Travel in the time of Covid – Airport, flight and hotel review

Holly Westwood | 17 Dec, 2020

With travel, restrictions, and all things Covid very hot topics at the moment, Inspiring Travel Co. Sales Manager Holly recently travelled to the beautiful Maldives. She sent back a full report on the travel experience, so you can find out what it’s really like to go on holiday at the moment.

I couldn’t wait to get back out travelling again after spending so much of 2020 stuck inside! I was a little bit nervous before I arrived at the airport, but the procedures were really clear and travelling turned out to be a breeze! My top tip is to make sure you’ve fully checked the Foreign, Commonwealth & Development Office (FCDO)’s list of travel updates before you go.

The Airport Experience:

  • Everyone inside and around Manchester Airport was wearing masks, which made me feel really safe right from the off.
  • Only those travelling were allowed inside the terminal, with staff members at the entrances to check boarding passes.
  • At check-in I was asked to show my PCR test result with my passport. They also asked to see my hotel confirmation; I didn’t have a print-out but they accepted seeing my email confirmation. 
  • Police and security personnel were doing random passport checks on the other side of security.
  • Inside, Duty Free was open, along with a few shops such as Boots and WHSmith. When I was there, no bars or restaurants were open.
  • At the boarding gate you hand in your declaration of health form (a requirement to land in Dubai). I had already completed my form at home, which I’d recommend doing to save time, though they do also hand forms out at check-in.

Overall, the airport experience felt very normal and easy. It was reassuring to see lots of health and safety measures in place, and nothing felt too different… apart from no pre-flight fizz! 

The Emirates Flight

  • Masks are mandatory on board; airline staff make sure passengers are wearing face coverings at all times.
  • Everyone on board was given their own Travel Hygiene Kit. It includes masks, hand sanitiser and gloves – always good to have extras!  
  • Other things like the pillow, blanket and headset were provided as usual.
  • The main difference was the food offering. There was only one food service, and reduced bar service. There was beer and wine on offer as a limited choice of alcohol.
  • Additionally, there was a small snack and coffee provided an hour before landing
  • If you do wish to make any duty free purchases, it’s all done via your TV headset from the seat.

Wearing a mask for the flight duration took a bit of getting used to, but staff were really efficient and helpful. There were a few small changes, but I was so grateful to be travelling again that I barely noticed them!

Stop at Dubai International Airport 

  • Once we landed, we moved through the connections hall as normal to enter the departure area.
  • I found the gate for my onward flight to the Maldives, and showed my completed online health form (an entry requirement for the Maldives) via QR code.
  • At this point my Covid certificate was checked again. Staff here will ask for your date of travel and match it up to the date of your test. They don’t check the time, just the date; as long as your test was completed no more than 96 hours prior to your original departure, staff then write ‘OK’ on your boarding pass and let you through.

Because every passenger has to go through these checks, and because it’s so important to make sure they’re done correctly, it is a bit of a slow process. The staff at the airport did make us aware that because the checks are so thorough, some flights might take off a little later than scheduled.

Arrival at Velana International Airport, Maldives 

  • After arrival, passengers are transferred onto coaches to get to the terminal. Of course, only a small amount of passengers can board at once due to social distancing, so depending on how full your flight is this can take a bit of time!
  • Inside the airport, there are random temperature checks.
  • To get through immigration into the Maldives, you need to show your passport, boarding pass, Covid certificate and form QR code.

In resort: Four Seasons Landaa Giraavaru

  • Across the island, all staff were wearing masks
  • You’re provided your own hygiene kit in your room – including a set of masks and hand sanitiser
  • QR codes are used for ALL menus at the restaurants/bars
  • There are sanitiser stations around the resort, so you can always give your hands a quick clean
  • All activities open as normal

In resort: Milaidhoo

  • Staff wear masks at all times
  • No QR codes here - normal menus were handed out
  • You’ll find sanitiser stations around the resort
  • Every morning at breakfast guests are given a temperature check
  • Masks and sanitisers are given to you on departure for your journey
  • All activities are open as normal. While I was here, I did a sunset dolphin cruise, swimming with mantarays, evening fishing trip and also had spa treatments. For social distancing reasons, activities are limited to six guests at a time

Holly’s travel tips

  • Make sure you’ve checked which forms and declarations you need before you travel.
  • Double check when you need to have completed your negative tests relative to your flight.
  • It only takes around three minutes to fill in the DXB health declaration form for my stopover in Dubai, and then about ten minutes to fill in the Maldives version. For this you need to upload a picture and your negative Covid certificate to be given your QR code immediately.
    • This needs to be done 24 hours before your departure flight to the Maldives – so in my case it was 24 hours before my flight from Dubai, not the original flight from Manchester. Depending on your flight times, you may need to redo the form closer to your Maldives-bound flight.

Once you’ve completed the right forms and got your negative test results, it’s pretty easy to get through the airport protocols. It’s encouraging to see rules on masks and social distancing, and I felt safe throughout my journey.

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