It’s a weird time to travel. In July 2020, we travelled from Luton Airport to Schiphol Airport in Amsterdam en route to see family. Taking a flight with the coronavirus wasn’t a decision we took lightly but ultimately decided it was the right thing for us to do. A quick search on Skyscanner and the flights were booked!
Luton Airport Experience
We live in Bedford so Luton Airport is by far the most convenient airport for us to get to. A family member kindly gave us a lift to the airport and dropped us off at the recently improved drop-off circuit. Walking from the drop-off zone to the terminal takes 3-5 minutes. The paths aren’t particularly wide so it felt busier than expected as we made our way up to the departures terminal.
Most passengers were wearing masks and practising sensible social distancing around the airport grounds. The airport was clearly being deep cleaned constantly and, thanks to modern technology, we didn’t need any human contact to get through the gates. It really did feel safe.
A small hand luggage case between us meant that we didn’t have to check a bag in to the hold and could breeze straight through security. easyJet have allowed passengers to add boarding passes to their phone wallets on iOS (and equivalent on other phones). This has always been handy when flying but felt even more important during Covid-19 as it was another touchpoint eliminated. We scanned our boarding pass barcodes and hit the security queue.
Except, we didn’t. It was a Sunday afternoon at the start of the school summer holidays but there were just a handful of passengers putting their bags and keys through the scanners. A reminder of the times we are in! As with the rest of the airport, there was visible sanitising going on at the security belts. I could get used to the fast tracking through security!
We were through the boring (but important) parts of the airport and ready for a pre-flight snack and drink. Having travelled from Luton Airport regularly over the past few years, we knew exactly where we wanted to have a drink. We made a beeline for Smithfield Pub and Kitchen only to greeted a shutter. The pub, along with most other food and drink outlets, was closed. High street bars, pubs and restaurants have been open for a few weeks now so this did seem a bit odd but understandable.
At the time of our journey, end of July 2020, the following food and drink outlets that were open:
- Pret A Manger
We took a seat at Benugo with a healthy pre-flight snack of Pimms and crisps! While we played some cards (an airport essential), we took a look at the departure board. So few departing flights were up on the board that it resembled a 1am board rather than the middle of the afternoon. Another reminder that air travel is a long way from being “back to normal”.
Another Pimms later and it was time to board. The staff at the gate did their best to minimise contact but there is no getting away from the need to hand over your boarding pass (on my phone) and passport to be checked.
Tip: carry sanitising wipes in your carry-on bag to quickly clean your phone once it it handed back to you.
easyJet Flight Experience
From behind the masks, the easyJet crew gave a warm welcome to passengers as we filed on to the plane. The flights itself must have been nearly full and it did feel busy. Despite the regular announcements from flight attendants and the pilot, some people still struggled to remember to keep their masks on throughout the duration of the flight. We saw some interesting nose-out fashion! This isn’t exclusive to flights though and it is the same as you see in supermarkets and town centres throughout the country.
The plane was visibly clean and much cleaner than on normal flights! Take your own book or download a Netflix episode as the in-flight magazines have been removed. A reduced trolley service was in action so listen out to the announcements to hear what they are carrying on your flight.
The superb easyJet crew explained that we will be disembarking one row at a time to help maintain distance and reduce crowding. Despite the crews best efforts, a majority of the passengers stood up as soon as the seatbelt light was off. Selfish, disrespectful and unsafe. Travelling would be easy if it wasn’t for everyone else!
A few minutes later and we were through passport control. Hallo Nederlands! Home sweet home. Schiphol airport is normally bustling with shoppers but felt eerily quiet. The car park was in full operation and made for a quick exit.
Is it safe to travel from Luton Airport?
It didn’t feel any less safe than a trip to the supermarket in your home town. If anything, it was probably much cleaner as so much effort is clearly going in to sanitising the terminals. The easyJet team did a world class job of trying to educate and look after passengers throughout the process. Whilst it isn’t ideal to be flying at this time, I’m glad we came to see family and felt safe doing so.