In a typical year, the “ber” months signal a few things. People are rushing to buy gifts. We find it hard to commute especially when living in highly-dense cities like Cebu. Traffic flow becomes heavier. Christmas music is heard everywhere, and all are busy with the upcoming parties. In a typical year, those who are not city residents like me would be double-taking at the calendars, planning our vacation leave ahead. It’s the time of the month we realize that we already need to book our flights to visit our family back home before the airline ticket prices skyrocket! However, year 2020 is not a typical year. At first, I thought that I won’t be home this Christmas. Fortunately, domestic flights are already available and you can avail of it only if you are willing to go through the process. It’s not easy, but never impossible. In this post I’m going to share my first flight experience since the lockdown – a flight back to my hometown, Gensan.
Make Sure You’re All Set!
It is fortunate for us that the government has lifted the lockdown restrictions. Thus, airlines and airports across the Philippines have now been allowed to resume operations. Well of course, with stringent measures in place. Before, you can book your flight anytime and arrive at the airport with no hassle. The only concern you would have is not to be late or else, you will miss your flight. But everything has changed since the pandemic began. A single flight will require us weeks of preparations, and passengers have to abide by all the procedures if they wish to fly anytime soon.
Requirements include, but are not limited to, medical certificate, travel authority, letter of acceptance from LGU of destination, and even negative RT-PCR result. I have shared in this post my experience of getting a free swab testing at VSMMC in Cebu City. So, I made sure that everything was set before I headed to the airport that day.
Almost Empty Airport
Eerie. It was a surreal experience when I first walked into MCIA to see what resembled a ghost town. The same check-in procedure was followed, only that they asked for additional documents such as the negative swab test result. After the security, the ghost-town vibes heightened. Boarding gates and most of the shops were closed, and you can only see few people walking around. Lights were off at some areas. Thankfully, Dunkin Donuts was serving coffee!
However, that didn’t bother me at all because I was with some friends who were also going home for the holidays. We walked around for a little, and I remember myself marveling at the fact that I was inside MCIA again after a long time.
I savored the moment, because not everyone is given opportunities to be there – to fly again. I was grateful. Even till now, I am.
Moreover, if everything will be back to normal, I will never see this quietness at MCIA again. So, I lived at the moment.
Getting Back Up in the Air | First Flight Experience Since the Lockdown
Once we got on board, I noticed that the plane was almost full. No wonder because flights to Gensan, which was once done everyday, are now down to once a week. We were required to wear mask and face shield the whole time, and queuing for the toilet was strictly prohibited. If you wish to use the lavatory, you have to raise your hand so the attendant can accommodate you.
It was only an hour-flight, and I managed to entertain myself while I was up in the air. I took the window seat and had no one beside me even though the flight was almost full. After the landing, the flight attendants asked us to stay seated until the row in front had gathered their luggage and exited safely. It was like a graduation rite. We finally graduated from the plane (haha). Everyone was compliant, thankfully!
Getting Cleared at Gensan Airport
After getting off the plane, we lined up to wash our hands before entering the Gensan airport.
I tell you getting cleared at Gensan airport is a different story. The line getting yourself cleared required us a lot of patience. We arrived there almost lunch time, and only got ourselves cleared 3 hours after.
If you didn’t have your breakfast prior the flight, you were unlucky because you had to endure the long hours of waiting. Arriving at Gensan even when we had our negative swab test result would still require us a 14-day quarantine. All the passengers have to be cleared first before we were delivered to the quarantine facility.
Nevertheless, we survived that day, and now we are on our 3rd day of quarantine in the facility. Meals are given three times a day by the government. Family and friends are also free to hand us food anytime they want. Food Panda delivery service is also available with a few clicks away.
My first flight experience since the lockdown was less stressful than I thought. The airports and airplanes were the cleanest and personnel are making sure that safety protocols are followed. I’m not concerned about getting back on planes in the coming weeks. The bottom line – it was great to be back up in the sky!
Cha of Little Misadvencha is a Filipino Civil Engineer, researcher and a fur mom. She came from General Santos City and finds that everything in life teaches her a lesson. She is inspired to write about and out of her experiences, but later found out that it was her experiences that actually inspire her.