Naturally, travel as we once knew it has taken a pause and traveling during covid-19, masks and all, is the new normal in the making and remains a learning experience for everyone involved.
This month (August 2020) following the reopening of the airport in Seychelles (my home and where I’ve been for the past four months during lockdown), I travelled to the Netherlands in Europe under what they’re calling the new sweetheart visa, to visit my boyfriend.
Getting on the plane and going through the motions in the airports is not what it used to be. In this post, I’m answering a few of the questions which I got about my recent flying experience.
If you may be considering travel with the new opening of borders or are wondering what the new atmosphere is like, I hope this is helpful to you.
Feel free to leave any additional questions in the comment section and I’ll get back to you asap!
Flying during Covid-19 – FAQs
#I want to start traveling again, where can I go?
At the moment, many countries still have restrictions on non-essential travel in place and have introduced lists of high, medium and low risk countries and so are allowing entry accordingly.
Please read up thoroughly on the regulations in place in relation to leaving your country, and in relation to entering your chosen destination.
Students: If you’re traveling to go back to school following the lockdowns, you will have a resident permit for your destination and so you should be allowed to enter without any complications.
Even though most countries have opened their borders, this is just to a small number of places and border regulations are changing all the time. But countries also have a list of exceptions for which you would be allowed entry even if yours is not on the list of countries allowed in, for example if you’re going to visit family, for work purposes etc.
Let me explain with an example: Europe has created a travel bubble, allowing EU citizen to travel within the EU zone as per normal. But travel from outside the EU is limited.
There is a list of 15 non-EU countries which are being allowed entry based on their covid related safety levels. Within that, there are further exceptions which would allow entry to other non-EU nationals but these are specific to the country.
For example Denmark and the Netherlands have introduced a Sweetheart Visa for long distance couples. If you can prove that you’ve been in a relationship of more than three months with a resident of the country in question, you’ll be granted a 90 days visa (that’s how I was able to travel to The Netherlands to be with my boyfriend).
The nuances are plenty at this time, so it’s not as easy as hoping on a plane anymore. Not to mention embassies have limited their visa operations for the moment as well.
Stay well read friends.
#Do you have to have a covid test to travel? How much does it cost?
All countries and most, if not all, airlines are asking for a negative covid-19 test in order to be allowed to board or granted entry. The test is free in some countries, but in others you do have to pay. In the Seychelles currently the test costs Rs5400.
#Does the covid test hurt?
Not at all. The test is either a swab in your nose or mouth and it’s more of a discomfort than anything else.
#How long does it take to get the results and then when can you fly?
You usually get your results 24 hours after doing the test. Most airlines are asking that you do your covid test 72 hours before you travel.
#Will you have to quarantine? How much does it cost?
This depends on the regulations at your destination and the rate of risk associated with the country you’re traveling from.
If you’re traveling from a high risk country, they might ask that you quarantine in an allocated facility or a hotel or they may not let you enter at all.
If you’re traveling from a medium or low risk country, they might ask that you to quarantine in a hotel, some might even ask you to home quarantine.
#What’s the protocol at the airport?
I travelled through Dubai from Seychelles on my way to Amsterdam. Masks are required everywhere in the airport and on the planes.
There are stickers that have been put on all the chairs and benches reminding people to keep at least two seats between one another. Staff and monitors are actively reminding people to keep 1.5 – 2 meters between each other.
There are also temperature scanners at several places to test people and of course forms to fill in at every stop to check for symptoms.
#Is duty free open at the aiport?
Unfortunately, simply because of the sheer decrease in numbers of passengers, many Duty Free stores and restaurants (specifically in Dubai airport) were closed. It sort of resembled a ghost town in some places and was certainly eerie. A chilling reminder of the times.
#Have the onboard experiences changed?
If I’m being completely honest, I didn’t notice many changes onboard except for the fact that the crew were wearing what resembled hazmat suits (kind of but not quite) and it’s mandatory to wear masks at all times.
The dining experience has changed a bit (so they said) but not in a way that is extremely evident.
There isn’t social distancing as such being done on the places. They’re not leaving seats between passengers on the plane at the moment. Seating is given out as normal but because the flights are empty, people can move around. Which is great because… more sleeping space!
#Are people really practicing social distance?
For the most part yes. In the airport, chairs have been allocated with signs in order to remind people to leave space and to prevent them from sitting too close together.
Staff and announcements are constantly reminding people to keep 1.5-2 meters apart.
People are generally very aware of the need to be alert and every sneeze or cough is treated with great suspicion by your fellow passengers. You have the one or two who aren’t quite with it but otherwise yes.
If you have any other questions about traveling during Covid-19 I’d be more than happy to chat with you in the comments.
Sit back, grab some Oreos and I can’t wait to see what life has to offer us next.