You have booked the flight ticket and you’re excited that you can travel again. As the day of travel approaches you are wondering how it is to travel during Covid-19. What is travelling going to be like? Is it safe to travel during Covid-19?
To make you comfortable and to prepare you we have put together information about travelling during Covid-19.
Departure and Check-in
Arriving at the terminal prepare yourself for seeing a lot less people than you are used to. At our time of travel it was recommended that only travelling passengers went into the terminal building and that saying goodbye is done outside the terminal.
At the airport you will probably quickly notice that the social distance measures you have got used to are also in place at the terminal. Also many airports recommend or require you to wear a face mask therefore you will see a lot of people with masks on. Some airports handout masks for free, but don’t count on it.
TIP NO 1.Get a comfortable mask and one that doesn’t give you irritation. You will be wearing it at the airport and most likely on the plane as well.
Also at first we were are little surprised to see markings and signs blocking the use of the sitting area.
TIP NO 2 Check-in online but don’t be alarmed if you are denied a mobile boarding card when you check-in online.
First time we travelled we got a little worried that we couldn’t complete the check-in online and get a boarding card like we used to. We wished that we had known this as it is most likely down to a requirement of you showing up at the desk where they assess your health and check that you have got the legal right to travel. As restrictions are still subject to frequent changes, it is possible that check-in will be done manually at the check-in desk for some time.
Please check the entry requirements to the country you’re travelling to. Some countries have very strict rules where you will only be allowed to enter if you are a citizen of the destination country. Just because you can buy a flight ticket to a destination it doesn’t mean you will have the right to travel during Covid-19 travel restrictions. Some destinations do accept everyone but there might be a requirement or recommendation to quarantine, so it is well worth to stay updated with the latest travel information.
This went surprisingly fast. Faster than usually! As more and more people are starting to travel we might be going back to waiting a long period of time in security depending on day and time of travel. The issue at security is obviously going to be the length of the line when everyone keeps social distance. The only new thing we observed was the installation of some temperature checking cameras. These cameras were very discrete and most likely you will not notice them unless you specifically look for them.
TIP NO 3 Don’t arrive early, don’t arrive late.
Well you may think, I did not need to get told that but we included it if you are one that normally arrives like 4 hours before the flight or one that arrives 45 min before boarding. In both cases you are likely to face some problems.
For the passenger arriving early there will be limited space to wait and your check-in may not be open. You could maybe even be asked to wait outside the terminal to reserve the terminal for those passengers that are checking in and avoiding too long lines for security.
If you are the last minute arriving passenger, you may face problems as going through the terminal may take some time as the new social distancing measures are in place. Some airports tell you that if you haven’t scanned your boarding card at security 30 minutes before the flight you will be denied boarding.
Check your departure airport recommendations of the arrival time. For example during our travel London Heathrow Airport recommended arriving 2 hours before departure.
In the terminal.
When we travelled you could get something to eat and drink from a few shops. No restaurants were open but again that might change as travelling and travellers will increase. As travel restrictions to countries are lifted we expect shops and duty free to open, but with social distancing measures in force.
TIP NO 4 Ensure you have some snacks if you start getting hungry and if you see an empty seat take it if you want to sit down.
The terminals were obviously a lot less crowded but seating capacity was halved due to social distancing restrictions. As very few shops were open there was not much choice in terms of food so if you like to get your favorite snack, it’s probably better to bring it instead. What we quickly learned was that most people had taken a seat while waiting to board. This taught us the trick to just take the first available seat we saw. Obviously if you are a group travelling, then don’t expect to all be sitting together necessarily. Families with children should not expect that it will be easy to find a seating area where you can all fit together.
Business class passengers and those with various loyalty cards still board first at some airlines but we observed several new boarding procedures depending on your seat. These procedures probably vary but one airline was boarding window seat passengers first then middle seat, followed by aile seats. This worked really well and it saved a lot of time and hazzle getting passengers into their seats.
TIP NO 5 Pay attention to your “boarding group”.
To make it smooth for everyone adhere to your group number and listen carefully to the announcements instead of just lining up because other people are getting onboard. The gate agents are more strict with the boarding groups than before but this is only to ensure social distancing while boarding.
TIP NO 6 If you plan to use something which is in your hand luggage, get it out before you get on the plane.
Try not to move too much from your seat to take something out or put something in your hand-luggage as this will affect the boarding and making social distancing more difficult.
TIP NO 7 If at all possible, go to the toilet before you board to try and limit the use of the toilet onboard the aeroplane.
This will help to keep social distancing and of course there’s a lot of people using the toilet. It’s a perfect place to spread the virus.
TIP NO 8 If you do know that you have to use the toilet book an aile seat as it is a lot easier to get up without bothering anyone.
If you are a frequent traveller, you will probably notice there is not much conversation going on. Also the cabin crew are not likely to offer the traditional service on board. Don’t expect to be able to buy any food, drinks or duty free on board like you may have been used to. If you know you need your morning coffee to survive, it’s probably best you get it before the flight in the terminal area.
TIP NO 9 If you do use the toilet try to avoid waiting in a line in the cabin or in the galley area.
You have gone to the toilet and just washed your hands. Think about how you are going to open the door? Most aeroplane toilets have a little handle or knob you need to operate, so you may want to use a little piece of paper to cover this and avoid touching this common touch point.
If there is going to be one time where social distancing is difficult it is probably going to be when you get of the plane. When you hear the “ding” when the fasten seatbelts gets turned off, it is like people are programmed to jump out of their seats to take their belongings from the hat-racks and wait to de-board the plane. We call it the “ding affect”. It makes very little sense to be so close for so long time.
TIP NO 10 Stay in your seat and don’t be a victim of the “ding effect”.
Some airlines even make announcements stating that they follow a certain procedure when de-boarding. Some airlines allow 30 passengers to de-board and then there is a 2 min wait. If you are in the back, do the maths and stay seated.
Passport control when arriving
From our experience there was very little waiting time at passport control. As passenger numbers rise it is likely we will start seeing longer waiting times. We did see social distancing markings and temperature measuring cameras. We felt the treatment at passport control was very friendly and smooth. On one occasion there was a lot of questioning of why we travelled but that could have been a random check as it doesn’t seem to be consistent from our observations.
Markings will tell you where you should wait for your baggage and these markings are in compliance with social distancing. We saw a few cases where passengers reverting back to the normal “there is my bag I need to jump in front of everyone and get it” syndrome, but it was as if those that did it, quickly figured out that it was not the right thing to do.
The arrival hall
There was no welcome committee as people have been recommended to wait outside the terminal for arriving passengers. Most seating areas had been reduced to half capacity so there’s not that many seats to wait for your ride to arrive.
The big question- did we feel it was safe to travel?
YES, we did. The face mask was uncomfortable to wear for a long period of time but other than that it was a pleasent experience to travel during Covid-19. Going through the airport was faster than normal even though social distancing rules are in place at the airport.
If you still feel a little uncomfortable about your upcoming travel, you may want to see a video that we filmed shortly after having travelled – stay tuned on our youtube channel https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCPjty8PNr02U3jfqfw5k1LA . It does contain some of the same tips but we dig a little deeper into our travel experience and provide a little bit more information.