With the UAE issuing a travel advisory, warning its citizens to refrain from travelling to Thailand amidst political unrest in the country, carriers Emirates and Etihad Airways have confirmed flights to and from Bangkok are still taking off as scheduled.
Even as thousands of anti-government protesters have set up blockades across the Thai capital today to pressure Prime Minister Yingluck Shinawatra to resign, both the major Mideast airlines have requested its passengers to allow extra time to reach Bangkok’s Suvarnabhumi Airport in wake of the political tension.
In an update on its website, Dubai-based Emirates states: “In light of the planned protests scheduled to be held in Bangkok on 13th January 2014, Emirates strongly recommends that its passengers due to depart from Bangkok on the day add two extra hours to their usual journey time to Bangkok airport.”
The carrier has also stated that rebooking, re-issue and cancellation charges, along with no-show charges for flights out of Bangkok only, will be waived for passengers ticketed to travel between 12th-17th January 2014.
Rebooking will be made onto an available flight to the same destination on or before 31st January 2014 in the same booking class, with no additional cost to the passenger and if required, the validity of the ticket may be extended.
The airline further stated: “Re-booking/re-routing will also be permitted onto an available Emirates flight to/from Phuket in the same booking class at no additional cost to the passenger.”
However, transportation between Bangkok and Phuket will be at the passenger’s own expense.
Only one free of charge change will be permitted per ticket.
Passengers who wish to cancel their trip may have their remaining coupons exchanged for a MCO (travel voucher) for future travel on Emirates or refunded for the reassessed value of the remaining portion of the flight itinerary.
Travel vouchers for future travel on Emirates will be valid for one year from the date of issue.
Emirates Skywards members can refund their tickets without any cancellation charges.
Meanwhile, the Abu Dhabi-based Etihad Airways stated: “Etihad Airways is maintaining its current schedule to and from Bangkok, Thailand, and no delays are anticipated.”
However, the airline has stated it will continue to monitor the situation closely as road closures are expected due to the planned protests in Bangkok today, requesting passengers booked to depart Bangkok to allow themselves additional time to arrive at the airport in time for check-in.
Airports of Thailand have recommended travellers to use the Airport Rail Link in conjunction with the Bangkok Mass Transit System (BTS) Sky Train, The Metropolitan Rapid Transit (MRT) or the State Railway of Thailand (SRT) public transport systems to get to Bangkok Suvarnabhumi Airport.
Today’s unrest is the latest political drama in an ongoing an eight-year conflict between Bangkok’s middle class and royalist establishment against the mostly poorer, rural supporters of Yingluck.
Last week, the UAE’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs called on citizens not to travel at present to Thailand, due to the tense political situation in the country, except in extremely necessary cases.
The statement was made by Abdullah bin Mohammed bin Butti Al Hamed, the Under-Secretary of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs.
He said: “The Ministry is closely following the developments of in Thailand and has assigned, in coordination with the UAE Embassy in the country an operation room that works around the clock in order to follow the citizens’ conditions there.”
He also urged the UAE citizens in Thailand to avoid gatherings and demonstrations, adding that they should read the instructions and travel tips on the website of the Ministry as well as register in ‘My Presence Service’ dedicated to the UAE citizens.
UAE citizens can coordinate with their Embassy in Thailand on the following numbers: 0066 240 240 000, 0066 871 108 785.