The United States this 2020
I was devastated when the lockdown in travel was announced in Manila. Our plans were already made after I got my US visa. I was supposed to be moving to California at the start of the year. Suddenly, everything just stopped! But what can I do? The COVID-19 virus is a pandemic that spread worldwide so fast. All the airlines are, of course, worried that airline travel, especially long haul flights, will make the disease spread faster. They also fear for the safety of their workers as well. So we waited and hoped for the best. Finally, travel to the US was finally allowed after three months of lockdowns. The first thing to do when you’re about to travel abroad is to check the requirements of the airline and the country you’re going to for Covid-19 tests and clearances. Each airline has its own list and each country has its own specification. I had to get a mandatory medical certificate and a travel authority from our local police department before I even set foot inside the airport. For everyone traveling from Manila as I did, I’m sharing this super important advice from Philippine Airlines. To ensure everyone’s health and safety, Philippine Airlines and its passengers shall strictly observe the following in all airport facilities and onboard the aircraft.
A. Mandatory wearing of face masks B. Mandatory wearing of face shields (effective August 15) passengers in PAL international (and domestic) flights must wear a face shield, together with a face mask, throughout the flight and inside the airports. The face shield must be of good quality—clear and sturdy with a comfortable fit that covers the entire face. C. Mandatory temperature checks, use of footbaths, and disinfection/sanitation facilities. D. Mandatory physical and social distancing and minimum contact at all times and in all places within the airport premises, and during all procedures, from check-in, boarding, inflight, disembarking to retrieving of check-in baggage. Mandatory public safety announcements before the closing of doors and during flight for cabin and health security protocols. E. Strict compliance with safety procedures on the handling of suspected/ill passengers on board, which include keeping the last three (3) seat rows of the plane vacant as an isolation area for suspected ill passengers already on board. F. Regular sanitation and disinfection of all airline facilities and equipment, and in coordination with the airport authorities, all airport facilities, and equipment, including lavatories, frequently touched surfaces, wheelchairs, trolleys, countertops, etc.; Daily first aid stocks available onboard the aircraft. Philippine Airlines shall do its best to observe social distancing measures inside the aircraft, subject to space availability. Family members and individuals traveling together as part of the same household may still choose to be seated together… Guide for International Travel Departing from the Philippines
Secure additional required travel and health documents (including COVID-19 testing as necessary). Please refer to the country requirements posted below and “Mandatory COVID-19 Testing and PAL Testing Partners” for any additional testing requirements of your destination country. As these requirements may change at short notice, the advisories are meant only as a guide.
Undergo a documentation check at the airport for check-in clearance. The documents checker shall assess the completeness and validity of your documents. You may not be able to check-in and board the flight if you miss any of the requirements.
Finally, my US trip happened
Traveling during the Covid 19 Pandemic
Traveling during the Covid 19 pandemic is absolutely different from regular travel. The crew of Philippine Airlines all wore personal protective gear which is so different from the business suits they usually wear. Take note — these are not your ordinary drab hospital PPE. The PAL crew are all wearing suits designed by the high-fashion couturier, Edwin Tan, so it was really nice! Who says efficiency can’t be glamorous?
PAL limits the passenger capacity and does not allow people to occupy the middle seat. Other airlines require only a third of the plane’s capacity. They also strictly require the one-meter social distancing suggested by the WHO. I was comfortable enough to have a window seat plus an empty seat beside me. Spraying alcohol on my seat plus my hands and arms were my additional safety precaution just to be doubly-sure. Kept my long sleeves on and the face mask constantly snug during the whole flight as well.
My flight landed in Hawaii for the first leg of my trip. The state surprisingly looks very much like our Palawan. The views, beaches, and all the greenery gave off that summer vacation vibe.
Then onto glorious California!