If there’s something we miss, it’s that feeling you get when you get on a plane. There’s nothing quite like it, the excited knots in your stomach as you begin the descent, the blast of heat you feel when the door opens, and the knowledge all your worries are left behind.
But, with COVID-19 changing everything in our lives, it’s not shocking to learn, it’s also affected how we travel—especially flying. Back on the 4th July, it was announced in the UK that flights were going to begin running once more after the imposed ban back in March.
While they are doing this while exercising social distancing and mandatory masks, there is still so much left up in the air—no pun intended.
Firstly, before we get into what airlines are flying and what precautions are in place, it’s essential to discuss the restrictions that are currently in place.
Is It Safe To Fly?
The safety when it comes to flying is all dependent on the destination, and yourself adhering to wearing a mask, washing your hands, and respecting social distancing.
While many countries have managed to control the spread of the virus, there is still a list of countries you may visit that have a mandatory two-week quarantine when you arrive back. This doesn’t mean the country isn’t safe, but rather their Governments attempt to stop the spread of the virus to others—if picked up when travelling—when you arrive home.
This mandatory quarantine does impose some restrictions, especially for those who know their work won’t pay for this time off. Because of this, in the UK the list for countries added and removed is updated regularly. You must keep up to date with this list as it’s under constant review.
Most recently in Europe, Portugal, Spain and France have all been on this list.
The reason for this is because travelling increases the risk of spreading the virus, and increasing your chance of getting the virus. While it’s important not to travel if you are sick or have been around someone with COVID-19 symptoms in the past 14 days, it can’t always be helped as some people exhibit no symptoms but are COVID positive. The countries that aren’t on this list means there is a lower risk of catching the virus, but with anything, there are no guarantees.
It’s important to keep in the know about countries that place a ban on their own borders, for all but essential travel, as this is also ever-changing.
Are Flights Cheaper?
Although we’ve read about how airlines are suffering due to the pandemic, it’s a tough balance between offering a good deal and keeping everyone safe. With most airlines keeping the middle seat on their flights free, this could mean other passengers bear the brunt of this.
We also have to take into consideration the number of cancellations and rescheduled flights; prices may vary a lot more than they did previously. However, package holidays are boasting much cheaper holidays than those who book separately, as flights themselves are collectively more expensive as companies try to recoup money lost.
If you are thinking of travelling, it’s always worth shopping around. If you are even less fussy about where you go, have a look at a mix of destinations on the allowed-travel list to find the best deal available.
Which Airlines Are Currently Flying?
Now, you’re feeling better, it’s important to know—with all the changes—what airlines are still operational. Below is a list of the airlines still flying out of the UK, most of these also currently have sales going on.
easyJet is currently still operational, offering holidays from several different airports in the UK including Glasgow and London.
RyanAir is also still operational, with updates on their webpage on the destinations that are currently open and able to be travelled too.
Jet2 Holidays and Jet2 City Breaks are both still operational, offering low deposits on trips. They still fly from their usual airports, and to their usual destinations.
Virgin Atlantic is still offering many flights. However, they have ceased flying out of London Gatwick.
British Airways are operational, and are also offering flexible bookings in terms of rescheduling holidays.
So, What’s Different?
You’ve picked your holiday with the providers that are still running, so now it’s important to prepare for how the experience of travelling may be different from what you have previously known.
For many, the holiday starts the moment they step over the entrance to the airport. But it’s a good idea to be prepared for what the new airport experience is going to be like.
Masks and Social Distancing
It is mandatory at all airports, for both passengers and staff, to wear a face mask. This is not just for you, but for those around you. Airports have also put into place socially distanced markers, which may make you feel you are further away from the baggage drop-off, but is merely for your protection.
E-Check In & Baggage
If you can, print off your boarding passes, and anything else to limit the number of people you will have to be in contact with physically. Some airlines may also allow you to do an E-Check-In where possible, but this is specific to a select few airlines.
Some airlines also recommend using carry-on luggage over checking in a bag. This is one, to reduce the amount of people handling your luggage, and also from congregating at baggage claim at your destination.
Not only will this make things easier for you, but it will also give you that added protection.
While, in some cases, this may be impossible, hand washing and hand sanitizer stations have also been set up.
On The Aircraft
You’ve now made it through check-in and security. The wait for your plane has passed, and now you’re on the aeroplane.
For those worrying about the air, it’s a common misconception about the air being recycled on aircrafts. This isn’t the case. While you are being asked to adhere to airline rules regarding masks, modern planes have advanced air filtration systems, which limits you catching the virus through the air you breathe onboard extremely unlikely.
But what additional measures can you take to stay safe?
Like a lot of things, airlines have also tried to go as contactless as possible. This has been extended on the aircraft when purchasing drinks, snacks and any other goods. It’s best practise to pay contactless to minimize spreading the virus.
Masks and Social Distancing
While food and drink service may be reduced, the use of masks on the aircraft when not eating or drinking hasn’t been relaxed. It’s important to check what your specific airline requires when travelling, as Qatar Airways are asking passengers to wear a face shield as well as a mask when flying.
If you are travelling short haul, it’s worth attempting to use the bathroom before getting on the flight, as this lowers the risk of catching or transferring the virus. If this isn’t manageable for yourself, be cautious of queuing in the aisles, and remember to distance where possible socially. Those who move around the cabin are at a higher risk of contracting a bug—regardless of the pandemic—than those who stay seated.
Just as it’s important to listen to the safety announcement at the beginning of the flight, it’s important to follow and listen to all advice and information given during the entire flight.
The crew will be vigilant on those who wish to swap to a different seat, as the layout will be deemed by social distancing.
There may also be restrictions on the flight in terms of the path you need to take to the toilet, and when you can and cannot get up to stretch your legs.
While it’s important for our own mental health to have a break, be mindful and cautious when travelling. Airports, with the best will in the world, are crowded places with many hurrying from one place to the next. It’s up to each one of us to take responsibility and act accordingly when travelling. Adhere to the safety regulations in the airport, continue to wash your hands, and socially distance at all times.
Where are you planning on safely flying for your next getaway?