I thought i’d do a write up to help other forum members who are curious/concerned or otherwise regarding current air travel.
I’d booked to go to a middle eastern country way back in 2019, and the holiday had been on and off throughout all of the UK lockdown right up until the ‘last minute’.
I have a hidden disability and usually notify the travel company before hand who then inform the airport and I usually get the pleasure of wearing a lanyard which say’s ‘look at me i’m a human’ which cuts down on all the endless queuing and degrading processes one usually experiences in a airport situation.
Whilst booking this I began to query the mask situation with the robotic special assistance travel agent. At the time of checking in over the phone, it was totally mandatory and there seemed to be no way round it. I threw some far fetched health issues at him like hypoxia and such like to see if that could get me a medical exemption, but it all blew up in my face and the robot was then worried I was too ill to fly, and I had to get a medical form filled out by my Dr to state I was fit to travel (I tried folks, and that f*cking form cost me £30).
Travelling to the airport my mind raced at what to expect. Frisks with barge poles? meter long swabs with COVID on them? endless waiting in quarantine pods?… upon arrival at the airport car park other travellers were starting to mask up as though preparing for some kind of impending doom. I held off, and luckily the driver of the transfer mini bus didn’t seem to care and overloaded said minibus with masked up families and myself.
Upon arrival at the airport itself, everyone was then masked up and it was at this point I was prepared to make a concession or simply not fly at all (this was not easy to make). I put the surgical mask which I had prepared earlier with a hole puncher around my neck. Yes you read that right… I had used a hole punch across the front of the mask as I simply cannot breathe with those damned things on and I also wanted to check whether anyone would pull me up on it. Or whether simply wearing ‘any kind of face covering’ as per government guidelines with the whole agenda, to essentially muzzle us from social contact.
I put the mask up to around mid chin level as a sign of my dedication and intention to wearing it and to show I was a true conformist and believer so other zombies wouldn’t attack me. I also donned my hidden disabilities lanyard as an extra layer of protection and to make staff think twice and question their legal grounds on discrimination before approaching me like a wild banshee.
I managed to wear my mask below my nose and mouth all the way up to the bag check in desk, where I pulled it up for a few moments. Bizarrely the check in girls behind the bag weighing scales were the only ones I met that day not wearing masks. But fear not… they had a plexiglass screen which will have protected them from biowarfare attacks from a front position only, they wouldn’t have faired well if they had been flanked. They asked me to take my mask off which I gladly abided by as they cross checked my passport photo against my face.
Moving on I then had the pleasure of going through security, which for once was fairly quiet and stress free due to the severely reduced footfall from the lack of travellers. It was at this point it started to dawn on me that I had been in the airport for well over 30 minutes and nothing had been broadcasted or mentioned otherwise about the deadly threat from terrorism. Instead this fear mongering had been replaced like for like, with an invisible killer and a much deadlier one so it seemed. As many people were wearing welders masks I thought to myself we could have done with those when nuts and bolts were flying through the air during the countless terrorism attacks we’d seen at U.K airports previously. Anyhow I proceeded through a security scanner i hadn’t encountered before. It was two parallel walls which you had to stand between which no doubt gave me a lovely dose of radiation to set me on my way.
Passing through I was now in the duty free area which was like walking through madam tassauds. The perfume and aftershave staff were stood like statues looking vacant as the odd passenger dripped and drabbed through this area. In yester-year they would have basically heckled you like an Egyptian bazar, instead they were locked into position, due to all the samples and freebies being removed, for signs which basically read “look but don’t touch”. I felt sorry for them, wishing they’d called it a day, but sadly I imagine they think this will all go back to ‘normal’ any day now.
I carried on and found another ghost town of the usual array of shops totally shut down apart from boots and WH Smiths. I forgot to mention at this point since security I had been wearing my mask at mid chin level and still had not been challenged. As mentioned before, simply having one about your person seem to have a calming effect on enforcers.
I moved onto the only restaurant that was open which was fairly busy as it had a captive audience of anyone who wanted a sit down drink or meal. I had to navigate some kind of assault course to actually enter it as barriers funnelled me backwards and forwards until I made it to a track and trace welcome table and huge bottle of hand sanitiser. Alas, I had come prepared by filling up an empty pocket size bottle earlier in the day with water, which I liberally applied showing my willingness to conform. I then was seated by a mask clad waiter who whisked me away before I could put any fake details down on the track and trace form.
I sat at a table with ample space around me and a QR code to scan if I was to have the pleasure of eating or drinking. I said to the waiter I didn’t own a phone (I do) and asked if he had a paper menu. He chuckled and said I could use his phone quickly to order from. I did just that and chose a veggie english breakfast and a mug of tea. As it was being prepared I looked around and weighed up the pro’s and con’s of living in a post apocalyptic world. I liked how for the first time under the guise of an invisible threat I and many others have been treated like humans for the first time since 9/11. The mandatory spacing etc, meant that people could no longer be herded like cattle through all the various rat runs of an airport. On the other hand, it was a sad, dull and emotionless environment and was straight out of a black mirror episode. The tea arrived, oddly enough I was given a mug of boiling water and a tea bag placed next to it. It was a though if whoever arranged this cup and saucer, had worried i’d have been given COVID if they’d simply but the bag in the water.
I finished up my food and headed down to my gate. It was by this point I had totally given up on my mask and I scowled back at passengers who tried to give me a look as though to say “you inconsiderate bastard”. I witnessed a lady wearing a strimmer visor and gloves race to the hand sanitising station as if to say “look at me, look how good i’m being!” i felt like throwing her a dog treat on the floor for being a good dog. As I approached the check in girls on the gate, I raised my mask to just below my nose as to not draw any attention, but again I was much obliged to remove it so they could cross reference against my passport for a final time.
As expected on my budget airline, not a seat was spare and there were the usual array of complimentary crying babies and people hustling and bustling to go nowhere in a rush. The usual introductions were made but they announced that masks had to be worn covering the NOSE and MOUTH, which scuppered my plans somewhat. When the flight got going the mask clad stewardesses raced for the trolly service and from then on it was all about selling as much stuff as possible. I got some food as during this period I could take the mask off as per the captains allowance for those who were eating and drinking. I made this period last as long as possible and then wore the mask below my nose for the rest of the flight. I found the mask did come in handy when the stench of alcoholic hand sanitiser reached tipping point. And when a babies nappy was full of shit and the parents made no effort to stop him screaming or clean him up.
Upon arrival at my middle eastern destination I had to fill in a brief form to say I hadn’t got COVID and where i was staying. I was apprehensive as I didn’t know what to expect. I briskly walked ahead and had to pass through a funnelled area with a thermal camera pointing vaguely towards where I walked past. The man operating it didn’t gaze up from whatever he was reading, so I felt total relief at this point. My mask was fully on at this stage as to not draw attention and then I passed the border control box, where the police officer duly stamped my passport and waived me on.
I was now free from the insanity and went to the prayer room near the carrousels to thank the watchful eye for getting me through the experience unscathed. I picked up my bags which just so happened to be first off, and exited to the airport unaware as to what world I was going to find waiting for me. The 40 degree C heat hit, and I thought to myself…there is no way i’m wearing this damned thing in this climate. I found my pre-booked taxi who’s driver sprayed my bags down with disinfectant and offered me up a cold bottle of water. On the drive to the hotel he wore his mask below the chin, so I followed suit. Desperately scanning the street with my eyes for signs of sanity I was relieved to see most of the local populous had not conformed to stupid and I felt at ease.
Upon arriving at the hotel I was greeted by the only member of staff wearing a mask who aimed a thermometer waywardly at my arm and wrote down my temp on a bit of paper. At this stage I had the mask on below my chin as a sign of willingness and then removed it once in my room. I took a cold shower and went straight out without a mask, to get a stiff drink. Whilst talking to the locals most of them were open to the concept that COVID was bullshit, or at least an ulterior motive from America was playing out. The streets were fairly empty in what was once a bustling tourist town and I felt sorry for the lovely locals who had worry in their eyes. They all expressed concerns over finances and were eager for me to bring good news concerning more tourists coming out to the destination.
I then set about finding a bureau de change, and found one which said ‘masks are mandatory’ on the door with the military police a little further up the road looking at me. I walked in and asked if they were mandatory and the owner replied “it’s up to you”, I said “no” and we proceeded with the exchange. I went and spoke to a promo worker for one of the restaurants and asked if the police were going to cause me issues. He informed me I needn’t worry and they were only there to ensure food workers adhered to some rules I couldn’t care less about.
My next mission was to find a dentist to deal with the fact I hadn’t seen one for 6 months due to all dentists refusing service in my home city in the U.K. Within 15 minutes I was sat in a dentist chair in a stunning dental practise and had been greeted with friendly smiles and no bullshit. I was done within an hour and felt 100 times better for it and was eternally grateful for their no nonsense approach at half the price.
Over the next few days, I have seen braindead U.K tourists walking around in 40 degree C heat in masks sweating their bollocks off. But I refuse to conform to stupid and bring stupid with me from a fucking stupid country which is the U.K.
I hope this insight helps anyone who is on the fence with regards to travel.