My Ethiopian Experience Flying in Time of Covid-19

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Air travel may seem a bit scary right now, but some airlines and airports are making significant safety and hygiene improvements, and there are steps you can take to minimize risk when flying.

It was never easy having to travel for the first time in 7 months. Coronavirus’ devastating impacts cannot be over emphasized as it is still on a lethal wreck on the tourism sector.

Majority of airports are still virtually empty right now, and literally, every one of them has stepped up sanitation and hygiene protocols even though to different degrees.

Almost all modern aircraft have HEPA (High-Efficiency Particle Arrester) filters that will filter 99.9% of dust particles and airborne contaminants such as viruses and bacteria, ensuring the highest possible quality of cabin air. However, infection specialists suggest a window seat, away from passenger foot traffic, could offer you a bit more protection.

Inside the economy cabin

It’s almost time for my second African mission trip from Accra to Windhoek and Africa’s largest aviation group, Ethiopian will be the obvious choice, not just because of my special relationship with the Ethiopian flag carrier but also it’s reputation as the continent’s undisputed king of the skies.

Just before the purchase of my ticket, a pop-up alert on the Ethiopian Airlines (ET) page requested me to read the covid update list and vital information which will make the trip smoother. It contained requirements of prospective travellers to the destination.

Travelling on ET, the staff at the check-in counter will require of you to show your covid-19 test and cross check with the date of arrival at your destination to be sure all is in order while there is strict adherence to the wearing of a mask and maintaining reasonable social distance.

Team Leader (Facika) in the Ethiopian Flight ET 920 Addis-Accra Business cabin masked up and service passengers on board

After all the formalities at the check-in and passport control, time is now up to the board and begin the journey. The passenger is for the umpteenth time requested to have face coverings on.

Hand sanitizers will quickly be distributed to all passengers on board the flight and an announcement made to the effect that during the duration of the flight, one is expected to have the face coverings on.

The cabin crew and pilot all masked up and ready for the journey ahead. The airline had changed the catering format in the plane and adapted the packed style to fit the new normal.

Arrival at Bole International Airport
Even with considerable low passenger numbers, the airline’s hub at the newly built Bole International airport was very busy and had installed a number of sanitizing machines at vantage points as well as automatic temperature checking machines.

The long queues at the passport control can be improved to also give meaning to the physical distance rule as part of the precautions for the pandemic. Transiting passengers are given priority in the process.

Perhaps another silver lining of this pandemic and the restart of travel means the passenger is given special attention clearly because of the passenger load.

Every second seat at the airport terminal is red marked and check-in processes are trying their possible best to adhere to the Protocols.

Optimized Digital Service

Even before the pandemic broke, Ethiopian had embarked on aggressive plans to digitize most of their offering. From buying ticket online via their numerous payment options to receiving boarding pass for the flight. The Covid elevated the level to fever pitch where it has taken a deliberate approach to help limit human interaction as well as make travel hassle free and convenient for the passenger.

Because conditions are fast-changing, it’s important to always bring your own PPE and to practice social distancing.

Global Insurance Cover

With the introduction of mandatory insurance cover by destinations/countries in the wake of the pandemic, travelling was elevated to an’’ absolute necessity level’’ and thus eroded the gains of the #TravelTomorrow Campaign.

Ethiopian’s announcement of global insurance cover was a huge sigh of relief for the travelling public and again proved its leadership in times of crisis. The insurance cover the medical insurance including repatriation, evacuation, and quarantine costs related to COVID-19 as of 01st of October 2020 until 31st of March 2021. The coverage is applicable on all Ethiopian’s international flights booked with the airline’s tickets.

It’s is still possible together and let’s pack and get tourism going.

Author: Kojo Bentum-Williams

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