Due to the evolving COVID-19 situation, what can you do as a responsible traveller and what safety measures have airlines and various governments issued to keep passengers safe?
Here are important travel tips we’ve gathered from our travel agents and airline friends…
1. GO TO THE AIRPORT 3-4 HOURS BEFORE FLIGHT
Online check-in is encouraged. Make sure to arrive 4 hours prior to departure from Manila for International flights, and 3 hours prior to departure from Manila for Domestic flights. This is mainly due to the stricter protocols and social distancing, not because there is an influx of people.
2. BRING YOUR OWN ALCOHOL & DISINFECTANT
Passengers are now allowed to bring 10 pcs of 100mL bottles as part of their carry-on. (It should not be more than 100mL per bottle for airport security purposes) The idea of this is for storing alcohol and disinfectants as travel essentials if you wish to additionally sanitize your own space. Don’t forget to bring your own water bottle also.
“When bringing sanitizers for your flight, please make sure to follow the required volume, quantity and alcohol content (70% solution). For your carry-on bag, you may bring up to 100ml of liquids, aerosols, and gels in a transparent, one-liter plastic bag or Security Tamper Evident Bag (STEB for flights to the United States). For your check-in bag/s, you may bring no more than 5L of alcohol.” -Philippine Airlines
3. CHOOSE YOUR AIRLINES CAREFULLY (INTERNATIONAL FLIGHTS)
Be careful when choosing a connecting flight where layovers are not allowed. Worst case scenario you might end of stuck at some random unfamiliar country.
Tip: A travel agents is a life saver. Ms. Chal Chang Lontoc-del Rosario from Jeron Travel adviced that having a travel agent can help you rebook flights easily if the counters and hotlines are busy, book the right connecting flights, and even help you sort out the requirements needed like health certificates and etc.
4. IS THERE SOCIAL DISTANCING IN THE AIRPLANE?
Some airlines might still do distrancing but IATA does not require it of airlines, because having the one seat apart structure isn’t cost effective.
For passengers to feel extra safe, starting July 1, 2020, planes from Philippine Airlines will offer the Distancing Seat option if you book in their Premium Economy Class or in an Economy Flex fare for all PAL and PALex flights.
5. PREPARE THE FOLLOWING DOCUMENTS
Prepare the following travel documents required based on your purpose of travel. Requirements may vary per destination. As such, kindly check with your local government unit for the full list of travel requirements.
Note: Travel for Leisure is not allowed yet.
6. BRING FACEMASK
For obvious reasons, all passengers must bring their own face masks to use at the airport and throughout the flight. Failure to bring a face mask will mean that you will not be allowed to board your flight.
DIY Mask & facesheild are allowed in domestics flights, but for international flights only surgical masks are allowed by the concerned local authorities. Infants up to 2 years old are exempted from the face mask requirement.
7. BRING A PEN
There will be plenty of forms you need to fill up including health declaration form and another form specific for COVID-19 contact tracing.
8. EAT A HEAVY MEAL BEFORE YOUR FLIGHT
Some airlines will only serve snacks for the meantime, to lessen contact and spreading.
9. STRICTLY 7 KILOS FOR HAND CARRY BAG.
Only one hand carry and one laptop bag is allowed.
“Passengers must ensure that their carry-on bag is within the required specifications: Length of 22 inches / 56cm, Width of 14 inches / 36cm, Height of 9 inches / 23 cm, and Weight of 15 lbs / 7 kilos. On top of the carry-on bag, only two of the following items may be carried inside the cabin: Laptop Computer, Small Bag, Overcoat / Wrap / Blanket, Reasonable amount of reading material/s, Small Camera or Binoculars, Infant Case, Infant Food, and Sealed Duty-Free Bag. For PWDs, the previous items shall be in addition to assistive devices” -Philippine Airlines
10. QUARANTINE PROTOCOLS
For Domestic Travellers self-quarantine is mandatory. Make sure to be responsible and stay at home.
“The Philippine government is implementing stricter quarantine and testing procedures for all arriving passengers, effective immediately, under a new directive from the Inter-Agency Task Force on COVID-19.
Upon arrival, all passengers will undergo a swab test (RT PCR Covid 19 testing) to be performed by trained personnel from the Bureau of Quarantine (BOQ).
While awaiting test results, passengers must stay either in a government-designated stringent quarantine facility or in a BOQ approved quarantine hotel.
Payment for accommodation in a government-designated quarantine facility shall be based on the following guidelines:
1. For land-based OFWs, the cost shall be shouldered by the Overseas Workers Welfare Administration;
2. For sea-based OFWs, cost shall be shouldered by the Maritime Industry Authority or by the local manning agency;
3. All other travelers (Filipino or foreign nationals), who are non-OFWs, will pay for the cost of their accommodation.
Accommodation in a BOQ-approved quarantine hotel will be to passengers’ own cost, regardless if they are OFWs or not.
Travelers whose test results are positive will be transferred to a designated hospital for further medical management.
Travelers whose test results are negative will be allowed to move out and undergo a 14-day quarantine at home or at an appropriate local monitoring facility.
For more details and information on these new requirements and related concerns, you may call the government’s One Stop Shop hotline number +63 9161019964.”
P.S. BONUS (Frequently asked Questions):
Is the Air Condition safe in the Plane?
I’m not very techy, but from what I understand aircraft are equipped with HEPA filters and air circulation systems. That means air is pumped in through High Efficiency Particulate Arrestor (HEPA) filters that trap the viruses, bacteria and other contaminants with 99.9% efficiency, the same technology employed in hospital operating rooms.
Be Very Patient
“Mag Baon ka ng Pasensya.” You can’t avoid delays, and even long lines during check-in at your hotel especially during a pandemic, when there plenty of factors and safety measures in place.
Who are the countries that managed their Coronavirus crisis well?
There are talks of Bubble Travel between countries who have successful contained the virus and follow the same quarantine protocols. The idea is to enable travelers to fly between the two countries without the need to undergo a 14-day quarantine upon arrival. For example countries like Australia and New Zealand who have great ties are considering this. For Asia talks between Taiwan, Thailand, Vietnam and Japan are also being studied.
Ice Lands also opened its tourism last June 15, but not for all. Passengers arriving will have to choose from a COVID-19 test (Free for the month of June only), or a two-week quarantine. Such moves can help the tourism & trade industry.
How Can You Be A Responsible Traveller?
Bonus advice is to get clearance for now with your Barangay. It’s easy too. Although not completely accurate, rapid testing before travel could be good too for your certificate and to be a responsible traveler.
To learn more about When Can we Travel listen to our Live chat with Jeron Travel.
Live an Awesome Life,
ABI of Team Our Awesome Planet
Disclosure: I wrote this article with my biases, opinions and insights.