As we mark one year since borders in the UAE officially closed and a nationwide lockdown was implemented, the travel industry has slowly begun to recover.

Keeping in mind the world is still in the middle of a pandemic, airlines and airports have had to adapt exponentially to ensure the highest hygiene, health and safety standards for staff and passengers.

One year on, Emirates Woman looks at the changes which have occurred in the travel industry, particularly in regards to the UAE and GCC.

Emirates Woman has curated a list of changes the travel industry has experienced, especially in regard to the GCC.

Compulsory quarantine

While all countries might not have a mandatory quarantine rule post travelling, some do and it’s always better to be aware if you need to isolate when travelling. With ongoing fluctuations, staying up-to-date is essential, to ensure you’ve planned ahead of time.

KAYAK – helps compile worldwide travel restrictions on a colour-coded map to ensure you have the necessary information to prepare with the constantly changing rules.

Also read: Travelling abroad? Here’s how to stay up-to-date with global restrictions

Mandatory masks and PPE

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After becoming the unexpected accessory essential since last year, the world has now embrace wearing face masks throughout the flight as a new norm, to prevent droplets from spreading as you protect yourselves and others while wearing one. Both Emirates and Etihad are providing passengers with a supply of hygiene kits, along with vending machines specially stocked to dispense PPE kits, in case any supplies are required onboard.

Also read: 7 luxe face masks to stay both safe and stylish this season

Discontinuation of non-essential services

To contain too many interactions on board, many airlines have suspended services relating to in-flight food and drink.  Some flights still offer pre-packaged food services only to ensure utmost safety for all. However, trolley services used for serving food on-board, lounge services and any in-flight magazines have been put to a halt in order to avoid any spreading of germs.

Travel insurance

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It was announced last year by Emirates in July that they will cover any COVID-19 medical costs for their passengers.  Similarly, Flydubai also offers all passengers multi-risk travel insurance, including COVID-19 cover when a ticket is booked. Many other airlines have followed suit.

A contactless journey

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Just over a month ago, contactless travel was introduced for Emirates passengers at Dubai Airport. A biometric facial technology system has become the new norm for all travellers. From beginning to end, the entire process is made seamless and as hands-free as possible to minimise the spread of the virus. With Biometric Smart Zones along with an app for inflight entertainment, the changes made are sure to prevent the virus from spreading.

Also read: Your Dubai airport experience will be a little different next time you travel

PCR tests

As per Emirates, all passengers arriving into Dubai from any point of origin (GCC countries included) must hold a negative COVID-19 PCR test result taken not more than 72 hours prior to departure with PCR test rules varying according to the airline.

In addition, Abu Dhabi airport launched a compulsory testing service for incoming passengers who will receive a free PCR test on arrival with the region’s first in-airport laboratory in approximately 90 minutes.

Also read: A free 90-minute PCR test is now available in Abu Dhabi for incoming passengers

Vaccinated crew members

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With the UAE paving its way as it reaches new milestones in the fight against COVID-19, Etihad in early February 2021 vaccinated 100 per cent of its crew members and staff, becoming the first airline in the world to do so to ensure passengers feel safe while travelling.

On the other hand, Emirates also worked with the Dubai Healthy Authority since early January to ensure a fully vaccinated crew of 70 also boarded the first flight, as the crew members received both doses of the COVID-19 vaccine.

Also read: Etihad becomes the world’s first airline to vaccinate all its crew

With rules and regulations constantly changing, it’s always best to be up to date on the government website for each country to ensure, the travel measures are carefully studied before departure and booking.

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Feature image: Unsplash @snowjan