Jemima Walker's flight diary
Updated 02:29, 24-Jun-2020
Jemima Walker in London

The pandemic has grounded flights across the world. But as coronavirus restrictions are slowly lifted in many countries, there are more and more flights leaving the tarmac.

However, flying during a pandemic is a very different experience – as I found out during my journey from London to Glasgow in Scotland.



Outward journey

My trip to Glasgow started off in a taxi. Pre-pandemic I would get public transport to the airport as it's not far from my flat in London, but having avoided the underground throughout lockdown, I wasn't going to take it now.

I made sure I put my face mask on before I left the house, as face coverings are compulsory on public transport in the UK and most taxi companies also request passengers wear them.

When I arrived at Heathrow Airport, even before I entered the terminal there were signs reminding people to practice social distancing. Once I was inside, there were hand sanitizing stations at several different sites – anywhere you might touch something, there was an opportunity to clean your hands.



The terminal was incredibly empty – all the shops were shut and I could only find two places to buy a sandwich and there was a fairly limited selection. So I would certainly advise anyone with specific dietary requirements to bring their own food with them for the time being.

The flight itself was also pretty empty. I couldn't see a single passenger sitting next to someone else, unless it was someone they knew. So social distancing was being maintained, but only because it was an empty flight, not because it was a British Airways policy.

British Airways is operating a reduced meal service, so the trolley doesn't come down the aisle anymore and there are no menus, but you are given free water and crisps. This is to reduce contact between staff and passengers.


Signs in the waiting area of Heathrow's Terminal 5 ensure travelers respect social distancing. /Jemima Walker/CGTN

Signs in the waiting area of Heathrow's Terminal 5 ensure travelers respect social distancing. /Jemima Walker/CGTN


Return journey

For my return journey I flew with easyJet from Glasgow to London Gatwick. Glasgow is a very small airport, with just a few flights a day taking off at the moment and it felt like a ghost town – I think I saw more staff than passengers during the few hours I spent there.

The easyJet flight was a similar experience to the British Airways one, except there were no free crisps. On both flights we were called to disembark by rows to avoid everyone leaving the plane at the same time.

I really got the sense that the cabin crew and airlines are trying to make things feel as normal and undaunting as possible – but having to wear a face mask during a flight serves as a pretty constant reminder that it's anything but.


Check out The Pandemic Playbook, CGTN Europe's major investigation into the lessons learned from COVID-19