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Winging it – Flying during Covid-19

18 June 2020

As told to Adam Bull, Consultant

On Wednesday, a friend of mine flew to Germany from Heathrow Terminal 2. I spoke to him about his experiences at the airport and on the flight.

“The first new experience at the airport was waiting outside the terminal for 20 minutes in a queue to have my temperature taken. This seemed reasonable, until I got to the front of the queue and into the terminal without any testing having taken place. Whether I accidently slipped past them, or there was never a temperature checking station in the first place I am not sure. Either way, my temperature remained unchecked.

“In terms of social distancing, it was a real mixed bag. At check-in, it was fairly well followed, people queuing 2m from the next group. This was, unfortunately, where the system fell apart. At passport control, everyone queued as they would have before Covid-19. 

“In the airport itself, pretty much everything was shut apart from WHSmiths and Boots (where a 45 minute queue awaits you for your Meal Deal). The queue for Boots was socially distanced, but this again evaporates outside of the queue. It seems people are happy to wait in a queue 2m away from each other, but nowhere else. The fact that all restaurants shops and bars are shut means that there is a huge concentration of people who would normally be shopping, eating or drinking left milling around in the communal areas. 

“The whole operation is clearly not as slick as airports usually are. Between the bizarre ‘temperature’ queue I found myself in, security, and Boots, the process took way over 2 hours. In fact, the actual flight was delayed due to the time it took people to get through the airport.

“On the plane itself, every seat was taken. I suppose that leaves about 40cm between your head and the people either side of you. When boarding the plane, the experience was no different to usual. Shuffling down the aisles, reaching over people to put baggage in overhead lockers. It would have been impossible to observe any form of social distancing on a flight that subscribed.

“It’s difficult to judge my arrival in Germany fairly as we had to make an emergency landing at another airport due to a thunderstorm and I was put on a bus to get me to my correct final destination…

“All in all, rules were either not followed, or not in place, meaning the whole thing was a bit of a farce. I don’t imagine the industry will be doing itself any favours with public confidence considering the lack of care in following government guidelines.”