Emirates, Etihad passengers must take a Covid-19 test before flying

As of August 1 it's a case of "no test, no ticket", regardless of if you're headed to the UAE or in transit to another country.

By David Flynn, July 30 2020
Emirates, Etihad passengers must take a Covid-19 test before flying

Passengers on Emirates and Etihad Airways will need to show a negative Covid-19 test result before they're allowed to fly, in accordance with strict new rules introduced by the UAE.

The requirement comes into force on August 1 and applies to any traveller regardless of if they're transiting through the airline's Dubai and Abu Dhabi hubs, or if the UAE is their final destination.

Although most Australians are prohibited from leaving the country, those who qualify for an exemption and plan to travel on either of the Gulf airlines will need to visit an airline-authorised testing centre within 96 hours of their flight (exemptions will be made for children under 12 and anybody with "moderate to severe disabilities").

While this system is already in place for travellers from a dozen countries, as of August 1 it will be expanded to every passenger on every Emirates or Etihad flight, with a printed copy of your negative test result being shown at the airport check-in desk: no test, no ticket.

Where to get a Covid-19 test before an Emirates, Etihad flight

Emirates advises that "if the UAE government has specified a designated laboratory in your country of origin, then you must get your certificate from that lab," and links to an online list which at the time of writing doesn't include any Australian test centres.

"If it is not specified, please use an accredited lab in your country of departure," the airline continues, without fully specifying what an "accredited lab" means.

The Etihad website says that passengers "must arrange your test with a Pure Health medical facility if there are approved clinics in your country of departure – test results from other clinics will not be accepted. If there are no approved Pure Health facilities in your city or country of departure, please refer to our list of locally approved medical clinics to arrange your COVID-19 PCR test."

Pure Health – the largest private operator of UAE laboratories – lists a number of 'screening facilities' run by Laverty Pathology in the ACT and NSW; Dorevitch Pathology in Victoria; QML Pathology in Queensland; Abbott Pathology in South Australia; TML Pathology in Tasmania; and Western Diagnostics in WA.

However, any would-be travellers in Australia who plan on flying with Emirates or Etihad Airways on or after August 1 are advised to confirm the details of their nearest approved Covid-19 testing centre with the airline.

As previously reportedEmirates now offers "COVID-19 cover" to its Australian travellers, although this doesn't include the cost of government-required quarantine measures.

Also read: Australian travel ban exemptions prove easy for some, hard for too many


David Flynn is the Editor-in-Chief of Executive Traveller and a bit of a travel tragic with a weakness for good coffee, shopping and lychee martinis.

Possibly this is an old list, I recall some requirement about Afghans and UAE from somd timd ago.

Dubai's 'The National' has published a lengthy list which includes numerous Australian Labs. Very useful as other countries have similar requirements, including the one I am supposed to be travelling to in Seltember. Dependent of course on jumping through all the hoops.

08 Jul 2020

Total posts 10

No listing of where to get tested in Kenya before transit time in Dubai?

30 Jul 2020

Total posts 1

I don't think it's correct that you can't get travel insurance. I just got a quote form CoverMore travel insurance when checking I could get it for my forward booked flight. It might be pandemic cover isn't covered as it is now "foreseeable" and not "unforseen or" that your travel is impacted by a pandemic. And even then there is a special cover that will cover "cancel for any reason".

Etihad - Etihad Guest

31 May 2019

Total posts 1

This is a great plan to add a layer of protection for Flight Crew, Passengers and UAE as a whole, against imported cases.

The program is not so good for people in Singapore right now as there are no Approved Clinics and it is currently illegal for a Clinic or Hospital to test someone if they do not present with symptoms or have approval from the MOH which requires a letter from UAE Embassy who say it is Emirates problem who know nothing about it......

Hopefully this will be corrected very soon as no Passenger for the UAE can leave Singapore right now.

31 Jul 2020

Total posts 1

That is a good but interesting one, flying next week. So here in AUS we can then use any testing lab which is good.

So I assume we just go to the hospital and get a test and hope the results come quickly or what have others done / plan to do?

Qantas - Qantas Frequent Flyer

16 Mar 2018

Total posts 14

As already emailed to David directly (hopefully you received it David), one of my out there ideas was based on getting rapid testing done at participating airports for any one (Crew and Passenger) before there is access granted into the main terminal/check-in area. So a bit like going through security, but adding the extra layer where all humans on a scheduled flight as well as anybody within the controlled airport zone is cleared before gaining access. Of course I am not the expert, but reading up on available rapid tests, which claim high accuracy (99%), the time for obtaining a result is about 15 minutes. Such an approach would eliminate any possible cheating and would also provide a far lower chance for anybody having contracted Covid19 (or any other future infectious virus) between being tested and boarding an aircraft (96 hours is a long time). Again, I am unsure if current tests are resultful in the event of any person being tested being A-symptomatic.

Overall, until there is a long term fix for immunity it would certainly to me provide a great deal of comfort knowing that everybody has had a most recent check and is clear of the suspect virus, but all this seems only of importance when and if we in AU are allowed to travel the world again.

Qantas - Qantas Frequent Flyer

09 Apr 2020

Total posts 2

I would do this at the drop of a hat if it meant I could fly internationally. In fact I am amazed that even simple things such as temperature checks are not mandatory for domestic interstate travel. Evidence is clear - people simply cannot be trusted to tell the truth about where the.y are from or have been. All arrivals at all airports must require proof of this if we are to avoid further outbreaks spreading. Even back in February when I was visiting several places in Indonesia, temperature checks were taken at every single arrival point, I was quite surprised on returning to Australia that I could fly from Darwin to home in Brisbane without any proof of where I had been.

05 Oct 2017

Total posts 534

Oh don't you worry, temperature checks when entering Australian airports are coming...just like those people that didn't think mask mandates were arriving in Australia - well here they are, starting with Melbourne and from tomorrow, all of Victoria. I expect Sydney and NSW to be added in the coming weeks and potentially much of the rest of the country after that.

Qantas - Qantas Frequent Flyer

16 Mar 2018

Total posts 14

Hi Lesley

couldn't agree more that all the basics should be done in any case and it is just bad luck when somebody (passenger or staff) isn't up to speed.......no point risking the health of so many others. I believe there is also a test available using laser technology.....being played with in the UEA. Airlines/Airports must push rapid testing get planes back up into the air.

Air Canada - Aeroplan

28 Feb 2015

Total posts 95

"No test, no ticket" is going to be difficult if one is in a country where the policy is "no symptoms, no test".

Qantas - Qantas Frequent Flyer

16 Mar 2018

Total posts 14

it will need to be a self funded test....nothing difficult to manage. No different to fuel surcharges, the good old departure tax etc.

Hi Guest, join in the discussion on Emirates, Etihad passengers must take a Covid-19 test before flying