it comes to handling food as well as keeping lavatories disinfected. Hopefully there will be an increased supply of sanitising/anti virus applications available to passengers and the crew.

Importantly to note I was able to cancel my frequent flyer flights with Qantas/China Eastern without any problems at all. QF offered a full refund of points and taxes even though our family member had already commenced her journey. As you would expect the actual cancellation had to be done by the person flying. Further, I was able to rebook her flight via the US in economy.

west49th

Member since 11 Aug 2017

Total posts 5

Originally Posted by Notsinrub

I will be transiting through HK at the end of this month enroute to Delhi returning 10 days later starting to have second thoughts would insurance cover me if I went via Bangkok At this point in time I'm booked on Cathay

It differs between policies, but I've found that insurance to cover this situation generally only kicks in if DFAT's official advice changes to "Do Not Travel". At the moment, mainland China is Do Not Travel, however Hong Kong is not so any changes would be treated as a change of mind and not covered.

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