Spending time at layover destinations and staying in hotels during the #coronavirus pandemic is quite a bit different from how it used to be. There are very few hotels that are still open and countries vary from some sort of restrictions to complete lock downs.
My work rotation started with proceeding to work as a regular passenger on a #BritishAirlines aircraft. One could immediately spot that the #Heathrowairport which is one of the busiest airports in the world was almost completely empty and gave me a feels of that #PRESIDENTEVIL movie😱
After making it through the dead empty terminal the copilot and myself got onboard the 747 (which can carry up to 400 people) and it was shockingly only twelve of us onboard plus the crew!! It was a long range flight to Chicago and for the service they handed us a tied up plastic bag where you could find a pre-packed sandwich, Walkers cookies and chocolate nibs. I understand the service for hygienic reasons but was really disappointed that the food was so unhealthy.
Luckily I came prepared and had a little falafel wrap with me that I had purchased from the airport prior. It was kind of hard to sleep in the back of the aircraft as I always snooze and since the crew did not have anything much to do they were chattering and munching away😅. I was super happy that at least they were operating and got us there safe and sound.
After a two-day proceeding to USA, three different flights, questions, health forms and temperature measures in each airport we finally made it to Anchorage, Alaska. Our crew was lucky enough to stay at a hotel that provided us with a little kitchenette were we could make our own food. We were also allowed to go to the supermarket nearby. Overall it was not that bad and was quite humane. The hotel also lent us some weights to have in our rooms to work out as the gym and spa was closed of course. I have to say I've become a master in working out within confined spaces and making the best of it😄.
There are only very few countries that allow private planes and crew to stay overnight at the moment (most places we can just pick passengers up and drop off and then we have to leave the country). Due to that our next layover stop after taking over our own aircraft was Vladivostok, Russia. I had heard some harsh lock down measures about Vladivostok prior us getting there but it actually was not that bad either. Luckily the place had just started to ease up their restrictions and we could go for walks and get take-away from restaurants. For breakfast they served us two boiled eggs a pre-packed sandwich and a sugary strawberry yoghurt in a grey plastic bag that was tied to our door nob😆. I have to say it has helped a lot to carry with me some oatmeal, ricecakes and sardine cans😄.
The layover itself was quite enjoyable as I have been living out of a suitcase for nine months by now and I managed to find a little boutique showroom and do some very much needed shopping😌.
After three days in Vladivostok we flew to Phnom penh, Cambodia. It was a real treat to stay in Phnom Penh except the crazy heat and humidity however everything seemed almost normal there. Everything was open and I finally managed to get a long overdue haircut. We stayed there for quite a bit and enjoyed a rich breakfast buffet as well as gym with book in sessions, infinity pool with mesmerizing views over Cambodia's capital and dinners with crew in restaurants. WOAH! How we had missed that I tell you!
Of course we stayed all very cautious but since we all work together in close proximity to one another anyway we decided it is alright to do a little bit of socialising with each other.
Our next stop was Tbilisi, Georgia. We all had heard terrible stories from it however reading the news that Georgia had started to ease restrictions from 11th of May made me believe they have also eased up towards crew members which well.... was definately not the case.
I am very happy we took this time and felt like the world is back to normal because what was waiting ahead was far from normality.
Upon landing we received forms from the handling agent which we had to sign. Reading it through it felt like we are signing away our freedom. The form informed us that we are not allowed to leave our hotel rooms at any point. We will receive mandatory temperature measurements every day and can only get service in the room. Incase of disobeying the rules we will be fined 3000 GEL (Georgian currency) per violation.
We arrived to the hotel late in the evening and were welcomed by four security guys who guided us to the back door of the hotel. It felt like suddenly we had stepped into a scientific laboratorium which then to our surprise turned out to be just the reception and the man in the mask and protective corona dress is our receptionist. We had to stay at least 3 meters away from the desk and were asked what time we want our breakfast and told that it will be left behind the door at our chosen time for us to be picked up.
We then got our rooms and they were WAY TOO SMALL to live in for more then a week. Since we were instructed to not leave our rooms at any time and felt like birds in a cage it felt unfair to have to spend all this time locked up between four compact walls. The world started to come crashing down and I had realised what I had agreed to when I said I would be happy to extend my rotation at work to help out. It was time to say goodbye to my little holiday in Valdivostok and Phnom Penh and welcome the new reality. Slowly tears started falling down my cheeks but I quickly wiped them off and went to bed as I was too tired to deal with anything at this point.
Next day we decided to start protesting against our tiny rooms and asked for an upgrade. LUCKILY that was successful and by the evening we got keys to our new rooms and made the move. It is quite funny how one's environment can make such a difference! Instantly when moving into the bigger room I felt how I can breathe again as the big windows from ceiling to floor offered a beautiful view of the night time Tbilisi. I have to say from that time everything became easier and since I have quite a bit on my do to list I haven't felt bored ever since. The room is also spacious enough to work out every day so thanks to that I've been able to stay active and sane.
We still secretly sneak into each others rooms a little bit because without socialising with my crew I would go completely mental. We stay extremely cautious though and the other day when I wanted to run back from my copilots room after a workout I got stuck there for half an hour since the staff was in the middle of cleaning on our floor and they have made it pretty clear to us that we can absolutely not leave our rooms. After switching the rooms my copilot called down to ask for a new key since she had not received it and they answered her: "Why do you need a room key? You CAN NOT leave your room. Do you understand that?" Haha sorry! But I had to capitalize the "can not" since my copilot told me how they really emphasized it😅.
The hotel stuff has became nicer to us and modifies our breakfasts and dinners a little to our liking as in the beginning we just received the very basic generic breakfast. Im also so greatful that we were able to move to the upgraded rooms. Im still here in Tbilisi and finger crossed I will be able to stay positive and happy. Luckily as crew we are used to waiting for long time and being more isolated from others then regular people I would say.
Little bit of a long read but hope you found it interesting! :)