Hong Kong Departing Flights Cancelled as Protesters Take Over Airport, No United/American Travel Waivers

Last weekend I reviewed whether it’s advisable for tourists to visit Hong Kong as protests there escalate, risking backlash from mainland China.

I concluded that a first time tourist might well choose to reschedule their trip. Protests had reached the airport, tourists stumbling into protest areas have reported being gassed, and the situation is volatile. I took a lot of heat for that advice but the question wasn’t just the state of the protests last weekend, but the potential for escalation. Since I wrote the U.S. and other countries have offered travel warnings.

Clashes between police and democracy protesters have escalated. Here an officer arrests a man on Sunday night, pressing his knee into the man’s face pushing him into his own pooling blood as he calls out “Don’t do this. I’m begging you.” There were 45 protesters injured over the weekend. Of those 25 remain in the hospital.

Spurred on by the government’s increasingly violent crackdown, protesters occupied the airport on Monday. Traffic came to a standstill and protesters crossed the roads leading in and out. All departures were cancelled for the rest of the day. Cathay Pacific says cancellations continue into Tuesday morning, and that passengers should postpone all non-essential travel and should not head to the airport. In-town check-in has also been closed.

Protesters reportedly began dissipating in the evening as rumors swirled of a police operation to retake the facility. With large scale military exercises taking place in nearby Shenzhen residents are concerned with a military takeover by the mainland.

Neither United nor American are still willing to penalties to let you change your Hong Kong plans. United for its part “recommend[s] leaving early to make sure you have plenty of time to travel to the [Hong Kong] airport and get through check-in and security.​​​”

Update: United has added a travel waiver however as of 10:30 a.m. Eastern time American still has not done so. Update 2: at 1:30 p.m. Eastern American appears to have a travel waiver as well.

About Gary Leff

Gary Leff is one of the foremost experts in the field of miles, points, and frequent business travel - a topic he has covered since 2002. Co-founder of frequent flyer community InsideFlyer.com, emcee of the Freddie Awards, and named one of the "World's Top Travel Experts" by Conde' Nast Traveler (2010-Present) Gary has been a guest on most major news media, profiled in several top print publications, and published broadly on the topic of consumer loyalty. More About Gary »

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  1. 4 hours after all flights from HKG were cancelled – AA.com still shows AA192 as “delayed til 8pm” (which is 6 minutes ago).

  2. Now almost 5 hours after all flights from HKG were cancelled – AA.com still shows AA 192 as delayed until 8:50pm tonight (which is 4 minutes ago). You have to love American’s optimism. Must be the same people who added hundreds of additional AA flights on Boeing 737-Max 8 flights starting in November 2019 that weren’t previously scheduled because they are so confident the Max 8 will return to service by November 2019. LOL

  3. Your headline is not accurate

    From United website…Hong Kong Civil Unrest
    Flight changes:
    The change fee and any difference in fare will be waived for new United flights departing on or before August 20, 2019, as long as travel is rescheduled in the originally ticketed cabin (any fare class) and between the same cities as originally ticketed.​​

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