Recently, Emirates Regional Manager, West Africa, Afzal Parambil, spoke with THISDAY on the protocols adopted by the mega Middle East carrier to protect its passengers when flight operations resumed after the lockdown.
Following resumption of flights after the COVID-19 lockdown, Emirates airline amongst other airlines outlined safety measures across every travel touch points to boost customer's confidence to travel and few months down the line, Parambil said Emirates is still committed to giving customers the best of travel experience while balancing it with reassuring safety protocols.
He said Emirates has implemented a comprehensive set of measures at every step of the customer journey to ensure the safety of its customers and employees on the ground and in the air, including the distribution of complimentary hygiene kits containing masks, gloves, hand sanitizer and antibacterial wipes to all customers.
The Regional Manager explained that Dubai, which is one of the world's first cities to obtain the "Safe Travels" stamp from the World Travel and Tourism Council (WTTC), updated its entry requirements for inbound travelers to ensure safety upon departure.
"In a recent development, travelers can now benefit from the COVID-19 PCR test requirements for Dubai which was recently changed to suit customers and encourage more travels to Dubai.
"The new rules which applies to Nigeria amongst other countries, states that tourists must present a negative COVID 19 PCR test certificate that is valid for 96 hours from the date of the test before departure.
"The certificate must be for a polymerase chain reaction (PCR) test. Other test certificates including antibody tests and home testing kits are not accepted in Dubai.
"If a traveler is taking a test before departure, he/she must bring an official, printed certificate in English or Arabic to check in, although SMS and digital certificates are not accepted. All Children under the age of 12 and passengers who have a moderate or severe disability are exempt from this test," he said.
Parambil disclosed that Emirates' booking policies offer customers flexibility and confidence to plan their travel.
Customers, who purchase an Emirates ticket for travel on or before March 31, 2021, can enjoy generous rebooking terms and options, if they have to change their travel plans. Customers have options to change their travel dates or extend their ticket validity for two years.
"Once travel date is fixed, travelers are assured of safety at the Chauffeur-drive because Emirates has put forth a regulation ensuring that both drivers and travelers of Chauffeur-drive service to and from the airport in Dubai put on a mask and gloves, hand sanitisers are made readily available in the car, and to keep a safe distance between the driver and passengers, the passenger sits at the back seat, also the number of people in each car are limited.
"The car is completely cleaned and disinfected from the start of every driver's duty, and the interior is sanitised after every trip, including buckles, handles, buttons, switches and blinds.
"At check-in, passengers are expected to put on a face mask and gloves at Emirates Terminal 3 in Dubai, also only people who are travelling can enter the airport, unless they have a disability and need assistance to travel.
"Passengers are expected to pass through the fever detection scanner that looks similar to the metal detectors at airport security, then a complimentary travel hygiene kit containing gloves, a face mask, antibacterial wipes and a hand sanitizer will be given out to travellers.
"Emirates check-in desks have been fitted with protective antimicrobial screens, and spacing stickers have been added on the floor to help everyone maintain a safe distance in the queue," he said.
Parambil said at the boarding gate, Emirates has introduced measures to maintain social distancing at the seating areas, and dots on the floor to ensure everyone keeps a safe distance on queues approaching the gate.
He noted that the Emirates team wears full Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) as the per personnel welcome travelers on flight, adding that Emirates board aircraft in smaller groups from the last row to the first, and the boarding gate areas are deeply cleaned once everyone is on the flight.
Keeping mask on at all times in the airport, during boarding and on board, is made compulsory.
"While on-board, all Emirates' cabin crew always wear full personal protective equipment (PPE). Passengers are expected to wear a mask at all times throughout the flight, except when eating or drinking, and depending on the regulations of the travelers' destination, they may need to wear gloves or other PPE also.
"Still on board, High Efficiency Particulate Air Filters (HEPA), an air disinfecting mechanism is introduced to ensure passengers breathe in uncontaminated air while on board," Parambil said.