Search for:

Covid-19: Staying safe while travelling

Jade team member

Many of us are itching to travel, ready to jet off to a dream destination and soak it all in.  But what rules and restrictions have been put in place? How can you travel safely?

Is it safe to fly? 

There are various measures that have been introduced to ensure that flying is safe. This is the most important priority for airlines. Below are some of things you can expect on your next flight. 

Airlines are increasing cleaning before and after flights. Many airlines will disinfect planes before passengers board. Etihad, for example, follows strict cleaning procedures to disinfect planes and sterilise utensils and surfaces after every flight. Most planes are also fitted with a HEPA air filtration system that eliminates more than 99.8% of all airborne microbes, making the journey more safe and ensuring that you feel comfortable.

Face masks are mandatory. Air FranceKLMLufthansa and Ryanair have made face coverings compulsory. Across the Atlantic, United Airlines and Delta have also made masks a must for all passengers and cabin crew.

Increased cleaning, mandatory face masks, limited in-flight food options and the removal of in-flight magazines are all things you can expect on your next trip.

The boarding process may be different. Many airlines are enforcing social distancing rules for boarding. For some airlines, boarding may be done in groups, with passengers receiving a phone notification when it’s their turn to go to the gate for boarding. This will reduce crowding and queues.

The layout of planes is being re-examined. Emirates, easyJet and Delta have said that they will keep middle seats empty. Some airlines may also reduce the overall number of people allowed on each flight to allow for sufficient social distancing. We might even see changes to the plane layout. Italian airline seat design firm Aviointeriors proposed a design in which the middle seat faces backwards and has a plastic shield on either side to separate it from the aisle and window seats. This has not been used by any airlines yet, but it is very possible that we see a change in the design of some planes.

In-flight food and shopping is limited. You will be encouraged to bring your own food and drink to minimise contact with flight attendants. Some airlines, such as Delta in the US, will limit their in-flight food options. Lufthansa has also temporarily suspended on-board sales. 

In-flight magazines have been removed. For those who love to flick through magazines, this will be disappointing. Wizz Air, Air Canada and Lufthansa have removed in-flight magazines to minimise the spread of germs. We expect that others will follow suit. 

Covid-19 tests will be conducted by some airlines. Emirates became the first airline to test passengers for Covid-19. The rapid blood tests display the results within 10 minutes. This will offer reassurance that the flight you’re on is safe. Some airlines, such as Air France, will impose temperature checks and those with body temperatures over 38°C will not be allowed to board. Their reservation will be moved to another date at no extra charge.

Potential isolation upon arrival.
 Depending on your destination, you may be asked to self-isolate for 14 days upon entering the UK. If you return from a country on GOV.UK's travel corridor list, you will not need to isolate.

How are airports keeping people safe? 

Just like airlines, airports are committed to keeping you safe and healthy. Here are some of the things that they are doing.

Airports are enforcing social distancing. At Manchester Airport, the luggage from busier flights is being sent to multiple conveyor belts to reduce crowding in one area of baggage claim. At both Gatwick and Heathrow Airport, signs have been put up to remind you to keep two metres apart from others while queuing at departure gates and security.

Hand sanitiser is readily available. In London, Gatwick, Heathrow and Luton Airport have made it a priority to increase hand sanitiser stations to keep you clean and safe. Liverpool Airport, Edinburgh Airport, Newcastle International Airport and Cardiff Airport have also increased the installation of hand sanitiser units.

Medical professionals are present within the airport. A dedicated Public Health England (PHE) team of doctors is operating at Heathrow Airport. Heathrow has also created a dedicated terminal pier area to be used by the PHE team when dealing with suspected cases. This is isolated from the rest of the airport to keep you safe. Bristol Airport also has trained first aid responders with personal protection equipment (PPE) in case they are needed for suspected cases.

Airports have implemented strict cleaning procedures and social distancing regulations. Luggage disinfection, dedicated medical teams and health screenings are also available at some airports.

Strict cleaning procedures have been put in place. Most UK airports have increased cleaning and some, such as Gatwick Airport, have hired extra staff to do this.

Luggage is disinfected. Your luggage and carry-on bags may be ‘sanitagged’. This involves sanitising bags and tagging them once they’ve been disinfected.  This could be done at check-in for larger suitcases, at security for carry-on bags, and at arrival (before being placed on the conveyor belt). Some airports are also using UV technology to disinfect luggage.

Many lounges, shops and restaurants will remain closed.  To reduce contact between people, these areas have been closed in many airports across the UK.

Health screenings. Heathrow Airport will be trialling large-scale temperature checks.

Is it safe to travel by train?

Train operators have also taken precautions to ensure that train travel is safe. Here are some of the things that you can expect:

Reduced train services. As we ease back into travelling, trains are unlikely to immediately go back to being as frequent as before. This will happen over time and you should expect that some train services will be reduced. National Rail has stated that half the number of trains are currently operating compared to a normal weekday. Unfortunately, there will be temporary suspensions of some trains as well. Hull Trains, Gatwick Express and Grand Central are temporarily suspending all of their trains. According to LNER, tickets for Grand Central will be accepted on LNER lines as well as all other train operating companies if you are a key worker or if your travel is essential.

Train travellers will see reduced services, increased availability of soap on-board, reduced contact with staff and an increase in contactless payments.

Compulsory face masks. As with air travel, we expect that several train lines will make face masks mandatory. Eurostar has already done this.

Increased cleaning on trains and at train stations
. As with airports and airlines, this is an important consideration for trains and train stations.

Improved stock of soap and hand sanitiser.
National Rail will ensure that toilet facilities are well stocked with soap, while Transport for Wales is providing hand sanitiser at key locations.

Reduced contact with train staff both at stations and on trains.
LNER and ScotRail have temporarily removed on-board catering from trains to minimise contact.

Contactless payments.
Where relevant, contactless payments at train stations and on trains will become the norm. This is the case for Avanti West Coast and South Western Railway. 

Closed lounges and waiting rooms.
LNER and Avanti West Coast have closed all waiting rooms and First Class lounges.