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Cathay Pacific has instituted new safety measures concerning passenger health and is now requiring a self declaration at the time of check-in.

According to the latest travel notice Cathay will now refuse to accept any passenger for check-in who suffers from fever, cough, sore throat or muscle aches.

This will however be reliant on a self declaration as (except for high temperature) there is very little option for the airline to detect these symptoms otherwise.

You can find the most recent requirements of Cathay Pacific on their website:

In response to COVID-19, we have implemented a number of measures to safeguard the wellbeing of our passengers and crew. While the risk of transmission from one passenger to another onboard remains very low, we’re introducing additional requirements for added protection. …

1. If you are feeling unwell

We’re unable to accept anyone presenting symptoms consistent with COVID-19 for travel and therefore ask that you postpone travel if:

  • you are feeling unwell with respiratory symptoms, such as a fever, cough, sore throat or muscle aches;
  • you have been in close contact with a confirmed case of COVID-19 in the 14 days prior to travel; or
  • you have been diagnosed with COVID-19.

Please note: passengers that have been diagnosed with COVID-19 are required to provide a medical certificate confirming they have recovered and are no longer contagious in order to travel.

2. Preflight health declaration

From 29 May 2020, we require passengers to answer health screening questions upon check-in at worldwide airports including Hong Kong.

3. Face coverings requirement

From 15 May 2020, passengers are required to wear face coverings in situations where they cannot maintain a physical distance of 2 metres (6.5 feet) from others, or as directed by our airline employees. This includes:

  • during check-in;
  • in our lounges;
  • during boarding;
  • in the aircraft cabin; and
  • during disembarkation.

It’s also strongly recommended that face coverings are used in high-traffic areas such as security lines and baggage collection areas. Passengers who are unable to tolerate a face covering, including children under six years old, are exempt from this requirement.

My first reaction to this is: Who at Cathay Pacific thought this “brilliant” plan through?

Basic complaints such as fever, cough, sore throat or muscle aches probably eliminates 10-15% of travelers on any given day, more so if you count even lesser cases of slight discomfort.

Some people have chronic cough, be it more or less severe so what about them? I can’t count the number of times I had to fly while being slightly sick (I wouldn’t travel anymore when I feel really terrible, did that once and it was just awful).

Of course there is zero way for Cathay Pacific to diagnose these things without the passenger disclosing it except for the fever checks everywhere for which the value of 37.5 degrees has been more or less set as fever marker.

The same goes for having been near anyone who got diagnosed with Covid, let alone being diagnosed oneself.

The mask requirement is probably reasonable although having a long haul flight coming up next month there is simply no way I’m going to wear one for the entire flight. I tried that years ago and it simply didn’t work for me because I couldn’t breathe properly. So I’ll select one of the airlines where there is no mask requirement of which there are a couple.

As I wrote about a couple days ago Hong Kong will begin to open for transit passengers again next week and Cathay Pacific start to offer more flights, both regional and long haul to get their operations back on track again.

Conclusion

This seems to be a CYA measure by Cathay Pacific just in case something happens so they can say “We did ask the passengers and they declared they’re alright” in order to shed themselves of liability.

Unfortunately considering how restrictive Cathay’s new rules are this will actually be counterproductive because passengers are more likely to lie one the declaration if even the slightest symptoms would service as a reason to exclude them from the flight.

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