Planning to fly? Here is what you need to know before going to the airport

Image: 123RF/casanowe

One of the perks of Level 3 in SA is that limited domestic air travel is permitted – mainly for business and educational necessities, but also in instances where the courts have authorised individuals to change residences or to travel in order to care for an ailing family member.

As with almost every facet of life in the age of the Covid-19, however, a medley of rules and restrictions applies to air travel, and a trip to the airport definitely won’t be what you’re used to.

Here are seven things you should be aware of if you’re planning on travelling via plane during Level 3.

1. Only passengers will be allowed inside the terminal buildings

If you were hoping to bring your friends or family members along to the airport with you for a big send-off, you’d do well to check this idea at the door: only travellers will be permitted inside terminal buildings, in order to maximise the efficiency of the social-distancing procedures in place.

2. You need to check in online before reaching the airport

Prospective passengers are strongly encouraged to check in online before making their way to the airport, as only a minimal number of check-in counters will be operational, and these are only intended for baggage-drop.

In order to minimise the possibility of infection, you will also be scanning your own boarding pass, and removing cellphones and jewellery from your person before going through security: in short, be cognisant of the fact that social-distancing conventions are in full force throughout terminal and transport spaces.

3. Don’t forget your mask – you won’t be allowed inside or onboard without one

You will also be required to wear your mask correctly for the entire duration of your flight.

Don’t despair if you’ve forgotten some of your sanitary essentials, however: vending machines within airport terminals have been stocked with masks and hand sanitisers in case something goes awry with what you brought from home.

4. Give yourself extra time to accommodate staggered boarding and security procedures

In order to observe social-distancing protocols, bag drop-off, security and boarding procedures will be staggered, so as to regulate the influx of passengers at any given time and to prevent crowding.

Given that this will prolong the journey from check-in to take-off somewhat, it is probably better to err on the safe side and give yourself a bit of extra time on either side of your flight, just in case.

5. There won’t be food or magazines on board

Eat something hearty before you leave for the airport, and don’t forget to pack a crossword puzzle: in-flight catering services have been suspended, and the usual selection of magazines will be missing from the seat-pocket in front of you.

This is obviously to minimise your contact with foreign surfaces and to protect both passengers and flight staff from exposure to contaminated articles.

6. You will be screened for symptoms of Covid-19 several times over the course of your journey

Don’t be put off by the team of airport staff who will be on hand to observe passengers for symptoms and take your temperature at routine intervals. This is to ensure that potentially infected passengers do not board the plane.

Your temperature will be taken on arriving at the terminal, again at the check-in counter, right before boarding and during the flight. If your temperature is deemed dangerously high, you will need to follow-up on refund and rescheduling protocols with the airline.

If possible, take your temperature before leaving home and make sure that you are within the healthy range of around 36.5-37 degrees Celsius.

7. A “sick bay” area will be reserved at the back of every plane in case a patient takes ill onboard.

In case someone does exhibit symptoms on board, airlines are being required to reserve a “sick bay” at the back of every plane, where unwell passengers can be kept apart from the rest of the travellers.

Other than this, airlines are being allowed to full planes to maximum capacity – all the more reason to remember your mask and keep your hands clean.


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