Read a first-hand account of what it's like to fly out to Cyprus from Stansted with Jet2 Holidays during the Covid-era from Select Travel Holiday's homeworking travel advisor and family holiday specialist, Julie Turner
Going away on a holiday abroad during a pandemic is probably not high upon many people’s agenda with the ‘stay home, stay safe’ approach which we have been sticking to for the last 5 months. As a family, like many others, we had enjoyed a lovely staycation in the UK during the summer and were even able to take our dog with us too! There are some truly stunning places in the UK, and after months of lockdown, any break away from our own four walls is appreciated. However, for me personally it had been 6 months since my last holiday abroad, and one of the reasons I chose a career in travel was due to my love of travel, so I was missing going overseas, particularly as we had had a couple holidays cancelled (and refunded). Therefore, I felt that while we are in the position that my children are all home back from Uni with no school etc, we should grab the opportunity and go away again, especially once the restrictions on travel had eased.
Of course, this is still no ordinary summer, and there is more to consider than booking a normal summer holiday, with safety being top of the list. The advice from the Foreign Office has been changing frequently over the summer period, with a new Quarantine Roulette announced every Thursday. I have been watching the stats on Covid constantly, and changed direction on my booking destination. I selected Cyprus as their borders had been closed longer than some other destinations, and I know they were very strict during lockdown, which has helped keep their numbers down. Also the Cypriot government require a Covid-test 72 hours before departure. Not being funny, but in my eyes, this is as safe as we would get it really in the current climate. Bearing this in mind, I booked the holiday to Cyprus a week before departure. I had researched a clinic to do our private Covid-test (there is one on Bedford High Street) and had researched a new travel insurance which would cover us should we be unfortunate enough to catch Covid whilst away. Although we always travel with insurance, it’s now more important than ever before to check that it’s thorough and comprehensive and can now cover Covid-19, and the requirement for a Covid test was something else to sort out in addition to the usual joys of packing!
I am not going to lie, I am a worrier, and I had all kinds of thoughts going through my head like “What if my test comes back positive and we weren’t showing any symptoms?” or “What if the Cyprus travel pass doesn’t go through correctly as it can only be done 24 hours before departure?” Happily, these were actually very simple. My Covid test PDFs attached fine and once I had done my first Cyprus travel pass it was straightforward to do the others. Once both were in place, I knew I could relax and just do the final bits of packing before departure.
Another new worry was quarantine, and there have been a lot of Britons who have had to cut their holidays short in order to return to the UK before any quarantine deadlines come into effect after short notice. However, I felt reassured enough that I had chosen as safely as possible to a low-risk country, and I work from home while my daughter had more than enough time between returning and school re-starting. I can safely say I was right in selecting Cyprus, the stats have stayed low and we had an amazing time away, which I feel did us both the world of good.
As we made our way to the airport, I booked a local company for our airport transfer, www.callparker.co.uk. Working in travel I understand how hard it’s been during the pandemic and wanted to support another local business. Our driver turned up in a Mercedes V Class with a new partition screen installed. All had temperature checks and we wore face masks for our journey. We arrived early at Stansted as there was no traffic on the roads. I thought we would be waiting around for gates to open, yet we were greeted by a Jet 2 representative and pointed to one of the available desks. They clearly checked our Cyprus passes to double check that everything was in place for going. We had fast tracked security (although it didn’t look much of a queue without fast track, if I am honest). Hand sanitiser was available after security. We were less than half an hour from start to finish. Most shops and restaurants were open. There were plenty of seats available so could distance out nicely. I can safely say I wish all my airport experiences were as good as this. They are certainly doing their best in circumstances. In some ways, the differences of travelling during the Covid-era weren’t as noticeable as I had thought they might be. There were signs reminding people to socially distance, as there are in all sorts of public areas in the UK (and around the world) now, which we are becoming used to with the ‘new normal’. As with social distancing rules elsewhere in the UK, masks were largely stuck too in the airport, unless people were eating or drinking, of course, although there were some teens walking around with masks off. This seems to be the case walking around any town in Britain, and you will sadly always get a minority that don’t follow the rules as well as they should, including a family on the flight who thought they didn’t need to wear the masks. However, Jet2 cabin crew didn’t ignore them and carry on, but spoke to them at least three times regarding their masks. I reckon the family wore the masks for maybe 15 minutes of the flight, tending to take them off after the crew spoke to them!
I will post an update on how I found my experience overseas during the Covid-era, so watch this space.
About the author:
Julie Turner is a travel specialist with over 26 years’ experience in the industry. She is a Select Travel Holidays’ travel advisor who, like the rest of Team Select, prides herself on customer service. Since having children she has worked from home to enjoy the flexibility home working offers, and she has been a home worker with Select Travel Holidays since 2019. Julie has a wealth of areas of expertise, including Australia, weddings and honeymoons, but particularly specialises in luxury family holidays, and is also a Jet2 High-Flyer.
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