4 short months ago, this would have been the same old trip as usual. The same type of trip that millions of people around the world were taking every single day. How so much has changed since then. First, this trip was delayed and changed many times, initially due to the pandemic itself and need to stay home, but later because of the massive reductions in flights. We were originally booked to come at the end of April but cancelled that since it was during the height of the pandemic both at home and in Europe. In late March we changed the trip to the end of June, but then had to rebook multiple times due to many flight cancellations. A simple Calgary-London-Prague became Calgary-Montreal-Zurich-Prague then Calgary-Toronto-Zurich-Prague, then finally Calgary-Toronto-Frankfurt-Prague. Here’s our journey in photos and a few words.
As you can see, air travel is a lot different than what we’re used to. The empty airports with everything shuttered and aircraft parked is really sad to see and quite surreal. It’s also still quite difficult to travel across borders. If we weren’t prepared, we could have had real problems completing this journey. We went to the airport 4 hours early in Calgary as that’s where we would be verified for the entire journey and have our boarding passes issued. Initially the check in agent thought that we would have a problem transiting Germany since only Blanka holds an EU passport, but then I pointed out that transit restrictions were not applicable to family members of citizens of EU member states, and after a quick call from him to the Air Canada travel office to authorize our check-in, we were on our way. We encountered some others who weren’t so lucky – at the gate in Toronto, boarding the flight to Frankfurt, there was a couple in the other lane who got the nasty beep and pulled aside when their boarding passes were scanned. I’m not sure of all the details, but from what I overheard, they were heading to Italy and had permanent residence there, but weren’t EU citizens. That created a problem for them to transit Germany. Airlines are very cautious to let you on board if there could be issues at the other end, as if you’re denied entry, the airline has to take you back on their own dime and also pay a fine for allowing you on board when they should have known better. As we passed our document checks, the gate agent was making phone calls to the travel office and asking the couple to pull out all of their documentation. I guess it didn’t end well. Just before scheduled departure time the captain came on the intercom and stated that our departure would be delayed by about 15 minutes as bags were being offload for a couple of people who wouldn’t be joining us on the flight after all.
Another comment – we felt very safe the entire time we spent in the aircraft and airports. Mask wearing is mandatory in most places, cleaning staff are visibly sanitizing common areas of airports, and there is hand sanitizer everywhere.
I hope things get back to some sort of normal soon.