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BREAKING: British Airways suspends all flights to China

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British Airways has cancelled all flights to Beijing and Shanghai due to the Coronavirus outbreak.

There will be no services until at least Friday, and no tickets are being sold for flights until 1st March.  This implies that a further mass cancellation is to be expected.  It follows Foreign Office guidance to avoid all travel to Mainland China until further notice.

Hong Kong services are still operating as normal.  Iberia flights to China are also still operating.

This is what is currently showing:

British Airways cancels flights to China

It isn’t clear if the flights will operate, but empty.  The Foreign Office has still to decide whether to fund an evacuation of British citizens from Wuhan and possibly other areas, and of course there are people due to fly back.

The Government has now confirmed that anyone returning from Wuhan will be quarantined for 14 days on a military base, with the aircraft potentially landing there directly.  It is worth noting that the Australian Government is forcing its 600 returning citizens to spend two weeks on Christmas Island, which is 1,200 miles from the mainland.


The special advisories page of is here and has the latest information.


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Comments (99)

This article is closed to new comments. Feel free to ask your question in the HfP forums.

  • Paul Pogba says:

    Shoestring will be outraged.

    • Shoestring says:

      Not at BA, they didn’t have a choice. ? – hmmm

      • Shoestring says:

        now you *are* scaremongering and may wish to retract?

        the author has just guessed at infection increase & applied a factor of 48.5, extracting deaths from that, ie supposing 1 in 48.5 people who get pussycat virus will die

        with SARS etc the containment strategy was effective; as it is with (say) ebola
        [Containment strategies employed during the recent SARS epidemic included case and contact management, infection control in hospitals and other facilities, community-wide temperature screening, mask use, isolation and quarantine, and the monitoring of travelers and response at national borders]

      • joe says:

        I will bet you anything – anything, that that is a wild overestimation.

        • joe says:

          Its just presuming a 50% increase in deaths and cases each day. If that were to be the case, the whole world would be dead by around 13 March if I can remember my A level maths.

          1.178144 (Million) times 1.5^x = 7000 (million – population of the world)

          1.5^x = 7000/1.178144

          x log 1.5 = log [7000/1.178144]

          x = log [7000/1.178144] / log 1.5

          x = 21.4 (days after 21 February)

          End of the world equals around 21 days after 21 February = 13 March.

          Been nice knowing you all (apologies for the inevitable maths error)!

        • Paul Pogba says:

          100 Avios says its right.

        • EwanG says:

          Joe, can you run the numbers to work out the probability that Curve will bring back Amex support before the end of the world on 13 March?

        • Russ says:

          Joe, when you did your A Level math did they not do the Bell curve thingy 🙂

          I’m more worried we’re going to end up with HFP articles headed: Where is the best place to spend your hotel points by 13th March in Blackpool??

      • maccymac says:

        I guess we’ll know soon enough… I presume these numbers are if nothing in terms of countermeasures are done? Whats the source?

        • Paul Pogba says:

          Its a very simplistic model but everyday the numbers have come out worse. There will come a point when lab and healthcare capacity limits are reached in China and a vaccine is around 9-18 months away so any improvement in care will be weighed against the ability to deliver it.

          The sanguine should print out a copy, update the numbers everyday and then tell the rest of us how they keep smiling 🙂

      • TGLoyalty says:


      • Cat says:

        This model doesn’t appear to take any account the incubation period of up to 14 days. 14 days ago, international airports weren’t even screening passengers arriving from Wuhan – that started at airports around the world between 17th and 22nd Jan. The effect of screening at airports, travel restrictions, travel bans, and increasingly strict quarantine measures obviously won’t not show up in declining rates of viral transmission for a few days (due to the incubation period).
        Time will tell.

  • Yorkieflyer says:

    The needs of the many outweigh the needs of the few

  • Publius says:

    What is the collective wisdom about Hong Kong flights being affected soon?

    • Rob says:

      HK makes more money …

    • Russ says:

      It’s quite interesting how HK is now being treated as a separate country from China!

      • Mark says:

        Which it effectively is. A border separating it from the Chinese mainland, its own laws, government, currency etc. I realise it is ultimately controlled by the Chinese government, however it would be much harder to cut off Hong Kong from the rest of world given it’s importance as a major travel and business hub.

        No doubt the unrest in HK is on the minds of the decision makers as well – the last thing the HK or Chinese governments will want now is for the virus to take hold in HK as a result of a refusal to control migration from mainland China, result in mortality similar to or higher than SARs and the residents of HK blaming the Chinese government.

  • Waddle says:

    Statement from BA clarifies suspension is for 2 days only “while we assess the situation”. Source: BA spokesperson to the news organisation I work for.

  • Aston100 says:

    Are there still people in denial about the potential impact of this?

    • Peter K says:

      Reading comments on this site, yes.

      • Shoestring says:

        are there still people in denial that deaths so far = under 2 days’ UK deaths total for a disease like pneumonia (80 deaths / day)

        • Beebop says:

          Hence the word “potential” from the OP.

        • Riccatti says:

          Pneumonia is NOT a specific disease. It is an umbrella term for many kinds of infection.

        • Callum says:

          Stop comparing this to pneumonia.

          While I accept that a tiny number of people are scaremongering, your arguments likewise show a complete lack of understanding.

          While unsurprising, the sheer amount of arrogance that’s required to think that you know better than the entire field of global experts because you did a few Google searches and made some nonsensical comparisons is staggering.

    • TGLoyalty says:

      Denial of what?

      Commercial Airline cancels flights following government advice against travel and most probably mass cancellations leaving no one to fly. Makes perfect sense.

  • Don says:

    Called AMEX Platinum insurance and told we aren’t insured for this even The Foreign Office has warning not to travel.

    • TGLoyalty says:

      When is your holiday? If it’s in a few months then that could be not covered yet. Would contact the airline and hotels first to see if they will refund. Insurance should be last resort.

      • Don says:

        Trip is for March and April. Most Flights and hotels were booked with points so shouldn’t be problem get most back. Also booked two nights at Heathrow for pre/post trip which are nonrefundable, hotel has rejected refund.

        • TGLoyalty says:

          Cancel and claim any fees and non-refundable elements from AMEX?

          I’m sure they would be reasonable

    • Steve says:

      Interesting. Amex is always held out as the panacea for insurance. Looks like the suck just as much as every other insurance provider.

      • Don says:

        Their excuse was The Foreign Office only advice you not go but hasn’t stop you go. Unbelievable!

        • memesweeper says:

          That’s scandalous if true.

          • BlueHorizonuk says:

            I believe Amex changed insurers last year so things have changed and I have suspicions they are not as good as before.

          • Don says:

            Over the call even been told to check if other third party insurance will cover it, if so they suggest to get one now.

          • Alex W says:

            Amex can shove the £600 fee up their ass. Is there any reason to get Platinum any more?

      • rams1981 says:

        I’ve never had any use for the plat insurance which is why I’m thinking of cancelling and just getting gold which has better rewards rate including the bonus. It’s pathetic the plat card doesn’t have a spend bonus.

      • Lady London says:

        Since it went to Axa what did you expect. I won’t take any policy underwritten by Axa.

    • the_real_a says:

      Did you speak to the underwriting team? The AXA/Chub customer service line really has no clue… If they wont transfer you then get them to ask the underwriter whilst you are on the line. I had the same nonsense on an unrelated issue last year.

      • Don says:

        I didn’t speak to the underwriting team now worth call them again. Thanks!

        • Rob says:

          I have pulled out the documents. AXA is correct.

          Amex won’t pay up if you travel, and they won’t pay up if you don’t.

          There is a clause which says ‘Amex won’t pay if the Foreign Office advises against travel’ but there is no mirror clause allowing you to cancel in the same circumstances. I pulled up another policy I hold and that one does specifically give me the right to cancel.

          • Riccatti says:

            If you visited a GP during a previous year, say with a cold, the same GP will likely to issue note advising specifically you not to travel. That will be a reason for cancellation.

          • Mark says:

            We’re in a similar situation with our policy through my work flexible benefits scheme. It explicitly excludes epidemics and pandemics under Cancellation.

            So we can only hope that if the FCO issues advice against non-essential travel to HKG in the next 3 days, that Lufthansa will refund the flights at least (which they are not currently for HKG, only mainland China).

    • Rob says:

      Not insured in what sense? That they won’t pay for cancellation? Once the Foreign Office says ‘all but non-essential travel should be cancelled’ that is normally enough. If they are saying that they won’t pay if you go and catch it then that is fair enough.

      • Anna says:

        What is the position if the OP’s fights are cancelled and he actually CAN’T travel, regardless of what the FO says?

        • Rob says:

          Good point. BA will offer to reroute you to HK though, from where I suppose Axa will claim you can make your own way into China.

      • Riccatti says:

        OP holiday March-April might be too early to cancel.

        Insurance company might take a view that during nearly two-month period FCO might lift the restriction.

  • Chris says:

    Virgin just announced they are going to continue flying to Shanghai.

    I’ve got 1 of the golden ticket flights booked for 22 Feb which would rather not refund obviously and as I’m only going to be in Shanghai for less than 24 hours and then flying off to Boracay might just take the risk. Travel insurance said they woulds not cover me for time in Shanghai or any illness as a result of time in Shanghai but would cover me as normal in Philippines. They also said they wouldn’t cover me for Air Asia flights booked from Shanghai to Boracay if my flight gets cancelled by Virgin or government advice not tot travel remains the same.

This article is closed to new comments. Feel free to ask your question in the HfP forums.

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