10 days ago, I decided to take the plunge and I booked flights to Tenerife for me and my 7 year old twins.
Our Easter and Whit trips had obviously been cancelled and with us being fortunate to now have our own little place out there, I felt confident enough to escape to the sun.
So we recently flew out from Manchester with Jet2.
The flight was always going to be the great unknown – so how was it flying alone with two 7 year olds in this new normal?
Our flight was at 9am and I have never seen it so quiet. We were checked in and through security in 15 minutes! Jet2 Check in was as normal, except you showed your passports and boarding passes through a Perspex screen rather than anyone holding them to inspect. Cases went off on the conveyor belt, there were plenty of staff and everyone was wearing a mask and just as friendly as always.
I had booked a free slot on line for security but that wasn’t needed due to the lack of passengers, we just sailed through. But rest assured all the usual security measures were still in place.
Boots, WHSmiths and the duty free were open, but that was about if for shopping and it looked like there was one bar open – and very little else. Fortunately I always pack a large airport picnic, and we easily found a quiet space to eat this.
There were regular tannoy announcements about wearing masks and staying 2m apart and pretty much everyone I saw was cooperating. There were also an abundance of hand sanitiser stations all around, so all in all the airport felt quite clean, calm and safe – but that was hugely helped by the lack of passengers.
We boarded on time onto what felt like a very clean aircraft. The staff were all in masks but still greeting you warmly at the top of the steps as always.
There were no additional hand luggage restrictions, so we took onboard a lot of the large picnic plus a bag of inflight entertainment as normal.
I had brought copious amounts of hand sanitiser (in small bottles) and a large pack of anti bac wipes with me, and once the kids were seated I wiped down all the touch points in our area. I also took wipes whenever one of us went to the loo for door handles, locks etc . We also used hand gel every 20 mins or so and absolutely before we ate or drank anything – I’m not normally overly cautious but here I was!!
The children surprised me with their willingness to wear their masks the entire time. In fact, twin 1 – normally the more contrary – actually commented that she’d settled into it now. However I wish the same could have been said for other passengers.
The flight deck and cabin crew announcements all ask you to wear a mask, not walk around and not queue for the loo, but not everyone paid attention. Which made it a little stressful in parts, particularly when explaining to your children why they have to when others aren’t. The crew offered a full on board service, but in reality I would have liked to see less trolley runs (keeping aisles free-er too) and more policing of the rules (but I appreciate it’s not easy!) Children 6 and under are not required to wear a mask on a jet2 aircraft, but they don’t make this very widely known.
You can of course remove your mask to eat and drink as you need to, which was welcome news to us as on a 4 hour flight, a wide range of pre packed treats are essential to see my kids through, and more seriously, I find wearing a mask quite dehydrating, so was keen we all drank as much water as possible.
On arrival in any Spanish airport you now need to present a health form with qr code for every passenger. I’d completed ours online and had phone and paper copies with me. The children were required to present their own form with their passport open at the photo page, so if you have shy or reluctant children it might be worth going through this before hand . If you haven’t completed one, you need to do this at the airport – and that was a bizarrely crowded table, with shared pens and no social distancing… so worth doing it in advance.
Tenerife airport was even quieter than Manchester, so we had collected our bags and were out in the fresh air, finally removing our masks just 15 mins after landing – unheard of normally.
The verdict on flying during Covid?
Taking aside the very personal decision of whether you want to travel this summer, if you do, it was much less stressful than I thought. The quieter airports and planes make travelling with young children easier generally. The staff are all well briefed and keen to help keep you as safe as possible and on board (with Jet 2 anyway) very little has changed. So pack plenty of well fitting comfortable face masks, lots of hand sanitiser and anti bac wipes; make sure you’ve completed all the paperwork you’ll need and if necessary the children know what to do with it; then put them by the window with their tablets, colouring and snacks and you’ll feel the warm sun on your face before you know it