Behind the mask: Does flying with a mask change your experience when travelling?
Updated: Jan 25, 2022
In August I took my first flight in nearly 18 months. 2 hours from London to Berlin...wearing a mask. For those wanting to know more about that including the airport experience and what to expect. You can find that blog here.
For this I want to focus on long haul. Which in all honesty as much as I had a lot of excitement for, 10+ hours on a plane with a mask on? I'm not sure how I would cope, especially when you add on time in the airport both pre and post flight.
Monday 8th November, 2021 I was lucky enough to be on the first flight out of London Heathrow to Chicago in nearly 18 months. With flights to Germany, Northern Ireland and Malta already behind me. I was well versed in airport procedures, PLFs (Passenger Locator Forms), testing and getting through a few hours on-board with a mask.
This was going to be the real test.
The first thing that struck me is the shear size of the aircraft for long haul. It's a big bird in comparison to short haul. Not just when you see it as a whole when boarding, but it's a long walk through the plane for some to get your seat!
I don't know about you and taking nothing away from short haul and the service levels. But it does seem to be a different level with long haul, even regards boarding and take off times..maybe less fuss shall we say? We seemed to be in the air in no time at all and were immediately served drinks. A great way to remove the mask, just for a little while! On that note it is a good idea to eat or drink fairly regularly for a number of reasons, but for those that do struggle with masks. That light bit of relief you get will be most welcome.
After that, settle back and either sleep if you can or lock yourself in to a film or box set. Not having Amazon Prime at home, I found the whole first season of Picard (nerd alert) the perfect way to cover the flight time and take my mind away from any niggles. It was almost a challenge to see if I could watch the entire box set before we landed in Chicago...challenge met with 30 minutes to go. So I could then get myself set for landing and my onward journey.
Overall, I actually had less of an issue really flying long haul than I did short haul. Maybe it was mindset? I mean when you know you're on a flight for just a couple of hours you really do just think of getting there and what you will do once you're there. You can be a little restless and impatient with it. For this journey I knew I was in for a long timescale, I guess I settled easier and being able to watch endless amounts of TV or movies does help.
One final thing I would advise or suggest is your mask of choice. You need to be comfortable with it. With my flight out I wore a mask with an elastic attachment. By the end of the flight my ears wore a little sore from wearing this. So for the way back I had a fabric attachment and this was much more comfortable.
So keep that in mind. The right mask can make all the difference!
However, for those thinking of long haul again, or even for those who have yet to fly in any capacity since the pandemic. It really isn't much bother with masks on. Most of you will now be back in your daily commute and likely to be having to wear for that. Once you accept it and get on with it, then it really is much ado about nothing.