What's flying like today? (Experiences/news)

Louis

Private citizen
Messages
14,703
So I am now safely in Italy :cheer: :cheer2: and thought I'd share my experience flying (from London).

Check-in has been divided by destination country, given different requirements (temperature checks, forms, Italy not allowing hand luggage, etc) even within EU/Schengen countries. There is a priority line, but it seemed to be the slowest because it’s mixed and the agents have to manage multiple requirements. “Stand here while we get someone to come take your temperature” (10 minutes later...). Then someone else had to find the self-declaration form for Italy, which looked like it was made on a mimeograph machine and ran half off the page. The non-priority line was probably faster.

Security was largely the same except shoes had to come off (not the usual practice in the UK).

Lounges are all closed. All of the restaurants in the terminal were closed except one Pret. I stopped counting the line at 70 people. Despite restaurants being closed, luxury shopping is open - Prada, Rolex, etc. I was about to offer to buy a Rolex if I could get a coffee with it, but fortunately there was a WH Smith with canned cold coffee.

Social distancing signs are everywhere.... except at the gates. So after all that social distancing, you all crowd together at the gate. There’s not even an attempt - no seats blocked off, etc.

The plane boards from the rear in increments of five rows. You hand in your self declaration form as you board (presumably the agents then give it to the government?). No one checked it beyond a cursory glance. Business boards last. Use of overhead bins is not allowed on flights to or from Italy. (I’m not sure of the reasoning - germs? Or discouraging people from gathering in the aisles?) I’m told that airlines must check a bag that would have qualified as a cabin bag for free. Banning use of overhead bins was apparently a compromise that allowed airlines to sell middle seats (some of which were occupied on this flight).

As you board, everyone gets hand sanitizer, a wipe, and a sealable bag for trash.

With reduced in-flight service, BA seems to be setting the maximum number of rows as “business” - 10 rows on this plane. The meal came in a little box - the amount of plastic is sinful. There is a snack and water provided in economy - nothing for sale, and nothing in the seatbacks except for the safety information.

Upon landing in Italy, disembarkation was done by row in groups of four. Passport control was normal, with e-gates in operation. EU/EEA citizens enter with no questions or additional documentation*. I did hear non-EU citizens, e.g., man using an American passport, being questioned about place of residence. The immigration officer accepted this man’s word that he lived in London and did not require proof.

Baggage claim took 45 minutes due to virtually everyone having a checked bag.

And it goes without saying, but masks are required from the time you enter your departing airport to the time you leave your arrival airport, except when eating / drinking. Your mask gets lowered during check-in and boarding for ID checks (with attendants behind plexiglass).

*Not encouraging this, but it is a loophole for (dual) EU citizens living abroad. At least in Italy, there’s really no check at the point of entry to Schengen where you are coming from or where you ordinarily reside.....
 

MsZem

Well-Known Member
Messages
13,446
Thanks for sharing. Given Israel's current state I don't expect to be allowed anywhere anytime soon, and frankly I'd rather not get on a plane full of Israelis at this time. But I still hope that things will improve to the point where I can at least fly to Europe later this year (I do have dual citizenship).
 

allezfred

#EpidemiologistsNotEconomists
Staff member
Messages
56,434
Thanks for sharing. Doesn’t sound like I will be travelling for a while unfortunately.
 

Jenya

Southern Hemisphere
Messages
5,386
I had to fly Serbia - Albania - Serbia two weeks ago which was actually much easier than expected. Serbian borders are completely open and the Belgrade airport was totally normal (cafes and shops open, you're supposed to wear masks but not really enforced as with most things). Plane was entirely full, no space left for social distancing, and I had to fill out a very brief health questionnaire to enter Albania (just name, contact details, where I was coming from). I had to walk through some sort of disinfecting shower (?!) to enter the airport in Tirana but otherwise no temperature check, no asking where I'd been, etc.

Coming back to Serbia was completely normal as well -- full plane, absolutely no health questionnaire, no temperature checks, nothing. I was pretty surprised in both countries that there weren't more procedures in place (well, less so in Serbia, the government here pretended that everything was absolutely fine since there was an election June 22nd :rolleyes:)

Now I'm trying to get to Greece to work from there for the summer as a US citizen with Serbian residency and it's impossible to get a clear answer from anyone about if Serbian residency allows you into the EU or not or if you have to be a citizen.
 

PrincessLeppard

Holding Alex Johnson's Pineapple
Messages
27,030
My sister flew Hartford - DC last week for work and her plane was totally full, and she was skeptical that it had been disinfected since boarding started about two minutes after the last passenger deplaned...

So far everything is good, though, so fingers crossed.
 

Louis

Private citizen
Messages
14,703
Now I'm trying to get to Greece to work from there for the summer as a US citizen with Serbian residency and it's impossible to get a clear answer from anyone about if Serbian residency allows you into the EU or not or if you have to be a citizen.
You have probably seen these, but:
This specifies residents, not citizens.

Says Greece is open to Serbian citizens

Says Greece is open to Serbian "permanent" residents

Official tourism site says: "passengers with a long term visa in a European country or a Schengen country" (not sure of the definition of "European," though - EU? Or actually European? The "or a Schengen" makes me think EU)

All in all, I think your odds are pretty good, but I do see a slight ambiguity. Can you call the Greek Embassy in either Serbia or your last US state of residency?
 

Jenya

Southern Hemisphere
Messages
5,386
Thanks @Louis — some places say residents, some places say citizens, the Greek Embassy here won’t say one way or another yet, and according to the US Embassy Athens website the Greeks haven’t decided yet what constitutes proof of residency 🙄😂 I’ve been stuck here for four months, I guess another few days to try to figure this out isn’t the worst thing ever.
 

Flamingo

New Member
Messages
5
I flew Delta in the US and had the row to myself. Each passenger was given a small, clear plastic bag containing a snack and bottle of water. There were people in both airports without masks on. At security I had to take my mask off so the agent could see I hadn't hidden anything inside of it.
 

SandraMGfan

Well-Known Member
Messages
293
Thought I’d share a quick recap of my journey from London, UK to my home region of Limousin, France yesterday. Overall (and due to very low expectations), I was well impressed by people's behaviour!

Had planned on WFH home from my sis house and some time off a couple of weeks ago when France was still reciprocating the quarantine rule, so booked a cheap flight with horrendous Ryanair (they are the only airline flying to Limoges), which meant flying with them and going through London usually overcrowded low-cost airport, Stansted…

I chose to cab to the airport to avoid a bus-tube-train commute ahead of my flight - cab driver was compliant and wearing a mask and gloves.

Upon arriving at Stansted, there was no temperature checks to enter the airport, and Ryanair had made the self-baggage drop compulsory (you weigh, label and drop your luggage on the belt on your own) - this ‘service’ existed before, but it was compulsory this time for everyone. At 11AM, the line was fairly short (less than 20 people) and very quick - with people more or less distancing i.e. 1m rather than 2, but everyone was wearing masks. One hostess would check your boarding pass and passport, but you had show both to her as she was not allowed to touch anything.

3/4 of the security lines were opened resulting in little wait and very short lines. Most shops were closed with the exception of the ones selling food and duty-free. The boarding time screens were a sad sight for travel-lovers like me, with an average of 4-5 flights taking off per hour. In terms of passengers, people were distancing and keeping their masks on. Notable exception: most parents had removed masks… probably thinking that if there children did not have to wear one, they didn’t have to either??

The line to board the plane was nicely distanced too and due to the quiet day, and unlike any other Ryanair boarding, we were able to get on the plane through a 45min window. The aircraft seems cleaner than usual but i opted to wipe seat, tablet, armrests and window area with disinfecting wipe!

This was the emptiest I had ever seen Stansted in 15 years - even when taking the first 6 AM flight!

The plane was 3/4 full (which was a surprise to me) and since Ryanair operate a pay -for-any-seat or random allocation system, there were rows that were full and not from the same household (for the first time I opted to pay for a seat and chose a close to exit window one in order to max my chances of no middle buddy and exit the plane quickly - success on both!).

Mask compliance through the fight was high, and I felt that people were not moving as much through the journey (1h30min) as usual.
My biggest surprise came from the fact that the hostesses/stewards came, as usual, to sell food, drinks and scratch cards!

Landing and disembarking was distancing free unfortunately and the biggest no-no if this whole was to see the Limoges people boarding within 5min of the last passenger leaving the aircraft - clearly no cleaning had taken place!!

Everyone waiting for passengers in the airport was wearing a mask (compulsory in all enclosed spaces in France from 20.07)

This has turn into a novel, but hopefully might be helpful to some travelling from/to the UK!

For me, and after isolating in my London flat with no balcony since March 12, this was a low and worth taking risk for my mental health - I am now in the middle of the countryside, with a garden, no one around and a driver! :)
 

genevieve

drinky typo pbp, closet hugger (she/her)
Staff member
Messages
36,846
A coworker flew within the US 2 weeks ago (family need) and reported that the plane was completely full, including middle seats, after the airline consolidated several cancelled flights. They are flying back today and I'll see how this one goes.

Different coworker flew this past weekend (moving to Seattle), and was completely freaked out by how lax everything was an the complete lack of social distancing in the airports. They are completely self-quarantining for 2 weeks.

If I had to fly, I would just assume worst case scenario in terms of potential BB.
 

genevieve

drinky typo pbp, closet hugger (she/her)
Staff member
Messages
36,846
Update: coworker's flights yesterday were much better - no middle seats had passengers, everyone in the whole airport was masked. They felt social distancing was being maintained as much as possible. I think it really is a crapshoot - this could be a function of flying on a Tuesday vs a weekend, or destination/departure points, or just randomness. I'd still assume any flight will be more crowded than it should be.
 

concorde

Well-Known Member
Messages
516
Took the Amtrak Autotrain in late May. There were ~20 cabins in my sleeper car and only 3 were occupied. All meals were brought to us.

Two weeks later, flew from Orlando, FL to Philadelphia, PA on a Saturday. Both airports were quiet. I was the only person on my row and there was no one in either the row before or behind me.

Two week later (end of June on a Sunday) flew back to Orlando. Philadelphia airport was packed. Plane was about full including the middle seats (American Airlines). Once everyone was on board. I was able to move to another seat and had no one beside me.

Two weeks later (Saturday, July 11) flew back to Pliladephia. I was so freaked out by my previous flight, I added a face shield to my mask. Surprising, things had quieted down and no middle seats were filled. Today marks 14 day back from a hotshot and I feel fine.

For each flight, I got asked if I had any symptoms. I was expecting a temperature check but never got on. Waiting in the security lines was tricky since you can control the 6 ft distance in front of you but behind you is a different matter. I do not remember seeing anyone without a mask inside the airports.

Getting off the plane is also tricky. First flight social distance was maintained. Last 2 flights were a free for all without any social distancing.
 

MacMadame

Staying at home
Messages
36,554
So these guys explain why they aren't flying until there is a vaccine:


What do you guys think? I think it's already been established that the plane ride isn't the problem.
 

AxelAnnie

Graceful men lift lovely girls in white!
Messages
12,280
I'm not sure I'm going to a restaurant let alone a plane.
Ditto!

You couldn't pay me enough to get on a plane. The air on planes has always been notorious for recirculating air, and causing illness, like a cold. That's a minor inconvenience...........*********...I don't think so.
 

flyingsit

Well-Known Member
Messages
11,246
Wrong, wrong, wrong. Air on planes is filtered at hospital levels, and is exchanged with outside air every few minutes.
 

million$momma

Well-Known Member
Messages
407
Wrong, wrong, wrong. Air on planes is filtered at hospital levels, and is exchanged with outside air every few minutes.
IMO, the main problem with airplanes isn't the lack of air circulation, it's the forced close contact and the lack of surface cleaning. I dont even want to know what is breeding in the fabric of those seat...
 

clairecloutier

Well-Known Member
Messages
10,765
I don't really foresee myself getting on a plane until there's a vaccine. :(

Crowded airports, crowded planes, recirculated air on the planes, hours spent indoors during the whole experience, the unknown questions of whether hotels will have adequate ventilation or if someone with CV-19 stayed in your room before you were there ... There's just no way I could justify exposing myself (and by extension, my family) to that level of risk unless it were really necessary.

Which means probably no skating competitions for the foreseeable future. :cry:
 

MsZem

Well-Known Member
Messages
13,446
Don’t know how many times I have seen this posted, but any recirculated air on planes goes through HEPA filters.
A friend of mine posted about how dangerous airplanes (allowed) are compared to weddings and concerts (not allowed). I pointed out the very same thing.

IMO, the main problem with airplanes isn't the lack of air circulation, it's the forced close contact and the lack of surface cleaning. I dont even want to know what is breeding in the fabric of those seat...
If something were breeding there, you'd think more people would get seriously sick after flying. Airplanes are cleaned much more often than most people's homes, even more so now.

The greater risk is exposure to people from different places at the airport, especially if distancing is not well maintained.
 

Louis

Private citizen
Messages
14,703
In fairness, the "experts" have been divided on how risky it is to fly. Consistently, flying has had the highest risk score variation among "expert" ratings of how risky it is to do [X] activities, with some rating it akin to concerts and others rating it low risk.

This is one of the better articles I've read on the topic:

That said, there has been plenty of fear-mongering, too, from "experts" with "credentials" so I am not at all surprised that some people are fearful. Some "scientists" have told them to be.
 

kedrin

Well-Known Member
Messages
1,090
I will fly as soon as places I want to go open up. I would probably fly today, but for the quarantines and uncertainty, which I understand and agree with. By the time the quarantines are no longer necessary, flying will (hopefully) be safer.
 

once_upon

Voter
Messages
15,753
I think the original risk rating scales were a consensus of 5 "experts" to do a ranking of 1 low risk to 9 high risk of activities and iirc the AVERAGE perceived risk was 4. No real data and small sample size of ecperts.

Again I don't think there was actual data of rT in the settings - as far as I know, there has not been things like measurements of droplets/large which hang in the air longer or smaller droplets, surface transmissions, etc to back up assumptions made by these 5 experts. It would be difficult without detailed contact tracing to determine if a situation or activity is high risk/low risk. But we do know from other studies that prolonged exposure and close unmasked exposure puts you at higher risk.

I do agree that HEPA filters in planes air circulation decrease some risk to recirculating air. But antedoctally i have gotten sick after a trip. Without contact tracing of the hundreds if not thousands of people I encountered on that trip, I can't name airplanes as cause/effect.

Maybe an hour flight to Chicago or two hour flight to Denver is a 4 on that small group of "experts" scale. I'm absolutely certain I would not take a 10 hour flight to Europe or 22 hour flight to Australia.
 

overedge

G.O.A.T.
Messages
28,305
If something were breeding there, you'd think more people would get seriously sick after flying. Airplanes are cleaned much more often than most people's homes, even more so now.
There's probably a thorough cleaning once the plane has done its routes for the day, but the cleaning in between flights is usually...not good. I can't count the number of times I've gotten on a plane and discovered stuff left by the previous traveler (plastic wrappers, stir sticks, Kleenexes, etc.) on or under the seat or in the seat back pocket. This has happened in economy, premium economy, and business class.

This is not a diss on airline cleaning staff. They have a lot to do and a very limited time to do it in. The airlines just want to turn around the flights as fast as they can, so cleaning during the day is not a high priority. But it doesn't make me feel very safe when the airlines are touting their new cleaning procedures, when in the past the planes weren't cleaned very well.
 

Brenda_Bottems

Well-Known Member
Messages
315
Flying these days? Fabulous. Airport terminals are devoid of the rather crass lowbrow economy traveler. At the risk of being labelled insensitive,flying is one of the few pros in this ********* era.

There's probably a thorough cleaning once the plane has done its routes for the day, but the cleaning in between flights is usually...not good. I can't count the number of times I've gotten on a plane and discovered stuff left by the previous traveler (plastic wrappers, stir sticks, Kleenexes, etc.) on or under the seat or in the seat back pocket. This has happened in economy, premium economy, and business class.
I do not have this issue in Delta first class. Impeccable cleanliness and service. Surely you cannot expect the same level of cleanliness in business class or the so-called "premium economy" class. You get what you pay for,dear.

-BB
 

TAHbKA

Cats and garlic lover
Messages
17,186
Bought a super cheap flight ticket to Sofia. The rules and regulations in Israel change every week, very conviniently - in Thursday night.Just so people flying on Fri/Sat/Sun will be screwed.
Didn't book the flight back, didn't book a hotel, didn't do the insurance. Will do all these when am heading to the gate. AFAIK the ministry of health will come with some new bullshit that will prevent me from flyinf on 28th.

Any FSUers from Bulgaria?
 

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