The coronavirus pandemic reached Europe quite late but still has left a ginormous scar on the industry. My first year at uni has been cut short due to Covid-19 and I had to organise an incredibly chaotic trip home.
The first step was to book the plane ticket. Unfortunately easyJet cancelled 90% of their operations, including my flight to Berlin, Germany. I booked the alternative flight with Eurowings connecting from Dusseldorf. The stress began just after arriving at The Queen’s Terminal. While checking in I learned that there may be problems, because Germany had closed its borders for foreigners, leaving me obliged to show proof that I was not intending on staying in the country. Fortunately I had tickets for my transfer from Berlin to my hometown in Poland.
The terminal was quite empty – no queues to check-in, no queues in security and the departures hall was absolutely deserted. Duty free was closed, along with all of the restaurants and cafes. Normally in Heathrow terminal two every gate is in use but there were just two flights boarding: to Dusseldorf and Warsaw. Boarding was completed in a shockingly short amount of time, as I looked around me more than half of the seats were empty and there was no on-board service, just bottled water on demand of a passenger. The flight was very smooth but the real adventure began after landing.
When landing in Dusseldorf I spotted so many grounded planes I realised how serious the problem was. This airport is normally the hub for TUI and their fleet was completely grounded. After showing my transfer ticket to the security I started to look for the connections hall, which took ages because the airport has a terrible navigating system. I was running around baggage reclaim for a solid 20 minutes trying to find a way out and even though the staff were trying to help me their instructions were hard to follow due to the lack of signs and wayfinding. After quite some time I found my way to the connections hall just to see that my flight to Berlin had been cancelled 10 minutes before I’d landed. The terminal was completely empty, which was an unusual view because Dusseldorf Airport is an important hub for German and Dutch tourists. At the Eurowings desk I was given a train ticket to compensate for the cancellation and get to Berlin another way.
Overall the trip was the most stressful experience I have ever been through. Coronavirus has had and continues to have a major effect on the industry, only time will tell if the damage is fixable. Eurowings got me home safely with a little help from Deutsche Bahn – but I look forward to the trip back to England in the near future with LOT Polish Airlines, which should be a drastically different flying experience.
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