I haven’t flown since late 2019. With all the restrictions in coming to Italy, like most of my friends that make the annual trip, I canceled any travel plans to Italy in 2020. Having to make an emergency trip was not on my radar but here I am after an exhaustive 30+ hour journey back home.
You can read about empty airports and lounges and distancing and mandatory masks and negative covid tests, but nothing compares to actually experiencing this in real-time. Even the approach into Phoenix terminal 4 on a Sunday morning, which is typically overcrowded with vacationers coming and going, snowbirds, and their oversized golf bags, was barren relatively speaking.
The airline requested I arrive 4 hours in advance for my flight due to the new covid restrictions. Seriously?! I’m glad I cut that to three hours and I still had about two and a half hours after I arrived at my gate. I’m unclear as to why some airlines provide for empty seats in the plane while others seem to not care much. If you are thinking you’re going to get any kind of service, be it even a glass of water, remove that thought from your mind. Flight attendants make sure you are seated with seatbelts fastened and seats in the proper positions and that’s pretty much it. On domestic flights that is.
Airport services are limited given the reduced number of passengers flying these days. Definitely bring or buy some snacks and water for the flight.
Just like scenes from some thriller movie, being greeted by an empty lounge areas in London Heathrow was creepy. Shopping which was once buzzing with people either buying or dreaming of the designer items were empty or closed. Restaurant tables with chairs folded or placed on top so no one could use the area were commonplace.
The required documents needed as indicated by online websites arent enough. You’ll need to complete additional documents before entering immigration and passport control. Arriving in Italy even with a negative covid test taken in the required 72 hours prior to commencement of travel is not enough. Mandatory covid testing happens upon entry into Rome because as one official put it to me, “The US doesn’t know what they’re doing”. Maybe he’s right?
What was comical was that passengers had been next to each other for 1-2 hours and yet when we deplaned we were asked to social distance and only allowed to have one row at a time get up and exit the plane. Does anyone really know what the rules of engagement are in covid travel times?
Travel has changed, that is certain. Delta started Covid free flights, Qantas already made announcements, and other airlines will follow suit leading to a point in the very near future where all passengers will be required to be vaccinated in order to board a flight. Are you ready for this new requirement? I would imagine the black market will flourish with documents falsifying vaccinations while many others will welcome this change for personal safety. Welcome to the new age of travel.
Fly if you must, but be aware that it’s not what it used to be. I miss the days of getting dressed up to fly because it was an experience to enjoy. Now you can roll out of bed in jammies and slippers or wife-beater t-shirts and flip flops, and board a plane maybe smelling to high heaven … What happened to manners and etiquette?
What’s in store? You do the math …