Air Travel – During the time of  Covid 19

Your new onboard experience

Travelling by plane post Covid -19, or should I say mid Covid-19; post confinement, will vary a lot depending on where you fly to and where you fly from. The first important thing to remember is that the rules are changing from day to day. A number of Britons were taken off a plane at the last minute bound for Portugal and told they were not able to travel there unless they held  Portuguese citizenship , which turned out not to be true, causing great angst to one traveller rushing to see his dying father. Things are changing day to day and even hour to hour so it is hard to keep up.

Our government in France is still telling us not to travel by plane to international destinations unless we need to. Hmm, define need to?!  Despite the rules in place since the beginning of this crisis ensuring customers are reimbursed for cancelled flights, it appears not to be a straight forward affair. I wouldn’t splurge for the holiday of a lifetime just yet but I suppose one could think of it as an investment voucher if things were to go terribly wrong. Still, you may end up with a bad case of the downpayment blues!

So assuming you manage to book a flight, make it through the airport and actually take off to your destination, which may or may not require you to self-quarantine on arrival (more of a need to know than a nice to know) what can you expect on your flight?

 There are conflicting stories. A French friend who has recently come to France from the US for business was surprised that on his domestic flight in the US going from the mid-west to Atlanta absolutely no one was wearing a mask. In contrast he was obliged to wear one all the way from Atlanta to Paris and even given a mask to replace his own.

Another friend had a totally different experience flying from London to Rome where she had her temperature taken twice, a slow controlled boarding always maintaining the correct social distancing, and then had an entirely different experience from Rome back to London.

I read that a business traveller was disappointed on his flight from Singapore to Amsterdam because he wasn’t offered champagne and felt the staff treated him as a” potential infectious customer”.

There has got to be a pretty fine line between maintaining strict new ‘hygiene’ regulations and not treating passengers as “potential infectious customers”.  

Up until a couple of years ago when I was still working as cabin crewvery occasionally a passenger would get onboard wearing a mask. Honestly? We thought they were barmy. They would inform us that they were wearing it because they felt a cold coming on and didn’t want to infect everyone. It seemed so strange! How clever and kind were those few!? Especially considering other people on the same flight would blow their nose and just throw the used tissue on the floor. Before this spring we each had our own hygiene standards but from now on, we all have to step up!

 Regardless of the inconsistencies you will find with air travel as the industry adjusts to the situation, temperature testing and good hygiene are the way to go.

Some airlines are asking that passengers raise their hands and wait to be escorted to the toilet in order to avoid queues at the loos.  Whoever came up with that one hasn’t spent much time in economy on a long haul flight.

Will cabin crew also now have to be the mask police and ‘remind’ people to keep their masks on during the flight when not eating or drinking? The obvious solution to that one would be to drink all through the flight which would cause other problems!

 The idea is surely to incorporate good onboard corona friendly hygiene without taking all the fun out of travel and rendering it a soulless and painful experience. It may take a little while to iron out all the kinks but travel is and will always be one of the most enriching experiences you can offer yourself. As for the seat in the middle being left free? That would be amazing.  I wouldn’t count it.  In any case, you will have to pay for it.  Wherever you choose to go and however you choose to get there, enjoy your holidays and stay safe.  We aren’t out of the woods yet.

photo credit Travel and Leisure Airbus A340 landing at dusk at Vancouver international airport.

 Follow me to keep up with me on my travels around beautiful Occitanie.

 A bientôt………….Christina

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