The airline industry has been decimated by the impact of Covid-19 this year. From planes flying fully loaded with tourists at all hours of the day, to now less than half full flights of people for only essential travel.
I was one of these people: an international student who, at the end of my International Year One programme, had to go home due to the expiration of my visa.
Flying alone for the first time was a daunting experience in and of itself. Flying during a pandemic took that to a whole other level.
One of the most apparent changes was the requirement to wear masks on board the airplane and in the airport. It was certainly a strange sight but, at the same time it was reassuring, since masks (when used right) can mitigate the spread of droplets. Inside Manchester airport there were numerous social distancing markers on the floor, as well as directional arrows to control the movement of passengers.
Prior to my Turkish airways flight I was given a complimentary hygiene kit which contained hand sanitizer, 2 masks, and disinfectant wipes. On board, passengers were reassured that the high grade HEPA filters equipped on the aircraft were more than capable of filtering out virus particles. This helped ensure clean fresh air was pumped in regularly throughout the cabin.
Another big change I noticed was the presentation of food. All food was pre-packaged in order to reduce contact. Moreover, on my long haul flight they did not serve any hot meals.
My advice would still be to not fly unless you absolutely have to, though. By staying home we can control the spread. For those who need to fly these are some tips I would suggest in order to make your experience run smoothly:
Prepare, prepare, prepare
Some airlines have specific baggage requirements or rules on board. Moreover, some countries have certain entry quarantine protocols or documents you should prepare prior to arrival. Remember to wear PPE that you know you’re comfortable in and bring sanitizing gel (limit of 100ml). Making these preparations in advance can help you avoid unnecessary stress during your journey.
With the occasional sneeze or cough, it’s easy to think that everyone around you is sick. Being paranoid of people that pass you by could make you more anxious. Remember, the best way to mitigate the spread is to reduce close contact as much as possible and frequent hand washing.
Take a deep breath
Everything can get really overwhelming. Take a deep breath (as ironic as this may sound in light of an air-born virus pandemic) if you feel panicked and remember it will be over soon.