On July 19, British Airways (BA) and Virgin Atlantic Airways (VS) confirmed that their check-in staff were instructed to turn away passengers suspected of being infected with pandemic (H1N1) “swine” flu. So far this policy only applies to main airports in the UK; these airports might include but are not limited to London Heathrow (LHR), London Gatwick (LGW), Manchester International (MAN), Glasgow International (GLA), Edinburgh International (EDI), Belfast International (BFS) and Dyce International (Aberdeen; ABZ).
BA and VS said that their staff have been instructed in how to identify passengers who may be infected and will call upon medical experts for extra advice. If the medical experts believe there are reasons not to fly, the passengers will have to produce a “fit to fly” certificate from a doctor or hospital; in that case the airline will put them on the next available flight at the airline’s expense. The airlines caution passengers that the intended arrival country could quarantine the passengers if they exhibit symptoms.
It is not clear if this policy applies to passengers originating their flight from the United Kingdom or also includes passengers who may be transiting through the UK.
On July 18, Chinese authorities quarantined 52 British children and teachers soon after their arrival when four of the children were diagnosed with H1N1. The UK is the European country hit hardest by the H1N1 pandemic; authorities have reported at least 55,000 new cases since July 12.
The airlines are advising travellers to defer travel if possible. If you are not feeling well and must travel, seek your physician’s certification to fly in writing.
British Airways website
Virgin Atlantic website
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