Official: Hong Kong bans all transit passengers from ~150 countries (including Singapore)

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Hong Kong has announced a transit ban for virtually all passengers until 15 February 2022, which spells more pain for Cathay Pacific.

Update: The transit ban has now been extended till 31 March 2022.

A few days ago, Bloomberg reported that Hong Kong is set to ban transit passengers from ~150 countries including Singapore- a major headache for anyone with a Cathay Pacific ticket.

The ban has now been confirmed, and it runs from 16 January to 15 February 2022, covering all Group A countries. I’ll spare you the Googling and tell you that if you’re reading this outside of China or Hong Kong, you’re almost certainly in a Group A country. 

Hong Kong’s transit ban

Shed a tear for Cathay Pacific…

Since the start of the pandemic, Hong Kong has mirrored China’s Covid-zero strategy and adopted some of the tightest restrictions anywhere in the world (which ultimately led to the demise of the ATB with Singapore).

It’s now set to get even tighter, with the transit ban cutting off any transit passengers from Group A “high risk” countries until 15 February 2022 at least.

Group A Countries (warning: long list)
Albania, Algeria, Antigua and Barbuda, Argentina, Aruba, Australia, Austria, Bahrain, Bangladesh, Barbados, Belarus, Belgium, Bermuda, Bolivia, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Brazil, Brunei Darussalam, Bulgaria, Burkina Faso, Cambodia, Canada, Cape Verde, Cayman Islands, Chile, Colombia, Costa Rica, Cote d’Ivoire, Croatia, Cuba, Curaçao, Cyprus, the Czech Republic, the Democratic Republic of Congo, Denmark, the Dominican Republic, Ecuador, Egypt, Estonia, Fiji, Finland, France, Gabon, Gambia, Georgia, Germany, Ghana, Gibraltar, Greece, Grenada, Guadeloupe, Guernsey, Guinea, Hungary, Iceland, India, Indonesia, Iran, Iraq, Ireland, Israel, Italy, Jamaica, Japan, Jordan, Kenya, Korea, Kosovo, Kuwait, Laos, Latvia, Lebanon, Libya, Liechtenstein, Lithuania, Luxembourg, Malaysia, Maldives, Malta, Martinique, Mauritania, Mauritius, Mayotte, Mexico, Mongolia, Montenegro, Morocco, Myanmar, Nepal, the Netherlands, New Zealand, Niger, North Macedonia, Norway, Oman, Pakistan, Palestine, Panama, Paraguay, Peru, the Philippines, Poland, Portugal, Qatar, Réunion, Romania, Russia, Rwanda, Saint Martin (French part), Saudi Arabia, Senegal, Serbia, Sierra Leone, Singapore, the Slovak Republic, Slovenia, South Sudan, Spain, Sri Lanka, St Kitts and Nevis, St Vincent and the Grenadines, Sweden, Switzerland, Tanzania, Thailand, Togo, Trinidad and Tobago, Tunisia, Turkey, Uganda, Ukraine, the United Arab Emirates, Uruguay, Venezuela, Vietnam, Angola, Botswana, Eswatini, Ethiopia, Kazakhstan, Lesotho, Malawi, Mozambique, Namibia, Nigeria, South Africa, the United Kingdom, the United States of America, Zambia, Zimbabwe

If I were holding a Cathay Pacific connecting itinerary up till Valentine’s Day (and possibly beyond), I’d start hunting for alternatives now. 

Cathay Pacific is already reeling from the previously-announced suspension of flights to Australia, Canada, France, India, Pakistan, Philippines, UK and USA that runs from 8-21 January 2022. 

The airline recently had to shutter The Pier Business lounge in Hong Kong again, less than eight weeks after reopening it as a dedicated transit lounge. It expects to operate about 2% of its pre-pandemic passenger flight capacity in January (and this was before the transit ban, mind), with further reductions in passenger flights till the end of March 2022. 

Don’t forget that Singapore Airlines also operates transit flights through Hong Kong in the form of SQ7/8 from/to San Francisco. During this period, this 3X weekly flight will be operated non-stop, without the Hong Kong stopover. 

What to do if you’re affected

Cathay Pacific A350-1000 Business Class

My guess is that if you’re based in Singapore and holding on to a Cathay Pacific ticket, you probably intended to fly to the USA or Canada (since Hong Kong is a natural transit point for those destinations). If so, you may already have been affected by the flight suspension.

But the flight suspension only affected departures until 21 January 2022, while the transit ban stretches until 15 February 2022. It means additional passengers will be affected, and if that includes you then Cathay Pacific will reach with options including rebooking, obtaining a Cathay Credit or requesting a full refund. I’d highly recommend you take the refund. 

If you’re on SQ7/8, you can expect Singapore Airlines to offer you reaccommodation on one of their non-stop flights to SFO at the very least. 

Conclusion

Hong Kong has implemented a transit passenger ban that affects pretty much the entire world, and if your travel plans included Cathay Pacific, you might want to start researching alternatives now.

Hong Kong residents are already facing tightened measures for the next few weeks, with dining in terminating at 6 p.m, gyms, museums, cinemas, and sports centres closed, and cruises to nowhere suspended (which might explain why Spectrum of the Seas is coming to Singapore six months ahead of schedule). 

It just goes to show the potential pitfalls of booking transit itineraries in the current environment, and it might not be the worst idea stick to non-stop flights with Singapore Airlines for the moment. 

Aaron Wong
Aaron Wong
Aaron founded The Milelion to help people travel better for less and impress chiobu. He was 50% successful.

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kopi lim

Dine in terminating at 6pm?!!! Holy [email protected]#$ how are young Sinkie expats going to go on dates in Heung Gong then?

Miles Morales

Thanks for the update and tips. Direct flights are definitely the best option. This is definitely an extreme reactionary measure, there is simply no way to ascertain the transit passengers pose a significant risk in the spread of Covid.

anon

it might not be the worst idea stick to non-stop flights with Singapore Airlines for the moment. “

but SIA is really so expensive….

Lifshitz

I am going to look for QR tix I can book with Asia Miles, or maybe QF, some time in the next 12 months. Unfortunately I still have 200k Asia Miles and I am afraid these might go down the drain soon.

ithh

I strongly suggest you check out the Asia Miles forum page on flyertalk.com for solutions to saving your expiring miles. All is not lost.

Nick

Once a travel bubble,now as tough as going to the moon.

George

Hong Kong has really f#cked up more than Singapore in its strict and senseless restrictions.. Who would have thought Singapores saving grace would be someone else shitting the bed more

Bob

Death by a 1000 cuts for CX. So sorry for them

Ben

Nothing new. HK is now just a puppet getting its tail wagged by its master Pooh. Who cares about CX?? CCP is the flavour of the century.

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