Emirates to foot medical bill for customers who contract Covid-19 while flying

The airline will pay up to R2m for medical expenses, plus R1,900 per day for the weeks spent in quarantine

29 July 2020 - 13:08 By Unathi Nkanjeni
Emirates is offering its passengers free cover (up to R2m) for Covid-19 medical expenses and will also cover quarantine costs.
Emirates is offering its passengers free cover (up to R2m) for Covid-19 medical expenses and will also cover quarantine costs.
Image: Emirates

Dubai-based airline Emirates has vowed to foot the bill for medical expenses and quarantine for its passengers who contract Covid-19 while flying, until the end of October.

The airline is the first to introduce such a programme and it applies to all passengers flying to any destination, in any class of travel.

Emirates will pay up to €150,000 (about R2m) for medical expenses, plus $115 (R1,900) per day for the weeks spent in quarantine. This cover is provided by the airline free to its customers.

The announcement comes at a time when air travel, both domestic and international, is hit hard by the measures and regulations put in place globally to tackle the Covid-19 pandemic.

Emirates Group chairperson and CEO, Sheikh Ahmed bin Saeed Al Maktoum, said the programme aimed to boost confidence in international travel.

“We know people are yearning to fly as borders around the world gradually reopen, but they are seeking flexibility and assurances should something unforeseen happen during their travel,” he said in a statement.

Maktoum said the airline was taking things to the “next level” with the programme and this is an investment on Emirates' part.

“Emirates has worked hard to put in place measures at every step of the customer journey to mitigate risk of infection, and we have also revamped our booking policies to offer flexibility,” he said.

“We are now taking it to the next level, by being the first in the industry to offer our customers free global cover for Covid-19 medical expenses and quarantine costs should they incur these costs during their travel. We are putting our customers first, and we believe they will welcome this initiative.”

How does the cover work?

According to Emirates, the cover is immediately effective for customers flying until October 31 — first flight to be completed on or before the end date.

It is valid for 31 days from the moment passengers fly the first sector of their journey.

“This means Emirates customers can continue to benefit from the added assurance of this cover, even if they travel onwards to another city after arriving at their Emirates destination,” said the airline.

Customers do not need to register or fill in any forms before they travel, and they are not obligated to use this cover, Emirates said.

How safe is flying during a pandemic?

Well, in the wise words of transport minister Fikile Mbalula, planes “eat the virus” and “can absorb disease”. 

How so, you may ask? Planes are fitted with high-efficiency particulate air filters. The filter can kill off 99.99% of all airborne germs and the risk of contracting Covid-19 via the air on planes is low if filters are well-maintained.

According to the International Air Transport Association (Iata), Hepa (High Efficiency Particulate Air) filters are effective at removing even the most difficult particles between 0.1 to 0.3 microns in size.

The filter, however, doesn’t remove the disease from inside a person. Someone who is Covid-19 positive can still spread the disease when they get on or off the plane.