Covid-19 Restrictions Confuse Travellers

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Chinedu Eze with agency report

As the global Covid-19 pandemic drags on, travellers and crew on intercontinental flights are getting used to wearing face coverings in public spaces and adhering to other measures such as social distancing, imposed by airlines, airports and authorities to stop the spread of infection.

However, Flight Global has reported that while the industry is still seeing significantly lower passenger traffic than just three months ago, travellers who venture abroad have to deal with a patchwork of government regulations that can be confusing for the uninitiated or the unprepared.

Michael Gallagher, in transit from Frankfurt to Chicago on Friday and whose job regularly takes him to Asia and Europe, said flexibility is key to navigating travel in the age of the virus.

“The hardest thing about all this is that the rules are different everywhere, and sometimes you even get wrong information at the airport,” he said.

For example, at Germany’s Frankfurt International airport on 22 May, check-in agents advised passengers that due to “federal police regulations” they were only permitted to take one piece of carry-on luggage through the security checkpoint, even though their airline had told them a carry-on bag and a personal item were allowed.

However, at the security checkpoint, officers said there was no one-bag rule.

“It’s all a bit baffling,” Gallagher added. “The people working at the airport don’t even know the rules.”

Flight Global also reported that on a recent transatlantic flight, operated on a Boeing 747-8 aircraft, the total passenger count was 111 – zero in first class, 11 in business class, and 100 in economy, one flight attendant said. Normally, that aircraft can carry almost 300 passengers. All passengers over the age of six were required to wear face coverings.

Much of the drop off in demand is a result of government-imposed shelter-in-place orders or quarantine requirements. But as the number of newly reported cases begins to decline globally, countries are reassessing regulations and airlines are beginning to reinstate some suspended flights.