As the world starts to open up after months of lockdown, the concept of having the freedom to travel feels ironically foreign. After hearing of so many cancellations and countries going back onto the UK quarantine list, I held my breathe on getting to go to Italy until the plane was physically off the ground.
Ahead of leaving England, there was more to take into consideration when flying during a pandemic and was obviously different than normal travelling. Measures are different for each country but here are some things to expect when you need to fly for the foreseeable future and what I experienced.
Additional Airport Measures
It’s no surprise that there are plenty of additional measures in place as airports at the moment to slow the spread of coronavirus. Before I was even allowed into Bristol Airport, I had to walk through a tent that picked up on your thermal temperature. I’ll be honest I didn’t even realise that this was what was happening until I noticed a bloke checking a screen on the other side. It was subtle and not intrusive. However, you may be asked to have swabs for a COVID test depending on your airport. I had one and I will admit, I was surprised at how uncomfortable it was.
In the airport, social distancing was encouraged and you must wear a mask at all times unless you are having food or drink in a designated area. I’ll admit that once you are past security it does all go out of the window a little bit. Seating areas are kept apart but as soon as you are in a shop or about to board a plane you’re back to the good ol’ times of being packed into a waiting area or bus like sardines.
Your Airlines Facemask Policy
Make sure to check your airlines facemask policy. The day before I was due to fly, Italian Authorities changed their legislation that for flights to and from their country, passengers were to only wear surgical disposable masks, not the reusable ones. It’s important you take these with you as they will refuse to let you board and no one wants that. On my trip I took my reusable mask and a pack of surgical disposables.
They can be really fussy and specific with this rule. They wanted you to have the blue surgical masks, and a couple of people with disposable white ones from Boots were told they couldn’t board wearing these. Don’t just wait for your airline to tell you, we know how unreliable they can be, make sure you really do your research.
I have heard a lot of stories of people being refused entry to countries because they didn’t have the relevant documentation and forms. It’s really important that you print and fill these in before you go to the airport. You can find these on your airline’s website and I will include some links for the main airlines in the UK below. The forms are essentially sworn statements about where you have been for the past 14 days, whether you need to be quarantining, and some personal details so they may be able to contact you should they have to track and trace.
When I was preparing for my trip to Italy, I was so organised. However, one thing I didn’t realise was that even though I am a British Citizen and was only returning from a long weekend break, I still had to fill in the forms for track and trace when returning to the UK. These are to be completed before your flight to the UK, unlike me where there I was walking to the gate as my flight was called to board attempting to type and fill in this damn form at the same time before I got on the plane. However, you can all be more organised than I was and have this link at the ready and fill it in from 48 hours before you are due to return home.
I Was Surprisingly Comfortable…
With everything going on in the world at the moment, the uncertainty of travel and others disapproving of you going anywhere, I admittedly felt perfectly comfortable flying. Although social distancing wasn’t always something that was possible, for example on the plane, this didn’t bother me too much. I know it sounds risky but after being so restricted for so long it was nice to feel some normality. This year has been anything but ordinary and just when we are getting used to the way things are it feels as though it changes all over again.
If you are thinking of booking the trip and you don’t mind the measures in place, I personally think you should go. I got travel insurance with Zurich that covered me should coronavirus affect my travels, so the only risk was obviously infection. However, I was smart and went somewhere with low cases, took as little public transport as possible and went through a shit ton of hand sanitiser. We can’t stand still forever.