Flying British Airways (During the Coronavirus) – What’s the Deal?

Heathrow Airport during the Coronavirus

What’s It Like Flying BA During COVID-19?

What’s it really like flying British Airways during the Coronavirus? Here’s the truth…

Flying (unfortunately) in 2020 has been something of a novelty for many of us.

Come November 2020 I was boarding only my 4th flight of the year. Four more than many around the world perhaps, but a huge decrease on the 30+ of 2019 (obviously).

Having completed smooth trips from:

  • Beijing to Hong Kong (as the pandemic just started to rear it’s ugly head)
  • Hong Kong to Milan
  • Milan to Bristol…

It was time board my next flight, likely my penultimate one of the year, from London Heathrow (LHR) back to Milan Linate (LIN).

Because flying has become such a rarity in 2020 I wanted to share my experience flying British Airways during The Coronavirus, and the situations at London Heathrow, and Milan Linate during the height of wave 2 in Europe.

Flying BA during the Coronavirus – London Heathrow

Flying BA during the Coronavirus – The Flight Itself

Flying BA during the Coronavirus – Milan Linate

Flying BA during the Coronavirus – My Airport COVID-19 Test

Flying BA during the Coronavirus – Tips for Flying During COVID

Heathrow Airport during the Coronavirus
Heathrow Terminal 5 Departures

Flying BA during the Coronavirus – London Heathrow

My flight booked was for November 2nd, one which I booked days before.

Why? Because I knew what was coming!

The UK government confirmed an impending national lockdown in England which also included also included flights unlike lockdown 1. I got lucky to get here in truth.

With the lockdown planned just two days after my flight it should come as no surprise that Heathrow proved to be pretty busy.

In fact, you’d have done well to guess there was a global pandemic on our hands.

Full English at Heathrow Terminal 5

Indeed, Heathrow is one of the busiest airports in the world but the departure gates were fairly choc-a-block with people I assumed that were fleeing England pre-lockdown.

Either way, I treated myself to a brilliant fry up from the Gordon Ramsey restaurant on the floor above and I was more than satisfied for the short two hour journey ahead.

Putting aside the nature of the busy picture, the process at Heathrow was smooth.

I arrived on coach from Cheltenham, 3 hours early, wary of any Coronavirus related delays or checks.

Upon arrival I saw bag drop was in fact two hours before my flight. I had an hour to kill pre-security which was a pain.

However, I had a quick word with the staff and they let me drop the baggage early no bother and within minutes I was through security where the queue was non-existant.

Upon seeing the Ramsey restaurant, and the time being around 10am (having woke at 5am), I hit the jackpot!

Stuffed to the brim, I took a walk downstairs where everyone had appeared to be congrigating.

I was concerned my flight would be jam packed… how wrong was I!

Flying BA during the Coronavirus – The Flight Itself

Despite the rather busy nature of the departure lounge, the flight from London to Milan was desolate.

Barely 25 people filled the plane as Europe braced itself for lockdown 2.

Everyone had a row to themselves effectively.

A sanitizer package was handed to all passengers upon boarding and another one was handed out after we took off and snacks were given out.

Snacks included:

  • Bottle of Water
  • Kettle Chips
  • Two Biscuits

Of course on a two hour flight, even in those glorious times pre-pandemic, meals are not dealt.

Everyone on the flight appeared to be respecting of the “masks on board” policy and before we knew it, we’d arrived in Linate.

Super smooth, super simple and no issues at all, but the final part was the part I’d probably been most skeptical about – arriving on foreign soil, and taking my first COVID-19 test.

Flying BA during the Coronavirus – Milan Linate

If London Heathrow has surprised me with the number of people, Linate did the same, but on the opposite scale.

There was barely a soul there – it was quite nice to see actually.

In our previous journeys in 2020 we’d seen mixed things at airports.

Hong Kong was utterly desolate when we left there.

Istanbul though (our changeover flight that day) was packed to the rafters. What pandemic?

Bristol Airport during COVID-19 - Flying British Airways during The Coronavirus
Bristol Arrival/Departures – October 1st 2020

I flew back to Bristol a month earlier with barely a single passenger in sight, yet London was the opposite.

Odd really.

Either way, I was in and out of Linate within half an hour from landing to car, and that included the COVID test…

Flying BA during the Coronavirus – My Airport COVID-19 Test

So the first COVID-19 test. I wasn’t quite sure what was in store in truth but things to note…

Upon entering Italy you had to either:

  • Have proof of a negative test result taken 72 hours before flying
  • Take a free test at Linate airport arrivals
  • Take a test within 48 hours of landing

I plumped for the only free option, and what appeared to be the most convenient, the free test at Linate.

Milano Linate Airport - Flying British Airways during The Coronavirus
Milano Linate Airport

I was expecting long queues, a long wait, perhaps a little bit of a language barrier with my broken Italian, but I had nothing to fear.

The whole process was all done in minutes.

Out of the (roughly) 25 passengers, I’d say 10 of us took the airport test.

The tests took place as we entered the building from the minibus journey. With passports checked and declaration forms handed in, we were asked whether we wanted to take the test or not, if so, join the queue.

From there, it was simple. Social distance in the queue, give your passport and phone number to the member of staff in the window and wait in line for the test.

The test we had was indeed the uncomfortable nasal one, rather than the throat swab.

It was my first experience of this – it isn’t particularly nice, but it’s fine really. One up each nostril, and it’s done within seconds.

The lady spoke to me in Italian, but I did warn her (in poor Italian by the way), I am English and speak little Italian – she was really friendly and switched to English with no issues so don’t be worrying about language barriers.

After this, you make the short walk to baggage and lo-and-behold me suitcase was already there.

Off I popped, simple as that!

Regarding my result – I was told it’d be 48 hours…

48 hours later, nothing, so I dropped an email saying nothing had been received (via the email they gave me), and within the next day I had my result back, negative!

I actually got sent the result again 2 days later just confirming I was absolutely negative! I was free (well, not quite, with Lombardia set for a month long lockdown a day after I received my negative result!

Flying BA during the Coronavirus – Tips for Flying During COVID

Honestly all four flights I’ve taken this year have been smooth and airlines have been really up to scratch with keeping passengers content, and in check.

The main thing I’d advise is simply common sense and be aware.

People are more on edge than ever – don’t invade their space, carry a smile, be polite and relax. It makes everyone’s lives much easier.

Don’t rush, push or shove (it still happens sadly). I’ve had a small handful of people right up my rear end when queueing to board or for security (as I’m sure we all have). I’ll never understand why, but the majority were respectful and no bother at all.

Remember sanitizer, masks and any other things like gloves.

DO NOT FORGET ADDITIONAL FORMS – when I landed in England from Italy I saw 5-6 people complaining about this Locator form. It’s a form you have to fill out upon entering the UK, very simple, very easy.

You can download it online before your flight or get a printed copy on most flights.

They’d forgotten and were promptly told to fill it out and return to the back.

Of course, with the queue building they had no intention of doing so. They did in the end, but my word, for something so simple, they created plenty of tension for others, whilst the rest of us were getting the popcorn out!

LESSON? Check with your airline or online yourself about what your destination country requires when landing, it isn’t hard!

Other than that, airport life is actually very chilled these days with the lack of people. Of course we all want normality, but enjoy the short security queues, the lack of people around you, and the smooth processes that are genuinely much quicker than usual.

Flying British Airways during The Coronavirus is a process I genuinely found very comfortable and very smooth.

Stay safe, and buon viaggio!

Flying British Airways during The Coronavirus – FAQ’s

Are BA still flying during COVID-19?

Yes they are, but as with all airlines they have a hugely depleted schedule.

Are BA safe to fly with during COVID-19?

Yes absolutely.
BA provide every passenger with two sets of sanitizer packs, one before boarding and another on board. All staff wear masks and the process with BA is very quick and easy.

Which Terminal do BA use at London Heathrow?

BA fly from Terminal 3 and Terminal 5 of London Heathrow Airport.

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