It was like hundreds of Sheldon Coopers in one place. Petrified with the thought of catching the bug and trying every possible trick to protect myself, the airport looked like an ICU when I first ventured out to travel during the pandemic. There were sanitizers, sprays, PE kits, masks and face shields everywhere. I even wore clothes washed with antiseptic liquid. And not to my surprise, everyone at the airport was looking as clumsy as I was – tentative and helpless
Cut to four months since the flights opened up, things are beginning to look normal now. Masks and shields, sanitizers, contact less frisking etc will probably stay on for a long time to come, but hopefully we won’t become reckless and give the damn virus any more chances.
My good friends also tell me that travelling by rail is a decent proposition now, the 1st class coupe. There is no better experience like a train, watching the landscapes change with every passing station, and waiting for the train to stop at a big station – for no specific reason whatsoever. Indian railways may not match the luxury and scenic marvel of a Swiss rail, but it is not bad either. The other good thing about trains (and thanks to patchy networks), is the time we get doing nothing - a perfect opportunity to relax and reflect.
But if you have to choose the option to fly, here are a few hacks that might help to minimise the waiting time and ensure minimum contact.
a) Reach the airport terminal just in time (not much in advance). And if cutting it fine is not your thing, grab a beer at the cafes outside and head to the terminal just around 55 minutes before the flight time. You may find long queues, but nervously flash your ticket and request the usher to let you go out of turn. He will.
b) Don’t go for a web check in. Use the kiosk. And opt for a back row seat. Most people reserve their seats at the front. Flights are not running in full capacity, so the further down your seat is, the more are your chances of having no one around. Try it.
c) Wait for the last call at the boarding gate. Since you probably won’t have anyone around your seat, the overhead compartments will be empty too. Walk in alone and settle down.