Hello my friends! 😀 How are you feeling about the world opening up again? Are you hesitant about travel in the new normal?
You are not alone… Today, I share my experience of traveling from Nairobi to Malindi with Jambojet, and all you should know before you travel in this Covid-19 Era!
The Background We Know Too Well!
About 4 months ago, the world ‘shut down’ when the Corona Virus Pandemic took over our lives, in a most unprecedented manner!
In Kenya, both domestic & international flights were grounded, while parts of the country like Nairobi and Mombasa were affected by cessation of movement.
Then two weeks ago, the Kenyan President made an announcement, effectively opening up the city & allowing domestic flights to operate…
To be honest, I had mixed feelings about the announcement. Multiple questions raced through my mind: Are we ready for travel? How will travel look like in this new normal? Is it even safe yet?
Perhaps you can relate with some of these questions as well. And in all truth, the answers didn’t feel obvious…
What To Expect About Air Travel in the New Normal!
I recently faced my fears of travel in the new normal when Jambojet invited us to fly to Malindi on their inaugural flight!
At first, I felt carried away by the excitement of going away to my favourite destination and leaving Nairobi!
Then, as reality dawned on me, the question of whether it was safe, settled in…
I thought long & hard about it, and realized that if I didn’t go, I would never know… Moreover, I was keen on checking out the changes that have been made by Jambojet and the Kenya Airports Authority, to ensure their clients are safe to fly.
I felt a level of responsibility to garner the information we need to make informed decisions… So, I said Yes and packed my bags!!
I acknowledge you might be feeling apprehensive about venturing out again… And that’s perfectly okay.
I am writing this post with you in mind, with the hope that this will help you feel better-equipped for when you decide to travel again… 🙂
The ‘New Normal’ Airport Experience- Arrive Even Earlier!
To keep us safe, some new safety measures have been implemented at the Jomo Kenyatta International Airport. So plan to arrive at least 2-3 hours before your departure time.
On my travel day, we arrived at the airport about 3 hours’ early, thanks to my brother’s diligence for time-keeping!
Although there were fewer cars than usual, a queue had already formed at the main gates’ security check… There, they’ve installed taps and provided soap to wash your hands.
I found it was clever how one has to use their thigh to activate the taps, hence no direct ‘hands’ contact.
People weren’t really maintaining social distancing on the queue, despite the markings on the ground indicating where to stand…. Hopefully this will be enforced better.
Feeling anxious about it, I tried to keep to myself much as possible. Thankfully, everyone had their face masks on.
- Leave your phone in the car, or in your bag, to avoid touching it after it’s gone through the machines.
Temperature Checks & Face Masks Are Mandatory
The security official checked my temperature before allowing access to the Check-in lounge.
>>If it’s anything below 37.5 degrees, you are good to enter, while if it’s 37.5 degrees & above you won’t be permitted to go in.
>>You are now also required to always have your face mask on (properly), while at the Airport.
The second Security point felt more thorough & well-coordinated. The trays have been sanitized for use, and they’ve provided automatic sanitizer to use after you clear your items onto the tray.
- Minimize contact by having minimal items to shed off like earrings, bangles and necklaces.
The Check-In Process & What To Expect!
Within the airport, I was relieved to see more automatic sanitizer dispensers placed at strategic points. Markings on the ground indicate the required social distance while queuing.
The self-check-in machines are not operational at the moment, possibly to reduce exposure.
I made my way to the Jambojet counter where all the attendants wore face masks, while the luggage handlers also wore gloves.
The lady patiently explained how the new boarding procedures work. She then checked in my luggage and I noticed that they sanitize quite frequently as well.
After she handed my boarding pass over, I quickly sanitized my hands using the dispenser strategically placed at the check-in desk.
- Take advantage of Jambojet’s online check-in to avoid long queues.
Effective Social Distancing At The Waiting Lounge
My travel mate for the trip, Oscar Magu (Maudhui House) arrived shortly after and we proceeded to the final security check.
At the waiting lounge, adjacent seats have been marked off, for social distancing. Furthermore, you will hear several announcements with reminders on Covid-19 safety being made on the radio.
- Sanitize your phone and hand luggage items frequently.
Enhanced Boarding Procedures For Safety
They have now structured boarding in zones of smaller groups, to avoid crowding and allow social distancing. The boarding zones are pre-allocated and indicated on your boarding pass.
When it was our time to board, we waited as they called people out in their respective zones…
This process takes a little longer, but it moves smoothly, allowing passengers the distance they need while moving through the last boarding pass check.
We were pleasantly surprised when the Jambojet attendant handed each one of us a complimentary face mask, for being their inaugural passengers! 😀
The Jambojet flight Experience!
As we made our way to the plane on the Airport tarmac, for a moment there it felt like the world was okay again! 🙂
The sight of the planes lined up, waiting for passengers to board gave me a sense of hope I hadn’t felt in a while…
The Jambojet attendant welcomed us aboard with a masked smile, sanitizing each passenger. I noticed that all the flight attendants wore masks and gloves.
Extra Safety Measures Aboard Jambojet
They took us through a safety briefing, which now includes specific Covid-19 safety measures.
Jambojet have installed an IATA approved air filtration system, on all their planes, that clean the air every 3 minutes during flights. And while it’s normal seating, both adults and kids are required to keep face masks on for the flight duration.
Furthermore, the Jambojet flight attendants now take care of the opening & closing of the cabin luggage compartments, to minimize exposure.
>>As a precaution and for risk assessment, they didn’t serve any food or snacks on board, for the first week. However this will be reviewed in due time. In the meantime, you may want to carry your own dry snacks, especially if traveling with kids. 🙂
It was a good, easy flight, then as we approached our descent we experienced heavy turbulence! You know the kind that makes you pray about your life and wonder if the people you love know how you feel?
My heart was in pieces while a little kid in the back was laughing gleefully, like we were at an amusement park! 😀
Thankfully, our pilot masterfully navigated through it and landed us safely in Malindi!
Each Place is different: Take The Changes in your Stride
At the Malindi Airport, a masked Security official checked each person’s temperature, before we could exit.
Here, they’ve provided soap and water to wash your hands, with a foot-activated tap to avoid contact. They’ve also put up safety signs and markings on the ground for social distancing.
Like at JKIA, all the Malindi Airport personnel wore masks, and passengers are required to keep theirs on too.
P.S. >> Look out for our Malindi escapades Blog Post Coming soon…
More On What To Expect : Travel In The New Normal!
Ministry Of Health Covid-19 Health Surveillance Form
Another thing to expect as you Travel in the New Normal, is filling in the MOH surveillance form with your bio data, recent travel history and contact information.
It’s particularly useful for contact tracing, should there be a positive Covid-19 case.
Paranoia or Anxiety Is Normal
Having experienced this myself, I thought it’s worth a mention… You might feel anxious about being around strangers. Try your best to stay calm and think rationally in each situation.
You may even feel paranoid about it, but there’s no shame in sanitizing your items after someone else handles them. All the same, do it with kindness. 🙂
The Responsibility Lies First With Us.
Honestly, I believe that the relevant travel authorities (Kenya Airports Authority in partnership with the airlines like Jambojet) have done a good job in effecting changes to ensure we are safe.
However, we can’t be safe if we don’t implement these measures. Let’s wear face masks (properly), maintain social distancing and sanitize frequently.
P.S. Remember, you are not alone. We’re walking this journey together, perhaps differently, but together still. And this too shall pass. 🙂
Thank you for reading! I hope you found this post useful!
Do you have any questions, inputs or feedback to share on Air Travel in the New Normal?
I would love to hear from you! Leave a comment down below! 😀
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