Traveling as we know it has changed. With new restrictions and regulations changing often, we want to keep our community informed about what to expect when traveling right now. This week we spoke with one of our Ambassadors, Callum Davies, who shared what his experience was like traveling from London to Dubai.
Tell us about your overall departure experience?
We flew out of London Heathrow T5 in mid July. Security was quite quick given that the check in process is now being made longer by the lack of a self check-in kiosk. All check-ins are done by a member of staff at a desk, so they are able to carry out temperature checks and confirm that you have the right forms for arrival at your destination. When departing from Dubai, the security lines were a little longer than those at Heathrow because there was only a single security line open at the time we were there. This may be because there were very few flights leaving at the time we were there — 1:30am!
Regarding social distancing, this was being carried out in both London and Dubai. In some queues there are floor stickers showing you the distance, in other instances, there were signs on the posts advising this. I didn’t see people breaking the rules either!
Did you stop for food anywhere?
At Heathrow we went straight to the Aspire Lounge in T5 and got some food. All staff were wearing masks and there were hand sanitizing stations at regular intervals, or places you would be dealing with staff. The food was pre-packed in boxes for you to pick up and head to a table — drinks were all in plastic glasses for easy disposal.
How was the in-flight experience?
We flew British Airways, World Traveller Plus (Premium Economy). Middle seats were not blocked on both flights, but people were able to move around if there was enough space. The flight to Dubai was almost full, whereas the flight back to London was around 25% full. At all times from entering the airport to the flight, everyone had masks on at both airports.
The in-flight food service was simplified with everything being pre-packed in a box. I believe Premium Economy & Economy both had the same box. Before landing, you were also provided a brown sealed paper bag with a bottle of water and a chocolate bar. Drinks service was carried out as normal.
What was the arrival experience like?
Not required by British Airways, but in Dubai, a COVID-19 test is mandatory upon arrival (unless you are able to provide proof of a negative result within the 96 hrs prior to arrival). Again, social distancing was prominent at both airports. When arriving back to London we went straight to Border Control and they required queuing to see a border officer as the e-gates were not operating — you must complete a government passenger locator form detailing the flight you came in on along with contact details should they need to get hold of you in the next 14 days.
Can you tell us about your experience in Dubai?
The hotel we stayed at (Waldorf Astoria Dubai Palm) required face masks to be worn at all times in public areas (except while eating, or at the pool/beach). Temperature checks were carried out each time you arrived at the hotel, went to the pool area or entered the restaurant. Hand sanitizing stations were also dotted around the hotel at places you would be required to touch surfaces such as the lift lobby, reception and the exits.
Overall Dubai was much less crowded compared to other times I have visited. Masks were mandatory in all public places so everyone had them. One way systems are in place in some shops, and temperature checks are done in the Malls. With exception to the masks and temperature checks, overall nothing else has been negatively impacted, and is just less crowded right now.
Finally, would you recommend people to travel at this time?
Yes, as long as they are traveling safely and keep to all social distancing measures I see no reason people shouldn’t return to traveling. In a way, now there is a small window where traveling is almost better because if you want to visit anything, the tourist numbers are drastically reduced! For example the Aquaventure Waterpark at Atlantis is operating at 30% capacity so there is little to no queuing for the slides etc.