First things first- You need an approval permit, granting you entry into the United Arab Emirates from the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and International Cooperation- https://www.mofaic.gov.ae/. (This is the link that helps you apply for the permit)
Applying for the approval permit is a tedious process, and requires residents of UAE, (who
want to come back), to fill up a whole load of details in order to gain permission to board a flight and enter your Emirate.
Receiving the approval permit takes a lot of time. It can be disheartening and demotivating, but if you want to come back, you need to ensure you've uploaded the right documents and details.
There have been instances where those who have applied for a permit to enter the country have received their approval in just a few days, while some of them have received it months later. You need to keep trying.
(P.S. Permit rejections have happened if incorrect documents are uploaded. It's best to clarify any doubts you may have when applying for it, so as to not delay the process.)
Once you've received your 'approval', Book your flight- These are repatriation flights, so you will not see any schedules on the websites. You will have to directly call the airline agency and they will guide you through the process.
In the Aiport
- Be prepared. Have each and every document ready. Everything is chaotic right now, so it's best you be prepared for any situation that can happen. Ensure you have with you, on hand your approvals, flight details, and any other necessary documents.
- Follow social distancing rules- You've taken a risk to travel during these unprecedented times. Don't put yourself or anyone else in any form of situation that could lead to contracting the disease. Follow the simple guidelines and you should be just fine!
All you need to do is, wear a mask and a pair of gloves and keep your distance. Airports have taken some measures to ensure distancing, but it's on you to ensure you're keeping yourself safe.
- You may not have to go through passport control/ immigration checks in the airport- When I traveled, I didn't go through any immigration check at Heathrow Airport, London. Everything was done during check-in. As mentioned before, things are changing every day, so don't worry if you think you've skipped a step!
- Security checks are conducted as normal- Your gadgets, liquids under 50ml, etc. will too be checked. You may be required to take off your shoes (esp those with boots). So, make sure you've got on some extra socks. You don't want your feet touching the floors🤢.
What happens once you board your flight?
- Every flight expects you to abide by social distancing norms. That means you will be given your seat accordingly, with a good amount of distance between you and other passengers.
- Flight meals are standard for everyone. Everything is boxed, sealed, and packed to prevent any form of personal contact.
- There are no onboard services provided, except provision and collection of your inflight meals, audio gear, and blankets.
- Should I upgrade to Business/ First Class?
It is a wise decision to maintain as much distance as you can from others.
However, bear in mind, for the price you'll be paying, you will not be given any of the onboard facilities that you normally receive when flying either of these classes.
It will ease your mind, knowing you're spending a huge chunk of time within the confines of an aircraft in the safest way possible. So if you can, and you don't mind the extra expense, then, by all means, go ahead.
What happens once you're in Dubai?
You've made it to Dubai!!, you've got one thing off your shoulders. There's still a lot more to go through, so make sure you get as much rest as possible in flight
- You will have to fill in some documents. As soon as you exit the flight and enter Dubai International Airport, a couple of documents will be given to you. These are formal documents, in which you are required to fill in some personal and medical details and travel history. You will also be signing a quarantine contract.
- Following this, you will go through a mandatory temperature check and a swab test. And yes, it is an intimidating procedure. The test won't hurt you. You'll feel slight prickly pressure and unease but then again, it's not every day you have someone jab a cotton swab into your nostrils. 🙈
The nurses and doctors in the airport are extremely accommodating and will help ease you through the entire process. So don't worry much about all of this. The atmosphere around the entire airport will be intense and daunting. But, as long as you follow the rules laid out, you should be fine!😀
- Once you've successfully gone through your medical checks, you will proceed through with immigration and go on to collect your baggage.
- You will no longer be required to pull out your luggage from the conveyor belt. They will be sanitized and left on the floor for you to collect.
* There are no E-gate services so it would be helpful to keep your passport ready.
- Residents of Dubai will not be allowed to go home. You will be required to quarantine in a hotel for 14 days (or even less, if your swab tests come out negative two to three times)
- You will not be allowed to meet anyone, so you may want to make adjustments to ensure those picking you up, don't come to the airport unnecessarily. You will be directly taken to a car and dropped off at a designated hotel.
What will Quarantine in a hotel look like?
- As mentioned before, those residing in Dubai will be required to quarantine in a hotel. Those who have landed in Dubai and are residing in any other emirate will be given instructions accordingly.
- Your hotel expenses are paid for, so you don't have to worry about any of that.
- Now that you are in a hotel, don't expect regular housekeeping services, you are required to do that yourself 😁. So think about looking after your room well during your time in quarantine. You will be provided with all the materials such as a change of sheets, towels, and toiletries.
- You will be offered three meals a day. They will be kept outside your rooms for you to collect. These too are provided free of charge.
However, you are also allowed to order in from restaurants and everything will be delivered to the doorstep of your room. You are by no means allowed to exit your room until your time in quarantine has come to an end.
- Another round of swab tests will be conducted in a week's time. Results for both your tests will be given out within two days. Fingers crossed🤞🏾
- Your parents/ friends/ anyone you know are allowed to drop off things for you and you can finally enjoy home-cooked meals!
What can YOU do to travel safely?
- Pack light: This goes without saying when you're traveling but now more than ever, reduce the weight in your cabin bags. The journey is going to be exhausting and you don't multiple or heavy bags exhausting you even more!
- Check-In every bit of luggage: If you can, check-in every possible bit of luggage/ bags you have. Don't roam around the airports, struggling with your bags, and exposing them to the virus. You are even given the option to check in your cabin bags, so it would be advised to go ahead with this.
Carry around a small handbag with just with your travel documents and essentials.
- Pack extras: In your cabin bag, keep a spare pair of gloves, masks, and any sanitary products that you might need. Don't depend on airports to provide you with these.
-Gloves and Mask: This is pretty much a compulsion right now. Make sure, under no circumstances, you take any of these off (at least until you board the flight). It is difficult breathing in them, but you need to bear it for a few hours. It is for your safety.
- Layers: If possible, add on layers of clothes to keep yourself shielded as much as possible. You want to prevent any form of body contact and the best way to go about it is layering up.
Be sure to dispose of these clothes into a laundry bag the minute you get into your hotel and get them cleaned up as soon as possible.
* If you do layer up, chances are your body temperature may reflect high during your temperature checks in Dubai and it may look like you have a fever. Don't panic! The nurses will assist you and give you some time for your body to cool down before they retake their checks. You have after all traveled 12-14 hours in layers!
Should I invest in a Safety Face Shield or any Protective Clothing?
- While it's always best to invest in products to keep yourself safe, it is not compulsory to go through with this. Layering up, and wearing a pair of gloves and a mask and following the rules laid out for you should be enough to ensure your safe travel.
Remember that traveling under these circumstances is a huge risk you've taken. It will be a strenuous journey. So be prepared and alert for any obstacles that may occur. And stay safe. Once you are back, it will be a huge relief and you will feel massive tension lifted off your shoulders. I know many of you are still stuck abroad and hope that you will be back soon. Until then stay safe and strong!♥
Take care and stay safe and wish all of you traveling back home a safe journey✈️♥️
This post is focused primarily for those who are traveling back to Dubai.
Experiences vary for everyone and rules are constantly changing so be prepared for challenges to strike up.
If you have any questions, please feel free to contact me. Hope this guide helps!!