Flying was such a big part of my life prior to 16th March 2020. I actually was flying pretty much every week and then all of sudden, I was stuck. However, you cannot keep me away from my passion for travel and the moment the EU borders re-opened, I was on one of the first flights out of Geneva. I want to share what the experience has been, as I have flown a few times the last months.
The one thing I was pleasantly surprised about was – it wasn’t all doom and gloom. So many articles were written about the future and the horrible airport experiences that await us. Overall, I found the experience more pleasant than usual, as it was less crowded.
Masks are compulsory at all airports I have been to. Airports are pretty empty, so overcrowding isn’t really an issue.
There are sanitizing stations in most airports , as well as social distancing sign posts. People working in airports are very well equipped with PPE. Overall, I felt the airport experience was nice and calm, and much cleaner than usual. You know the trays you usually use when passing through security – super clean (finally!). Some of the less positive changes are that shops and restaurants aren’t open once you go through security, and the lounges were closed during my first flight.
I actually did not get to fly with them as they cancelled my flight. However, I want to say British Airways’ customer service was fantastic. I think at this stage, I have a bunch of credits with them for when we can travel again in and our of the UK, without quarantine. I genuinely salute BA for how they handled everything, as I can only imagine how difficult it is for them and how many calls they have a minute. One side line note: if you can afford it, always choose to have a credit with the airline (or travel company). We all look forward to traveling again but in order to do so, the companies that make that possible need to remain in business, somehow.
Austrian airlines were what you would expect from them – clean and efficient. They gave me sanitizing wipes on boarding. Business class had good social distancing measures in place, and economy it seemed to be the case where possible. The plane was tiny though, so it may have felt not as social distanced, as it could have been. However, there was hot food and drinks served out of sanitized packs and the experience was overall positive. You have to wear your mask at all times, apart from when eating/drinking.
You need to fill in a form for both the Austrian authorities and your respective destination, so you can be traced if any of the passengers test positive. I will say I fell very comfortable with Austrian and will recommend.
Boy oh boy. I had made a point of never flying WizzAir while living in the UK. However they are the only airline, that flies direct between Geneva and Sofia, which is what I currently need .What can I say, all the stories you read about how ‘laxed they are – pretty true.
First of all, they cram people (obviously) in buses to be taken to the plane. This is completely counter intuitive to all the measures that you, as a passenger, have just gone through at the airport. Once you board, the plane is just not clean, so if you fly with them, bring your own Dettol wipes or whatever antibacterial you have. They do not provide any sanitizing products, so make sure to bring your own of everything. I did not eat and drink because it did not evoke any trust in me that it is hygienic. I would not recommend if you have any other choice. As I do not, I will have to use them again but I literally want to burn my shoes & clothes after getting off the flight, to be sure it is clean.
I do have a bit of a pet peeve with companies like WizzAir. As I do work in travel, and I know how bad the industry is suffering, it really makes me super annoyed seeing companies act like that. The few people who dare to travel at the moment, should be given as much reassurance as possible, that travel companies are taking cleanliness and social distancing seriously. It really frustrates me watching companies not do even the bare minimum, like how much would it cost to get a sleeve to the plane or provide sanitizing products on entry at the aircraft? Rant over.
On arrival at Sofia, I got my temperature taken by a scary looking medical team before being allowed to enter passport control. We all, also passed through something that seemingly sanitized our shoes, which I found pretty good measures.
Overall, I know it is a difficult time to decide to travel, as there are so many unknowns. However if you do decide to go ahead and do it, most travel companies have really implemented stringent hygiene measures to ensure, as much safety as possible. At the end of the day nobody wants anybody to get sick, so just do your research in advance and see what your chosen airline has done.
I salute the companies that are trying their best to keep this industry alive. I thank them for being there, taking to the skies, and still providing me with the opportunity to reconnect with my family.