Photo: Shahrear Kabir Heemel
Photo: Shahrear Kabir Heemel
People have now resumed international travel, albeit cautiously. With the emergence of a new, more contagious variant, Omicron, however, countries are imposing new restrictions on travelers, making international travel even more uncertain, more hectic. If you are planning to go abroad, plan well and plan well in advance.
I recently went to Bangladesh for a two week trip to see my family. An earlier summer travel plan had to be canceled due to a COVID-19 lockdown that was imposed on Bangladesh to stem infections and deaths. In our case, it cost us a cancellation fee at the time. Because change is the only constant now more than ever, keep in mind that your travel plans may need to be changed or canceled in the fluid situation of the world we live in today.
You must show proof of a negative COVID-19 test to travel abroad. Please check with your airline and also read the entry requirements of the country you are traveling to before making any plans, as travel restrictions are constantly changing. For example, when I returned to the United States in November, the requirement was that I had to be tested for COVID-19 within three calendar days before my flight. However, with the emergence of the Omicron variant, this has now been changed to not exceed âoneâ calendar day before traveling by plane to the United States.
“I was unable to board my Emirates flight from JFK (John F. Kennedy International Airport) because my COVID-19 test result expired by the time I reached the airport,” Zerin Ahmed said, 60 years old, who was visiting Dhaka from New York. Ahmed had to book his ticket for another day and get tested for COVID-19 everywhere in order to fly to Dhaka.
âIt is important that you calculate the 24, 48 or 72 hour window correctly, so that your COVID-19 test result does not expire before your flight,â she said.
Therefore, collect the latest information on the travel requirements, restrictions and the overall COVID-19 situation of the country you are traveling to before planning your trip, so that you do not get stranded at an international airport or a new country.
If you are traveling from Bangladesh, remember that you must be tested for COVID-19 at one of the government approved hospitals or organizations. It is important to note that not all hospitals or laboratories in Bangladesh are authorized to perform COVID-19 tests for “travel” purposes. A person must submit photocopies of their passport and plane ticket to the hospital before being tested for COVID-19.
To be on time safely, arrive at the airport early. At Shahjalal International Airport, for example, we had to take our COVID-19 test results to a health unit to have them checked. It was after checking the test results that we were able to walk to the counter of our airline. New airport protocols may now require more time during travel.
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IN THE AIR
Once your COVID-19 test is negative, you can happily start planning your trip. When I was packing for my long trip to Dhaka, I packed enough masks for a week! I had small bottles of hand sanitizer in my purse and carry-on. Airports are crowded places and most of the time you will have a hard time practicing social distancing, therefore, wear a mask at all times except when eating and drinking, of course, and wash or disinfect them. hands after touching high contact surfaces. Practice good hygiene during your flight: avoid touching your face, nose and mouth, and cover your mouth when coughing or sneezing.
If you want to feel safer on the plane, bring your own antibacterial wipes to disinfect the armrest, tablet, back seat pocket, touchscreen, and headrest.
Once you are in the air, wearing a mask is the best idea. However, if you are traveling long distances, keeping a mask on all the time can be suffocating, but it’s the best thing you can do to stay safe. Depending on the airline, you may also receive a protective kit that contains gloves, disinfectant, and a mask.
For your safety and the safety of all, do not overcrowd the aircraft toilets. Also, don’t try to retrieve your carry-on baggage from the overhead compartment, and don’t rush to disembark as soon as the plane lands. Wait for announcements from the cabin crew.
Personally, I felt safe on the plane as every international air traveler has to test negative for COVID-19 before flying. In addition, almost all modern airplanes are equipped with HEPA (High Efficiency Particle Arrester) filters which capture over 99% of pollen, dust, dirt, bacteria and viruses in the air.
That said, traveling by air during COVID-19 is not 100% safe, neither type of travel is. However, people are traveling again, whether for business or pleasure. Therefore, if you must travel in this pandemic, travel, but travel wisely.