What it’s like to take an international flight during COVID-19

What it’s like to take an international flight during COVID-19

Published on 9th December, 2020 at 03:29 pm

The COVID-19 pandemic has rapidly changed the way we fly, if we’re flying at all. From administering temperature checks, wearing face masks, and implementing new ways to disinfect planes and terminals, there is a lot that has changed that many may not know about. Here’s what it’s like to travel internationally during the pandemic.

At the airport

“Airports are a lot emptier than they used to be,” says audit manager and avid traveller, Manzi Dlamini, who recently travelled from Jo’burg to Amsterdam. “At O R Tambo International Airport and at Amsterdam Airport Schiphol, only people that were flying and staff were allowed inside,” says Dlamini. Travel posters are now replaced with signs stressing the importance of washing your hands, and maintaining safe social distancing.

According to CEO of Airports Company South Africa Mpumi Mpofu, you are required to wear a face mask or a face shield at all times when you’re in the airport. You are also required to present a negative COVID-19 test result not older than 72 hours from your time of departure. Travellers also need to provide proof of accommodation address should they need to self-quarantine at the time of arrival in the country.

Travellers are screened on arrival and those presenting symptoms will be required to take COVID-19 test. In addition, Mpofu advises that travellers will need to download the COVID Alert South Africa mobile app, which uses smartphone technology to help individuals notify their close contacts if you are positive.

Before you board a plane, make sure you do so with peace of mind. As a Reality Access for Fedhealth member, you have complimentary International Travel Insurance for claims of up to R5 million – at no extra cost to you.

On the airplane

According to Emirates, during international flights, all cabin crew are decked out in their full personal protective equipment. Floor stickers are in place when boarding to ensure everyone is maintaining a safe distance. Flyers need to keep their masks on throughout the flight when they’re not eating or drinking. Bathrooms are also cleaned more frequently and the cabin air is now constantly being cleaned through advanced air filters. Emirates are also providing passengers with complimentary hygiene kits, which contain gloves, a face mask, antibacterial wipes and hand sanitiser – which could come in very handy if you’ve forgotten your own. If you want to go one step further, you’re also offered the ability to register for Emirates’ biometric path in order to experience a contactless journey by only using facial recognition.

Important things to remember when travelling

Pack wisely
Hand sanitisers, antibacterial wipes, disinfectants and gloves will need be on top of your packing list, along with your face mask or face shields.

Make sure you’re covered
Getting sick is a major concern on holiday, especially if you are not in your own country, warns Manzi. Which makes being prepared and following all safety measures so that you don’t contract COVID-19 that much more important. If travel insurance is something you thought not necessary in the past, now is the time to rethink that.

Read here for the pre-holiday travel insurance checklist you need to tick off to ensure you’re properly covered.

Have a plan B
When it comes to travelling internationally during COVID-19, it’s important to plan ahead, says Manzi. Your bookings could be cancelled, places can unexpectedly close because of COVID-19 outbreaks. Make sure to do your research about a place you’re visiting online, and call ahead to verify the place and whether or not it’s still in business. This will help you find other places in due time if things don’t work out as planned.

Mpofu also warns that travellers need to be certain of their eligibility to fly and need to ensure that they have valid visas to enter or re-enter South Africa before booking flights. You do not want to get stuck in a foreign country with no way home.

Reality Access for Fedhealth members get complimentary International Travel Insurance for up to 45 days, valued at R5 million. Learn more about your benefit here. 

Stay up to date on programme benefits and how they’re impacted by COVID-19 here.

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