The skies are back open, but how can you stay safe in the UK’s airports during COVID?
The UK is open to travel once more and many will be thinking of escaping to sunnier climates following a disastrous 2020. But you may also be wondering how safe is it to visit airports during COVID?
As we take our first steps out of the national lockdown which saw the UK grind to a halt during November, we can now start to think about travelling again and how that will look post-pandemic.
As a result of the new tiering system people can travel abroad again regardless of their area’s tier.
Following government guidelines on safer air travel, airports up and down the UK have been preparing for travellers to take to the skies again. But what will it look like heading into an airport again? And is it safe?
What’s it like keeping safe in airports post-COVID?
Well, back in October Blue Bay Travel’s own Alice Whalley jetted off from Gatwick on a long-awaited break to St Lucia with her partner. So, we decided to get her take on what it was like travelling during the COVID pandemic.
But it’s not just Gatwick with new travel information for customers jetting off in the pandemic. We’ve taken a look at the safety measures put in place at many of the UK’s large airports, so you know what to expect when you jet off again.
Alice’s experience at Gatwick
Talking about her post-coronavirus airport experience Alice said: “I hadn’t travelled further than our local supermarket in months. Even though I work in the travel industry, like many people, I was apprehensive, nervous and very sceptical about how my travel experience was going be affected. But I needn’t have worried!”
Alice said she found the airport was, predictably, much quieter than we’re used to seeing. Everyone in Gatwick was wearing a mask and plenty of markers were set out on the floor and around in the surrounding area to ensure social distancing measures were adhered to. She remarked there were also plenty of sanitising stations available throughout the airport from the entrance to the departure gates.
So, all seems to be running smoothly, however, Alice was also quick to warn, you should ensure you leave enough time for getting through any extended measures. She noted although there were less queues, the airport were operating less check-in desks and staff were very thorough when it came to checking luggage paperwork. So, delays may happen
Following check-in it was on to security which Alice remarked was “Another pleasant surprise.
“There were no big queues or long waiting times to get through to the departure lounge”
If you like a bit of shopping when you get into the airport you’ll be pleased to know Alice found the Duty-Free experience to be relatively smooth post-COVID too.
“We breezed through duty free. The Sunglass shops do still allow you to try on the products. However, you must place the glasses into a tray if you don’t wish to purchase them so they can be sanitised and put back onto the shelves.
“The majority of the other shops had signs to encourage people not to touch unless you intended to buy. Although, places such as WH Smith were offering gloves to passengers looking in the book sections, so that you could still pick books up to browse for that good holiday read.”
Food and drink
Alice and her partner had booked into the No. 1 Lounge Gatwick North to relax before their flight. “I’d definitely recommend doing this as a lot of the restaurants appeared to be closed within the terminal.
“On arrival at No.1 lounge we were advised to keep our masks on until we were seated. They are currently operating table service only with a reduced food menu. Which meant we didn’t even need to move to get a drink…perfect!” She continued.
As expected, it was a little quieter in the lounge than normal, but that meant we could relax in comfort for a bit longer when a delay effected our flight.” Usually, you would have to pay a per-hour charge to remain in the airport lounge past your scheduled flight time.
During the flight you must ensure your mask stays on, except for when eating and drinking. Alice found her flight experience to be pleasant too even with the added safety measures.
Airlines are currently running at reduced capacity to help prevent the spread of germs. But Alice felt that this measure only served to improve the on-board experience.
Find out more about Alice’s experience of travelling to the Caribbean during COVID now.
But what about your local airport?
We’ll take a look at how other airports across the UK are preparing for the big release again and some of the measures they’ve put in place to help keep you safe.
Manchester airport have also taken their response to the virus extremely seriously and have created a helpful video detailing their new rules for ensuring safe travels for all.
As the busiest airport in the UK Heathrow have also been keen to outline their new policies and procedures for travellers during the pandemic.
They’ve created a useful FAQ page to help arm their passengers with information on what to expect before they arrive on-site. The questions cover several areas from arriving at the airport and safety measures to be aware of, through to rules around face coverings and bars & restaurants.
London City is another major airport in the UK which has taken to video content to let passengers know how they’re keeping them safe in a post-corona travel world.
Another one of the UK’s big airports. Servicing the flying needs of many jetsetters in the Midlands. Birmingham too have released a video outlining all the steps they’re taking to keep you safe.
The video will cover off the airport’s policy on subjects like face masks, sanitisation stations, social distancing measures, going contactless where possible, and the use of protective screens.
Bristol International airport have recently been celebrating their addition to Jet2’s UK base list and they’ve also been quick to release their COVID security measures.
From checking-in online at home before you arrive at the airport through to what to expect when you step through those sliding doors to start your holiday adventure. Including information like they’re no longer accepting cash in the airport, so make sure you’re contactless payment ready.
Travelling up the country, Newcastle airport have delivered a plethora of more information around testing and what to expect if you’re planning a trip soon.
Heading further north and the Scottish airports have also made their travel safety information easy to find and some of the most informative out there. As well as this video overviewing their measures Glasgow airport have also released a comprehensive page of details to be aware with info covering every stage of your journey through the site, down to the opening times for bars, shops and restaurants.
As part of their “Let’s all flysafe” page Edinburgh have been equally comprehensive with their new travel information. They’ve also integrated a neat dashboard fed with data from the World Health Organisation (WHO) which allows customers to view the case rate in different countries before they travel. They believe this “will allow you to make informed travel decisions.”
The sky is open again
It may seem like there are lots of new guidelines, rules and fresh new jargon to be au fait with when it comes to air travel in a post-corona world. However, it’s hugely encouraging to know that international travel is now back on again following a hugely difficult year for all of us.
So, if you’ve treated yourself to a break in the new year – we don’t blame you at all! But just make sure you’re aware of everything you need to know.
We believe Alice’s experience has shown air travel in 2020/21 doesn’t have to be stressful. You can have a genuinely blissful trip from take off to touch down.