What to Expect When Flying: Cleaning, Dining and Checking in

Posted by Edward Jonkler on June 1, 2021

Real summer is in sight… summer holidays are calling and the skies are now officially open (mostly). As well as being able to travel by plane within the UK, foreign holidays and trips are once again legal for British tourists, although Welsh residents have been asked not to travel abroad. 

The English traffic light list classes destinations as green, amber or red, and similar rules apply in Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland. 

For countries on the green list travel is a-go, without needing to quarantine when you get there or come back. However, you must pay for a COVID test before and after you travel and complete a passenger locator form.

For countries on the amber and red lists, government advice is not to go on holiday there. If you must travel to any of these countries, quarantine rules apply and there are extra tests. You can read all of the official rules here. 

So, you’ve booked your holiday to a ‘green list’ country – perhaps Portugal or Iceland… but what should you expect when at the airport, on the flight and when you land? What has changed and what do you need to be prepared for?

In a promotional video welcoming customers back on board, British Airways have said that they have ‘been busy doing everything we can to make sure you feel safe, on the ground and in the air.’ Their COVID-safety guidance on their website certainly covers all key issues and takes you through your journey step by step and what to expect, covering everything from cleaning the planes to how inflight dining will work. 

Every plane in the BA fleet is cleaned from ‘nose to tail’ every 24 hours and their special ‘HEPA’ filters remove 99.9 per cent of germs and viruses from the cabin air, including coronavirus; the equivalent to hospital operating theatre standards. The air goes through the HEPA filters every 2 to 3 minutes and is completely replaced every time, thus you don’t need to worry about ‘contaminated’ air circulating round and round again whilst flying; the air is filtered and cleaned to the highest standard throughout the flight.

Onboard, key touch points and surfaces, such as tray tables, locker handles, screens, seats and seat buckles are thoroughly disinfected after every flight. This disinfecting provides surface protection from viruses that lasts for at least 24 hours. 

As customers, we have to do our bit to help keep other customers and flight and airport staff too. The guidance from airlines is that all customers take a COVID-19 test before both their outbound and return journeys. You can find out more about which tests you’ll need and book a discounted test via the BA website here.   

All check-in is online or via the app so there will be no printed boarding passes, this is so that ground and cabin crew do not have to handle any customer documents during boarding. You can download up to eight boarding passes on a device, so if you are travelling with your family they will all be in the same place. If you can’t check-in online you can use the self-service kiosk at the terminal and check in bags and the bag-drop area. Customers will also be able to self-scan their boarding passes wherever possible to reduce contact with staff. 

Safe social distance markers are in place throughout all airports and at the boarding gates, this is to minimise contact with other customers and staff members. Detail hand sanitising stations are also positioned throughout the terminal, particularly next to touch points like check-in kiosks and arrivals desks.

Whilst in the airport and on the flight, customers are required to wear a face covering at all times. BA reminds its customers that one mask lasts safely for four hours, so if you will travelling longer than four hours you must bring enough masks for your entire journey. 

Whilst on the flight BA will also provide each customer with a ‘personal protection pack’ which will include a Dettoll ‘2 in 1 hand and surface wipe’ and hand sanitiser gel. 

Inflight food options options have also changed to minimise physical contact with crew members. For most flights this will mean you should pre-order drinks and food before you fly. You can find out more here.