Travel for Peter and I is a simple and easy process. We decide when we want to fly, where and when and book the flight.
For Peter most of his travel is for work, he gets a taxi to the airport, a taxi on arrival and off to his hotel/meeting. When he arrives in the UK for a visit to family and friends, I've usually travelled ahead of him and I will collect him and return him to the airport.
When I travel I'm visiting family and friends. On arrival in the UK I collect car hire or I'll use public transport to reach our home, just hiring a car for a week or two usually when Peter is in the country. When I travel to visit other family and friends outside the UK, they will pick me up and either lend me their car or drive me around.
Travel during covid has been a completely different experience for us both.
I actually left Dubai on March 24th, I was due to fly at 10am with British Airways, but on the 20th my flight was cancelled, I rebooked for the same day but at 2pm and on arrival at T1 in Dubai I discovered this was actually the last flight out and as mentioned above, the borders closed behind me. Emirates had stopped flying on the 22nd.
It was a full flight and apart from the social distancing in the airport, there was no noticeable difference to how the flight went. I did have to isolate for 2 weeks on arrival in the UK but there were no forms to fill in or questions asked on my arrival.
My return flight earlier this week was very different. I flew with Emirates. I had a mass of paperwork to complete before I checked in. Health declarations, a negative covid test, permission from the UAE government to return to Dubai as a resident and on arrival had to download a covid tracer app and present another health declaration. I was required to wear a mask from entering the terminal in Heathrow, until getting in Peter's car in Dubai.
My actual flight with Emirates was very different, I've spent 5 months social distancing and only going out for essential shopping. I've also been enjoying social distanced visits with family and friends in the garden and when I've had to go out more often or have had people in my house, I've felt very uncomfortable and completely out of my comfort zone. My anxiety has reached levels where I've just wanted to hide away and tell people to go home and I've walked out of environments such as coffee shops and supermarkets when I've felt unsafe.
All the way from my arrival at an empty T2, where I dropped my car through to the departure gate, I was encouraged to keep a two meter distance from everyone, with areas clearly sign posted.
An empty Terminal, restaurants, bars and most shops closed.
I fly regularly, I have silver status with Emirates, I get to board first in economy. Then 2 people sat behind me, 1 person in front of me and then a man sat in the aisle seat and all of a sudden after 2 months of social distancing, I was surrounded. I felt claustrophobic, I struggled to breathe, I just wanted to get off the plane and walk into open space. I knew I'd be unable to just get up and walk around during the flight as we were requested not to even queue for toilets. We weren't allowed to move seats.
I phoned Peter, he calmed me down and told me to explain how I felt to the cabin crew, by the time I rang the bell, tears were streaming down my face and I just wanted to get off the plane.
The cabin crew were amazing, I can't thank Jaime enough, she took me to an open space and found an empty row at the front of the plane with more space in front of me, checking I was OK during the flight. There was still someone sitting behind me, but I felt less hemmed in and more relaxed and the flight for me, which then proceeded as normal.
The cabin crew were wearing plastic aprons and gloves, we were given a Travel hygiene Kit, which I used during the flight. No menus were given out and the drinks service was limited to wine and beer only with the usual soft drinks and tea/coffee served as normal.
As we were leaving the plane, the Captain requested we maintained a 2 meter distance when disembarking, which I thought was the most ridiculous thing I'd heard in 5 months after spending 7 hours in one of the most claustrophobic environments I'd ever been in.
How anyone can get on a plane to go on a holiday if beyond me, it's not essential travel. I had to return to Dubai to renew my visa and start the process of leaving Dubai by selling my car and closing bank accounts and more importantly to spend time with my husband.
The UK Foreign Office are still advising against all but essential travel. To return to the UK in 3 weeks time I have to have another negative covid test certificate and complete a health declaration and isolate for 2 weeks. However this could all change between now and then so I'm keeping a close eye on the airline and both the UK and UAE government websites.
At least I will be better prepared for my flight home knowing how the flight will operate and therefore I'm not expecting the to have the same high levels of anxiety.