What it's like to go on a pandemic-era flight

If you're flying back home at the end of the term, this is what the experience is like these days.

Photo: Pxhere.com

The end of the semester is near (cue shallow breathing) which means a lot of us are going to be heading back to our home bases for the summer. If you’re from out of province, that means you’re either hoofing it for a long road trip or you’re making your way to Stanfield International. While I’ve done the trek back to Ontario by car more than once during my four years, it’s simply not in the cards this time around.

As someone who went to my home province for the Winter break and travelled back via plane, I thought I could offer some insight as to what that experience will look like for anyone travelling province-to-province from Halifax.

Since the pandemic, ‘traveller drop-off’ has taken a much more literal meaning— like, say goodbye to your friends/family/friendly cab driver before arriving at the airport because they’re not coming in with you. As we’re all used to by now, mask on before you enter and a dollop of hand sanitizer as soon as you’re in the door.

Piece of advice: check in online ahead of time. That way, the only thing you'll have to do is check your bag (if you have one) which is now a hands-free service.

You’ve dropped your bag and now you’re off to security. The security guards will ask you a few questions and take your temperature before ushering you into the line. In my experience, the line for security has been abnormally short, so you’re usually through within 10 minutes.

 

Security goes (pretty much) the same as it always has—show your boarding pass, throw all your stuff in a bin and walk through the scanner. I’ll admit, the security area can get slightly crowded so it’s best to get your things quickly and make your way up to the gates.

Once you’re through security, it’s just a waiting game for your flight to get in and for boarding to begin. Due to the current low number of cases in Nova Scotia, Stanfield has a few airport shops open but nowhere near as many as normal. If I were you, I’d pack a snack and an empty water bottle to fill after security, just to be safe.

Once your flight gets in, it’ll be a fairly quick delay until you start boarding. Just need to take some extra time to disinfect the aircraft...not going to complain about that! When your zone is called to board, you might be asked to pull down your mask when referencing your ID, but otherwise, the process is the same.

 

As you enter the plane, you’re given a small bag containing a mask, hand sanitizer, water, a snack, and some disinfectant wipes. Masks are required to be worn for the entire flight, except when eating or drinking. Besides the snack/water provided in the bag, most airlines aren’t offering any in-flight services at the moment.

So far, I haven’t encountered anyone trying to disobey the public health guidelines, but I’m sure those people exist! I do, however, have faith in the flight attendants and their ability to deal with unpleasant people.

When you arrive at your destination, you’ll exit the plane like normal and head towards luggage pick-up. Again, stops along the way are really not encouraged, so keep your eye on the prize (luggage) unless you didn’t check a bag—in which case, get outta there!

Depending on which province you’re entering or coming from, you’ll have to fill out an arrival form confirming that you’re aware of the provincial COVID-19 rules and have the ability to obey them.

If you have to isolate, find the safest way home and hunker down for your two weeks. If not, find the safest way home and hunker down for two weeks.

Remember, travelling without reason is highly discouraged and is incredibly irresponsible. Only travel if you must, and do it in accordance with public health guidelines. Happy flying!