Flying during Covid times – Local flight experience

Flying during Covid times – A local flight experience

It had been a year since we were last on a plane . We had flown to Cape Town in March 2020 but our trip had ended abruptly when the president announced the very first lockdown and we had to rush home by car because flights were getting booked out and the remaining flight prices had rocketed sky-high. We were attempting to recreate the trip we were supposed to do then.

We booked our flights within 10 days of flying through Discovery Vitality and .

Our tickets said that we should get to the airport at least 90 minutes prior to the flight time.

Online check-ins were done once they opened up 24 hours before the flight.

We got to OR Tambo International Airport approximately 90 minutes beforehand and were asked to sanitize at the entrance while the thermal scanner at the entrance took our temperatures.

It was a Saturday afternoon and the airport wasn’t very busy.

Sanitizers were available throughout the airport.

Social distancing markers were in place throughout the airport wherever there were potential queues.

After dropping our bags off at the check-in counter, we went through the boarding gates and enjoyed a Margherita pizza at Coffee and Cream (aka Piece-a-Pizza) before we boarded our flight.

Social distancing didn’t seem to apply on the plane and passengers were seated quite close to each other as would normally be the case. My family and I occupied a row of seats so fortunately we did not have to sit next to any strangers.

There were a few notable differences compared to our normal flights out of Covid times. Here are the main ones:

  • Passengers were repeatedly reminded to keep their masks on throughout the flight and flight attendants checked occasionally if this was being adhered to.
  • In-flight food services were suspended. (This refers to Kulula’s buy-on-board service, as they don’t have any other food catering service).
  • The magazines which were normally in the seat pockets were absent too.
  • After the flight had landed, small groups of passengers were allowed to disembark at a time.

Please note that these were the differences that we experienced on our Kulula flight. They will probably depend on the airline you are flying on.

Once we landed at Cape Town International Airport, the same temperature scanning, social distancing and sanitising rules seemed to apply.

At the car rental service offices, only the main driver was allowed to enter the office, to avoid crowding.

Eventually, we were back on the road. During our week in Cape Town, we visited Morukuru Beach Lodge in De Hoop Nature Reserve, The Marine Hotel in Hermanus and Tintswalo at Boulders in Simon’s Town. They were all stunning.

Some final thoughts

I can imagine that keeping one’s mask on throughout a long flight could become quite uncomfortable, and I don’t think I’m ready for that yet. We will probably wait for the world to be safer and for the Covid rules to be relaxed before we fly internationally again.

If you are travelling internationally, here are some international flight rules and requirements that you can expect. Just remember that these are things are changing all the time, so familiarise yourself with the latest rules on your airline before flying.

Safe Travel Tips

  • Don’t travel if you are feeling sick.
  • Do keep your mask on at all times.
  • Wash/sanitise your hands regularly.
  • Try to avoid close contact with other people.
  • Have you taken a flight since Covid-19? What was your experience like?

Learn how to apply for or renew your passport online.

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Read about lockdown experiences around the world.


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