Perhaps boosted by the protection of vaccines, more relaxed travel restrictions in many countries, and the desire to flex one’s wings again after two years of being “grounded,” Filipinos are taking to the skies in flocks.
But, make no mistake. Flying under the new normal is no walk in the park (pun intended). But many who have travelled multiple times under the new normal still vow that to the skies they “shall return.”
Just don’t leave home without your passport, your visa, your sense of humor and — your disinfectants. Double check the validity of your passport and visas, especially if you have not travelled in the last two years. They just might have expired while sitting in your drawer and you don’t want to be turned back at the airline counter for this costly omission. (Your travel agent will check this, but if you bought your tickets online, it’s your responsibility.)
Just as essential as your visa are your vitamins and supplements, though you can buy these in your destination.
“You need them more than ever, especially if it’s a different time zone,” says Dr. Rebecca Singson. “Supplementation is key!”
I recently travelled to Norway via Emirates for a memorable cruise of the Arctic aboard the Silver Cloud of Silversea Expeditions. On all my Emirates flights, we were assured by the crew that the air inside the cabin is filtered every two to three minutes and that all surfaces have been thoroughly disinfected. The cabin crew, representing as many as 12 nationalities at a time, are not only pleasant and efficient — they are masked and gloved as well. Extra hand sanitizers and masks are also distributed to those who might need them. Except during meals, wearing face masks is mandatory during the flight.
In Oslo, especially outdoors, you can count the people wearing face masks but Corporate International Travel and Tours president Shan Dioquino David and I always wore one, even if we were the odd ones out. Better safe than…
I asked some travelers their tips for flying almost hassle-free under the new normal. Here are their tips — tested on the ground and 35,000 feet above:
Charisse Chuidian, vice president
for public relations, City of Dreams:
1. Have your vaccination records handy in your purse.
2. Wear a mask at all times if you can — in airports, train stations, on board the aircraft, in public settings.
3. Prior to departing for your destination, always check the health entry and vaccine requirements, as these could change on short notice given the rapidly evolving COVID-19 pandemic situation.
4. Insist on a hotel voucher from your airline if you’re rebooked to fly the next day.
5. Follow the TSA security rule in carry-ons: nothing more than the required quantities of 3.4 ounces or less to avoid needless carry-on inspections.
6. Have your tablet/iPads easy to pull out from your carry-on during security inspections.
7. Flight delays and cancellations are often caused by shortage of flight crews (who are prohibited to fly longer than 16 hours) and ground crews. Remember a flight attendant’s advice: Book a morning flight as cancellations usually occur as the day progresses.
8. Fly a day early if you’re attending an important event to allow time for flight re-bookings should they occur.
9. On board, “Wear shoes to the lavatory. That’s not water on the lavatory floor.”
10. As your carry-on is stowed in the overhead bin, have your travel essentials and medicines handy in a small tote that you can easily pull out and be accessible by your side throughout a long flight.
Pepper Teehankee, STAR columnist:
I always wear a mask, even if it’s not required by certain countries. I use alcohol on my hands anytime I touch something, especially serving utensils used in a buffet (yes, some countries already have self-serve buffets). I also spray with Betadine nose spray twice a day and use Betadine throat spray twice a day. So far, my routine has worked.
Bernadette Concepcion, home builder
and travel aficionado:
Don’t leave home without:
1. Saline nasal spray (morning and night and during flight)
2. Betadine throat spray in your handbag. Spray often.
3. Wipes and alcohol spray in your handbag.
4. Medicine for cough and colds, and allergies, and anti-bacterial ointment.
5. Travel insurance.
6. Nice washable face mask.
7. Vaccination certificate ID with booster shot.
8. It’s also helpful to bring your own antigen kit.
More tips from Bern who has travelled overseas thrice since 2021:
1. Sanitize or disinfect your plane seat, console and tray table before using them.
2. Winter gloves should be washed/sanitized often.
3. Spray sanitizer or use wet wipes on shoes and luggage upon entering hotel room or bring Lysol disinfectant. Shower and change clothes soon as you get to your room.
4. Load up on Vitamin C, Zinc and water.
Dr. Rebecca Singson, M.D.
1. Avoid the three “C”s:
• Crowded places.
• Close-contact settings, especially where people have conversations very near each other.
• Confined and enclosed spaces with poor ventilation.
2. Avoid drinking or eating while in a public transport so you won’t need to remove your mask.
3. Make sure to take the following supplements daily:
• Vitamin D 5000IU
• Vitamin C or sodium ascorbate 1000 mg twice a day
• Zinc 100 mg daily
• Omega Fatty Acids 1000 mg one to three capsules daily
4. Bring an emergency COVID kit just in case you get COVID while traveling. Please consult your doctor what should be in your kit.
5. Antigen tests for COVID and dengue (it’s on the rise!).
6. Sleep before 10 p.m. and get at least seven to eight hours of sleep at night to keep the immune system competent.
Happy trip to all those going to walk the aisle (of the plane, that is) again! Remember to stop and smell the roses; to put down your phone for a moment even in a picturesque place and let the view stun you, the silence awe you and the awareness of the gift of life nourish you. *