I have travelled and flown a few times, both domestically and internationally, in the last 3 months, as soon as travel restrictions began to ease.
Here are some useful tips I would like to share with you to equip you to fly safer during the COVID pandemic. This post is not meant to encourage you to travel, but more it is to share some useful hints and tips if you must fly.
Tip 1 Entry Rules And Restrictions Are Likely to Change
This is the biggest challenge to international travel at the moment, all the entry rules have changed due to the pandemic. You must check the entry rules of your destination before travelling, even destinations where you are certain that you can travel without a visa.
The IATA has created a special COVID-19 Travel Regulations Map. You can check up-to-date country requirements at iatatravelcenter.com
Do check it again before your flight departure, as rules are frequently changing, to avoid any nasty surprises at the airport or border.
Tip 2 Plan Your COVID Test in Advance
A lot of airlines are now requiring you to have a negative COVID PCR Test certificate in order to fly. Do plan according to the timing of your flight and factor in the time to receive the COVID test result, if that is the requirement on your flight, the timing of this is critical.
Tip 3 Some Airlines Are Offering Automatic COVID-19 Insurance Coverage
More and more airlines are offering automatic COVID-19 insurance for passengers, often for up to 31 days travel. So far, airlines such as Emirates, Etihad, Air Canada and Virgin Atlantic are already offering this service. Check with your specific airline for details.
There is a catch, though; this insurance applies to COVID-19 only and would not replace any traditional type of travel insurance policy.
Some airlines are also offering travel hygiene kits. Here is what Emirates and Etihad are offering to all their passengers.
Tip 4 Prepare to Spend More Time at The Airport With Paperwork
Currently on international long haul flights, online check-in won't get you a boarding pass without visiting the physical check-in desk. This is due to the check-in agent having to manually check your documents (if any negative PCR test is required etc.) and ask you to sign a health declaration form for contact tracing and health declaration purposes.
Be prepared to spend extra time at the airport check-in desk with a pen.
However at the same time, given the low number of travellers flying internationally at the moment, I don't recommend to arrive at airport overly early (> 3 hours) as some airports will not allow you to enter. A lot of airline lounges are also currently closed.
In some cases you will have to be prepared to spend a longer time upon arrival, again for paperwork and COVID testing.
Tip 5 Remember The Little Things
Despite all the challenging rules, paperwork and even COVID tests to get onboard a long haul international flight, the good news is that most flights are not full in comparison to domestic short haul flights. You should have plenty of space to social distance in. My recent flight from Zurich to Dubai had 50 or so passengers.
Remember to always wear a face mask of face covering in-flight, except during drinking and eating. I recommend to wear a face cloth that softly covers the nose and mouth, without having strings attached to your ears on long fights. But different airlines have different requirements on face coverings, Qatar Airways now requires passengers to wear a face shield. Do remember to check with the airline that you are traveling with.
Have you flown internationally recently? What are your experiences like? Share with me if you have any other good tips to help others travel safely, especially during the pandemic.