Flying from Heathrow post lockdown
We were flying from LHR to IBZ with BA and our trip was different from previous flights on this route even before we left for the airport. I received the usual ‘get ready to fly’ email a couple of days before departure, but instead of advertising all the things we could buy at a the airport, and reminding us of the food outlets, we were instead reminded to bring enough face masks for the journey and to make sure we had downloaded the app to make everything as ‘contact-free’ as possible. We were also asked to please not arrive any earlier than two hours before a short haul flights and three hours before a long haul. I’m assuming this is because the longer you’re in the airport the more likely you are to spread or contract the virus if present and as capacity is so low there isn’t the usual problem of delays at security.
This turned out to be the case. Once we were out of the uber there were signs telling us face masks are mandatory from that point and also only passengers are allowed in the terminal.
There were hand sanitising stations everywhere with sprays and paper towels to clean suitcase handles too and we noticed several people constantly cleaning seats, handrails and the check in counters. The bag drop counters are no longer manned and the process for this is now quite impressive, easy and quick. You just scan your boarding pass and you attach the luggage tag yourself. I had used something similar before with other airlines but this one was the most straightforward and easy to use so top marks for that. The boarding pass scan system has been in place for a while but you are usually then met with quite a queue at security once you’re through this. Not this time, there was only two people in front of us across all the lanes so that was a bonus.
After all the social distancing we have been doing it is very strange to have someone so close to you on the plane, especially after everyone had been kept at a distance in the terminal. Both our outbound and inbound journey were full apart from two or three seats. We kept our masks on throughout the journey apart from the 5 minutes when we ate the baguettes we had brought onboard. The crew did give us a bottle of water and some crisps which they give out in plastic bags and then we return the rubbish to them in plastic bags. We were also given a sachet of hand sanitiser to use just before take off.
The return journey was much the same . At check in and as we boarded the plane we were all asked to scan a QR code which would take us to the gov.uk website where we would fill in our contact details in the UK. This site told us we would be unable to enter the country unless we had filled it in so I did so on the plane and downloaded the form to show on landing. We were also reminded during the flight by the crew to do this. Once we got to passport control there was no one stopping us to check we had done this form but when I was using the automated passport machine I got the ‘seek assistance’ message when I put my passport in and had to go to a manned desk. At the desk I had to show the completed, downloaded form and was asked for my address and phone details to check I had put this information in correctly. There was only a handful of people also asked to do this so they must be randomly selecting people to check as opposed to checking everyone.