Covid has caused problems for many when it comes to travelling abroad. Flights have been cancelled causing inconvenience. People have been forced to quarantine either at home or in designated hotels resulting in much expense to the traveller. However, what was the experience of the average person travelling abroad? The media will always cover the more dramatic situations however this is not always reflective of the average experience. In this article, Travel Radar interviewed a couple who went on three holidays abroad from September to December last year. They travelled to 2 European destinations; Ireland, and Spain, as well as one further afield, Sri Lanka.
We first discussed their feelings before travelling. They remarked that they were a bit apprehensive as they had not travelled abroad since the pandemic started. However, they were also hopeful of a safe and trouble-free journey although they expected that there would be some difficulty. At the time of travel, they needed to have e negative Covid PCR test 48 hours before travel, which if positive would have prevented them from travelling. The only exception to this was when visiting Ireland. In addition, they would have had to self-isolate for 10 days at home. Thankfully the couple tested negative and did not have to cancel their trips or at the very least delay their travel.
There were also more forms to be filled out before travel. In addition to taking evidence to show that their PCR tests were negative, they also had to fill out a passenger locator form and take vaccination certificates with them to show that they had received their Covid vaccines. So, therefore, as one can see there was more documentation needed and time needed to be spent before to ensure that this was already before travel.
At the airport on departing to their holiday destinations, they were asked for all the documentation mentioned previously. In addition, it was expected that masks should be worn at all times in the airport. When travelling to Sri Lanka, they travelled business class. However, the service at the business class lounge was not as good as it was usually. This was the only negative point that the couple mentioned to me about their experience at the airport on the way to their holiday destinations.
Onboard the flights, everyone wore masks including all staff. However, the couple noted that the standard was lower when compared to before. When travelling to Sri Lanka in business class, the food served was more limited and the choices were less. When travelling to Ireland and Spain, which they did in economy class, there was no space provided between passengers even though we now have Covid to deal with. In addition, many people removed their masks and were talking very loudly to each other holding a drink in their hand so that the air hostesses and stewards would not ask them to put their masks back on. This happened on all flights and air hostesses and stewards appeared not to notice this type of behaviour.
When arriving at their destination, there was less congestion. They asked for the same documents as were asked when departing at the British airports. During their stay, when in Spain and Ireland they were only asked to wear masks inside the hotel and other internal venues such as shops. In Sri Lanka however, masks were worn even when people were walking outside. In this way, the Sri Lankan authorities had a more strict approach when dealing with Covid.
The Journey Back
On their return journey, the couple did not have any return requirements from Ireland. From Spain, they had to do a PCR test 48 hours after arriving back in the UK and self-isolate if positive. From Sri Lanka, they had to do A PCR test 48 hours before departure. This was a requirement of Sri Lankan Airlines but not the British government. Their PCR tests were all thankfully negative. There was an anxious wait in Sri Lanka as if the test had been positive, they would have found it difficult to get back home.
All in all, therefore a number of tests needed to be passed before being eligible to fly off on holiday and sometimes tests needed to take before coming back (from Sri Lanka namely). Overall the couple did not encounter obstacles to travel. There was however reduced service and questions over how staff dealt with people trying to avoid keeping their masks on. The opinion of the couple was “People should expect some issues while travel abroad but compared to the benefits of holiday these are not serious. Further relaxation of rules may help but airlines should follow suit.