France-UK: social distancing on aeroplanes
How does social distancing on aeroplanes currently work and what are the health measures airlines have put in place for passengers travelling between the UK and France?
Travel restrictions between the UK and France relating to Covid-19 have been significantly eased, meaning more people are choosing to holiday, visit second homes or friends and family. For those choosing to fly, most airlines have made changes to ensure safe travel but it is unlikely that any strict social distancing measures will apply in planes.
Before setting off, passengers are being encouraged to check in online and to not fly if they are displaying any symptoms of Covid-19, such as a cough or a temperature. At the airports, passengers will be asked to scan their own boarding pass and to place their luggage on the belt themselves.
According to the Ryanair website, all planes are fitted with powerful air filters and all interior surfaces are disinfected every night.
All cabin crew and passengers must wear face masks and a limited inflight package of snacks and drinks will be offered, but with card payment only. Passengers will not be allowed to queue for toilets but access will be available upon request.
Ryanair may try to space passengers out if possible (ie. if the flight is not full), but it is highly likely that social distancing will not be applied during the flight, so do not be surprised if you are sitting next to someone.
Jet2 are only offering a limited range of flights at present.
Passengers are encouraged to check in online but for those checking in at the airport, screens will be fitted at the check-in desks.
Travellers will be boarded in smaller groups which may result in it taking slightly longer to be seated.
All planes are fitted with powerful air filters and all interior surfaces are disinfected every day.
On board, all cabin crew and passengers must wear face masks. Unlike Ryanair, Jet2 will be offering its full in-flight service. Toilets will be open but passengers are asked not to queue and remain in their seats until one is available.
The Jet2 website states, “you can’t keep too much (social) distance on the plane, but you can minimise your contact with people and surfaces.”
Easyjet is also running a reduced range of flights and has new measures in place to ensure passenger safety. Passengers will embark in smaller groups, and will disembark from planes row by row, meaning it may take longer to get on and off the plane.
Masks must be worn by all crew and passengers during the entire flight, except when passengers are eating or drinking.
The airline will be offering a limited inflight service of food and drinks, and all in-flight magazines and brochures will be removed. Queuing for toilets is also forbidden.
Where possible, the airline will attempt to space out passengers, but on full flights this will not be possible.
Eurostar, Eurotunnel, Brittany Ferries and P&O Ferries
On Eurostar trains there has been a change to the seating plan to ensure passengers have space on board. According to the website, “to ensure every other seat is left empty, some passengers may find their coach and seat number has changed. If your seat has been changed, you’ll get a yellow slip of paper as you go through the ticket gates at the station. Please take this slip with you and make sure you sit in your new seat to give everybody plenty of space.”
Masks must be worn at all times on the train and in the train stations.
For anyone driving between the countries using the Eurotunnel Le Shuttle service, documentation related to your health status may be required by the company. The Eurotunnel website states: “It is now permitted for anyone without symptoms of Covid-19 to travel from the UK to France subject to completion of a health declaration”.
Masks do not need to be worn while passengers are in their car.
P&O ferries confirmed to The Connexion that no extra documentation will be required. The company stated that passengers must still complete a Public Health Passenger Locator Form form 48 hours before returning to the UK.
Brittany Ferries has published a 12-point guide to new measures in place to protect passengers, which can be found on their website here.
Measures include wearing a mask, staggered boarding and a compulsory reservation of a seat or cabin. In restaurants and bars, there will be a limited menu choice and the spaces will be adapted to comply with social distancing protocols.