You wonder what travelling looks like in times of Corona? Cornelia and Philipp tell us more about their holidays on Rhodes in our interview.
Air Travel in Times of COVID-19
Escape from everyday life, stick your feet in the sand and just relax - especially in times like these, this idea seems particularly appealing. But even if the Corona crisis brings some difficulties with it, nothing stands in the way of a carefree journey with the right measures and a good preparation. Cornelia and Philipp, who spent their holidays on the Greek island of Rhodes at the beginning of October 2020, know this too. In the interview, they now tell us how they planned and experienced their holiday and the flights with Austrian Airlines together with their partners.
Why did you choose Rhodes and when did you book?
Flight Booking in Times of Corona
As for our honeymoon, we wanted sun, beach and sea. Preferably a place that is not so far away. I am a huge fan of Greece. I like the cuisine, the people, the pleasant and relaxed atmosphere. Moreover, the number of Corona infections on Rhodes was almost non-existent at the time of our booking. Thanks to the flexible rebooking options offered by Austrian Airlines, we could keep the option open to either rebook to another destination or simply postpone the trip.
It was quite similar for us. After the Corona situation had become so acute in spring, we cancelled our original trip to Bali. Since we wanted to play it safe on our "substitute trip", we chose a southern European destination. And since the number of cases here was low and the rebooking options very flexible, we chose Rhodes.
How did you prepare for your journey?
Travel Arrangements in Times of COVID-19
We have informed ourselves intensively about the entry requirements in Greece. The Austrian Airlines platform regarding entry requirements was very helpful here. In addition, we voluntarily undertook a Corona test before the flight to minimise the risk of infection. Furthermore, we regularly monitored the development of Corona numbers in Rhodes. For travellers entering Greece, it is also necessary to fill out a "Passanger Locator Form" in advance. This can easily be done online and you will receive a QR code the evening before your journey, which you will have to show at your arrival.
My wife and I informed ourselves about the entry restrictions even before booking. After all, we didn't want to experience any negative surprises here. Once it was clear that we could register relatively easily via the website of the tourism authority, we booked our flights and our hotel.
How did you perceive the current situation at Vienna International Airport?
Vienna International Airport in Times of Corona
To be honest, the situation at Vienna Airport was very pleasant. It felt less busy than usual and the security measures made us feel comfortable. You always had the opportunity to keep sufficient distance and we didn't feel uncomfortable while queuing at the check-in, security check and boarding. In principle, the precautions taken at Vienna International Airport, for example the disinfection stations, the compulsory masks and the Plexiglas walls at the check-in counters, gave us a good feeling.
What did check-in and boarding look like?
Check-in and Boarding in Times of COVID-19
At both, check-in and boarding, checks were made to ensure that all passengers had received the Greek authorities' QR code. This code is given after registration at midnight on the day of departure. The staff also made sure that the masks were worn correctly. Unfortunately, in other areas (such as the in the metro or train) this is often insufficiently checked.
How did you perceive the flight?
Flight Experience in Times of Corona
I am slightly claustrophobic and before the journey began I was worried about wearing the mask for such a long time. However, I was surprised how quickly I got used to wearing the mask and how comfortable it made me feel. There was enough room for us in our row of seats. This, of course, contributed to the fact that we felt very comfortable on board. Everything seemed very clean and well organised. The crew was friendly as usual, but also very determined in their announcements about the compulsory wearing of masks - this gave us an additional feeling of security.
We had already reserved our seats in the front section of the plane before the trip. The boarding took place in groups. So we were almost the first passengers on board, which was very pleasant for us. We also noticed that the passengers were distributed very widely in the aircraft. In our case, other passengers were seated at least 2 seats away.
What was the arrival at Rhodes Airport like?
Arrivals in Times of COVID-19
At the local airport, everything also went quite fast and was well organised. We had to show our passports and the QR code. Some of the passengers were allowed to enter directly and the other part was directed to the test lane. We were lucky to enter directly, but while waiting for our luggage we could watch the people in the test lane. There was no long queue here either, everything went very quickly. To be mobile on Rhodes and to avoid contact with other people at the same time, we had decided to rent a car. At the pick up we had to wait a few minutes, but the car was super clean and the interior seemed completely disinfected.
And what was the situation like on Rhodes? Did you feel safe?
Situation on Rhodes in Times of Corona
On site, we were still a bit uncertain about the measures to be taken, as we had not been informed about the current and local regulations due to the wedding stress in the weeks before. In general, we wore the mask in shops, in museums and when we thought it was appropriate (for example in the historical centre of Rhodes). However, at no time did we feel really insecure and the residents definitely made a positive contribution to this.
What was your holiday like in general? What was different compared to other holidays?
Holiday on Rhodes in Times of COVID-19
Our hotel, a small boutique hotel, had a traffic light system to regulate the people who were waiting in the lobby. In addition, another service desk was set up outdoors. Disinfectant dispensers were placed everywhere and the tables were thoroughly disinfected after each guest. Indoors, masks were compulsory without exception. All of this may not sound like a holiday feeling now, but after a few hours the measures were no longer noticeable. Anyway, the good thing about travelling into the warmth is that you are mainly outside and where the risk of infection is lower.
We also chose a hotel where every room had private pool access and sunbeds. So the contact to others was practically non-existent. Furthermore, there was no breakfast buffet, but table service. I thought that was particularly pleasant, as I don't really like queuing at the buffet anyway.
The weather in Greece was wonderful and there was practically no need to restrict ourselves during the holiday. We felt comfortable in the hotel as well as on excursions or on the beach and we hardly felt any difference compared to travelling before COVID-19. So this must be the "new normal". 😉
How was your return journey? Any special arrangements when you arrived in Vienna?
Return Journey to Vienna in Times of Corona
The return journey was similarly uncomplicated as the outward flight. Less people than usual, nice staff and we felt very safe. Arriving in Vienna, we took advantage of the free Corona test offer to make sure that we do not unknowingly infect anyone at home either. Both tests were negative - so the only thing we brought along were great memories of our honeymoon.
Would you currently travel (there) again?
Further Journeys in Times of COVID-19
I would, if I had the chance, get back on a plane immediately. Maybe not for a city trip to a big city or for a holiday in a huge hotel complex, but there are small hotels everywhere. Even the big cities usually have a beautiful surrounding countryside that wants to be discovered. Second city tourism was already on the rise before Corona - so why not jump on this train now? The region benefits, it is less hectic and you can experience everything much more authentically.
Absolutely! The weather was beautiful and we truly enjoyed our first trip in 2020.
So, what is your conclusion?
Conclusion on Travelling in Times of Corona
I had most of my concerns before the trip itself, but thanks to the security precautions at the airport, on board and also on site, I had the feeling of being in good hands. We experienced everything more consciously and took many great memories with us.
It doesn't matter where you are or where you are going, but how you behave. In my opinion, the new entry regulations are currently the only hurdles when it comes to travelling. You have to invest some time here - but it's definitely worth it!
Discover the World Carefree With Austrian Airlines
Many thanks, Cornelia and Philipp, for your detailed and instructive travel report! All the best to you and stay safe! We are looking forward to welcoming you on board again soon.
If you've also got the urge to travel now, it's best to book your next flight with Austrian Airlines right here. Our highlights and tips for a successful holiday on Rhodes can be found here. For a safe flight and a completely carefree journey, we have also created a step-by-step guide, which you can find here. So, what are you waiting for? Check your entry requirements, book your flights and don't forget to pack your mask!