I had originally booked on an Easyjet flight departing from Manchester to Malaga on the 01st July, but checking for flights to Malaga had become a bit of a lock-down boredom habit and so I spotted Ryanair had sneakily released some seats departing 22nd June.
Slightly disappointed there were no flights from Manchester (my original 01 July flight still the earliest), I proceeded to make a new booking from Birmingham to head over to Malaga.
Easyjet have relaxed their amendment fees due to covid-19 so I can still use the original fare that I had booked by just paying the difference in fare (if any) and providing I make the amendment at least 14 days in advance.
On arrival to Birmingham airport, the approach had a much different feel and I knew I was in for a much different airport experience. The usual gangs of smokers trying to cram in a last cigarette were replaced with complete silence and eeriness. No gangs of youths heading for a party in Ibiza. No sad relatives waving goodbye to their loved ones.
Entering the terminal into departures at Birmingham airport there was clear signage informing that only travelling passengers could enter and that your temperature would be taken. Surprisingly there were no member of staff or security to police this as you entered. I spotted what appeared to be a temperature checker as you entered but I’m not sure if this was being manned remotely or who would come to find me should I have given a reading for concern?
Despite the lack of a long queue, the check-in process with Ryanair was the same as usual, having to self-check in and label and drop your own bag. A passport check was carried out by a cheery Ryanair crew member, this was done well under one meter and it felt like breaking all the rules when he took my passport from my hand into his hands and then handed it back. I felt contaminated. It’s hocking how quickly we adapt and once a trivial check becomes a feeling of serious unease.
Hungry for a snack before I headed through to departures I headed to the vending machine, the chocolate and crisp that would usually cost about £4 with airport premiums, were on covid-vending-neglect sale at 30p a go – every cloud.
I got to the security belt with super speed, only one person in the queue before me, I felt thankful I didn’t hand over Ryanair that extra cash for speedy-upgrade that they had emailed recommending buying for ‘covid safety’. The jobsworth airport-security still managed to make me feel I was breaking every law, taking too much time and at verge of arrest, despite the unusually chilled process.
Through to departures, the usual buzz of the airport felt more like a the Trafford centre after closing time. The shops, bars and restaurants all closed and locked except for Boots. I’m usually frivolous on duty-free and an airport pint, so this was certainly going to be my cheapest ever airport visit.
Boarding the flight, social distancing measures were thrown out the window as people rushed to the gate to escape locked-down Britain, I suppose when you were about to crammed into a metal tube with re-cycled air, it wasn’t going to make much of a difference.
The flight looked approximately 40% – with a bit of planning Ryanair would have been able to social distance the passengers, but they made no attempt and strangers sat in rows together whilst other rows were empty.
The flight attendant and captain repeatedly advised that masks needed to be worn at all times except for eating and drinking, and that passengers must press the call button to ask permission to go to the toilet. Neither instruction was strictly adhered to. People were compliant in not queuing for the toilet but nobody was asking permission.
As for masks, I noticed that people were quite obedient until after the drinks trolley, a few wines in the drinkers decided that a mask was too much of a hindrance and prevented their conversations from being heard from fellow passengers 12 rows back and off they came. They wasn’t reprimanded by the crew.
A family behind me asked the crew for some spare masks as the ones they had bought were not comfortable for the kids, they were advised that no spare masks were available but children under 12 were exempt anyway. Just my luck to be sat in front of the only kids on the flights. Kick, kick, kick in the back.
Other than no food service the flight pretty much felt as usual. How disappointing no food, who isn’t partial to a 12 euro stale sandwich?
Arrival into Malaga was a breeze, no questions, no forms just a quick scan of my head to see if I had a temperature. With so little traffic the cases were already on the belt and off I went into the land of the free.
I’ve had my 4 month over due haircut and now its off for a 12 month overdue Gym session!