Safe travel through the Oman's airports

Oman Saturday 03/October/2020 21:46 PM
By: Times News Service
Safe travel through the Oman's airports

Muscat: Expatriates returning to Oman have shared their experiences of coming back during COVID-19, after Oman’s airports were allowed to reopen on October 1.

A number of security measures have been implemented at airports in the country to limit the spread of the disease.

Indian expat Mohammed Akif was among the first to return, landing in Muscat in the early hours of October 1. He had first flown from Bangalore to Mangalore, where he boarded the flight to Muscat.

“Airlines are no longer offering to print tickets at the airport, you have to print them in advance and then go there,” he said, recalling his journey.

“They aren’t offering us baggage tags either: there is a machine in the airport that prints it for you, and you have to attach them to the luggage yourself. After checking my temperature, I was allowed to go through a security check.

“The authorities in the Indian airports were quite strict,” added Akif, who works in Oman as an HSE professional. “Yes, everyone had to wear masks, but they were very clear that social distancing needed to be enforced. I was quite afraid, because I thought I too would become infected by COVID-19 during my journey… fortunately, though, nothing of that sort happened.”

“On coming to Oman, my temperature was checked once again, and all the passengers who hadn’t reserved their COVID-tests in advance had to stand in a queue,” he said.

“Two lines were formed: one for those who had to pay by card, another for those who paid cash. The cost of the test is about OMR19, but you need to pay OMR25 because they issue you a tracking bracelet that you have to wear during quarantine.”

Passengers arriving in Oman have to download the Tarassud+ and HMushrif apps on their phone to help monitor them during their quarantine period in the country. Quarantine is mandatory for anyone spending more than a week in the Sultanate.

“The test only takes about 10 to 15 seconds,” recalled Akif, who is currently undergoing domestic quarantine at his company-provided accommodation in Al Khuwair.

“The doctor puts a swap up your nose to take a sample of your fluids. To be honest, it is a little painful, because immediately afterwards, it caused tears to well up in my eyes. I have left my contact number with the team there, and they will contact me if my results are positive.”

Among those who returned was Pakistani national Mushtaq Ahmed, who is employed in Salalah.

His company organised all of the documentation for him, enabling him to safely make the journey to Oman.

“I didn’t take a COVID test before leaving Pakistan for Oman, but it is now being recommended for all passengers coming to the country,” said Ahmed, who is from Lahore.

“Planning your journey can be troublesome, but fortunately, my company provided me with a ticket so there was less hassle for me. I am currently quarantining in my home here, and will start work once I finish.”

Passengers coming to Oman must ensure they have insurance to cover the costs of COVID-19 for up to a month.

Travel agents are offering insurance to people who book tickets with them, as was the case with Ilyas Sayeed, a native of Hyderabad in India.

“The health insurance provided by most companies in Oman does not include coverage for the coronavirus, so I had to take this out myself,” he said.

“Of course, you can book your insurance through a broker in Muscat if they provide it, but it was a lot easier to just get it done from the travel agent through at the time of booking my ticket. There was no hassle in getting any of this done.”

Oman Airports has recommended passengers pre-book their PCR tests before landing in Muscat, to reduce waiting times once they arrive. Bookings can be done at

The link also enables arrivals to complete their payments ahead of travelling.  
“It is a pretty hassle-free process, but it can be challenging for people who are not computer-literate or not familiar with technology,” added Sayeed. “They will need some help in booking their tests.”

Another recent returnee, Raghavendra Naik, said the flight crew made sure everyone on board followed the safety protocols issued to prevent infection from COVID-19.
“Everyone had to wear masks and gloves,” he said.

“It was a little different to what we normally do when we go outside otherwise, because normally, we just wear a mask, maybe carry some hand sanitiser, and that’s it. On the plane, however, a lot of people were also wearing face masks.”

“We weren’t served the regular meal either,” added Naik, who comes from Mangalore. “We were given a snack box that had a sandwich and a piece of cake, which was placed on every seat. Once we’d finished with it, we had to keep the box in the seat pocket in front of us, and the crew would take it.”

The reopening of airports means Omanis and residents can also fly out of the country and return.

Imran Khan will be travelling to Mumbai on 15 October to meet his family, having last seen them before the pandemic began.

“I have four children, and they keep asking about me, so it has been very difficult to spend life without them,” he said.

“Every time we speak on the phone, the first question they ask me is when I am coming to see them. It has not been possible for so long, but now I have been given the chance to go on a scheduled leave of 45 days.

“I will get a PCR test done from here before leaving, so that I do not have to quarantine in India,” added Khan.

“But my advice to those going to their home countries is to get another test done shortly after landing, because the surfaces in the airports and other areas through which you pass come into contact with a lot of people, and despite the best efforts of everyone to keep things clean, you never know how you might get infected.”