For most business people, working from home and connecting with clients on Zoom has become second nature.
Most learned to connect and communicate on virtual platforms without having to jump on a plane and travel across the country (or even the world).
With travel restrictions easing, business travel is back on the go. Although it can feel daunting to take that first trip, once you do, you won’t want to stop.
Oz Desai, GM Corporate Traveller, shares some tips for those who are apprehensive:
Take the plunge
Oz Desai, GM Corporate Traveller, said the prospect of hopping on a plane for the first time may cause some anxiety.
“Anxiety is understandable, considering what we have all been through over the past year. However, all that it takes is that first flight to help you shed those pressing concerns and realise that absolutely everything has been done to prioritise your health and safety above all else,” he said.
Just like many international airlines, South Africa’s domestic airlines have gone above and beyond in terms of implementing the recommended safety protocols as per the World Health Organisation. The airlines have also implemented no-touch policies, making it possible for travellers to avoid touching anything until the time that they settle down into their seats and need to fasten their seatbelts. No-touch solutions include easy-to-scan mobile or WhatsApp boarding passes digital downloads of in-flight magazines and the elimination of catering on-board.
Along with the protocols mentioned above, airlines have also introduced High-Efficiency Particulate Air (HEPA) filters within its aeroplanes. These filters are designed to capture 99% of airborne microbes in filtered air.
Arrive on time
We have all gotten used to regular daily activities taking a bit longer due to the implementation of safety precautions such as temperature checks, standing in long queues to adhere to social distancing requirements, and answering health-related questionnaires. These precautions are significantly more stringent at the airport, for obvious reasons. Airlines have advised that travellers should arrive 90 minutes ahead of their flights, even when flying domestically.
“The process of boarding a domestic flight is much simpler than boarding an international flight as there is no period of quarantine or Covid test is required. Disembarkation is more seamless than ever before with only three rows of passengers allowed to disembark at the same time to ensure social distancing. This process eliminates the long and uncomfortable queues that tend to form in the airplane when landing,” explained Desai. He said passengers will be obligated to complete a health declaration document as compiled by the Department of Health, which needs to be printed out before arriving at the airport. Return flight passengers will require two copies.
Pay extra for priority boarding
Most domestic airlines offer priority boarding as an extra when booking your flight, and for an exceedingly small fee. This benefit is relatively self-explanatory, but it essentially means that you will be one of the very first travellers to board the plane, dramatically reducing your waiting and queuing time. Keep in mind that priority boarding is limited to a few travellers, so book your tickets well in advance.
Explore workspaces at the airport
For many business travellers, the airport lounge is their ticket to sanity. It’s a quiet space with comfortable chairs and free wifi, where you can catch up on work, prepare for a meeting ahead or clear your head.
Unfortunately, most lounges are still closed as a result of Covid-19. That doesn’t mean, however, that you won’t be able to find a good spot to drink a coffee and catch up on work. Most South African airports have a variety of coffee shops and eateries at the airport. Do your research in advance to know which restaurants are open.
Remember that you will be required to wear a mask at all times during your flight. Wear a mask made from a light fabric or a disposable mask that fits comfortably. If you want to avoid any lengthy delays, it’s also important to wear the right clothing and pack light. The fewer luggage and carry-ons that you have, the faster the process will be.