Fliegen Corona

With distance and mask: From Berlin to Barcelona – how flying feels in times of Corona


You can only hear the chirping of the sparrows, occasionally drowned out by the hoarse croak of some crows. Taxi drivers are bored in front of their cars, the otherwise jam-packed parking lot is largely empty, otherwise ghostly silence at Berlin Tegel Airport.

An airport security man sits at the only open entrance door and directs the few passengers towards the check-in counter. He also prevents someone from going out through his front door. One-way street, exit at the other end. This May morning, hardly anyone wants to get in and even fewer want to get out. Maybe 30 people are lost in the airport hall – including airport employees.

A lot goes faster than usual

When it comes to loading suitcases, the excess weight goes through without complaint. “Suitcase is checked through, good trip”, that’s it, after 50 seconds you hold your boarding pass in your hand. And now? “You don’t just live on bread alone, you also need a drink,” says a café. It is closed, like everything except the toilets. If you like, you can pull planks at the machine.

Before the security check, people strictly adhere to the distance rules as in the supermarket. A nice exercise, the queue with a total of 16 travelers runs almost throughout the hall. The security staff has gone to rest. They casually wave a traveler to the control belt at the moment. Here, too, everything goes much faster than usual. A few instructions through the mask: “Trouser pockets empty? The shoes would have to be on the belt as well, then in the nude scanner, afterwards a body search again. With so few travelers, the security guard may have to take every chance to check.

After a short walk over the apron the plane. A hint of exclusivity comes up, after all you climb the only plane far and wide. This is how flying must have felt earlier. The exhilaration just extends to the seat in the economy class. Everything as always, nice and tight. And hardly a place remains free.

It gets tight on the plane

“Are you really sitting right next to me?” A man with a bald head asks his new neighbor a little prickly. But it also looks scary with a field-gray solid rubber mask that has an impressive thick round filter on the left and right. The man wants to see the boarding pass. After a brief look at the paper, he submits to his fate. “Well then, sorry,” he says, slightly sour.

“With a distance of one and a half meters, this is really a bit difficult here,” jokes a woman. Before the security check, two meters had to be kept.

Then the announcements, the usual, life jacket over the head, tightening the ribbon, but suddenly general cheerfulness: The stewardess has just pointed out that in the event of a completely unlikely drop in pressure, please remove your nasal mask before removing it from the Falling oxygen mask is placed on the ceiling.

Problems on entry

After landing in Barcelona things get serious. Always disembark in groups of ten passengers. This takes a while. The first police officer is right behind the airplane door, another in the tunnel to the main building. Strict looks. At the end of the tunnel a trellis of police officers who control the passage. “Not resident in Spain? Then that will be nothing with the entry, wait here on the right. Next! ”Then the man with the identity card disappears in the confusion of police officers and gesticulating travelers.

A brief period of uncertainty, and finally a friendly official with the ID appears. She explains that a job should be started, looks at a cover letter from the Spanish embassy in Berlin, is satisfied and wishes you a good stay. Now wait half an hour before the health check, have the temperature measured and submit the contact details for monitoring the two-week quarantine. All in all, about an hour from landing to the luggage belt. Even though only one machine had arrived. Tourism like before Corona is hard to imagine.

New rules at German airports

Passengers have to adapt to changing processes at the German airport. Obligation to wear a mask at certain points, rectified and therefore slower processes, but initially no medical checks – this is the guideline that the industry association ADV has now introduced. The package of measures is said to almost completely eliminate the risk of infection for the lung disease Covid-19 when air traffic restarts, it said.

The association recommends that the airports equalize the passenger processes. For example, more check-in counters should open and more buses should run if the passengers had to be driven to the apron. In the waiting areas, seats would have to be blocked and queues organized in such a way that the minimum distance to the side could also be maintained. If the proposals are implemented, the infrastructure will lose 20 to 50 percent of its capacity, meaning that only half of the previous number of passengers could be handled.

German airports are also opposed to medical checks when boarding or alighting. Thermal imaging cameras or fever measurements are not suitable for identifying carriers of the coronavirus, according to experts. If checks were ordered by the authorities, the airports would prefer questionnaires to be filled out by the passengers.