The 5 main differences of flying in a pandemic!

Updated: Apr 11

Oh it’s absolutely wonderful to be back ☺️ I’ve missed you all so much 😊

I hope this #blog post finds you all safe and well.

As promised I’ve oodles of really helpful information to share with you over the coming weeks and months, along with some super new recommendations 🤩


I thought the most important thing to do firstly though is to talk you through the 5 main differences of flying in a pandemic!

Thankfully, the planets aligned for us back in August 😆 when my friend and I were able to jet off to our beloved islands of #Malta and #Gozo.

I can’t tell you how #blessed we felt 😊

I have to say though, finalising our trip was quite traumatic 😲

First and foremost on the list is, if you can #travel this year,

1. Prepare for the unexpected!

Our flights changed twice, including a change in departure airport within a week of travel 😱




This meant we also had to alter our accommodation plans twice too.

On top of that, just as we had finalised our flights, the #UK popped Malta onto the essential travel only list, meaning we also had to self #isolate for 14 days on our return 😱





As we booked dynamically, (flights and accommodation separately) even though the Foreign Office advice changed, our flights still remained live.


Heartbreakingly others who had booked as a package holiday were less fortunate, 😥 with tour operators cancelling their bookings as soon as the announcement was made.

My #advice to you would be, if you have the capability to self isolate for the 14 days on your return, then do it.


Why you may ask? Well simply put, we felt safer in Malta than we did back here in the UK.

I will cover this in greater detail over the coming weeks, but If you do have any burning questions before then, please don’t hesitate to drop me a line at tracy@mimosamermaid.com or please feel free to use my chat facility.

Contrary to popular belief, you can affordably obtain travel #insurance to cover you for travelling against Government advice as well as offering COVID medical cover too.

Again I will cover this in greater detail soon.

We are very much in uncharted waters so to speak, and at the moment booking is a #gamble, it’s kind of like rolling a dice. But if you can factor in some level of #flexibility then like us, you should be able to still take your #holiday.

The main cause for concern is that the airlines flying into Malta have heavily reduced their schedules and we’ve even sadly seen airlines pulling out of a number of regional airports completely 😔

We were #lucky as we were flying with #EasyJet and they have a flexible approach to changes.




You can switch to another departure airport and move dates at no additional cost to yourself once they have advised of a flight cancellation.

Their regular notification policy is to advise travellers 14 - 21 days ahead of travel, of any changes or cancellations.

Once you have received your notification clicking through to "manage your booking" will present you with a number of options,

  • Change

  • Refund

  • Accept a voucher to the value of the flights paid.

If you transfer your flight and need to make part of your rebooked journey via train, bus or hire car, EasyJet will also reimburse these costs.

This policy is of course subject to change.

Tip!


If this unfortunately happens to you too, and if you can’t travel, I would definitely recommend that you take the option of a refund.

Currently flight prices for 2021 are extremely high so you will be locked into flying with the same carrier plus having to top up the difference if you accept a voucher.

Second difference, you must

2. Prepare to be hands on at the airport and at check-in

Our flight from #Manchester was super early, at 0555 🥱

Only people who are flying are allowed into the Terminal buildings, so sadly there can no longer be any lingering goodbyes.


There’s currently no overnight access allowed at Manchester Airport either, so we were advised to turn up just in time for check-in.

A huge shout out to my friends husband Jason whose #kindness meant our trip could happen! He drove us to Manchester overnight and picked us back up again on our return. Thank you, thank you, thank you 💯 🙏

#Masks 😷 must be worn at all times in the airport (unless seated in a dining outlet)





The check-in queue was long, and winding, and we had to wait in that queue for an hour before we started to see any movement. That was a little #stressful as the snaking line meant you couldn't always maintain a 2 metre distance.

We then discovered that the airline was actually using a self check-in system, rather than traditional desk check-in and this was the queue for all destinations.

Once we reached the front of the line we had to weigh and tag our own bags and then take them across to the belt for loading.

Julie and I are both very well seasoned travellers but we still had to double check that what we were doing was correct, as there was no way we wanted to arrive into Malta minus our bags 💼😆

Once we had dropped our bags we could then proceed through to Security.

Here, again please be prepared to pick up your own tray(s) and load up your bags, whilst unpacking the relevant electronic and liquid items too.


The wearing of masks 😷 is still a whole new world for us isn’t it, does anyone else struggle to hear 👂 wearing one? 😆🤣


We were all asked to step into the body scanner too.


It’s probably not needed right now, but Manchester Airport does also offer pre-bookable timed security slots too. This would be a great option for families with small children, or anyone less mobile travelling in busier times.

Once airside you can,


3. Expect to find a modified and limited airside and Duty Free shopping 🛍 experience

I love a long linger in Duty Free 😆 I always have an idea of a scent I’d like to spritz and buy along with a Chanel lip-gloss 💄 😜


Sadly my lovelies, those days are gone right now, as testers no longer exist 😔

I was really sad to see the empty cosmetic and beauty shelves,





but invigorated to see that alcohol was still in ample supply meaning we could stock up on a couple of bottles of #Champagne 🥂 🍾 to get us started, as


every bubble tells a story” 😉

There were a limited number of outlets open offering food and drink, and a small number of stores open. Julie and I decided we really needed a glass of fizz 🥂😆 the new norm in navigating an airport had just ever so slightly frayed our nerves 😆 😉

Well it was 5pm somewhere in the world, we just switched out the PM for AM 😆




We headed to the gate as soon as it was called, and it was #reassuring to see that boarding had already commenced, so as to avoid any crowding at the gate and to ensure adherence to social distance guidelines. 🙌

It was absolutely pouring down with rain as we ran to and up the aircraft steps, and we were slightly soggy as we took our seats.





We had done our #homework 📚 and therefore it wasn’t a surprise to,

4. Receive a limited onboard experience

The first thing that hit us was just how quiet the flight was.




In fact it was so quiet we had a row each to ourselves so we managed to put our feet up and get a little rest. 😆





Tip!


Pack household antibacterial wipes, and once in your seat, before you do anything else, cleanse your surrounding area, and touch points.

This all adds to a #relaxed inflight experience and also gives you an element of control of your surroundings.

Masks must remain in place at all times unless you are eating or drinking.




Tip!


My one huge tip for air travel in the new norm is, please make sure you wear a comfortable face mask. Give it a little road test first. I would personally recommend a cotton mask with a filter pocket which takes a replaceable PM2.5 filter. The filter takes your two layer mask up to a 7 layer.


As the flight is only 3.5 hours in length, one filter will suffice. (It’s recommended for air travel that you change your filter every 4 hours)

I didn’t struggle at all flying in a mask, in fact I felt really comfortable.


Tip!


Another tip, pack some plastic straws, that way you don’t need to remove your mask just to take a drink, although you are allowed to as previously mentioned.

The inflight #magazines have been removed, but you can view the reduced inflight offering inside of the EasyJet app.




There’s no longer a trolley service, the crew will take your individual order and then serve this to you at your seat once ready.

Toilet 🚾 visits were pretty stress free as our flight was so quiet, no more than two people were allowed to queue for the loo at any one time.

Some things thankfully remain comfortingly the same, your #pilot and first officer announcements,




I love listening to the Captain elaborate on the route we are taking, and the #windowviews are still as #spectacular!


We had a #stunning #view of Mt Etna and the Sicilian coastline,





and there's no better fuzzy feeling than that first glimpse of the Maltese Islands either is there 🥰




Last is probably the most important change,

5. There are now additional entry and exit requirements for Malta.




It’s your responsibility to ensure you’ve completed the correct forms prior to travel. Failure to do so could result in being refused travel or denied entry to your destination.

Malta now requests the completion of a Public Health Declaration Form and a Passenger Locator Form. Both of these need to be printed and completed in readiness for your arrival into Malta.

Prior to presenting yourself at immigration, Public Health officials will take these from you.

Tip!


Do complete these in advance of your arrival rather than waiting to complete at Immigration as this will greatly slow your entry down. There is a lot of information that needs to be added to each form!

We didn’t encounter any spot #COVID test checks upon arrival, but be aware as this is a possibility.


Everyone who enters passes through a body temperature screening area and if your recorded temperature exceeds 37.2 degrees then you can expect to be interviewed and receive further testing by Public Health Malta prior to being granted admission.


Please note.

Once you have exited the airport, should you wish to re-enter for whatever reason (we had a query with our hire car) you will need to have your temperature retaken with the use of a forehead scan.


For your return journey, you will need to complete the UK Public Health Passenger Locator Form.

This one is slightly different as it needs to be completed online, and within 48 hours of travel. If after completion any of your details change, you must complete a new form.

Please do allow yourself at least 20 minutes to complete this form per person. It’s also quite tricky to do on a phone, so if you have a tablet or iPad I’d definitely advise you to use that instead. Also best not to do it after a few glasses of fizz 🤪🥂🥂


Once completed you will receive an #email confirmation and you need to retain a copy of the QR code on your phone to show to immigration upon arrival in the UK (if they ask to see it.)

This new technical part of your trip can be a little #tricky and #daunting so planning ahead and #preparation is most definitely the key.


Whilst there is a lot more protocol to follow now when flying to Malta, it’s sooooooo absolutely worth it.

The islands are quieter meaning there's an added ease visiting tourist spots and attractions. There’s also some super bargains to be had in the stores, we shopped up a storm 😆 🛍

Our trip was #amazing and so much #fun, and we really can’t wait to return 😊

The islands are still as dazzlingly #beautiful as ever, the people as welcoming and friendly as ever, and the weather? Absolutely #heavenly 😎

I do hope that this travel blog will help you to to prepare for your trip and aid towards a stress free journey through your departure and arrival airports. 😊

In my next blog I will be sharing some invaluable car hire tips for the Wacky Races, ahem, I mean driving on the islands 😉




Until then my lovelies, take care and stay safe


Tracy

😘