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This December I have a flight booked from Australia to India via Hong Kong (stopover 13 hours) as well as return which has 4 hours stopover. Both use Cathay Pacific.

I had initially planned to go out in the city but now it looks like that's out of the question. If I cancel the tickets I'm going to lose money. I don't think anyone will even give me travel insurance now.

What options do I have:

  • Is it safe to stopover now?
  • Should I cancel my tickets?
  • Do airlines provide any protection against such cases?

I know it would be difficult to know what will happen in December but I'm looking for help from people who might have experienced this kind of situation.

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    It is impossible to guess how the situation in Hong Kong will be many months in the future. – Tor-Einar Jarnbjo Sep 3 at 8:10
  • Or the situation at Cathay Pacific, at the rate they are firing pilots for supporting Hong Kong. – Michael Hampton Sep 3 at 8:16
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    As of now, Cathay is still flying, but they can't say what will happen in the future months because no one knows what to expect, a friend who works there flies the London-HK route and back a few times a week and she doesn't seem worried about them grounding the planes etc. You could try calling your booking agent and seeing how much it would cost for you to alter your tickets, so you no longer go through HK, it might not be cheap, but will be cheaper than rebooking your entire flight – Uciebila Sep 3 at 8:47
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Small but very important correction: what you have is a layover not a stopover. As such, you could spend the entire time airside ie past security. Unless they shut down the entire airport (which did happen before but not often) your flight will happen just fine, protests don't (can't) extend past security. I wouldn't worry too much.

  • ohh so your saying during the previous incident the protesters did not get past security? – Nigel Fds Sep 3 at 23:37
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    If someone without a ticket would get past security, especially multiple people, they would need to shut down the terminal/airport. You can't allow unscreened, unticketed people in the secure area. – chx Sep 4 at 2:05
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Mid-September, I flew Germany to Japan with Cathay Pacific, also with a layover in Hong Kong. (I had to book literally the night before and for some reason Cathay Pacific options were the cheapest. You wonder.)

My layover was just over an hour (not short enough for them to permit me using the fast lane at security) but my entire experience at Hong Kong Airport was smooth. I believe that for most of the time during which there were protests this was the case, mostly because the airport is not that close to the inner city where most of the demonstrations are happening. Depending on the day of the week and the time (I arrived and departed early morning on a Monday) the chances of protests happening anywhere in the city could be close to zero.

I recall at least one time (but most likely two or three times) when Hong Kong airport was closed due to protests, so your risk is not zero. If it does happen, you may fall victim to force majeure clauses in the terms of service, but maybe CX will be able to arrange alternate arrangements for you to get to India without passing Hong Kong.

Tl;dr, your three main questions:

  • Yes, layovers in Hong Kong are safe over 99 % of the time even during protests
  • This depends on you but I wouldn’t
  • They may claim force majeure (i.e. no refunds), their terms of service should certainly allow them to do so in the unlikely event that the airport is closed. They may be able to provide alternative arrangements.

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