Flying during the Covid-19 pandemic

View from above

Many people are feeling very excited to travel again. Summer holidays are calling and most of us feel the need to break away from our daily routine. There are also those who feel a bit more anxious about travelling and would rather stay home. This too is understandable. The first flight I took post lockdown was definitely nerve wrecking. Hopefully my shared experiences will help you make informed choices about your holiday plans.

I booked a flight on a low cost carrier from Stuttgart to Hamburg. This is a relatively short flight. The flight’s departure time was moved numerous times. I found this very inconvenient, although rebooking was made very accessible.

The flight

I decided to book a business class ticket. The aeroplane configuration was 3 seats in a row and in business class there is a seat open between you and your fellow passenger. I know some carriers in the US leave the middle seat open in economy class but this was not the case with the Eurowings. Unfortunately the business class lounges were all closed so no perks there!
I checked in online, and dropped my luggage at the counter. The agent avoided as much contact as possible. I used the Eurowings app to check in and to display my boarding pass.
The airport was basically empty and only one duty free shop was open. This is slowly changing and as more flights are taking off, the more shops will open. Do not bargain on buying food or drinks at the airport. There were some vending machines for bottled water and soft drinks.
Security was very slow. You have to take off anything that might set off the sensors. No pat-downs are allowed, so if you set off any sensors its back in the row. Take note of this as it can waste a lot of time to go through the screening again.
Boarding was pretty fast and passengers were asked to check in their hand luggage as the flight was fully booked and there were limited over-head storage. Yes the flight was fully booked! There were not one seat open. You need to scan your own boarding pass at the electronic gates, so make sure your phone is charged or you have a good print out.
I had to wear a mask from the moment I entered the airport. You are only allowed to remove your mask when eating or drinking. My advice is to wear single use masks as they are more breathable than cloth masks.
Drinks and snacks were sold on the flight.
I did not use the toilet facilities as it was a short flight and it is something I would rather avoid. Take sanitising wipes with just in case and make sure you clean the door handle and everything else you may touch. Sanitise your hands afterwards.

Empty airport (Hamburg)

The things we worry about:

Air quality.
According to IATA, the air is very safe and clean “
In fact, these European Aviation Safety Agency studies  showed that “the cabin/cockpit air quality is similar or better than what is observed in normal indoor environments” such as offices, schools and home dwellings.
Modern aircraft have high efficiency air filters similar to those used  in hospital operating rooms. They capture more than 99.9% of the airborne microbes in the filtered air.”

Social distancing
This is just not possible. You can keep away from other passengers at the airport, maybe during boarding but not on the aeroplane.

I would say this is your own responsibility. Keep sanitising wipes or gel (preferably alcohol based) with you and use them often. Wear your mask and do not touch your face until you can wash your hands as prescribed by the WHO

When not to travel
Do not travel when you are infected with Covid-19 or when you are feeling unwell. Also avoid travelling when you are in the high risk group.

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