A South African’s Guide To Finding Their Way Back To China
Firstly, I’d like to thank J Zen for giving me travel advice and assuring me that travel to China is possible (even with my resident’s permit expiring today – I have my fingers crossed for what comes after quarantine).
The route that I took is:
Johannesburg – Seoul – Shenzhen
Johannesburg – Seoul (Qatar Airways)
Seoul – Shenzhen (Shenzhen Airlines)
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1) Johannesburg (to Doha) (Qatar Airways)
Before you board at OR Tambo the Qatar Airways check-in staff will ask to see your resident’s permit, negative covid19 test results and your onward ticket flight. They will not let you board the flight if you don’t have the required documentation for your final destination and if you don’t meet the criteria to transit in Seoul. Once approved, your tickets will be issued, you will complete a health declaration form and get your temperature checked before entering the terminal. You will then go through immigration as normal.
On board, there was only 25 passengers (including us) making travelling and social distancing a breeze. You do have to wear your face mask and a face shield (Qatar Airways will provide you with one) throughout your journey except for when you’re eating or drinking.
2) Transit in Hamad International Airport (Doha)
Temperature checks were done on arrival and departure. No health declaration forms needed to be filled in. You will then transit as normal.
Face shields are not mandatory in the terminal.
3) Doha to Seoul (Qatar Airways)
On board, there weren’t many people travelling again which gave us room to change our seats for social distancing. We had to wear our face shields again for the next leg.
Upon arrival in Seoul, you will be required to fill out a health declaration form, you will need to do an ear temperature test and you will show them your onward ticket (or itinerary in order to transit at Incheon Airport).
You can only transit for 24 hours at Incheon Airport. I planned my trip so that I arrive and depart from terminal 1. You can also stay at the terminal 1 transit hotel if your flight is the next day (if you want to).
Because I booked two separate flights, one with Qatar and the other with Shenzhen Airlines, I also needed the Shenzhen Airlines ticket for my onward flight without leaving the terminal. There is a place in the terminal (C Gate 29 Top Floor) where you can check-in and they print your ticket for you. They will also help set up your WeChat health code that’s required for China.
The only caveat with this itinerary is that you cannot leave the terminal in Korea therefore you cannot carry any check-in baggage. You will need to very efficiently balance what you want to take back to China vs what you need to help you through quarantine like food and snacks (all in hand luggage).
4) Shenzhen (from Seoul) (Shenzhen Airlines)
On board, the flight is booked to capacity. There’s no room for social distancing so we (and a few others on board) stayed vigilant by wearing our face shields. Some people opted for hazmat suits, masks and goggles. If I knew how busy this flight would be, I probably would’ve done the same.
You’re given two health declaration forms on board that you need to fill in and the arrival card. Temperature checks were also done twice en route and a final check by CDC before disembarking the plane 30 minutes after you land.
– You are ushered to chairs labelled according to your seat number on the flight. Officials will call you at random (well, if you have the WeChat health code set up) to the first lot of seated people that will scan your barcode and issue a sticker printout of it.
– You will then proceed to a different seated booth where an official will ask you questions (like where you’re coming from) and will take your temperature. He will also give you a wad of signed and stamped documents.
– You will proceed to immigration but an official will check your documents before going to the counter.
– At immigration, it’s the same as normal. Four finger prints are scanned in and they will take a photo of you with your mask down.
*Then you enter the coronavirus prevention maze*
Honestly, they did and checked a lot of documents that I can’t remember the exact order of events. Essentially, all your documents are checked, you collect your luggage, you do your nucleic acid test (which doesn’t hurt but tingles instead) and throat swab and take the bus to the quarantine hotel. It is a well oiled machine and it’ll take you about an hour from start to finish (departure to quarantine facility).
Our quarantine hotel was just under a 2 hour drive away from the Shenzhen Bao’an International Airport. The “isolation facility” that we were automatically assigned is not too shabby either. We’re paying 200 RMB a night which only comes to 2,800 RMB for 14 days. For an additional 100 RMB per day, we’re getting 3 meals daily bringing our total up to 4,200 RMB. The hotel is neat and tidy, it has a great bathroom and toilet, it’s spacious as everyone gets 2 double beds and it has reliable internet. The catered food is only Chinese but it’s good so far. Only one meal wasn’t enjoyable. We’re currently separated and they are going to put us in the same room once our negative test results come back from the airport. All we have to do is sign a consent form. We’re allowed to order groceries online but not fast-food. We also have a really nice translator that assists us with everything.
Source: Terrelle’ Chetty (taken from EnglishTeacher)