Travelling in Covid

Travelling in Covid

Travelling in Covid

Last week I wrote a post about returning to football in Covid times. I had to travel last week to Germany for business and it was the first time that I had travelled abroad since February. For someone who’s usually on a plane every few weeks it was a bit of shock! However how did I find the experience of Travelling in Covid?
The first thing to throw me was booking! We have to book through a approval process with work and as I said I haven’t travelled in months. I had forgotten how to book it. Such a stupid thing to say - but it’s like when I hadn’t filled the car up in months, just doing those things which were normal suddenly appear unusual. After a bit of navigating and remembering the process my British Airways flights and parking were all sorted out!
I was flying out of London City Airport. City is only an hour from home for me but it’s not my regular airport. However the meetings I need to be at meant this was my only possible flight. It also meant that I didn't have to fly into one airport and fly out of another. Sometimes I don't mind this especially it's a long gap. However for a 24 hour visit I couldn't face that!
Cambridge United Supporters

London City Airport

I've not flown out of London City Airport for a very long time. I think it's probably a good 5-6 years since I have.  The airport is well known for its efficiency and speed of service - however on my trip I found complete mix of both.
After a simple drive down from our new house (anyone following my instagram stories know's we've just bought a new place) I got parked up in the very convenient parking. This isn't the usual parking, waiting for a bus and then a 15 min transfer. No the parking at London City is a mere 5 mins walk. The original design for City airport was for London business types coming straight from Canary Wharf but the addition of parking makes it flexible for all travellers.
Once parking up the car the signs about social distancing were very apparent. It was good to see. Although a "confident" traveller I can't deny I was nervous about getting back into an airport and on plane! Mask at the ready I made my way to the terminal.
London City Airport

Check in

Upon entering the airport however things got a little busier. Having already checked in and no bags to drop I headed straight to the gate. Reaching the security area I found a massive queue of people. Firstly I was disappointed in this given it was early doors in the morning and I thought City airport would have been emptier. Secondly because of the lack of the space in the airport areas the lack of social distancing was disappointing.

Although I'm not ignoring COVID I'm also being mindful of what I'm doing at the same time. Trying to be sensible with the space, washing hands, keeping gel on me, wearing masks etc.. However as we snaked through the security line we were certainly less than 2 meters apart which wasn't ideal.

It took us about half hour to get from the start of security to the bag scan area.

At the scan area every other tray area was sectioned off. That's fine and totally understandable but obviously slowed the whole process up to going through.

Airport Security Gate
Airport Security Gate

Through security

I think we're now more aware of germs, and what we're touching or not since the start of COVID. It's these small things going through security you think about. You pull the trays off the line to put your bag back together, but they you become mindful that probably 100 of people have touched that tray. I packed in the small carry on bag some hand gel, so the moment I was through security it was out and I was using it!

On moving through the security area I noticed more changes to what we would have seen before. Vending machines were replaced with the usual drinks and crisps with various COVID things. So things like face masks, hand gel were now the norm!

Given the time to get through security I didn't have much time to browse. However I did grab a bit of breakfast from the cafe. Again some changes here was that the goods were given in more distanced way - although I was disappointed again to see none of the staff in masks.

 

Travelling in Covid
Empty airport

At the plane

On getting to the gate - although none of the chairs were taped off, people were taking it in their own hands to social distance. Luckily (not on the return flight) the flight was about 1/3 full. This meant that we could move around the gate area in a good social distancing way.

The call to move forward then came over the tannoy. We were told to only move in small groups (a few rows at a time) this meant that we could go straight to our seat rather than having to wait on the stairs etc...

Small things again that crop up with travelling in Covid - you go and scan the passport but of course you have to take your mask off! All a bit of a faff when carrying your bags, and drinks. However it needs to be done!

On the plane it was apparent we were on a very empty flight and I had a seat free to myself next to me. I didn't really think about this at the time but actually it certainly put my mind at rest.

British Airways Covid Set
British Airways Covid Set

On the Plane

The British Airways Captain and staff made it very clear that they were doing everything to help and make sure that things were secure. From the cabin being sanitised before we came on. Fresh air being pumped in every 3 mins. Food not being prepared in the cabin, but pre packed. It's all good to see and positive.

The crew came through and provided us with small bags to put in our rubbish, which also contained hand sanitiser, and anti bacterial wipes. This was excellent to see.

On such a short flight I'm not usually one for food - but we had the option, so why not! A pack of crisps and popcorn and also a bottle of water was most welcome to banish my 4am start.

The flight was only an hour and a bit and very smooth. Heading out over London there were some great views as the sun came up over the capitol.

On arrival in Berlin the crew made it clear that we would get off the plane in an order rather that free for all it usually is. This was another welcome element to the flight!

Well done BA!

In Germany

This was a business trip - so my internal travel was all organised by the company I was visiting. I was lucky therefore to have private pick up via taxi both to Berlin from the airport/around Berlin and then back to the airport.

We stayed in the Hilton hotel in the centre of town. Here all the staff in public areas were either behind screens, or wore face masks. The room had a sticker on it that once you had opened the door showed that it was no longer "clean". I didn't feel that the room was any cleaner than it would be in a usual situation but then again chains like Hilton, IHG etc all are very good at preparing their rooms.

Olympic Stadium Berlin Germany

The Return leg

After a very busy but proactive 24 hours in Berlin it was time to head home. Berlin had been different to the UK with the rules and regs. Less wearing of face masks and certainly on the face of it the social distancing was less. Perhaps this was because the Germans felt that they combatted the disease better back in March and April - who knows.

On arrival back at Berlin airport the check in gate area is just behind the check in desks. Poor organisation saw 2 full flights crammed into a small room waiting to board the plane. Not a chance in social distancing, all the seats were taken and it was shoulder to shoulder whilst we waited to get on to the plane.

Like in London they called us up row by row. Great in theory, but to get past people you had to move close to them which just gave you no chance. This is the thing. You social distance and make sure that you are safe - and then just one time can catch you and that's it. That's whats really frustrating about this whole travel experience!

Flight over London

Landing back

Upon landing back - the whole passenger locator idea just didn't work. We were filtered through the very small arrivals hall and it was just a case of pot luck which line up you ended up in. If you were like me and ended up with a manual passport check you had your passenger locator form checked. If you went through one of the automatic gates - nothing.

It was apparent that quite a lot of the passengers on the plane didn't know about the passenger locator form and they were doing whilst waiting in the queue.

It was also disappointing to see a few of  the staff at London City airport not wearing facemasks. I understand that they are probably there all day - but surely this is one of the biggest transmission areas?

On reflection - what was travelling in Covid like

On reflection what was Travelling in Covid like? In some ways it wasn't any different and in others it was very different. I think that it wasn't very different could be seen as a worry. As we try and control the virus it's not ideal that we're all crammed up in waiting rooms, on planes etc.. I know the plane element isn't something that can be controlled but they can do a better job in airports to try and control this.

Are all the things like vending machines now with these face masks and hand sanitiser actually a bad thing? I don't think it is actually. I always get off planes feeling slightly "dirty" so to have these elements added is only a good thing. When we finally come out of covid - actually implimenting some of these into everyday life wouldn't go a miss!

Overall I felt relatively covid safe on my journey. There were a couple of pinch points where organisations could have done better and done more. It might have just been a bad day or it might have been a bad experience. Where the other pinch point was on the plane itself - I thought that British Airways had done a fantastic job of making it as safe as possible.

Have you Travelled in covid times? What did you make to it? Let me know in the comments below.

 

 

The modern travel look
Airport Departure Board
Deserted Airport
Follow:
Share:

2 Comments

  1. October 4, 2020 / 2:25 pm

    Nice post! I travelled within Canada back in July (and did a post as well). And like you, it felt normal in a way and abnormal in other ways. It’s the new normal for the foreseeable future. I felt safer on the plane but agree with you that there are some issues in the airport with crowds. It’s tough to fix other than travelling in off peak times. Thanks for sharing,

    • Ben
      Author
      October 5, 2020 / 5:19 am

      Thanks Mark for the comments. I don’t see things sadly changing soon. Glad you liked the post.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Newsletter

Thanks for coming to the Travelling Salesman Blog. I would really love it if you would subscribe to my blog for updates, news, and more information!

You have successfully subscribed to the Travelling Salesman Blog

There was an error while trying to send your request. Please try again.

The Travelling Salesman will use the information you provide on this form to be in touch with you and to provide updates and marketing.

Looking for Something?