Travelling during COVID
Recently, I took our first flight with my three kids since lockdown started. High level summary, it was better than I’d expected. Different to what flying looked like before the pandemic for sure. But overall not as challenging as I had thought it might be. Below I take you through a step by step guide to our journey from Luton Airport, as well as share tips on how to make flying easier with your family in the new world.
Arriving at the airport:
Immediately when we arrived it was clear that important changes had been made. Big signs covered the entrance doors reinforcing the need to wear masks. The good news is that everyone was complying. It was a strange feeling seeing so many people in masks, but also good to know that this basic requirement was being met by everyone. I’d purchased masks from Bag of Ethics in advance of the trip and would recommend their masks for adults and kids. Easy to wear for longer periods of time. One flag, the children’s mask size is a little small for some children, and my middle son wore a mask from Funky Face Mask for that reason.
There were limited changes to the check in process. We queued to get to the bag drop machines and then dropped our bags through the normal process. Two tips from me.
Tip One: in general, the queues in the airport were a little close for comfort. You have to impose your own rules around social distancing as there are not markers laid out to help. I set a rule for the kids and I that meant we kept a metre at least distance from the people in front. This worked fine but did involve a fair amount of ‘Stop.. Keep your distance..’ comments from me!
Tip Two: take hand sanitiser with you. The only contact I had was with the check in machine to get the tags for the bags. There are hand sanitiser stations throughout the airport but not at this check in machine. So always handy to have a bottle of hand sanitiser with you throughout the airport journey.
Heading through to departures:
Completely transparently, this was the trickiest section of the airport for me personally. Even at 6am, the queues through into departures were long and it was extremely difficult to social distance. Similarly to the queue for bag drop, I imposed our own rules around social distancing, keeping a minimum of a metre in front of me and asking the people behind me to also keep a distance of a metre which they did. When you get to the bag scan section, there are protective screens to allow you to drop your bags safely. The process of picking up your bags on the other side was a little more chaotic, not helped by the fact I’d put my laptop and ipad on top of eachother. I was glad to get past this section of the airport and into the departures hall.
It was far less crowded in the departures hall with most of the restaurants open. We had breakfast at Benugos which went really smoothly. Good social distancing with markers on the floor directing us. There were staff members sanitising the tables before we sat down too. As we walked through the departures hall, I could see many of the shops were open including Boots and some clothes shops. There was a queuing system outside boots so if you do need to get some last minute items for your holiday, i’d advise leaving enough time to wait in the queues to get into shops like Boots. If you need to sit down, there are dedicated seats in the airport reserved for families as well as seats which are off limits for social distancing reasons.
Given that it took us a little longer than normal to get through the airport, we arrived at the boarding gate as the plane was boarding. Next time, I'll arrive at the airport a little more than 2 hours in advance. Boarding was smooth (thanks Easyjet!) and we were soon on the plane safely.
Masks continued to be worn on the plane as this is now a requirement. As for food, Easyjet were still serving refreshments and a small selection of food items on the plane. I’d purposefully fed the kids before we got on the plane and would say this worked well to avoid having to remove our masks on the plane itself. The flight was great. It was clear Easyjet had thought through a lot of details. For example, they limited queuing outside the toilets which avoided queues down the aisle. I also happened to have a seat free next to me which was a bonus. Once we landed, the process of disembarking from the airplane had also shifted. We were told to remain seated until the row in front of us had disembarked. I thought this was a great way to handle social distancing as it prevented people queuing in the aisle for any length of time.
Within a short space of time at destination, we were through the airport and ready to start our holiday. A big thanks to Easyjet for making the necessary changes to keep us all safe. Reflecting on the journey with the kids, overall the experience was a good one and I would definitely feel comfortable travelling again with the kids in tow in the near future.