“It was unusually quiet at Singapore’s Changi Airport. That evening, only 3 flights were scheduled to fly out of Singapore.”
by Helena Wasserman Eriksson
With most of us staying put this season, aren’t we all curious to see what the new normal of travelling looks like for those who continue to move about?
In our #EscapefromLockdown series, we catch a glimpse of the unprecedented realities of travel today.
We start our series off with Helena Wasserman Erikksson, who collaborated with Blue Sky Escapes on the dance event, RESET, earlier in July. She recently went on a trip to Spain, via Switzerland, Italy and Sweden – all amidst a global pandemic.
She shares with us her experience of that journey: the good, the bad, and the quite surprising.
Helena flew from Singapore to Amsterdam, onwards to Geneva and spent a few days in Switzerland. From there, she travelled to Turin over land, on by plane to Gothenburg, before finally heading to Ibiza.
Here’s what she had to say about the experience.
Changi Airport on the evening of Helena’s scheduled flight
“It was unusually quiet at Singapore’s Changi Airport. That evening, only 3 flights were scheduled to fly out of Singapore. I noticed around 30 travellers: all of them were expats, mostly Europeans, Russians, Middle Eastern and Australian citizens.
The rest of the people were airport staff. Food and beverage services on the plane were available, although flight boarding was slower to allow a mandatory one metre of social distancing between passengers.
Relieved that my take-off from Singapore felt safe and sanitized, I set off for my journey to Europe.”
Social-distancing at Schiphol Airport, Amsterdam
“Landing in Amsterdam felt very different. We were asked to disembark the plane with a one-and-a-half metre distance in between passengers. However, being in the Schiphol airport felt almost like pre-COVID times, seeing as the terminal was pretty packed with people. There were clear instructions in place to maintain a safe distance between other people, but I observed that most people paid little attention to their space and surroundings.
In Amsterdam, I observed that there were no temperature check procedures. In terms of contact tracing, I had to fill out one written form upon landing, but that was it. The rest of my time there felt like a pre-COVID trip except for the instructions to stand 1.5 metres apart.
Food and beverages were served on all flights. I flew KLM on both legs, where passengers were constantly reminded to wear their masks. There were no additional temperature check or health check procedures in both Singapore and Amsterdam.
The main takeaway here was that airport formalities didn’t change much, and you simply needed a little bit of patience and extra time to complete the checks and processes.”
“Upon arrival at Turin Caselle, we discovered that there was a Health Check sign which turned out to be just to make sure that everyone was wearing a mask.
It was then that I discovered that my originally planned Lufthansa flight to Sweden via Frankfurt had been cancelled – although no email had arrived to inform me. Fortunately, the next day, I managed to make arrangements on Ryanair to get to Sweden from Milan.
Ryanair flies from Milan using the geographically distant Bergamo airport, a small regional airport. Food and beverages were readily available here, and only one temperature check was conducted at the entrance of the airport. People who were not travelling were not allowed entry into the airport.
While safe-distancing notices and reminders were on clear display and emphasised, I observed that there were not many enforcements in place.”
“All things said and done, my travels went fairly smoothly. With the pandemic, there were definitely more rules in place in all of the countries I visited, just that they were interpreted and enforced differently in each destination.
Travel is still possible, and you can even avoid the stress of crowds now – but you need to give yourself some additional time to properly complete your journey, and a good deal of patience to make sure you are a responsible traveller and follow all that are required of you.”
The view in beautiful Turin, by the River Po
We catch up again with Helena three weeks later, and she tells us about how travel regulations worldwide are moving and changing rapidly, especially in Europe.
“Within only three weeks, things have evolved so much in Europe – there are now quarantine measures between UK and Spain, and between Switzerland and Spain. There are also other newer measures in place.
I arrived at Ibiza three weeks ago and there was nothing special or extraordinary at the airport. Last week, however, I had left for Italy for a few days. When I came back to Ibiza, I observed that they had rolled out an application that people had to download for contact tracing – to declare where you had been, whether you had gotten tested for COVID and other questions – which was completely new.
Every week, things change quite considerably. My advice is to keep a constant eye on the news and remain flexible and adaptive because from one day to the next, the rules and regulations for travelling can have changed completely.”