Post-Covid air travel – are airports back to normal?

Our amigurumi travel companion looking out at airplanes on the runway.

Happy Easter everyone!

Photo from 2015. Yes, that is wine on the table… For breakfast 😀

We decided to spend this Easter holiday in Croatia with my family. I haven’t been home for Easter since 2015. I miss the big breakfast feast my mum makes. Also, our family dog is really old and his health is failing, we need to give him as many cuddles as possible.

Last summer, Ryanair opened a direct line from Stansted to Zagreb throughout the year. This made going home for shorter periods, outside of the tourist season, easier and much cheaper.

So what airport adventures did we have this time?

The queues

With the UK dropping all the travel restrictions and many other countries opening their borders (Croatia removed all restrictions the day before we arrived), you can expect the airport to be packed. And it is packed. The queues for check-in desks snake all the way to airport entrances. Even though the notice board says your destination is at a specific desk, Ryanair had all the desks open for all the destinations. In short, it was pretty chaotic.

Luckily, the airport has a self-bag drop section (section G) – you bring your bag to a machine, scan your boarding pass, weigh the bag and attach the printed out bag tag. You then drop it off in section H (just before security).

There was a massive queue for the bag drop as well, but it went much faster than the one for check-in + bag drop.

A couple of tips to get through this ordeal faster:

  • Check-in online! Not only will everything go faster, but it will also save you money.
  • If possible, travel with hand luggage only. This way, if you’re checking in online and have no bags for the hold, you can go straight to security.
  • If you are travelling with someone, split up between the queues – the one that gets there faster calls the other person and you both go through.
  • Get to the airport earlier than you usually would.

The illusion of extremely busy security

Last year we missed our flight to Zadar due to the massive queues for security checks. As I was waiting in the self bag drop queue, I noticed that there were people waiting to go through security in the main airport sector – the queues were so long that the passengers couldn’t all go through the boarding pass check gates.

We learned our lesson from our one and only missed flight and I quickly bought fast track for both of us. As we passed through the boarding pass check gates and got to the security, we saw the reason for the long queues.

The current situation at Stansted is that the security sector is split in two – one half for the fast track, the other for the “commoners”. This means that non-fast-tracked passengers now have only half the space to queue in and go through the lanes. This then creates the illusion that there are a lot more people queueing, when in fact, they just don’t have as much space anymore.

This illusion makes you think you’ll never get through security in time even though you have about 2 hours until your flight so you end up buying fast track and spending more money. Don’t get me wrong, I don’t regret getting our fast track add on as this was the first stress-free, actually relaxing airport trip we had in years. But it is a cheeky way to scare people to spend more money.

Arrivals at Zagreb airport, a nice contrast to crowded Stansted.

The world is slowly going back to pre-covid days. This does not mean that Covid is the thing of the past – it is not and will most likely never be. It will be one of those diseases we have to learn to live with.

Masks are no longer mandatory in airports, but airlines still demand wearing masks while on the plane. The distance between people is no longer a must, but after all this time I think the majority of us got used to the luxury of not having random people breathe within our personal space.

The world is going back to normal, yes, but we should definitely learn something from the past two years of isolation and fear. Let’s not disregard all security measures and let’s keep wearing masks when not feeling too well or when in overly crowded spaces. A little goes a long way.

When was the last time you boarded a plane? Have you travelled during the pandemic? Let us know in the comment section!

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