Travelling in 2020 during the Coronavirus pandemic

March, April, May and June of this year were like no other I’ve ever experienced.  I’m sure it was the same for you. The Coronavirus pandemic swept the globe and after weeks of lockdown measures, we are slowly starting to get back to some sort of normality.  With less people travelling and airlines trying their hardest to get back up and running, the Coronavirus pandemic has crippled travel.  Here’s a few travel expectations in 2020 during the Coronavirus pandemic.  

 

Pre-trip preparation – Passenger Locator Forms

Pre-Coronavirus all we had to concern ourselves with when travelling was the usual: passports, travel insurance, currency, not going over suitcase weight limits and squeezing what 100ml miniatures we could into small clear plastic bags. 

The Coronavirus pandemic has now given us something else to make sure we do before we travel – fill in a Passenger Locater Forms (PLFs).  Since travel restrictions eased slightly, the most countries now require you to fill in a form at least 48 hours before travelling there and you’ll have to do the same again before you return home.  The form was created to help manage and trace cases of COVID-19.  

Each country will have their own format, but they’re all very similar – here’s one for Greece which is not too dissimilar to the UK one.  Forms can either be obtained from the chosen county’s government website, travel tourism page or via your chosen airline or travel agency.  Once you have it all filled in, you’ll receive a QR code on the day of your travel. 

Getting to the airport

You’ll have to wear a face mask to cover your mouth and nose on all trains and buses. You may also be required to wear a mask in taxis as well since masks have finally been made mandatory.

 

Airport by coach — what to expect on National Express

I booked a National Express coach to get me to the airport.  It’s my preferred and most cost-effective method of transport for airport trips as prices are great.  You can book direct on the National Express website or another way to obtain a cheap ticket is through the easyBus website or via Omio – another transportation platform. The cheapest ticket I’ve purchased for a National Express coach vis easyBus was £1.99 one way.  For more on getting to the airport and options generally, check out my post getting to and from the airport while at home or away.

Temperature checks

Before boarding a National Express coach, apart from showing your ticket you now have to have your temperature taken. Once you’re all clear you’ll be able to get on the bus. Things are a little different and you’ll notice some changes, especially if you’ve used the coach service before.

Seating arrangements

It’s all changed – there’s allocated seating on the coach. The left-hand side is for people travelling in pairs while the seats on the right-hand side are for those travelling alone. If you’re travelling solo, you have to sit in the window seat as the aisle ones are all covered with a sign…

Sanitisers and other measures

If you’re not already walking with some form of hand sanitiser or wipes, there are hand sanitiser points behind the driver as well as some in the toilets which are at the rear of the coach.  All passengers had to wear a mask – the driver too.  He also had a protective plastic screen around his driver compartment.

Coronavirus safety National Express - solo travel blog
National Express - Coronavirus safety onboard
Sanitisers and other measures

If you’re not already walking with some form of hand sanitiser or wipes, there are hand sanitiser points behind the driver as well as some in the toilets which are at the rear of the coach.  All passengers had to wear a mask – the driver too.  He also had a protective plastic screen around his driver compartment.

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National Express - Coronavirus precautions_
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At the airport – Stansted

Stansted was my departure point and it wasn’t that different in terms of flow of people. I tend to pick flights late in the evening or very early in the morning so it’s generally quieter anyway, but it was definitely noticeably quieter than usual.

Face masks

The main difference was that face masks were mandatory. Apart from a few children, everyone, including airport staff, were wearing some sort of facial covering for their nose and mouth.

 
Going through security and throughout the airport

There was a new setup at the security point — the part after you bag up your 100ml items.

The place where you stand to put your luggage and items onto the conveyor belt to go through the X-ray machine, now had plastic dividers separating you from the person next to you. It was almost like mini cubicles.

Around the airport and lounges there were signs on large boards and hand sanitiser points dotted around but apart from that it was pretty much business as usual.

Stansted - Ria Vistas solo travel blog
Stansted Covid signposts
At the boarding gate

You need to have your PLF to hand as you will be asked to show it at the same time you show your passport and boarding card. A bit of a juggle especially if you have your boarding pass and PLF printed out. 

You can also have your PLF and QR code (if you’ve received it by the time of your flight) available on your phone.

Note: There were no temperature checks taken at any point during security or at the boarding gate prior to getting on the plane.

Stansted airport - solo travel blog
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Stansted Coronavirus Safety
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Stansted security cubicles

During the flight – Ryanair

The flight was good.  Everyone stuck to the rules on mask wearing and Ryanair went through the usual flight procedures. In addition, they stated that they would require everyone to press the assistance button above their heads to check it was clear to get up.  

This was to help reduce the number of people moving up and down the aisle and to help stop queues at the toilets!  The seatbelt sign stayed on throughout the flight.

Onboard Ryanair - solo travel blog
Masks at the ready!

Out at the other end

Arriving at Thessaloniki Airport Makedonia, all the same measures were in place.  In the taxi, on my way to my accommodation, it was the same – masks on.  In fact, the taxi driver told me that they are very strict in Greece — if police notice that a passenger isn’t wearing a mask, they can pull the driver over and fine them. 

So, that’s a taster and a few things to expect from travel in 2020 during the Coronavirus pandemic.  

Will this be our new normal into 2021?  Watch this travel space!

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