An Itinerary of a Tepid Traveller

16 October 2020

Home sweet home! In covid times home has come to the rescue for each one of us. 'Stay Home Stay Safe' is the adage, which has become a new slogan during the Covid scare. But for how long? How many more days could we be in self isolation at home.

We have come to Unlock 5.0 stage, when many restrictions have been done away with. Roads and skies are open once again.

Did you know, aviation remains the safest modes of journey even during the Covid times? Thanks to the well-structured processes, which ensure the entire chain of air travel under the continuous litmus test of regulatory and zero tolerance by the airport and airline operators in close tandem with entire airport community members - aviation offers safe jaunts.

But are you the one whose heart sinks at the thought of travelling specially air travel? Well if yes, then this post is for you. When we tread the path of a traveller.


Traveling during Covid

So what does it take to journey during Covid times?

Panic and anxiety are the two things that clog the clarity of mind. So cut the panic. Being cautious is better than being anxious.

Study shows air travel always caused a sense of anxiety, as it is the only mode of transport where passengers are advised to come early and they have to undergo multiple checks.

While frequent travelers are able to control their anxiety comfortably, for a first time flyer it always remains a challenge.

However, it has been seen that during Covid times, even the regular fliers are slightly anxious.

So for the benefit of everyone, we will tread the path of a passenger right from the home to the aircraft belly.

Picture this itinerary!

Reema has to fly to Delhi. She has flown before but is doing so for the first time after eight months of the Covid pandemic striking in. She is a student in Osmania University and resides at Banjara Hills in Hyderabad. Her family had advised her not to travel even after the resumption of domestic air services. They were obviously scared for her. But now seeing the passengers flying in and out daily, she has mustered enough strength and wants to visit her home in Delhi.

She has parents and two older brothers waiting in Delhi to meet her. Her parents have given her enough of sermons on keeping herself safe. Her brothers wanted to come and pick her up. But a strong person that she is, Reema won them over.

So a decisive Reema takes the plunge and has to catch the flight today. She looked anxious. She has checked with airlines and found out that the flight is on time. She was advised to come with a printed copy of the boarding card and make a declaration on the airline website regarding her health status.

Reema carried a smart phone, she did the web check-in 48 hours before the departure date and booked a seat as well. Knowing that Hyderabad Airport has e-boarding facility she had taken a digital copy of the boarding card on her smart phone. However, as per the government advisory, she took a print of the bag tag, which she pasted on her check-in luggage. She also reconfirmed with her airlines, regarding weight and dimensions of the check in baggage and hand bag. Most of the regulations remain unchanged. She checked all these once again and prepared herself for the journey.


On the go

Reema booked a radio cab three hours prior to the departures time, in order to reach the airport in time for boarding the flight. Her flight was at 12 noon. Reema likes to travel light, but this time she had one check-in luggage and one hand bag, well within the airline weight and dimension specifications. She had already worn a comfortable face mask.

The cab alighted on time at her doorstep. She checked on the safety measures of the driver, he was wearing a mask. She boarded the sanitized cab and left for the airport.

Once she reached the airport, she paid the cab charges online and strutted along with her luggage. At the airport departures ramp, her temperature was measured by the security staff, which was well within the acceptable range.

Time to go in

Reema had reached the airport well before time. She was relaxed. Maintaining social distance from fellow passengers, she cleaned her hands from the sensor-based sanitizer dispensing machine. She showed her boarding card on the phone and the government ID card through the glass shield to the CISF personnel deployed at the entry gate of the departures. She was allowed instantly as all her documents were in order.

She walked to the check in counter of her airline. Waiting for her turn she moved patiently to the airline check in counter. She showed her ID card and digital boarding card. The airline agent scanned the card from the glass partition and checked her in. Reema submitted the hand baggage herself attaching the luggage tag and moved on for security check.

At the security check as well, she patiently waited for her turn keeping adequate social distancing. She placed her hand baggage, metal belongings in the sanitized tray at the Automatic Tray Retrieval System (ATRS) synchronized with the UV disinfection tunnel and moved further to get herself security checked. She flashed her boarding card on the e-boarding scanner, which was verified by the CISF personnel. The security personnel, completely adorned in her PPE checked her with adequate social distancing norms and allowed her to move on.


Time to relax - shop and dine

Reema was relaxed as she now had enough time on hands before she boarded the aircraft. She went about exploring the airport retail and food & beverage counters. She had already planned to first window shop and analyze if it was ok for her to shop at the airport. She enquired from one of the airport staff present on the shopping and was advised that she could even do it through an app called HOI. This would allow her to explore the retail products online and also place an order. She was super excited and immediately went about downloading the app using the airport WI FI. She explored the various brands and offers before deciding to experience the retail offers.

Reema was always known for her attention to detail. Her eyes fleeted through every retail outlet at the airport. She was satisfied to see the social distancing marks on the floor, all staff wearing PPE and welcoming passengers with all due safety protocols in place. She decided to check out a few biscuits and sweets she could carry for her loved ones from Hyderabad. She was not sure if these were safe. She interacted with the store manager. He explained the kind of rigorous quality checks of each product that were taken at all airport stores.

Reema bought a stole for her mother and sweet boxes for her family. She felt happy.

Time for coffee

Once she reached the boarding gate, she wanted to sip something warm. The aroma of freshly brewed coffee breezed through the Boarding Gate No. 26. She automatically drifted to the coffee shop. Ordered her flavor digitally and picked up her own cuppa and settled on a cozy seat near the boarding gate.

While she sipped every gulp of the coffee, she recalled the days before Covid times. The airport looked comparatively less occupied. But she liked it, as today she could actually see the artistic finesse of Hyderabad Airport. She could see the unique blend of tradition and culture of Ganga Jamuna Tehzeeb in various sections of the airport. She looked at the quieter terminal, which subtly allowed the vibrancy emerging from the people, shops and merchandise. The airport looked more like a canvas which was getting filled up with colourful assemblage of people ready to fly and the airport personnel servicing them.

She felt nostalgic and while reliving the moment thought to herself, "the new normal is here to stay".

Reema had finished her coffee when the same old airport voice brought her back from the reverie. It was time to board. The airline agent brought her the PPE kit. She took it and walked towards the boarding gate. Swiping her boarding card on the touch-less gate, she moved towards the aero bridge.


Off to fly

At the aerobridge, Reema gained back the usual spring to her gait - she was happy that she would be soon meeting her dear ones after such a long gap. She had also resolved to travel all the more. How could she miss the world outside? Safety as much an individual's concern; precaution is what needed, she said to herself; and she smiled back under her grey mask to the greetings of the chirpy air hostesses, while slipping on to the window seat.

She kept her hand bag under the seat and looked outside the aircraft...

She waived to someone unknown with a resolve to come back soon... for the life ahead.