We were flying from Heathrow Terminal 5 to Ibiza with BA and our trip was different from previous
flights on this route even before we left for the airport.
I received the usual ‘get ready to fly’ email a couple of days before departure, but instead of advertising all the
things we could buy at a the airport, and reminding us of the food outlets, we were
instead reminded to bring enough face masks for the journey and to make sure we
had downloaded the app to make everything as ‘contact-free’ as possible. We were
also asked to please not arrive any earlier than two hours before a short haul flights
and three hours before a long haul. I’m assuming this is because the longer you’re in
the airport the more likely you are to spread or contract the virus if present and as
capacity is so low there isn’t the usual problem of delays at security.
This turned out to be the case. Once we were out of the uber there were signs telling
us face masks are mandatory from that point and also only passengers are allowed
in the terminal.
There were hand sanitising stations everywhere with sprays and
paper towels to clean suitcase handles too and we noticed several people constantly
cleaning seats, handrails and the check in counters.
Bag Drop Counters at Heathrow Terminal 5
The bag drop counters are no longer manned and the process for this is now quite impressive, easy and quick. You
just scan your boarding pass and you attach the luggage tag yourself. I had used
something similar before with other airlines but this one was the most straightforward
and easy to use so top marks for that.
The boarding pass scan system has been in
place for a while but you are usually then met with quite a queue at security once
you’re through this. Not this time, there was only two people in front of us across all
the lanes so that was a bonus.
Once airside most of the food outlets are closed. Wagamamas, Giraffe and the pub
were unfortunately all locked up and Pret a Manger was the only place to get lunch
and a coffee. The duty free shops are open and Boots the chemist (which was
actually the busiest place in the whole airport). The WH Smith upstairs was closed
but thankfully the one downstairs was open so we could get provisions for the flight
there. Once we sat down in the terminal there are divisions between seats to keep
people apart and everyone I saw seemed to be complying with the mandatory face
mask rule which was good to see.
After all the social distancing we have been doing it is very strange to have someone
so close to you on the plane, especially after everyone had been kept at a distance
in the terminal. I actually thought they would leave a seat space between households
but I assume they are reluctant to do this because of the cost. Both our outbound
and inbound journey were full apart from two or three seats. We kept our masks on
throughout the journey apart from the 5 minutes when we ate the baguettes we had
brought onboard. The crew did give us a bottle of water and some crisps which they
give out in plastic bags and then we return the rubbish to them in plastic bags. We
were also given a sachet of hand sanitiser to use just before take off.
The Journey Home
The return journey was much the same but the day before we flew home we got the
news we would need to quarantine for 14 days once we were home.
At check in and as we boarded the plane we were all asked to scan a QR code which would take us
to the http://www.fco.gov.uk website where we would fill in our details and given details of the
quarantine. This site told us we would be unable to enter the country unless we had
filled it in so I did so on the plane and downloaded the form to show on landing. The crew also reminded us to do this.
On Arrival at Heathrow Terminal 5
There was no one passport control checking if I had filled in the form. However, when I was
using the automated passport machine I got the ‘seek assistance’ message when I
put my passport in and had to go to a manned desk. The staff member checked the
completed, downloaded form. They also checked my address and phone details to
ensure that I had put this information in correctly. There was only a handful of people also
asked to do this so they must be randomly selecting people to check as opposed to
We are now home after a lovely trip but won’t be going anywhere for another two weeks.
If you would like to find out about how other airports are operating contact the team at Eton Leisure.
Thank you to Charlotte Jones aka DJ Lottie for sharing her experiences.