As lockdown in South Africa has lifted to Level 2 and domestic travel restrictions have begun to ease, South Africans may now travel between provinces for any reason and no longer need to provide supporting documentation other than all travellers need to complete a health declaration document which can be completed at home, printed out and presented upon arrival at the airport, or it can be done prior to entering the building. Accommodation facilities are open and tours are available subject to safety protocols in place.
Here’s everything you need to know about travelling in South Africa during lockdown Level 2 and ensuring you get where you need to go with the new rigorous hygiene and safety protocols in place.
Other than your documentation, you need to have done your online check-in prior to departure and have a digital boarding pass to scan with a valid ID, which you will do yourself. You will also need to pass a temperature screening and wear your face mask at all times. New rules apply to checked luggage, physical distancing of 1,5m; allow time for security checks and safety measures onboard your flight.
Domestic airports that are open and have resumed operations are: OR Tambo International, Cape Town International, King Shaka International, Bram Fischer International, Port Elizabeth International, East London Airport, George Airport, Kruger Mpumalanga International Airport, Kimberley Airport and Lanseria Airport.
What You Can Expect at the Airport Under Level 2
Thompsons Travel COO, Priti Ramkissoon, recently flew from Durban to Johannesburg on Fly Safair. This is her experience of what it’s like flying under Level Two in South Africa.
My husband and I recently flew from Durban to Johannesburg on Fly Safair. Initially, I was quite anxious as I saw that all flights to Joburg were full on the day and was a little concerned about the flight, but everything went smoothly, and we felt completely safe!
Upon arrival at King Shaka International Airport drop-off zone at the only open entrance, you will find a table outside where you can complete your health declaration form (not completed prior). Once you enter the airport building itself, you will hand your form in to the staff, answer a few questions about your whereabouts in the last 14 days and get your temperature checked.
The airport was really quiet, due to only 4 flights departing in the afternoon. We went straight through to bag-drop offs as I had checked-in online a day before and had our boarding passes sent to us via Whatsapp. The check-in staff do not touch your ID card anymore, they ask you to hold it up and pull your mask down to verify your identity, then give you a printed boarding pass as well.
There are social distancing markers on the floor and hand sanitizing stations everywhere. You can either scan the printed boarding pass yourself or the one on your Whatsapp message. There is also social distancing seating that’s marked everywhere for the safety of our travellers once you go pass the security check point.
Onboard the flight, you’re required to hand sanitize, again, and keep your mask on throughout the flight. Upon landing, the airport staff disembark passengers two rows at a time – starting with two from the front, two from the back – which worked quite nicely.
After collecting our luggage at OR Tambo – they have closed the bottom arrival exits completely and you are then required to go up one level and exit at the parkade, where you can get into your transfer or Uber ride.
Strict Safety Protocols at Airport
Strict safety protocols must be adhered to during travel – at the airport and onboard your flight. Expect no-touch contact, mobile boarding passes and temperature checks to become the norm.
Here’s what to expect at the airport:
- Upon arriving at the airport, passengers must use drop-and-go facilities or public transport/transfers as only passengers will be allowed into the terminal.
- Limited parkade options will be available and will be signposted at each terminal.
- Meet & greets will not be allowed in the terminal building.
- Baggage wrapping is now compulsory for check-in luggage for hygiene reasons.
- Several access points have been closed at each airport. Please visit the Airports Company website for details on which access points and terminal entrance points should be used.
- Place all loose items into your hand luggage including items that contain metal such as belts.
- If you trigger the metal detector, no pat downs will take place and you will be sent back to re-divest all loose items which may include shoes.
- You will be required to scan your own boarding cards.
- For the flights that require passengers to transfer via busses from the boarding gate to the aircraft or aircraft to the arrival’s terminal, these will operate at only 70% capacity and will be cleaned and disinfected after every trip.
Travel Tips for Business Travellers
There are a few things you can do to be a responsible traveller during this time.
- Firstly, don’t fly if you are feeling ill as you will not only increase your chances of contracting the virus, but you may also put other people at risk.
- Check-in online and download your mobile boarding pass to limit the number of exchanges you make with others.
- Arrive two hours before the flight to avoid possible delays at the entrance
- Complete your health document and print it out prior to arrival at the airport saves you time of filling it out outside the entrance
- Wear your face mask at all times – at the airport and while travelling.
- Wash your hands regularly. This is one of your best defences against the virus.
- Use an alcohol-based hand sanitiser (keep a travel-sized bottle with you at all times – less than 100ml).
- Maintain physical distance at the airport and onboard your flight.
- Plan for delays. Due to safety screenings and new check-in, security and boarding processes, it’s best to arrive at the airport well before your flight to avoid missed departures.
Safety Measures Onboard
Operating airlines have announced several safety measures they are undertaking to protect passengers and crew, including:
- Screening all staff and passengers
- Compulsory wearing of masks throughout flights
- Self-scanning of documents
- No catering and no magazines to avoid contact
- Sterile aircraft cabins, re-sterilised between flights
- Reduced passenger movement during flights
- Staggered boarding procedures
Aircrafts are equipped with High Efficient Particulate Air Filters (HEPA), like those used in hospital operating theatres, which are effective at blocking 99,97% of particulates. These filters help to continually sterilise the air in the cabins, which is renewed entirely every three minutes. You can find more information about HEPA here.
What About Social Distancing on the Flight?
Mango has said it will strategically seat passengers onboard to maintain social distancing and hygiene practices, with exceptions made for guests that are travelling together. Similarly, FlySafair has said it will fill window and aisle seats before allocating passengers to the middle seat. However, middle seats will not be blocked automatically. Passengers may opt to block the seat at an additional fee.
Need more information about business travel during Level 2 and beyond? Get in touch with us to start making business travel arrangements.