A frequent flyer recently live-blogged his business-class trip from Heathrow Airport to New York via Amsterdam to ‘demystify what it’s actually like out there during Covid-19’.
The blogger, Gilbert Ott, is now back from the Big Apple – which he said he visited ‘out of necessity’ – and he’s published some handy tips for staying safe on a plane in the coronavirus world to his travel tips site, God Save The Points.
He writes: ‘I found a few things which really helped my peace of mind.’ And MailOnline Travel can reveal them here, from watching Naomi Campbell’s viral plane hygiene video to self-catering ‘everything’.
Gilbert Ott on his hopper flight last week from Heathrow to Amsterdam’s Schiphol airport
‘Even though airlines claim they’re going to extensive lengths to sanitise flights,’ writes Gilbert, ‘I’d rather not take anyone else’s word on my personal safety. Accordingly, I’ve become more in love than ever with my personal tablet, laptop and wireless earbuds.
‘Download a bunch of content for offline viewing and that way you’re only touching your own things.’
Triple-check entry restrictions
Things have got a lot more complicated, says Gilbert.
He writes: ‘On my return journey, I asked the lovely check-in agent how her day was going and she said “I’m stressed man, too many entry restrictions and new rules”. I heard her, loud and clear. Most surveyed passengers say fears of border restrictions, or spontaneous closures, are their main fear for returning to travel.
A safety notice at Heathrow Airport. Gilbert said that he had a good experience there on his trip last week
‘IATA, the International Airline Transport Association, has a great interactive country by country guide, which may even improve your geography. It’ll give you all the most up to date entry information.
Time to dust down your packed-lunch box.
‘I think as a baseline,’ writes Gilbert, ‘the fewer things you touch that you don’t know who’s touched them the better. Now is the time to pick up take-out, make yourself a sandwich, or curate a snack bag and be ready to self-cater your way to happiness.
‘With few exceptions, it’s not like airplane food was ever particularly exciting, and now you have an extra good reason not to bother.’
Bring your own wipes
Gilbert, who lives between London and New York, said that across his four recent flights he found access to wipes and sanitiser ‘very hit or miss’. So his advice is to bring your own and not to forget that ‘most airports have increased limits on hand sanitiser to greater than 100ml’.
Gilbert, who lives between London and New York, said that across his four recent flights he found access to wipes and sanitiser ‘very hit or miss’. Pictured is Heathrow Airport
He also flags Naomi Campbell’s July 2019 viral airplane hygiene video, in which she is seen donning plastic gloves and wiping her business class seat down.
‘It was ahead of its time,’ writes Gilbert.
Bring layers or a change of clothes
Worried about surface contact? Having layers to shed, and perhaps even discard, helps, says Gilbert.
He adds: ‘I made a point on my return journey to change into a fresh outfit and subsequently wash my hands after going through airport security.’
Avoid overhead bins where possible
Ditch the carry-on, is Gilbert’s sage advice.
He writes: ‘Overhead bins have been the great dilemma for frequent travellers forever, and now they’re everyone’s dilemma. Airlines charging astronomical fees for checked bags brought many savvy travellers to learn how to pack their carry on suitcases properly, but that means reaching up into the least-cleaned area of an aircraft, mingling with the belongings of others.’
Take two masks
Gilbert says that Naomi Campbell’s July 2019 viral airplane hygiene video, in which she is seen donning plastic gloves and wiping her business class seat down, was ‘ahead of its time’ (stock image)
Gilbert thinks ‘very clearly’ that masks ‘should be mandatory right now’.
Why? ‘For the simple reason that you don’t want to impact anyone else, and masks help reduce your spray of droplets when you talk, sneeze or breathe with your mouth open,’ he writes.
Masks are apparently effective for around four hours, so ‘bring two or even three’, says Gilbert. ‘And learn how to wear one,’ he adds.
Boarding passes make for nice souvenirs, but the more digital you can make your trip, the less time you’ll need to spend close to others in airports.
Gilbert writes: ‘Wherever possible, printing out your boarding pass, or better yet using your airline’s mobile app to bypass all the faff will save time, effort and close physical contact with others.’
He acknowledges that this can be harder on long-haul trips, where ‘many airlines need to verify you’re eligible to fly right now’, but says it should be easy for shorter journeys.
Pay more attention to transit options
‘Most countries are advising against mass transit wherever possible,’ says Gilbert. ‘Pay a bit more attention to the availability and/or protocols required to hail a ride of any kind.’
Select seats closest to exit doors and windows
The business class service on Gilbert’s flight from Amsterdam to New York amounted to this package waiting for him on his seat. The house miniature contained gin – and the plastic bag ‘a bottle of water, two diet cokes, a couple of tangerines, two stroopwafels, a cheese sandwich, some snack mix, an almond cookie sort of thing, a little slice of cheese and a couple of mini chocolates’
Gilbert says that he was ‘an idiot’ for selecting an aisle seat on his first short-haul flight last week between Heathrow and Schiphol. Even though he boarded towards the end – something he recommends, as you spend more time in a less confined space – he felt the shoulders of ‘at least 10 people brush past me’. Plus, several passengers lingered around him as they waited to proceed down the aisle.
The answer, says Gilbert, is to put yourself nearest the exit door of the aircraft and in a window seat, so no one has to step over you or walk past you.
Expect the unexpected
The FCO currently advises British nationals against all but essential international travel
‘From cancellations to randomised health checks, it’ll be a little while before travel returns to the normality experienced prior to Covid-19,’ writes Gilbert. ‘Going in with an open mind, or more importantly, an understanding that things could change, will only help to make the trip more enjoyable.’
Read MailOnline Travel’s story on Gilbert’s trip to New York here.
The FCO currently advises British nationals against all but essential international travel.