First-hand experience: we fly London to Rome

Veronica, one of our senior business travel consultants, travelled to Rome and reports back on her experience.

The airport experience was quite unusual. The first change I noticed was that my airline was departing from Terminal 3 – only Terminals 3 and 5 were open, but it was as straightforward as you’d expect to find the correct check-in desk.

I was required to wear my mask at all times in the airport. I found it didn’t unnerve me, and the airport definitely felt very airy thanks to the massively reduced numbers of people.

I was asked to check my cabin baggage in – the aim of this is to reduce the time passengers spend accessing the overhead lockers, which weren’t permitted to be used on the flight. This seemed sensible – the handles are probably the most touched item on an aircraft!

Before boarding the flight, there was a queue as everybody was required to have their temperature taken. I also filled in a self-certification form to declare that I was fit and well to travel, and (thankfully) have not been displaying any symptoms of Covid-19. It was mandatory to wear my mask during the flight, too. The cabin crew also wore their masks, and they didn’t seem flustered or shy – it was all really reassuring.

Once we were airborne, we found the normal on-board service to be much reduced in order to avoid contact. I can imagine this being a welcome benefit on some of the low-cost airlines as they will hopefully stop selling perfumes and scratch cards!

As we landed in Rome, we were disembarked five rows at a time. Without people retrieving their cabin baggage from the overhead lockers, the disembarkation process was very swift and orderly – this was a novel experience and one I certainly could get used to. The only gripe I would have is if I was only travelling with a cabin bag, but it’s an understandable change.

Saving the best until last, with limited air traffic and therefore many more departure and arrival slots at the pilots’ disposal, the flight time from London to Rome was just 1 hour 45 minutes – it usually takes 2 hours 15 minutes! It certainly made up for the extra time it took to check in.

Once I arrived in Rome, I had my temperature checked again, but I found I didn’t need to fill in a form declaring where I was staying.

I expect that the check-in process will speed up over time as the airlines get used to the new way of working – the old method has been fine-tuned over the past 20 years.

I was reassured by the competence and helpfulness of staff at both airports – everybody knew what they were supposed to be doing, everything was clearly signposted and I never once felt like I shouldn’t be travelling.

– Veronica

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