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As mentioned in my previous piece about the airport experience at London Heathrow, boarding was somewhat chaotic due to a failed PA system and a bit of a free for all. The jet bridge had social distance markers which most attempted to abide by.
Onboard I was in 12C, an aisle seat on an exit row. There was still plenty of overhead space when I boarded, but as time went on the overheads filled and those sat next to me had nowhere to store their luggage at first. Crew and passengers were all in masks. Eventually boarding was complete 10 mins after our scheduled push back time and five minutes later we were on the move. We ended up arriving a few minutes behind schedule. One upside of a quieter flight schedule is being able to make up time on the ground when delayed rather than just making it up in the air.
The crew were pleasant and worked hard during the totally full flight. Upon boarding, we were given a ‘PPE pack’ that contained a small sachet of hand sanitiser and a disinfectant wipe. My wipe had dried out completely, but fortunately I had bought my own wipes which I used to wipe down my seat and my own sanitiser. I suggest you do the same. BA are meant to be doing a more thorough clean in-between flights but the two large hairs hanging from the tray table lock on my seat said otherwise. I’m glad I had my own wipes to give everything a better clean.
I found it odd that it wasn’t till maybe 10 minutes after take off that the passengers were reminded that they were to wear their masks at all times. I would have thought that it be one of the first things mentioned. Luckily it seemed that most people knew this already and I was very impressed with the mask compliance on board.
The new style service meant that food and drink was unable to be purchased. Instead we were all given clear plastic bags with a bottle of water, pack of biscuits and crisps. Be aware, some bags have chocolate biscuits, some have fruity… so chocolate fans, you might want to ask for a particular bar. Whilst it was lovely to be given something for free by BA in economy for a change, there is one issue. The bags are quickly handed out to everyone all at once, meaning that the majority of people remove their masks to eat and drink at the same time. A slightly more staggered service would help avoid this (time permitting) and help the mask wearing do its job.
The flight was uneventful but it initially felt so weird to be flying again – something so normal began by feeling a little alien. I was excited to watch a take off roll, but by the end of the flight it felt more like business as usual. People were asked to try and avoid standing up and moving around the cabin and they pretty much did. The in-seat power came on around an hour into the flight and the wifi worked.
On arrival, everyone was asked to remain seated for the new de-planing procedure. Rows were called in blocks of five to depart, when each row had gone the next one did. The normal chaos of landing and deplaning was totally avoided and I found this system to be excellent. Everyone followed the rules and the regimented order meant for a stress free experience getting off the plane.
Zurich airport was pretty quiet and whilst mask wearing isn’t compulsory I opted to keep mine on. After a five minute walk to passport control, I found the e-gates and desks open and free from lines. I enjoyed using the EU Nationals line (this small pleasure will be gone in Jan so I better make the most of it) and found myself at the luggage belt a few minutes before bags arrived. Priority baggage didn’t work – my two cases were among the last off before I jumped on the train into Zurich.
Whilst flying in these times is initially as strange as the times we find ourselves in, it quickly becomes normal.
I had no issues wearing my mask for the whole flight, and despite it being a full flight, the mask compliance of my fellow passengers helped set me at ease. The biggest concerns and stress came from the experience at Heathrow where there is a lot they can do to manage the customer experience better and help make people feel safer.
What has your recent experience of flying been like?