This past weekend, I embarked on a short-haul trip from Dublin Airport, Ireland to London Gatwick, UK. This is a brief article to take you through my travel experience during COVID-19 in terms of the airports, safety measures and flights.
Outbound: Friday, 14th August 2020 11:10AM
Inbound: Tuesday, 17th August 2020 08:50AM
Prior to Flying
Before your travels (e.g. leaving for the airport, and even before booking flights), be sure to check the respective governments’ travel guidelines and requirements for country of origin, transit and destination. Look for entry restrictions (e.g. green lists), their quarantine measures and required documentation. Also be sure that your travel and medical insurance are in good order. Generally, travelling to a country against the government’s travel advisory would invalid your insurance coverage.
For example, the UK is not on the Irish green list. This meant that I was required to quarantine myself for two weeks after arrival into Ireland. It was also a requirement to complete a Passenger Locator Form upon entry to Ireland which detailed the address of quarantine and contact details.
Dublin airport was extremely quiet especially for peak summer time due to the ‘avoid non-essential travel’ advisory set by the Government. There were standard safety measures in place at the airport:
- Mandatory face masks. It is mandatory to wear a face mask for the whole duration at the airport. Face masks are available to buy in vending machines at €3.
- Hand sanitising stations. There is an abundance of hand sanitiser dispensers. The higher traffic areas (e.g. at boarding gates, after security) have more stations. After passing security, there are approximately 15 hand sanitising stations with 4 hand sanitiser dispensers at each station. Generally, you don’t have to walk more than 100 yards to find a hand sanitiser dispenser.
- Floor stickers enforcing social distancing. Queuing areas (e.g. by security and at boarding gates) and inside shops have floor stickers to remind individuals to keep a safe distance.
- Disinfection. There is a team of cleaning crew who spray seats at the waiting area with disinfectant. At security, after scanning your boarding pass, assigned individuals wipe down the area after each use.
- Safety signs and overhead announcements. Signs and boards are in place to remind individuals of basic safety measures. Regular announcements are made to remind individuals to observe the safety guidance and advice.
In terms of compliance with the safety measures, the travellers were generally very compliant. I saw only one person at the airport who was not wearing his mask (instead, more as a chin strap).
The flights, both outbound and inbound, were roughly 50% full. For both instances, there was nobody seated directly beside me. After boarding was complete, I noticed that there were a few empty rows, a few full rows and a few with the middle seat empty. Ryanair did not make an effort to keep individuals separated as best as possible during seat allocation.
There were zero signs of COVID-19 safety measures onboard. Social distancing in the aisle of the plane was non-existent.
The flight seemed like a normal flight prior to COVID-19, except for the lighter than usual capacity. On a couple of occasions, the air steward asked a couple of passengers to put their face mask on.
London Gatwick Airport
The safety measures in place at Gatwick are the same as Dublin Airport, but, in my opinion, to a lesser extent. The amount of hand sanitising stations and safety signs are significantly less at Gatwick.
I felt relatively ‘safe’ in the airports themselves, however, a little less protected in the airplanes. I would be more hesitant about doing a non-essential long-haul travel.
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