Clients have been asking… should they travel? Would I travel? And if so where. ? Well, I can’t expect others to do something I wouldn’t do myself. Europe was my answer. And yes I would. Yes I will. And so I did. Canary in the coal mine.
First step… the airport, the plane. I flew from Vancouver to Frankfurt then connected to Geneva. My first time in an airport since March 21. Boy have things changed.
Vancouver airport was empty. It was weird, apocalyptic. Apart from Subway, A&W, one Duty Free and one newspaper shop everything was closed. You can buy masks, hand sanitizer and headrest covers but not an Hermes scarf. Security has no Nexus or priority lanes but no wait either. They check your temperature. You walk through a maze with distancing markers. There was one person ahead of me. She took my bag. She swore it was hers. I knew it was mine. Security had to intervene. So bizarre.
I saw only two people not wearing masks. Boarding was very organized. A few people at a time starting with travelers with young children or mobility issues followed by business class. People with priority status were asked to wait until their row was called rather than boarding early. Lufthansa gave out wipes but not kits that Air Canada gives every passenger. The plane was spotless; about 25% full. I used points to fly business. There was no one next to me, the food was great, I slept most of the way. I washed my hands like a freak.
The airline asked people to disembark by announced row. No one listened. Business was let off first. Because we were so few people social distancing was observed. Not so in economy. People were jammed. I’d have waited, been the last person off the plane.
Customs was easy. No one asked me anything. I didn’t have to go through security again. Frankfurt airport was more crowded. All the shops were opened, most had sales. Seats were taped off so people couldn’t sit too close. Again, almost everyone wore masks, except in the smoking room. Again boarding was easy and organized. Again we were all handed wipes. Drinks and bun in a plastic bag were offered. I declined both. Getting off the plane was a nightmare. People crammed up against each other rushing to the front. Airlines really have to figure this part out.
By Geneva I’d been wearing a mask for 17 hours. I chose thicker cloth ones rather than the light blue surgical ones. I was glad I did especially when getting off the planes though I don’t know that they are actually any better. I changed masks a few times. They definitely get damp and a bit itchy. Sleeping with one on was not a problem. My hands got raw from all the washing and sanitizer. Small price to pay.
Overall, I found the flight pretty easy. I felt comfortable. The planes were clean. The air seemed fresh. I’ve read that no one has caught Covid on a plane; the air circulation reduces the risk. Though people do transport Covid via planes. I might have felt differently if the flight had been packed or a stranger had been seated next to me.
This was my experience. Everyone must decide for themselves what your personal risk tolerance is. Whether or not you are willing to get on a plane. How far you want to go. My insights may help informed your decision.
For me, so far so good. Hotels, cabs and trains in next post…