Air Travel Today: What Does Air Travel Feel Like Now?

Travel is back! With borders all over the world starting to open up to international travelers, we have a lot to look forward to. Ready?

With travel bans slowly lifting across the globe, I deem myself lucky to be able to experience what the ‘new normal’ in air travel feels like.

I recently did a cross-continental voyage, taking a total of 4 flights, which includes 2 layovers in 2 separate countries before reaching my final destination.

Two of the three countries are considered some of the most strict in terms of health and security.

I won’t mention any specific airline or airport to keep things confidential, but I’ll be as detailed as possible to give you the clearest of pictures.

Let’s start at the beginning of our journey.

In a previous post, I predicted that passengers needed to get to the airport earlier than usual.

I learned the hard way that arriving 5 hours early was not the best idea. At least from where I started my journey.

Different airports will have different rules, so it is best to complete your due diligence and read up on airport updates from their websites and social media platforms.

Different Airports, Different Rules

Photo by Anna Shvets from Pexels

My family and I arrived at the first airport 5 hours early because I expected a lot of health checks and long queues before gaining entry at the airport.

But this airport had a more logical way to prevent mass congregations of people in a confined space.

They would only allow passengers to enter the terminal once check-in counters are open and ready to accept passengers.

This meant less crowding inside the terminal, reducing the number of people waiting inside and taking up precious space.

This worked well because once the next airline is ready to accept passengers, the previous lot of people would have already moved on to security and immigration.

A continuous stream of people moving at a steady and controlled pace, only slightly slowed down when there are issues with security and immigration.

Key takeaways: Check with the airport you are departing from if they allow early entry of passengers. If not, find out the exact times when the check-in counters open and arrive an hour before then.

If online check-in is available, do so 24 hours before your flight, get your mobile boarding pass ready, check your bags in manually by using the kiosks and proceed from there.

Queue Times

Queue times were a lot shorter!

Management pulled their socks up and sorted out long queues in all choke points at airports.

They maximized almost all their check-in counters, immigration booths, and security check portals to help move people through the boarding process quickly.

More booths open allowed for a speedier flow of passengers until they arrive at their designated boarding gates.

All processes had visible social distancing markers for passengers to keep distant from one another.

Key takeaways: You may have not been allowed an early entry into the airport but rest assured that you’ll get to your boarding gate with plenty of time to spare.

Keep the chill vibes flowing and remember that you’re on your way to your next fishing vacation.

Passports and boarding passes will still be touched by different hands, so remember to sanitize your hands after touching “ANYTHING”.

Boarding

Once at the boarding gates, waiting areas have been arranged to keep people distant from one another.

The standard boarding procedure where business class, elderly, young families, and disabled passengers were allowed to board first, then the rest to follow suit was normal as before.

It was good to see that all passengers were socially conscious and were very patient and kept their distance while the others loaded their carry-on bags and seated before moving further back.

No more pushing and shoving as far as I can see. I don’t know how long this will last though, but let’s enjoy the politeness while it lasts.

Key takeaways: Keep yourself socially distant and the others will do the same.

We can’t expect everyone to keep distant so let’s just take it upon ourselves to give ourselves and others the space needed.

Inside The Plane

Very few passengers throughout the voyage.

Firstly, due to the fear of contracting Covid-19, and secondly due to the airlines limiting the number of passengers allowed on board.

Passengers who book together such as families like mine are seated together, while individual bookings were kept one seat apart. Most of the time.

No matter how many rules and regulations the airports, government, or airlines set, it is still our responsibility to keep ourselves and our loved ones safe.

On the smaller domestic planes though, no social distance seating was present.

It is easy to understand why airlines are trying to maximize space on each flight.

You may still find yourself rubbing elbows with strangers in a confined space, so keep your masks on.

In our previous post, we expected airlines to cancel foodservice altogether. Luckily, all international flights I was on served food and beverages as per usual.

Hot food was great for the ever-hungry gremlins I had with me. Hot coffee was essential for my survival.

Nope, the flight crew was not in hazmat suits! They always had face masks on throughout, even while trekking through the airport.

Gloves were always worn when serving food and drinks and they were careful not to touch anything the passengers may have touched.

Key takeaways: Although some major airlines will follow socially distanced seating arrangements, there are no guarantees that your flight will proceed this way.

All airports and airlines require passengers to keep their masks on within the airport premises and throughout the flight, except when eating or drinking.

Airports

All airports had automatic hand sanitizer dispensers almost everywhere. Sanitize as often as you can.

You won’t notice how many potentially contaminated surfaces you touch when you travel.

You’ll see the disinfection team constantly spraying and cleaning all surfaces throughout the airports.

At one famous airport that I can’t mention the name of, you’ll find yourself starving as shops that serve food were closed indefinitely due to Covid-19 preventive measures.

Not good when you have hungry school-age children with you with a 5-hour layover.

You will have to settle for Duty-Free sweets and snacks to curb your hunger while waiting for your flight.

The social distancing markers are made visible throughout the airport, with arrows to control and organize foot traffic visible as well.

Key takeaways: Although the airport sanitation teams work their butts off daily, it is best to personally sanitize anything that you will touch.

Baggage trolleys, seats, handrails, etc. And always use your hand sanitizer after touching anything.

Passengers

No matter how many rules and regulations the airports, government, or airlines set, it is still our responsibility to keep ourselves and our loved ones safe.

Although I had my family get tested and certified for travel, our destination did not require and Covid-19 test result to enter the country.

We all want to travel again, but not all of us want to follow rules and regulations to help keep everyone safe.

Passengers will be required to have face coverings anywhere inside the airports and in the planes.

Bring spare masks. Sweat, spit and snot-filled masks are not comfortable. Replace damp masks with fresh ones.

Hand sanitizers will be available almost everywhere, but it is best to bring your own.

Disinfecting wipes are highly recommended. Bring a pack or two with you on your travels.

Wipe any surfaces that you will likely touch, like armrests, trolleys, in-flight entertainment screens, seatbelt buckles, and others.

Last Cast

Air travel is finally getting back on its feet.

With cabin-fever plagued travelers itching to travel the world again, It is only a matter of time before the whole world opens and tourism bounces back.

Additional steps like temperature checks, health certificates, hand sanitizing, mask-wearing, and social distancing quickly becoming second nature to most, the adjustment by the traveling masses will be very easy.

Humans are resilient. These adjustments are nothing compared to what we have done throughout history.

It honestly felt very normal, apart from the above-mentioned requirements.

Once you try it out, you’ll see that there is nothing to be wary of.

With vaccines ready to go, international fishing travel is just around the corner.

If international travel is this easy, I can already feel the fist bumps on my skin!

Are you looking forward to your upcoming trip with us here in Vanuatu?

Disclaimer: The experiences above are based on my recent personal travel experience with my family. We took 2 long-haul international flights and 2 domestic flights to reach our final destination. Our experience may not be similar to what you have or will go through and will depend heavily on your destination, and port of departure. Please do not utilize this post as a reference for international flights. This post is meant to help prepare our friends and guests for what to expect when traveling again.

Featured Photo Credits To Brian James (Pexels)

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Air Travel Today: What Does Air Travel Feel Like Now?

John is originally from the Philippines. John has extensive guiding experience throughout Asia and...Learn more
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