As quoted, “Operations of domestic scheduled commercial airlines shall cease with effective from the midnight of 11:59 PM on 24th March 2020” by the Directorate General of Civil Aviation sent to airlines said. CoronaVirus or the Covid19 had created enough panic and the government decided for a complete lockdown in the country, on March 24 2020.
While I wondered staring at Prime Minister Modi, was it real? Were we really being part of history which was to be written in the coming days. How would we function? No Offices, No schools, No Transportation, Only essentials- Social distancing was the new way to Save Life
The pandemic was REAL and the first thought that knocked every human living away from their loved ones was, when and how will we see them again? As, the lockdown moved from phase 1-2-3, many choose to walk several miles, to take permissions and drive for emergency situations or even perform virtual weddings. While those who could wait, decided to sit back patiently for the Aviation to resume services. So, they could fly back home.
On May 25th, exactly two months later, amidst a lot of chaos and confusion, I took the early morning flight from Pune to Delhi. Since, i decided to fly, i had attended a hundred calls with a hundred instructions on safety measures i must follow. There was no way, i would take a chance with anyone’s life due to my stupidity. So i was over prepared and which seemed to fit the current situation perfectly.
ONE DAY BEFORE THE FLIGHT
1) Equip Yourself
Face mask, Gloves, Sanitiser in a Spray bottle, Head cover( cap or scarf), Face shield for the extra cautious ones. Keep an extra of all the above, just in case you mess up.
One suitcase of 20kilos and one handbag of upto 7kilos is what is permitted and you must abide by it strictly. No strollers or duffel bags allowed as cabin baggage, as the overhead bins in the plane are not to be used. Only a size that can fit under the seat is permitted.
3) Check In
Web check-in is compulsory. Also, generate a baggage tag for your luggage while doing the web check in. Fold it as per the instructions and staple the tag. All you then need to do is, place it on the belt while checking in. The point is to avoid maximum human or object contact and save time.
4) Food and beverages
Carry your own bottle of water or a little snack in your handbag till you reach the security point where you have to discard all liquids. A few food counters are operational, also Relay stores but avoid till you can or only purchase sealed items. Consume them after sanitising the outside packaging properly.
Arrange the cab transfers in advance. Keep backup ready incase your driver is stuck due to police scrutiny or E-pass issues. Sanitise the Car handle, inside and outside before sitting. A spray bottle of sanitiser seems to be the best option.
6) Mobile Phones
In todays time, the most important gadget is the mobile phone but sadly it carries the maximum number of bacteria/virus at all times. So to minimise the use of mobile phones, plug in your handsfree/ earphones before you enter the airport. The next level win of Candy Crush can wait a few hours, till you exit the airport safely.
Remember-Do not touch your face, just in case you might have made a mistake and carried the virus along. As you are in total war with the virus.
ON THE DAY OF THE FLIGHT
After all that planning, the journey shouldn’t be difficult for you. But just in case, you have made a mistake, the staff is happy to help at all times. Be responsible for yourself and others around you. Remember you are going back to your loved ones and their safety can not be risked due to your carelessness.
Reach the airport at least two hours before the flight. The queues are moving five times slower than they did in the past normal times.
2) Airport entrance
Pune airport is stringently following the safety guidelines- Temperature screening, Baggage sanitisation, Contactless Boarding Pass and Identity check. The total time you spend at the gate could vary between 15minutes to 45minutes depending on the queue.
3) Check in Counter
By now we hope you have followed all baggage instructions to slide through the process smoothly. Else, you spend another 5-10minutes debating on rules.
4) Security Check
The procedure is more or less same, except the camera scans your boarding pass instead of the security personnel taking a look at it. Try and avoid the trays as there were no visuals of sanitisation happening there.
5) Boarding Gate
Sanitise the arm rest of the chair you sit on while waiting to board. In case you reach just in time and don’t get the time to sit, it works the best in covid situation, but hey don’t be too late or you miss the flight.
Boarding usually starts from back(31 to 21) and then moves to the front, so choose your seat cautiously while booking. Indigo staff checks your temperature and hands over the protective kit consisting of face shield, face mask and sanitiser strips, you can continue wearing your own. Keep your printed boarding pass handy for the final run. Bottled water is available for you to pick up right before entering the plane.
6) In flight
No Food is served. All staff on board are wearing PPE slip-ons, gloves, face mask and face shield. Don’t stroll in the flight, sit tight and avoid lavatories if possible.
7) De Boarding
Passengers are asked to leave row wise and it is a pleasure to see passengers cooperating with the flight crew. The race to exit first no longer exists.
8) Baggage Belt
This seemed like the usual drill, little quicker. The luggage dint seem like it was sanitised before being put on the conveyor belt which was little discouraging.
9) Finally, The Exit
Delhi Airport- No temperature check, No sanitisation. Fortunately or Unfortunately, you just walk out smooth.
Bangalore Airport- Passengers being asked to quarantine in hotels or government quarantine centres.
Please remember everyone at the airport is there to make things easy and peaceful. Cooperate with everyone as it is for your safety and the safety of others.
Written By- Ritika W Mehra( @nedodhour)
Travel Experience- Ms Aanchal Sood