Travel amid the COVID19 pandemic
Few days back I fell sick. Had viral fever. Mostly because I was so sick of sitting at home, working all the time, plus the change of weather were the causes I believe. Since the lock-down, I rarely go out.
I work in a Gurgaon based company, and looking at the current situation in Delhi NCR, there’s a very minimal chance of reopening of the offices. So I decided to come to my hometown, Bhubaneswar.
Traveling in the current situation is not less than a nightmare. I would NOT recommend anyone to travel in this current situation unless its very urgent.
I would like to share my experience of traveling in this current situation. I booked an early morning flight, as I was traveling on week day and I didn’t want to take a leave. The flights scheduled departure was 08:50 AM.
Since I had a history of missing a very important flight, I didn’t took any chances. I stayed awake the whole night and started from my flat to the Airport at around 05:15 AM. The road was empty and I reached in just 20–25 mins.
# Baggage Sanitization & Temperature Screening
At the Departure Terminal entry gates, baggage sanitizing machines were installed. I had one check in bag and a back pack. All sanitized, set to proceed further. Then I moved to the gate where usually a Security Personnel asks for ticket and ID. At first I couldn’t find one, but when I went closer, I saw a glass protected cabin installed and inside it, was the security personnel.
He asked me to show my ticket and Photo ID from a distance. All good, move further. Then just after that, a person was standing with an Infrared Thermometer. He checked and I was within the limits.
# Baggage Drop & Boarding Pass
As far I remember, before pandemic, for domestic travel, the free check in baggage allowance was up to 15kgs, but now its 20kgs. I had already done the web check in the day before. So I just had drop the check in baggage.At the time of web check-in, there was no clear instruction that the middle seats will remain vacant, so in order to avoid getting a middle seat, I booked my favorite seat, last row, aisle seat. I was charged Rs150/- which was somewhat OK with me, looking at the current situation. I got the boarding pass at around 06:00 AM and i looked for the gate number and check-in time, Gate № 55 and check in time was 08:10 AM.
# Security Check-In Gates
I was seriously expecting to see the contact less security check in gates, but there was the same manual body checking. But yeah, the item trays were something different. It was now in a revolving belt, which makes sure every tray is properly sanitized before a passenger picks it up. Also there was no stamping on the boarding pass at the gates, it was being done digitally.
#Killing the Boredom
Now its 06:10AM and I am done with all the process. Now what to do??!! So I decided to go to the food court and have something, as I was feeling a bit hungry plus sleepy. Ordered food, quickly had them and took rest for a while there. Was bored again. So I decided to go and check what’s happening at Gate №55. I was at Gate №27 and it was a 10–11mins walk from there to my destination. I started walking, also simultaneously checking out the shops on both the sides. Noticed one interesting thing, now you can order for food from your favourite restaurant available in the food court from ordering screens installed and when the order is ready, a person with an Electric Scooter will deliver it to you. Nice..!!
After somehow killing time, finally its 07:45AM, when the flight attendants started giving instructions on what to do. They started distributing COVID Safety Kit, containing a mask, small hand sanitizer sachets and a face shield. We were asked to use the mask and the face shield throughout the flight time. And then boarding started. After I entered the plane, I noticed, all the middles seats were kept vacant to maintain social distancing.
Boarding was completed in another 10–15 mins, by 08:15AM. I thought the flight will take off early but it didn’t. We waited till 08:50AM when the flight started taxing the runway, preparing for take off. The worst part was, till the time the flight started taxing, the Air Conditioning was not working. It was very hot inside the plane. And because of the mask and face shields, I was sweating a lot and feeling very uneasy. But somehow managed and the flight took off.
The flight landed as scheduled, and we de-boarded the plane. The again there was body temperature screening and a “Home Quarantined” with arrival date was stamped on my right hand. I booked a cab and reached home. Couldn’t properly greet my parents, as I was afraid of transferring the virus which I might have contracted during the travel. So I rushed to the room which was prepared and equipped with necessary things for me to spend my 14 days mandatory home quarantine.
First day was somewhat OK, as I resumed working immediately after having my lunch. So, 1 down, 13 more days to go… Lets see…