The Kensington Diary
What to Expect from a Flight during COVID-19
Updated: Feb 21
COVID-19 has disrupted our lives no doubt, and especially travel. We have not taken a flight for over 6 month and with both our families being abroad, in Germany, US, and South Africa, namely, we have not seen them in far too long!
When the travel restrictions lifted, one of our first thoughts was to fly in July. But the thought of exposure led to too much anxiety and our work schedules did not facilitate this. 1 month on, after seeing many people braving travel safely, we decided to take the plunge and visit my in-laws in Germany.
What you can expect from a COVID-19 flight
1) Long and short term parking is operating as per usual. If you are using the tube, I have heard that they can be busy at times or otherwise empty, depending on the line used and time of travel. For a taxi journey to the airport, a wearing a mask is a must. Our driver in both directions wore a mask too, as there were no shields between them and the passengers. But sadly, they wore it more like a thong, with their entire nose exposed and left us feeling uneasy and having to remind them to wear it properly.
2) We flew from London Heathrow Terminal 5 and overall we felt very safe! The airport was more than half empty as less flights are operating. For Berlin for example, 3 flights per day now operate by British Airways versus their usual of 6-7 per day, so it has more than halved. All staff were masked and there was sanitiser gel well placed within the airport for easy access. All travellers has to be masked for the entire duration of travel unless eating. Normal baggage rules apply but this is worth checking for countries of departure as in Berlin, for example, only 1 hand baggage per passenger was allowed (including a handbag).
3) Most stores were open, but some seemed to be temporarily or permanently shut (we flew on a Friday afternoon at prime time so this tells me they were genuinely shut due to COVID-19). Food options were much more sparse with the likes of Starbucks, EAT, and various other chains closed, with only Pret-a-Manger and Caviar House & Prunier open. I didn't see any restaurants open but I might have missed this and we did not pay a visit to the lounge to minimise our time spent at the airport.
4) We flew British Airways. Our flight was fairly full but all passengers were masked, as a mandatory process. Mask removal was only allowed whilst eating and drinking, for a short period of time. Meals and snacks were still served both in business class and economy. The airline also handed out little packages of hand sanitiser and anti-bacterial wipe. As it was a short flight, we tried to not eat and drink on the flight to remain masked for the entire duration. However, it seemed fairly safe to do so if you keep the eating/drinking time to a minimum. Alexander, who just turned 3, also wore a mask for the entire duration of the flight and we found that the masks from Boots worked very well for his age.
5) On arrival in Berlin, we found the airport very similar to Heathrow. Sanitiser at every corner, a half empty airport with no one other than passengers travelling and most if not all stores were completely closed. We travelled with hand luggage only so cannot comment on the speed of arrival of checked in luggage. Staff were all masked so again, there was a huge sense of relief for us. We hired a car to drive to my in-laws and here again, we found hand sanitiser well places, all travellers masked and the staff sat behind shielded desks.
6) Our flight back to the UK was a similar experience with the only difference being that we had to fill in a travel form for UK arrival on our phones. These must be submitted by the time you arrive at the immigration officer gate. The purpose of the form is to track and trace if anyone infected was on the flight, and hence having the passengers and staff informed.
The entire travel experience felt fairly safe. Of course, the current recommendations are for Esssential Travel Only, but if you do decide to fly for a genuine reason, be reassured that our experience was more than acceptable in consideration of COVID-19 safety precautions.
Happy and safe travels!
The Kensington Diary