After being grounded for several months, airlines recently started to resume flights for non-essential travel.
Unfortunately, this does not mean that the entire travel industry will soon be back to normal, just that there are clear signs of improvement on the current situation. One of the key takeaways of 2020 is that safe travelling is more important than ever in everyone’s minds now.
In normal times, TCBC’s staff travel frequently and it has been unusual for us all to be at home, not flying anywhere. However, Kristina Sinitsona, our Operations Manager based in Estonia, has just returned from her annual leave - a trip to Italy. We were especially curious to find out how different her trip was from regular travelling before the pandemic. As she was the first of us to travel abroad in these uncertain times, we decided to share her experience with you.
- You flew from Tallinn to Rome via Frankfurt. How were those two flights and did you experience any new regulations?
Kristina: The most obvious and important rule that I had to comply with throughout my trip was to wear a mask when and if required. The regulations concerning wearing a mask differ from country to country but inside the plane itself, the rules are the same - each passenger must wear a safety mask for the duration of the flight.
For the time being, airlines are not allowed to serve food, but we were offered a bottle of water. Most airlines have also cancelled priority boarding and in our case, our boarding in Tallinn and Frankfurt and on our return journey took place in groups (assigned depending on your seat).
- When you arrived in Italy, were airport procedures any different from Tallinn or Frankfurt airports?
Kristina: All terminals were closed except for terminal 3, which was used for both departures and arrivals. To avoid crowds, only passengers with tickets could enter the airport building. All tickets were being checked at the entrance manually by airport officials. Additionally, you were not allowed to leave the airport building once you have passed through the ticket control at the main entrance.
Another significant change that I experienced in Italy on my return flight concerned hand luggage. No passengers leaving Italy were allowed to take hand luggage on board the plane if the size of the luggage exceeded the space under the seat in front of you. Such bags could be checked in free of charge and were placed in the airplane’s hold. In this way airlines could reduce time boarding and disembarking the aircraft.
- What about museums in Italy? How do they comply with the social distancing regulations?
Kristina: Most museums sell tickets online in advance for a limited number of people. Also, like in all other places in Italy, wearing a mask is a strict requirement.
- Which other regulations preventing the spread of coronavirus currently apply?
Kristina: During my stay in Germany wearing masks was obligatory while shopping and using public transport. Even though other public places in Germany did not have this official requirement, you could still be asked to put on a mask there as well. The common rule was also to keep a distance of at least 1.5 metres from other people.
In Italy it was compulsory to wear a mask in all public places (including restaurants). Wearing gloves at supermarkets was also a recommendation, but not a must. The required distance between people was at least 1 metre.
Kristina did not stay at a hotel during her trip to Italy, but in order to provide you with a more complete picture of what travel is like at the moment, we contacted one of our main accommodation suppliers in Rome, the Generator hostel who were happy to share the measures that they currently have in place.
Generator: "To comply with the overall Italian requirements, we have a special protocol in place. At the arrival all our guests need to sign an informative consent where they agree to respect our restrictions in regard to coronavirus situation. Tissues and hand sanitisers are placed in all common areas and corridors, social distance measure is required in the whole property.
Check-in with ID registration can be done online for all groups prior to their arrival, in order to reduce contacts. Our guests’ temperature is being checked at the entrance, in case of fever (37.5), the person is not allowed to enter the property. Buffet breakfast is not applicable at the moment, but packed options are still available for our guests.
Disposable masks are mandatory in the closed spaces, such as reception, common areas and any other space inside the property.
Once assigned a person to a room, they can’t change it, in order to track all the movements and in case of emergency to know who was staying in one room or another.
Restrooms are available only inside rooms, the common ones are closed.
These measures will remain in place until further updates from the government.”
Even though travelling today has its complications, and each trip should be thought through carefully, it is important to say that countries are doing their utmost to prevent the spread of the virus. Similar to the Generator in Italy, our suppliers from all over the world are offering options for safer and more sustainable travel.
As always, we recommend you follow the official travel advice when considering your next trip, and we certainly hope that the travel industry will come through this stronger than ever.
Title image credit @www.staygenerator.com