I knew travelling during Covid was going to be very different, but it still didn’t prepare me for what I saw.
Florian and I flew out of Sydney last Sunday and arriving to the airport was very surreal, not just because it was such a long thing coming, but for what we saw when we arrived.
I know people aren’t travelling internationally, but I didn’t expect a ghost town.
The usual hum of welcomes and goodbyes, the beeps of angry taxi drivers and the sound of planes above was non-existent.
The day before the flight, I received an email offering us a discounted upgrade to business class. We decided we’d try our luck at the check in desk instead of paying an extra $2,000 and thank goodness we didn’t take this offer! We were able to be allocated a whole row each, which meant we could lay down and sleep the whole way, something impossible for me to do normally.
You know you are travelling in strange times when the people at border control crack jokes, security have a conversation with you and you don’t feel rushed to repack your carry on with a line of people queuing behind you.
All the stores in the airport were closed and only two eateries were open after customs: Sumo Salad and a kebab shop.
We flew Emirates via Dubai and on a flight that usually carries 300 people, there were 50 onboard, with only the first third of the plane occupied.
Boarding took no time at all and we were able to leave earlier than scheduled.
It was a requirement of passengers to wear a mask throughout the flight unless eating or drinking and we were each given a hygiene kit containing hand sanitiser, gloves and a mask. It was an airline requirement to be Covid tested before flying so I felt safe in that regard, but I did find it annoying when one flyer left his mask off.
The flight attendants wore something resembling disposable scrubs, a mask and a face shield which I know is a necessary precaution, but you can’t help but feel like you have the plague and they don’t want to touch you.
When we arrived at Dubai airport, whilst the numbers of people were still quite low, everything was open like normal. The duty free stalls had customers shopping, the eateries had diners and the gates had a few more people waiting at them. I guess with Emirates being one of the only airlines operating at the moment, it makes sense that this airport would be busy.
The second leg of the flight was just as empty and we were able to get seats with extra legroom. We decided to stay awake for this flight so we didn’t get into Paris already having slept when we arrived at 2 pm.
All in all, it was an interesting experience and I’m so grateful I’m one of the lucky few people who have been allowed to travel and follow my dream of living overseas this year.
I mentioned to Florian today that I hope Covid passes soon so all our friends and family can come and visit us over here, but until then, we will just keep making the most of each day and continue to explore this beautiful city.