With domestic flights getting green signal on the runway, air travel resumes with some mandatory safety precautions; which is leading to pandemic induced humorous situations for some. While the airports and airlines have come up with detailed rules — including compulsory web check-ins, no meal service in-flight, and spraying all passenger luggage with sanitiser — the sight of PPE clad airport staff is also becoming the new normal.
Missing the push of fellow passengers’ trolleys at every point, Akshay Rajani, 25, who recently flew from Pune to Lucknow via Delhi, says, “This time there was a queue outside the airport, to enter. But, there were markings on the road, at the distance of three feet, where everyone was supposed to stand. Even inside the airport, the seating areas were marked to practice social distancing. We all sat near the boarding gate at a gap of a few seats from each other. The constant announcements, made to ensure that passengers follow social distancing, became too much after a point!”
If desirous of flying, don’t even imagine to get an entry unless you are geared up properly. Pooja Kumari, 24, who recently took a flight from Pune to Delhi, says, “At the airport entrance, the authorities were checking our ID, conducting thermal screenings, and even asking us to show them the Aarogya Setu app on our mobile phone. And once inside, there were staffers spraying sanitiser on our luggage. But the most exciting part was when we entered the aircraft, and were handed a face shield with a face mask kit. I was happy that precautions were being taken, but the whole process was quite unusual.”
Passengers have had to wear face shields as part of the new norms for air travel.
This change in the earlier routine of fliers has been encountered by most, and mimicked by some, calling it a sequence straight out of a sci-fi movie. “It was a bit weird to see air hostesses in PPE suits! And though they didn’t serve us food, they were sweet enough to serve us water. But, the flight crew did request all passengers aboard to not to walk down the aisle unnecessarily, or use the restroom unless unavoidable,” says Yash Vig, 24, who recently travelled from Delhi to Bikaner, adding that the otherwise usually slow moving queues at airports have become further snail-paced. “Only a maximum of five people were allowed to enter stores or smoking rooms. Thank God that hand sanitisers were in place at different spots at the airports; and even hand sanitiser dispenser machines were functioning outside every washroom,” Vig adds.
“Those who have travel anxiety, prefer direct flights… Some travellers with me had to wait for as long as 18 to 24 hours because of flight delays or cancellations.” — Abhishek Anand, a passenger
Upon reaching the destination, the recent fliers had to face delays again, to get out of the airport. A maximum of 15 to 20 people are being allowed to stand near the luggage belt, that too on the demarcated ground stickers, to ensure social distancing. Abhishek Anand, 38, who recently flew from Bombay to Ranchi via Delhi, rues, “Those who have travel anxiety, prefer direct flights because layovers can be overwhelming. Some travellers with me had to wait for as long as 18 to 24 hours because of flight delays or cancellations.”
Author tweets @FizzyBuddha