Tips to Keep in Mind Before Catching Flights During COVID-19

Although lockdown rules have relaxed in some countries, travelling has undeniably changed.

I travelled home to Canada and back to the UK last month. I understand that it was a non-essential trip, but I genuinely missed my family. I am in no way encouraging you to get on a plane because it was not one of my smarter ideas. I’m on my own in the UK, and since the government here never really took pandemic seriously, it did not quite click to me until I got to Canada and realised that I’d “live” with more vulnerable family members. My loved ones’ health and wellbeing depended on my whereabouts.

Overlooking the Toronto skyline

Even with many borders opening and quarantine rules being reduced in certain regions, have a triple think before catching long haul flights.

Anyways, here are some tips if you do decide to catch a flight during COVID-19:

Try to book in advance

Not only is this a pro-tip for finding cheaper tickets, but it is imperative for quarantine arrangements. Not everyone has a family cottage or an empty property they can quarantine in, so check for Airbnbs and hotels or ask friends if they have second homes. You will have to disclose the address of your quarantine location at the airport so have that information readily available. Canada, for example, suggests that travellers download an app for tracking purposes, so you can do that that before your arrival to avoid line ups to fill forms.

Unless you’re going to your country of citizenship/residence, keep checking government updates for the country you’re going to and where you currently live

Last month, Spain was on the UK’s no quarantine list – last week, that changed. Expect the unexpected and even if quarantine is not required, limit interactions as much as possible in your first two weeks in the country.

Don’t go to the airport too early

Pearson International Airport, Toronto, Canada

You’re going to check in online anyways and airports are still quite empty, so things happen fast. I went through security and arrived at my gate in less than 10 mins because there were only a handful of flights that day. For safety, most seats and lounges are closed and there is no place to just “wait around”. Arriving just two hours before your flight (unless advised otherwise by the airlines), should be fine.

Pack a sandwich

Longer flights like mine give boxed meals (which were surprisingly decent) but there’s usually no choice in what you’re getting. If you have any dietary restrictions, you will most likely not be accommodated. If you’re not picky, go as you please; but if you are, it’s best to pack a sandwich and snacks. Most cafes and shops are also closed in airports so don’t leave this one to last minute.

Bring your own pillow and blanket

Some airlines like Air Canada are still skipping rows or multiple seats between passengers but some aren’t. However, chances are that you will have a bit more room around you to stretch your legs and get some sleep which can be hard to do without a pillow or a blanket. Most airlines are not yet offering these so bring your own.

Make sure your ride gets to you on time

Just like idling around waiting to check-in isn’t a thing before departure, the same goes for arrival. Flights make us tired and want to rest. Most seats on airports are still tapped so make sure your ride is on time.

Pack an extra mask

You have to wear a mask from the moment you enter the airport till you step inside your place of quarantine. Due to connecting flights, getting from London to Toronto took almost 24 hours and boy, let me tell ya, stinky post-nap breath is not a situation you want to be breathing in. Thankfully, Air Canada gave us an extra mask in their welcome package along with sanitiser and wet wipes.

Carry light

The more stuff you have, the more surfaces it will touch. I’d say skip carryon completely if a check-in bag is free. Once you get your luggage, you only need to disinfect one item instead of three.

Pack an extra pair of clothes

Not only are you responsible for your safety, getting into public transport/Uber/someone’s car to go to your place of quarantine makes you responsible for theirs as well. Changing your clothes at the airport and disinfecting your hands before getting into other transportation is just an extra precaution to ensure you’re not putting others in danger.

Interact with only consenting individuals

Fakiha and me.

Travelling is often unpredictable and for whatever reason, you do need to interact with others during quarantine, which means disclosing this information before the meeting. Please do not have people over or go to someone’s home without letting them know that you’ve travelled.

Look forward to seeing your loved ones to help you get through quarantine

My love for Toronto and these people got me through:

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