Cancelled flights and tightened rules hit travellers

Authorities in Hong Kong are tightening rules after 58 of 59 reported COVID cases in October were attributed to incoming travellers.

Joanne Lee-Young 3 minute read October 17, 2021

Vancouver travel agent Glynnis Chan’s client was on the Air Canada flight from Vancouver to Hong Kong last week where one passenger aboard was confirmed to have COVID-19 when tested upon arrival.

The case, in part, led to Hong Kong’s Department of Health banning Air Canada flights from Vancouver to Hong Kong for the next two weeks until Oct. 29, and is an example of the unpredictable snafus that can crop up, said Chan.

In an email, an Air Canada spokesperson said passengers on the four now cancelled Vancouver to Hong Kong flights are being rebooked or given refunds if rebooking within three hours of their original departure time isn’t possible.

“Things can change very quickly, even just when you land,” said Chan.

Authorities in Hong Kong are tightening rules after 58 of the total 59 reported COVID cases for the first half of October were attributed to incoming travellers.

One of these imported cases was on the Air Canada flight from Vancouver to Hong Kong on Oct. 13. Another passenger on that same flight also “failed to comply with the requirements specified under the Prevention and Control of Disease Regulation,” according to the Hong Kong Department of Health. Air Canada didn’t reply to a query about the details of this.

Chan’s client, who was heading to Hong Kong for his father’s funeral, had originally been booked on a Cathay Pacific flight that was cancelled “for no given reason.”

So she rebooked him on the Air Canada flight. He had been prepared to spend 14 days at a government-designated quarantine hotel, which is the stated requirement for fully vaccinated travellers from Canada.

“They are supposed to do two weeks in a designated hotel and then self-monitor for symptoms for another week, and do two more tests after that,” said Chan.

“Now, he is hearing he might have to do 21 days (quarantine) in the designated hotel. He’s very frustrated with the situation.”

In the meantime, with Air Canada flights temporarily unavailable, the only Vancouver direct to Hong Kong flight is offered by Cathay Pacific and has now gone up in price from between $1,300 to $1,400 to $2,300, said Chan.

There aren’t many tourists from Vancouver to Hong Kong due to the federal advisory against non-essential travel, but Chan said some are still flying for family and other urgent personal reasons.

There are other options listed on Google Flights, but they involve stopping in San Francisco and then Seoul before landing in Hong Kong, or heading the other way to Toronto and then Frankfurt or London before getting to Hong Kong.