TRENDS IN THE WORLD: Traveling During a Pandemic

By Taylor Steinberg, Corporate Sales Trainer, Knapheide

After spending the months of July and October 2020 in England and still having a negative COVID–19 test, the protective protocols utilized must have worked. Would I do it again? Of course, I would for a number of reasons including almost empty airports, almost empty planes, inexpensive ticket prices and the ability to spend two months with family.

How did we handle it with the constant Pandemic news and cautions? My wife and I studied the protective protocols in detail and utilized the following throughout the two trips to England. We wore protective facemasks with approved filters 100% of the time in all four of the airports and on all flights. The only time one could remove their facemask on the international flights was for beverages and during the two meal services during the eight plus hour flights. If you forgot to replace your facemask, the flight attendant reminded you. On one of the flights from London to Dublin, a passenger took off their mask and was asked to exit the plane before takeoff. The “no mask – no flight” rule is strictly enforced. The passenger utilized the mask as needed.

The July flights were 90% empty and over 75% empty on the October flights, both on an Airbus A330. Asking the flight attendants after landing in London how can your airline afford to fly one flight per day from Chicago to London. We load the empty baggage hold with freight as we witnessed on the October flight when two semi loads of freight were loaded just before we left Chicago.

Once you board your flight  

Before taking your seat, disinfectant and clean all surfaces you may come in contact within your seat area. This was never a problem as we had sixteen to twenty four seats to ourselves on the July flights and at least eight to sixteen seats to ourselves on the October flights.  All passengers had assigned seats but were free to move about for comfortable social distancing.

Inflight beverage services were not provided on the four domestic flights in July and October.

Protective gloves donned before entering and while inside of all airports. Each of us used up to eight sets of gloves for each east bound and west bound flight as we traveled through four airports in each direction. Yes, that adds up to sixteen pairs of protective glove per person for the trip. Most travelers will utilize a restroom at each airport, wash their hands, utilize hand sanitizer after each hand washing and put on a new set of gloves. Glove removal protocol is critical so you never touch a possibly infected glove surface – just like the medical industry. We utilized our own and any available hand sanitizers and our own area disinfectant wipes as needed.  When your hands start to dry out from the disinfectant material, use some hand lotions for comfort.

While inside all airports, we wore clear plastic face shields attached to our hats covering everything from the top of our heads and behind each ear and around the entire face extending below the chin. They are a pain as they hinder voice communication especially while wearing masks.

We used no public transportation while in England, only family cars or hired well-known private transport for just the two of us.

What did we like about our trips? Great family time. Airports were never busy. No check in lines for your luggage. No security check point lines.

When flying through Dublin, Ireland all travelers going to England go through British customs upon arrival and when retuning to the USA go through US customs in Dublin eliminating customs procedures in Chicago. The flights from London Heathrow to Dublin are consider domestic flights.

Entry into England from the USA requires an extensive three-page UK Passenger Locator Form completed within 48 hours of your arrival in the UK. Without the form, travelers may not enter the country and must immediately return to the country from which they departed. Web site:  https://www.gov.uk/provide-journey-contact-details-before-travel-uk

Once you arrive, one must self-quarantine for fourteen days at your arrival destination. If you do not obey, the fine is 1000 British Pounds (about $1300 per person). This tells me that business travel would not be fun. As I understand, they track your cell phone location and credit card usage. We had no problem with the quarantine as we stayed and enjoyed family time. Grandpa worked on the “to do” lists while my wife made designer protective masks.

After we were “let out of jail” and the Granddaughters were on fall break, exploration began with an adventure in Northern England near the Scotland Border. Our accommodations, Bowlees Farm Holiday Cottages, are very popular in England and ideal for exploring the Northern Pennines area.  We enjoyed hiking a section of Hadrian’s Wall, exploring The Bowes Museum in Barnard Castle, The Dales Countryside Museum in Hawes, hiking along the River Tees waterfalls and the National Railway Museum in York.

Bowes Museum in Barnard Castle, England, Hiking Hadrian’s Wall, View from our Holiday cottage, High Force Waterfall on the River Tees.

Route of travel from Dublin to Chicago, View of Southern Greenland, National Train Museum, York, England, Empty International Terminal 5 in Chicago in early July (normally busy with thousands of pasengers), one of two semi loads of freight loaded onto our flight from Chicago.

*FordPros Note: Due to the increased cases of Covid-19, some travel protocols may have changed