This year has been all kind of years, the pandemic of the COVID-19 put the world on the stop, and while it’s definitely not the worst, a lot of travellers like me had to cancel or reschedule their travel plans.
Or fly back home as soon as possible, which was my case. Therefore I thought I would share my experience flying during the COVID-19 pandemic.
I happened to be on the other side of the world travelling in Japan when we had to make a choice and do the right thing by flying back home in the middle of the COVID-19 pandemic as the world was shutting down and every country went on a general lockdown.
Flying During the Covid-19 Pandemic: My Experience
Table Of Contents
Back at the beginning close to the middle of March I and my friends flew to Japan, things were a little unsure but as our plane wasn’t cancelled we decided to go through and see what happens.
Quite a few places were closed in Japan such as amusement parks (Disneyland Tokyo, Fuji-Q..), museums and exhibits (Tokyo Borderless TeamLab…) as well.
That made us a bit hesitant at first, I mean some of the things we had planned to do were closed but they were still a lot to see and we had already paid everything and at that moment weren’t sure we could get a refund.
A little backstory
France was still allowing travel, and Japan seemed to function as normal despite the closing, pretty much business as usual despite a few closing.
I had been to Japan before and from my perspective life there seemed to be going a normal as before. Maybe a couple more persons wearing masks in the transports, foreigners and us all.
We saw quite a lot of tourists around as well. So, we weren’t the only ones that still decided to go through, which stupidly in a way at the time comforted us that we made the right decision.
Things were pretty great for the first half of our trip we actually got to tick off a lot of our bucket list!
Of course, with this title, you can guess that wasn’t going to last. And those last few moments of what is, for me, a perfect memory that I will forever cherish and what would come next really highlighted how much we took for granted in life.
It was a good reminder to be grateful for what I have and not envy what I don’t have.
But, I digress.
Things started to unravel on our last day in Ishigaki, an island in Okinawa.
I had been checking our flight status quite often and one morning as we were waiting for the local bus, turns out that our flight status was, written in bold capital red letters, CANCELLED. Now, that wasn’t as fun as when I went to the wrong airport.
Although we can’t say that was a real surprise, as we had already been talking about this eventuality and possibly going back home sooner because of how the whole pandemic was evolving as well as personal reasons.
What happened after our flight was cancelled?
After the new of our flight being cancelled was dropped we needed to find a new solution to come back home.
That was for sure, the only point we weren’t too sure at first was when should we go back home. The next day? In a couple of days? Or maybe even try and finish the trip?
But that was cleared up quickly as the sooner was the better.
On March 27th we landed back in Tokyo, Haneda in the late afternoon.
After being sent left and right and given a phone number that didn’t work we managed our way to the right terminal, the international flight one.
I briefly explained the situation to the hostess at the desk, that our flight had been cancelled and we would like to be re-booked on another flight.
Turns out, we got extremely lucky. The last flight deserving Paris from Tokyo was the very next day at 11 am.
After that, there were no more flight until the 25th of April with ANA, our company, and even then it was unsure either the company would resume their flight or not.
Of course, worst-case scenario we could have tried to get a refund and fly with another company but that would have been more expensive.
So, in the midst of the chaos that was a bit of a relief to know that we had found a solution, even though you can guess, but we were gutted.
How was it to fly during the covid-19 pandemic?
After a failed attempt to explain to our hostel that we were only staying this night and cancelling the rest, some late night shopping at DONKI for some souvenirs and a mere few hours of sleep we were back at Haneda.
We got there fairly early, so, we had time to check the shops before the customs in a nearly empty airport. That’s how I found a 1-meter long Shirotan, and well, I decided I should buy it just because.
Just like on my previous trip in 2015 with my giant Kapibara-san that didn’t miss to make the flight attendants laugh and find it, oh so kawaii.
At the airport almost everyone was wearing a mask and trying to maintain social distancing, we were also able to buy some mask at one shop, as I knew my family didn’t really have any at home.
Social distancing was maintained for as long until the boarding started, then you would have thought it was any regular boarding, some people were trying to keep distance but that was not happening.
The flight was pretty packed, as expected, I mean it was the last flight after all. However we were sat two by two in two-row of free and no one came to sit next to us, so that was cool.
A few people weren’t wearing a mask, which wasn’t the best call but then again we pretty much all removed our mask for lunch and drinks and everyone was pretty close.
So, I guess in a way the effort of wearing a mask was kind of a wasted effort. Also wearing the same mask for way over 12h, from the moment we left the hotel to the moment I got back home, the mask was probably ineffective.
However, it was nice to see that most people and we kept it on whenever we didn’t need to remove it. This felt like the best option.
Landing Back In France
We landed in Roissy Charles De Gaulle, where most international flights land, and at this time were all remaining flights landed because the other main airport of Paris, Orly was closed.
The airport was empty except for a few workers when we got off the plane, not a single souls waiting to board as you’d usually see the terminal pretty lively with people.
At that time, 28th of March France and Paris were in full lockdown with very restrictive measures.
Does that mean we were checked up upon arrival?
Does that mean we were advised to quarantine and isolated for 14 days?
We walked out of the airport as easily as we got in, without any check-up whatsoever. I only saw a few sign advising people to keep a distance from each other but that was it.
This was extremely disappointing and shows how badly France handled the pandemic on some points. It’s incredible to think that you’d let about anyone and everyone back in the country without at least doing the minimum effort by checking their temperature and advising them to stay isolated.
I stayed in isolation and avoided my family as much as I could during the first 14 days, as I didn’t have to work ( I mean with COVID I don’t even have a job anyway) and also because it was a common-sense as the whole country was on lockdown.
But I know not everyone thinks the same way, so, it’s very disappointing to have noticed from first hand no actions being taken. And if you read more testimony of people flying back to France it has stayed the same for a while.
That concludes my experience and kind of travel diary on flying during the COVID-19 pandemic! I know I’m not the only one who had to fly during the pandemic if you had to take a flight during the pandemic let me know how was it in the comment down below!
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FLYING DURING THE COVID-19 PANDEMIC: MY EXPERIENCE