It’s because of the ongoing global health concerns…

Both the government and private companies in the UAE have been extremely proactive in introducing measures to help limit the potential spread of CoVid-19 virus, and protect public health.

In such situations, being responsible can mean putting the safety of others ahead of our own individual desires.

For international travel, this includes restricting access to and from certain destinations and limiting travel for those that have recently visited high-risk zones.

In accordance with this, the national airlines have made a few changes to their operating procedures.

Etihad Airways has temporarily suspended some of its routes and has begun to offer ‘fee waivers’ for passengers who are required to cancel or change their flights because of CoVid-19 restrictions.

If you have a ticket booked already

According to the policy change description on the Etihad website, for tickets booked in the UAE on or before March 5 2020, passengers who “have been directed or advised by authorities not to travel from the UAE” can make one change or request cancellation on unused tickets — without fees.

It’s important to note that waivers will depend on when the ticket was booked and which destination the travel is to. For some tickets, it will only be possible to get the date-change fee waived, cancellation will still attract penalties.

For ticket changes, it is also worth being aware that if there is a fare difference — the holder wishes to change to a busier time, or move from off-peak to peak season — there may be additional charges. But this also depends on when the ticket was booked, and where it’s going to.

Governments may impose or change travel restrictions at very short notice, and as Etihad travels to more than 30 countries, they are not able to list the full local advice for each destination on their website.

Passengers intending to visit areas that have reported high levels of exposure to the virus (for example China, Italy, South Korea and Iran) are advised to check official travel advice in the relevant country and to contact their airline.

There are also special conditions for travel to and from Saudi Arabia and Thailand.

If you booked with Etihad direct, speak to them on 600 555666 for your available options, although try to call during off-peak hours and expect some delay because they are dealing with exceptionally high call volumes.

If you booked with a travel agent, you’ll need to speak to them to get the full lowdown on your rights and entitlements.

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If you do choose to travel

The UAEs’ Ministry of Health and Prevention has urged UAE citizens and residents to avoid travelling internationally to help stop potential spread of the coronavirus.

The Ministry has also stated that those who choose to travel may face preventative measures upon their return home. This may include medical checks at the airport and a 14-day home quarantine.

Many airports have started biotech screening for passengers, to prevent those suspected of infection from boarding aricraft.

Etihad Airways planes are equipped with air filtration systems, similar in quality to those used in hospitals.

Nationals of Bahrain, Kuwait, Oman and Saudi Arabia are currently not allowed to use national ID cards to enter the UAE. It is essential that they now use passports.

Travelling with Emirates? Check here.