Travel now...what to expect

Catherine Mackey on 09 July 2020

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I have a duty of care to my clients as their trusted advisor, to provide honest, accurate, and up to date guidance across all stages of the planning, booking and travel experience. This includes everything from the latest advice from governments around the world, changes in travel insurance requirements, new entry procedures, airport and in-flight protocols, information about accommodation health and safety policies, booking with as much flexibility as possible should plans need to change, and protecting every penny of my clients money.

At the moment there are broadly three types of attitudes to travel, depending on personal circumstances – those who are definitely not wanting to travel anywhere soon, those that would love to travel but are holding off because they are unsure what it will be like, and those desperate to be on the first plane out of here (me!).

On 9th July I travelled on one of the first flights out of the UK, returning on 11th July, without the need for a 14 day quarantine on return, to see for myself what the experience was like first hand to enable me to provide the best possible service to my customers.

MANCHESTER AIRPORT

On arrival at Terminal 3 it felt a bit like a ‘ghost airport’, eerily quiet. Once inside you need to wear a face covering in most areas. Around the airport there are spacing signs on the floor at regular intervals and hand sanitisers everywhere.

Going though airport security was a dream - in less than 5 minutes we were through. Manchester Airport are trialling free pre-booked 15 minute security time slots, which we had booked but did not need as it was so quiet. The pre-booked time slots might come in useful though as more flights resume operation over the summer.

Once through security, the essential retail units were open - WHSmiths, Boots, Duty Free, and the Lion & Antelope Bar – so everything you really need! There were no queues and a lovely buzz in the air of travellers excited to get away.

IN FLIGHT

On the flight masks are mandatory except when eating & drinking. There was a hot and cold food & and cold drink service on the flight (no hot drinks, or ice for my G&T ?).

It’s not compulsory for younger children to wear masks on the flight but it is of course better for them and for everyone else if they will wear some kind of face covering (age guidelines are different for each airline, under 12s exempt on Ryanair, under 6s on Jet2, and under 14s on BA). Wearing a mask for any length of time isn’t the most pleasant experience but the safest way to go, and combined with the way air is filtered on flights, as safe as it can be.

Queuing for the toilets in-flight is a bit tricky as without an ‘actual stand up queue’ it’s difficult to know when it’s your turn. TOP TIP if you need to go when you need to go pre-book seats up front!

Everyone on board our flight was in good spirits and looking forward to their days, or weeks, ahead in sunny Majorca.

ENTRY REQUIREMENTS

Many countries are now asking for additional information for track & trace purposes. For Spain you are required to register your details online 48 hours in advance of your arrival. You are issued with a unique QR code which must be presented upon arrival at immigration. Entry requirements can change at any time and I am constantly monitoring the destinations that my clients are travelling to so that they are fully informed of what they need to do. The most accurate source of up to date information is always the Foreign & Commonwealth Office.

HOTEL EXPERIENCE

In our hotel, as with all the all the major hotel chains, there was socially distanced queuing at check-in & hand sanitiser dispensers are everywhere, especially by the lifts, and only people staying together are allowed in the lift at one time.

The main area where everyone gathers, the restaurant, is well managed and does take a bit longer to enter as you have to wait in a socially distanced queue to be seated. Then there was a spaced out queue for the buffet, which is served to minimise contact with the serving utensils. All the usual food is available, salads & desserts pre-prepared in little individual pots, cooking stations, tapas and fresh locally caught fish.

Masks have to be worn at all times around the restaurant apart from when seated at your table, whilst all other areas of the hotel mask wearing is recommended but it is your choice. Everyone complies and it’s easy to get used to. After the first time in the restaurant the procedure just feels normal and, dare I say it, even a more pleasant experience to enjoy your meal, once seated with mask off, with all the tables well spaced out.

In the outdoor areas around the pools the experience is no different from normal, no special rules above general distancing guidelines. Everyone happy, chilled and respecting personal space.

Our hotel was operating at their now “full capacity” which was around 70% of what they can normally accommodate and there was plenty of space for all to enjoy the facilities as normal.

PALMA CITY & PLAYA DE PALMA

We spent a morning visiting the beautiful city of Palma, a short taxi ride from Playa de Palma where we were staying by the beach. The taxis have clear plastic screens to protect the drivers and mask wearing is advised. Palma City is great for shopping (masks on in shops), pavement cafes serving delicious sangria, yachts in the harbour, tapas for lunch alfresco and the stunning Cathedral of Santa Maria.

Our afternoon on the beach near our hotel in Playa de Palma was lovely. The long sandy beach is really clean with plenty of space for all, and a dip in the warm blue Mediterranean Sea perfect to cool off from the 30 degree heat. The locals and bar owners we spoke to agreed that everything was much quitter than usual for July, but busy enough to still have a relaxed holiday resort atmosphere. Perfect.

Another change is that rather than having menus, most bars and restaurants have QR codes so you are not having to pick something up that has been used previously and it downloads the menus straight to your phone. Waiter service was offered pretty much everywhere, and we witnessed regular cleaning in the resort establishments.

I hope this report from my trip to Majorca is useful and provides some re-assurance to those that need it - as always I'm always here to answer any questions anyone has.

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