What It’s Like To Catch A Flight Right Now?

'I heard one family say they were flying to get to a funeral. It felt eerily quiet, like a doctor's waiting room.'

Travelling Pandemic Coronavirus Holiday

by Lillian Sesiguzel |

When I left my house for Heathrow yesterday morning, I couldn’t help but feel nervous for my journey ahead. I don’t get particularly anxious when it comes to travelling, but still being in the midst of a global pandemic – this time was obviously different.

The last flight I took, in March from Spain, was just a week before we went into lockdown. At that time, there were two people on my flight wearing face masks, both over the age of 60. Now, four months later, face masks are essential and have become the new norm. A lot has changed in such a short space of time.

A public health notice that said ‘you must wear face coverings at all times’ was situated in the car park, along with another sign outside the departures entrance: ‘passengers only past this point.’ It was evident that you should say your goodbyes outside the airport, instead of leaving loved ones at security. Staff were monitoring this as I walked in, asking for my flight information.

The airport was busier than I expected, but still eerily quiet. One family, I overheard talking, were flying for a funeral, and I saw another woman crying on the phone. It was nothing like how an airport usually feels: filled with excitement, kids running around, groups of friends sat enjoying a drink. Instead, it had a similar vibe to that of a doctor's waiting room.

Automatic hand sanitiser stations were located throughout the airport. And, surgical masks were the most popular choice of protection. But, I was surprised to see how many people went full Naomi Campbell – goggles, face shields and overalls.

Shops were open, but were more or less empty. The only place to get food, that wasn’t Boots, was Leon, where the queue was at least 70 people long. If you were waiting for your gate number, some seats had been obstructed, to keep social distancing measures.

When it was time to board my first flight of the day, a member of the cabin crew greeted me with a hand santinser wipe, which strangely, made me feel more at ease. However, my nerves set in again when I saw someone was sat in the seat next to me. Initially, I booked my flights under the illusion that there would be a free seat in-between every person. But, since the announcement of the ‘air bridge’ list, I can only presume that airlines have sold their remaining seats.

Before we took off the captain addressed the issue of air circulation in the cabin. Apparently, the plane’s airflow would be refreshed every two minutes. And, when it comes to disembarking the aircraft, we would be called row by row, instead of the usual get out as quick as you can attitude.

My second flight wasn’t much different to the first, apart from the fact they were serving food and beverages. It’s interesting to see how different airlines are responding to coronavirus, as in comparison, I was only handed a bottle of water on my first flight.

When I arrived at my final destination, 11 hours later, I was greeted by a thermal camera, which made me sweat by just looking at it, not to mention the fact that the airports' air conditioning was off.

Upon reflection, I would say the journey went smoother than I expected. But, as more people will start to travel abroad, it’s more important than ever to ensure you are practising the correct and appropriate hygiene methods. Keeping yourself clean and healthy on the go is essential to ensure that you’re not posing a risk to yourself or others. Here Parvinder Sagoo, Medical advisor for Vaxxy Travel reveals his 8 tips for practising good hygiene while travelling.

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8 Tips for Practising Good Hygiene While Travelling

Wash your hands
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"This is obviously a given, but ensuring you wash your hands regularly even if you haven't gone to the bathroom or if you only washed them 20 minutes ago is imperative. When you're travelling you are open to a whole host of germs, more so than you would be in normal life so it's important to ensure you are washing them regularly and properly using anti-bacterial soap and warm water."

2.	Wear a mask as much as possible
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"With wearing a mask becoming mandatory it's imperative that you ensure you are wearing a mask at all times whilst in transit. Wear one at the airport as much as you can especially whilst you go through security, whilst in eateries and checking in as this is when you will be close to others. I would also advise keeping your mask on as much as you can on the flight, and only take off for eating and drinking. If you are on a short haul flight and do not need to eat, try and leave the mask on the whole time. Keep your mask on as much as you can until you reach your destination. If you are staying in private accommodation you can be less vigilant with it however if you have a hotel booked I would keep your mask on you should you want to wear at any point."

Be self-aware
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"Self-awareness is key when you are travelling to keep yourself safe as well as your fellow travellers. If you have a cold already you should be carrying anti bac wipes, a tissue and hand sanitizer on you anyway but even if not, you want to ensure you catch any coughs or sneezes in a tissue or hanky as this will prevent spread of any bacteria to other passengers. If you are due to travel you should ensure that you have had all the appropriate travel vaccines you require, and if you do feel slightly odd you should always consult your GP before going away."

Sanitize on the move
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"When on the move, the best thing you can do to prevent getting sick and keeping yourself clean is to bring with you travel size hand sanitizer, anti-bacterial wipes, anti bac sanitizing spray, face wipes and any other anti-bacterial products such as hand creams or face creams. Having all these will ensure appropriate defence against any harmful bacteria. You can also squeeze a bit of hand sanitizer onto tissue and wipe down any areas near you such as your arm rest on the plane, tray table and any other areas you will most likely touch."

Keep nails clean
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"Keeping your hand nails short and clean will prevent dirt and bacteria particles from collecting under your nails which if brought up to your face or mouth could cause you to digest any bacteria from under them. If you are someone who touches their face regularly, ensuring your nails are cut short will ensure they stay clean and germ free. You may also want to bring along a travel nail brush to ensure they can be washed with soap and warm water."

Practice spatial awareness
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"It's not just about keeping your own body clean, you also need to be mindful of others who are perhaps not practising their own hygiene. Try to remain aware of what you're touching, who your touching and who you are near. If you can, try to avoid skin on skin contact with other people travelling and if someone is coughing close to you, move yourself away from them, or move your face away, and quickly wash or sanitize your hands."

Keep your face and body clean
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"If you are travelling long haul it's really important to try and keep your face and body as clean and fresh as you can. Keep a facial wash, wet wipes and moisturiser on you whilst in transit and morning and evening take yourself to the bathroom and give yourself a wet wipe wash on the areas that need it, you may also want to bring a facial wash with you to ensure you are properly washing your face twice a day to ensure no bacteria is sitting on it. For cleanliness purposes, bringing a spare pare of clothes and underwear is also a good way to ensure you are not only clean but feeling fresh."

Donu2019t share food
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"This is fairly obvious, however many people forget how easily germs are passed across from sharing food, whether that's snacks such as crisps, nuts or sweets or even sharing the same cutlery. If you are travelling with a partner or friend, ensure you aren't sharing utensils that will enter the mouth. If you're travelling solo, don't have any communal snacks which may be present on methods of transport such as flights or trains, these are most commonly nuts or crisp bowls."

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