AIRPORT COVID PROTOCOL: This was my first flight post COVID-19 lockdown and while I wasn’t terribly concerned about catching the virus, I was worried about lengthy health procedures. Lanseria advised that I allow two hours before my flight for the checks and scans, which I duly did. Perhaps it was the day of the week or time of day, mid-morning on a Wednesday, but there were virtually no queues. After parking in the newly-built multi-storey parkade, I had my temperature taken at the parkade exist and walked the short distance to the terminal building where I had to show my booking, sanitise my hands and undergo a second temperature check before I could proceed to the check-in counter. It added about two minutes to my timeline, but I can understand that during peak travel times, it will take longer.
CHECK-IN: Although it is possible to check-in online 24 hours before your flight, I wasn’t able to do so since I was on a group booking. However, I was able to pick and pay for an extra-legroom seat. I waited a few minutes for an agent, but I had my bag checked in less than 10 minutes.
LOUNGE & BOARDING: FlySafair, being a low-cost airline, doesn’t offer lounge access, but thanks to the extensive upgrade at Lanseria, there is now a large Wimpy in the new section of the airport. I settled into a booth and nursed a large cup of coffee until it was time to go to the boarding gate. There was no queue at security and the only difference here was that I had to scan my own boarding pass. Landside, all evidence of the construction has been cleared away, but there were still a few incomplete projects airside. I was pleased to see a Wiesenhoff kiosk at the boarding gates for coffee, soft drinks and light snacks. And smokers will be glad to know that a small smoking pod (big enough for about four people at a time) has been installed.
Boarding was called just after the aircraft landed. This seemed premature to me since passengers still had to disembark and luggage had to be off loaded. The priority queue, for people who had paid for the privilege of boarding first, was quite long, which had me questioning whether the expense was really worth it. I joined the queue with the last 25% of passengers.
THE SEAT: I paid for an exit row window seat, and I’m glad that I did. The plane was full and the little bit of extra room made me feel just slightly less cramped.
THE FLIGHT: We pushed back on time and the journey was uneventful. To avoid too much touching of shared surfaces, no snacks or drinks were sold, but, with the exception of alcohol, passengers could consume things they had brought with them. I chose to listen to an audio book, which helped me pass the time.
ARRIVAL: To help with social distancing, passengers disembarked two rows at a time, from the front and rear doors. Everyone had to remain seated until the cabin crew allowed them to leave the plane. Given how closed I had been sitting to five other people for the duration of the flight, this procedure seemed unnecessary to me, but I did appreciate not feeling rushed to collect my hand luggage from the overhead bin.
VERDICT: A solid, on-time offering to get you from A to B.