Safely but surely

Published October 12, 2020, 1:26 PM

by Vianca Gamboa

Airline protocols you should know before you fly

Long before the pandemic, people have been anxious about security measures at commercial airports. Upon approval of a visa, there also comes a 50/50 situation in immigration from both arrival and departure. This problem heightens along with health-related concerns.

Although the expedited process and onboard regulations mitigate the chances of jostling encounters to tackle transmission, some people are far more worried about additional documents that somehow bump up the ratio of rejection. Of course, we now have to face a division between essential and nonessential travel, which is prohibited as of now, but the problem lies on the duration of this insecurity. Filipino travelers, for instance, are expecting a longer list of requirements and rigorous health screening for long-haul flights, all coinciding with an airport protocol that can keep passengers away even when they are allowed to travel.

The truth is, the new rules start the moment you leave your home to catch your flight and go all the way to when you leave the airport at destination, and it won’t be a casual experience. We all want to travel, but if we must, we should not put our safety on the line, even if it means going through additional hassle. You should be worried about those documents, yes, but everything can be learned before boarding.

Besides the mandatory wearing of face masks and face shields, here are some new protocols specific for your chosen airline.

Cebu Pacific

The airline encourages online check-in and a proper way of holding a boarding pass for scanning. Those on cancelled flights may choose to place the full cost of the ticket in a Travel Fund valid for two years—full refund, or an option to rebook to any other travel date within three months without charge.

Cebu Pacific’s fleet of Airbus jets are equipped with High Efficiency Particulate Arrestor (HEPA) filters that are capable of filtering microscopic bacteria and virus clusters with 99.99 percent efficiency, similar to what is used in hospital operating rooms.

If you’re flying to Boracay (Caticlan): You are required to present a negative RT-PCR (swab) test result obtained 48 hours before travel, confirmed hotel booking or reservation from any DOT-accredited accommodation establishments in Boracay, and a tourist QR Code. You can fill up  Health Declaration form at least 24 hours before the flight via


AirAsia has provided various contactless payment systems at the airport, including contactless kiosks, Passenger Reconciliation System (PRS), as well as enhanced features on its mobile app. You can print your boarding pass and baggage tag after checking-in online on or through the mobile app for a full contactless check-in process.

The PRS system, on the other hand, avoids boarding pass exchange so you only need to scan it at the boarding gate. There will be no more physical stub collection.

If you’re flying domestic: Documents and requirements depend on the place that you’re visiting, especially if it’s an essential interprovince travel with different quarantine measures.

Philippine Airlines

You are given a chance to choose a seat depending on the space that you need. These seat options include a Distancing Seat for Premium Economy Class and Economy Class fare in all of PAL’s international flights. Aside from occupying the window or middle seat alone in a row, you can also enjoy faster boarding and deplaning as these Distancing Seats are located at the front of the aircraft.

If you’re flying international: You will only be allowed to leave the country with a tourist visa if you present confirmed round-trip tickets, adequate travel and health insurance to cover rebooking and re-accommodation expenses if stranded or hospitalized, and the accomplished Execution of Declaration form, acknowledging the risks involved in traveling. Of course, your entry depends upon your destination’s travel, health, and quarantine restrictions.


As one of the first few airlines to operate during a pandemic, and the first airline to administer blood tests on-site for departing travelers, Emirates is also the world’s first airline to cover your medical expenses should you get Covid-19 during a trip, while you’re away from home. The airline also takes responsibility for the repatriation of your body and your funeral if you die.

If you’reflyingto Dubai: Before booking, the airline offers a streamlined website called ICA Smart Services to guarantee if UAE residents in the Philippines are eligible to travel. If not permitted, you may speak to your travel agent and check out its flexible ticket options. You must present a printed copy of a negative Covid-19 PCR test result certificate issued by aLGU-approved laboratory. The test must be conducted no more than 96 hours before departure. Remember to bring the official printed certificate as SMS and digital certificates are not accepted. You will also be required to undergo anotherCovid-19 PCR test on arrival in Dubai.

Cathay Pacific

Cathay Pacific offers a new digital service tool on Facebook Messenger in the country. On top of its Global Contact Center, customer support, and online check-in services, the airline makes use of a flexible platform to reach customers for contactless transactions. Customers can easily get in touch with Cathay Pacific to inquire about bookings, ticket changes, and baggage concerns through the chat channel. You can also book your next trip without worrying about changing the dates and destination as many times as you like within the year.

If you’re flying to Hong Kong: Only Hong Kong residents in the Philippines with an identity card will be able to travel. Passengers arriving in Hong Kong will be required to undergo a medical test for Covid-19, which involves providing a saliva sample prior to clearing immigration and baggage collection.