Hong Kong International Airport suddenly suspended all departing flights on Monday and cancelled 70 incoming flights. Previously, thousands of protesters packed the airport, leaving passengers stranded in one of the world's most important transportation hubs.
The statement on the airport website stated that the operation “has been severely interrupted and all flights have been cancelled” and that all passengers are required to leave the terminal as soon as possible.
Here are the things that travelers coming and going in Hong Kong need to know.
What happened in Hong Kong?
Hong Kong's anti-government protests have entered its third month as the proposed legislation will change the extradition policy between Hong Kong and other places, including mainland China. Previous protests took place mainly in the city centre, popular shopping districts and government buildings. The protests on Monday occurred after a protest between the protesters and the police on Sunday night when the police fired tear gas at a subway station and rushed the escalators off the escalator at another subway station. On Monday, a woman who participated in the protest was hit by a throwing object, which made many protesters angry and poured into the airport on Monday afternoon.
Is it safe to travel to Hong Kong?
The Hong Kong Tourism Commission said that Hong Kong is safe and open to tourists. Many popular attractions such as the Women's Street and the Peak Tram are not affected by the protests.
In recent weeks, some governments have raised security warnings against Hong Kong.
Five days ago, the US State Department issued a second-level travel warning to Hong Kong to warn tourists that they should be more cautious because of civil strife in Hong Kong.
The Australian government said on its Smart Traveller website that visitors are advised to “highly be cautious in Hong Kong” and that the airport’s protests have intensified, causing “serious damage”. The Australian Consulate in Hong Kong has sent officials to the airport to assist Australian tourists.
The Canadian authorities also encourage visitors to "keep a high degree of vigilance in Hong Kong because large-scale demonstrations are taking place there."
Why is there a protest at the airport?
Hong Kong International Airport is one of the busiest airports in the world, with access to 220 destinations around the world, with approximately 1,100 flights per day. It is an important aviation hub in the Asia Pacific region and received nearly 75 million passengers last year. On Monday morning, a small group of protesters appeared at the airport. During the whole day, the number of people increased, eventually crowded into the arrival hall, and then more protesters went to the departure hall.
“Breaking air travel is one of the best ways to spur the attention of elites, opinion makers and passengers, especially to attract international passengers,” said co-founder and CEO of Scott's Cheap Flights. Scott Keyes said.
“中断航空旅行是刺激精英、舆论制造者和乘客关注的最佳方式之一，尤其是吸引国际航班乘客关注，”斯科特廉价航班公司(Scott’s Cheap Flights)的联合创始人兼首席执行官斯科特·凯斯(Scott Keyes)表示。
Which airlines are affected and what measures have they taken?
More than 120 airlines travel to and from Hong Kong International Airport, including British Airways, American Airlines, United Airlines, Turkish Airlines, Lufthansa, Singapore Airlines ( Singapore Airlines) and Cathay Pacific.
120多家航空公司往返香港国际机场，其中包括英国航空(British Airways)、美国航空(American Airlines)、联合航空(United Airlines)、土耳其航空(Turkish Airlines)、汉莎航空公司(Lufthansa)、新加坡航空(Singapore Airlines)和国泰航空。
Among US airlines, United Airlines’ flights from Hong Kong to Guam on Monday and flights from Guam to Hong Kong were cancelled. Flights from San Francisco, Chicago and New York arrived in Hong Kong as scheduled. The cancelled United Airlines flight has a travel waiver clause so passengers can rebook their tickets.
American Airlines has two flights a day to Hong Kong, one from Dallas and the other from Los Angeles. The flight from Dallas took off on schedule, but the flight from Los Angeles was cancelled. A spokesperson for the airline said passengers could rebook the next flight of American Airlines or partner airlines.
Two British Airways flights from Hong Kong to Heathrow Airport were cancelled. Passengers affected by grounding can choose to rebook or refund in full. Virgin Atlantic canceled flights from Hong Kong to London Heathrow Airport. The company advises travelers to check the latest information on their website. The two airlines still have flights from London to Hong Kong.
On Monday, Qatar Airways returned to Doha after taking off from Doha to Hong Kong. Qatar has two flights a day to and from Doha and Hong Kong, but they have all been cancelled.
Hong Kong Cathay Pacific Airways cancelled several flights to and from Hong Kong on Monday and Tuesday.
Lufthansa canceled two flights from Hong Kong to Germany and two flights from Munich and Frankfurt to Hong Kong.
I am taking an inbound flight. What should I do when the plane landed?
A passenger told CNN that it took him nearly an hour to leave the arrival area after arriving in Cebu from the Philippines. The taxi stop at the airport was closed and no train arrived on the airport express line, so he left the terminal and went to the highway where he got a taxi.
Other passengers sleep at the ticket office.
“In the vicinity of the check-in counters, groups of tourists either sleep or charge their phones,” Katy Wong said. “I can't go home,” one visitor posted on Instagram, and a visitor posted a video of people sleeping at the airport, titled “Can you go back tomorrow?”.
How long does the flight have to be grounded?
As of Monday morning, the departing flight has been cancelled until 7 am on Tuesday. The airport is expected to reopen on Tuesday, but passengers should check the status of the flight before heading to the airport.
The best way to know about flight cancellations or delays is to contact the airline. Some airlines, such as Air Canada, have introduced flexible rebooking policies for customers who want to change their travel plans to and from Hong Kong. Other airlines, such as British Airways, offer flights at other times or a full refund.
If you have travel insurance, it is important to determine if it covers delays or interruptions of this nature.
Michael Grossman, a travel insurance business at Starr Insurance Companies, said, "Assume that you live in New York and are going to Hong Kong, but now you are delayed because the airport is closed, or you are Hong Kong wants to go home, or you are traveling in Hong Kong but the trip is now delayed." He said that any of the above may be included in the travel delay.
斯塔尔保险公司(Starr Insurance Companies)做旅游保险业务的迈克尔·格罗斯曼(Michael Grossman)说，“假设你住在纽约，正要去香港，但现在你因为机场关闭而延误，或者你在香港想要回家，或者你正在香港旅行但现在行程耽搁了。”他表示，上述任何一种情况都可能包括在旅行延误险中。
Soon I am going to Hong Kong. what can I do? Where can I get information?
The protest is expected to continue on Tuesday. Check with your airline for your flight status, or if you are booking through a travel agent, you should contact them if they have not contacted you.
Peter Vlitas, senior vice president of airline relations at Travel Leaders Group, said, "As soon as we got the news, we immediately listed a list of the affected passengers and Start reminding them of flight cancellations and other options that exist."
旅行社旅游领袖集团(Travel Leaders Group)航司关系高级副总裁彼得·弗里塔斯(Peter Vlitas)说，“我们一得到有关消息，就立即列出了一份名单，确定受影响的乘客，并开始提醒他们航班取消情况和存在的其他选择。”
Fritas said that if you have to travel to and from Hong Kong and have a Chinese visa, you can travel to Hong Kong by train in Shenzhen or Guangzhou. There is also a ferry from Hong Kong to Shenzhen, which takes about an hour.
“Given the situation in Hong Kong, the airline will provide a full refund for the ticket before August 15th, but as the situation develops, this date may be delayed.”