Travelling anywhere in 2021 now requires a decent amount of planning and research. Pre-pandemic, this was more about reading up on your travel destination. But these days you can be expected to look up guidelines for not only your location of choice, but also the airport, the plane and what you need to do when you come back home again. Yes, there are many requirements now in place for air travel, but this post is more about etiquette and good manners when you’re planning your trip, at the airport and once you’re on the plane. For example, how can your behaviour make this potentially stressful experience a bit easier for your fellow passengers? And what extra measures can you take to mitigate any risks?
Planning Your Travel
This is the stage where, if you’re done all your prep, then you can considerably cut down on both your travel stress and therefore the stress of others travelling with you too. Firstly, it’s important to check all relevant travel guidelines, even before you go ahead and book your holiday. By this, we mean not just country or region-specific regulations, but also the requirements of the airport and airline you intend to travel with. In our post on post-covid travel guidance, we’ve got a comprehensive checklist on all the recommended planning you should do in this respect.
Is it Safe to Travel By Plane During the Covid-19 Pandemic?
Airlines have now put many procedures in place to make it as safe as possible, but no environment is guaranteed 100% safe in this respect. The best thing you can do to protect yourself is to follow the national, local and airline guidance.
It’s also important you consider how you intend to get to the airport. We’re assuming at the point of travel, you will have carried all all required testing and have your vaccine passport in place if necessary. So, you will want to reduce the risk of catching anything immediately before you get to the airport as much as possible. For this reason, we highly recommend taking your own vehicle to the terminal. This way, you avoid public transport just before you board. Airport parking doesn’t have to be an expensive option at all, with many great value parking options available, especially if you book in advance. Here you can find cheap discount airport parking at many different airports across the UK, with prices much lower than booking a taxi to the terminal. And another thing you can arrange beforehand is online check in. This means less contact with others when you get to the terminal, and less queuing in small spaces.
Are Face Coverings Required at the Airport?
So what can you do once you’re at the airport? Above we mentioned the importance of checking airport guidelines before you arrive. Even though government restrictions may not stipulate you have to wear a mask in public areas anymore, airports are free to set their own rules in this respect. Not adhering to these rules may not only cause stress for other travellers but also staff at the airport as well. It’s also worth bearing in mind that the jobs of airport staff have been put under much more stress since the covid outbreak and that being courteous and polite to them won’t cost you anything, but could improve their day considerably!
Good Airport Etiquette
Before the pandemic, wandering around the departure lounge and browsing the duty free stores was a nice airport treat before boarding, but right now, you might be a bit more limited in what you can do at the terminal. Many shops will still be open, but it’s perhaps best to know what you might want beforehand so you don’t spend too long in them. And as with your normal shopping, if you can pay with contactless instead of cash, then this is always helpful in the current environment.
Airport terminals come with queues – there’s no getting away from the fact. And even if you do check in online in advance, you may still find yourself waiting to drop off your baggage, to use the toilet, or to board the plane. Even though it might not always be possible, please do try and give people enough personal space and socially distance. This can help contribute to a less stressful experience for all, including airport staff.
On the Plane
And now you’re safely on board the plane! A lot of the hard work is done, but everyone will probably want to get through the trip without too many additional stresses and hassles. Of course, good pandemic plane etiquette means keeping your mask in place, but also please try and remain in your seat as much as possible and only move around the plane when you have to. The personal space suggestion applies here too. It’s pretty much impossible to socially distance in economy class, but perhaps think twice before leaning over a stranger’s seat, or getting up close and personal whilst telling them your life story. In fact, this wasn’t very good etiquette, pre-pandemic either!
Where is the Safest Place to Sit on a Plane?
One of the first measures airlines took at the start of the pandemic was to block out the middle aisle, but they have now started to phase out this practice. Although no particular seat is deemed ‘safer’, in general, booking a window seat means fewer people are walking past you, so this would make it easier for you to keep your distance from others.
Even though you can assume everyone on your flight should be safe to travel and covid-free, there are always going to be people carrying more innocent colds and coughs around. This will understandably make some passengers nervous in this environment. But please try not to glare and make people uncomfortable, as this will probably only add to the stressful atmosphere. And going back to the above point about being courteous to airport staff – the same applies to cabin crew too. Many of their tasks are now going to take longer and they’re probably having to deal with more than their fair share of irate passengers at the moment. They are here to help you if you need it and are feeling overwhelmed by the experience, but please also remember to be kind and patient towards them too.
If you’ve always found flying a stressful experience, then you might be even more apprehensive than usual. To help, plan your hand luggage kit in advance and pack things that you think may help – comforting items like a favourite book or a hydrating face mask, for example. And if you are travelling with children, try and prepare them for the flight as best you can by talking about what they can expect at the airport and when they board. There are always going to be some passengers who get annoyed by kids on flights, whatever the circumstances, and there’s not much parents can do about that. But just make sure you pack what you can to keep them entertained and amused whilst on board.
When getting off the flight, this will also now take much longer. As tempting as it is to try and jump out of your seat to be the first to exit, again, please be patient. Avoid squeezing in against fellow passengers if you can, and you’ll be sunning yourself on the beach in no time. All good things come to those who wait!
The ‘new normal’ that comes with taking a flight might be here a while longer, but as you can see, there are things you can do to try and make it slightly easier for yourself and fellow passengers. And don’t forget, you’re on holiday – once you get there, it’s your chance to relax and enjoy yourself, so it will all be worth it.