Air travel in the Covid age

Air travel in the Covid age

It was odd waiting in the Auckland Airport International Departure lounge with only a handful of other travellers and watching the tumbleweeds roll by. There’s always a strange feeling around a typically busy place that finds itself, for whatever reason, near deserted. All staff were wearing facemasks, and when I entered the lounge I put mine on too. I don’t think I’ve worn anything like a face mask since we ran around at primary school playing ‘goodies and baddies’. During this sophisticated game, we would tie our handkerchiefs around our faces Wild West style. Running up to another similarly disguised kid, we would shout ‘goody or baddy?’ at one another. Depending on the answer, we would either run off in search of another desperado to confront, or shoot each other point-blank with our thumb-and-forefinger pistols. But that’s a little off-topic.

Air travel in the Covid age
Ever get that feeling you’ve turned up on the wrong day?

We were each given a plastic face shield to wear over our masks by airline staff. I have to say it was a little confronting to be met at the aircraft door by aircrew wearing surgical gowns, masks and gloves. After I found my seat I half expected an anesthetist to turn up and ask me to start counting backwards from 10. We were allowed to remove the masks once onboard but the shields had to remain on at all times except during meals. This was air travel in the Covid age.

Air travel in the Covid age
‘Take me to your leader…’

On the last leg of the three-flight trip from NZ to Turkey we were given a little form to fill out, which asked a few general questions about our recent travels, and potential contact with Covid-19 sufferers. We also had to admit if we had experienced any Covid-esque symptoms recently.

After finally arriving in Istanbul, I expected to be temperature checked as part of the international arrivals process, and perhaps quizzed about my responses on the Covid-19 form. Neither of these things happened, and shortly afterwards I was out of the airport and in a taxi heading, at least theoretically, for my hotel.

I wouldn’t say that Turkey is completely indifferent to Covid, as there are a lot of signs regarding virus avoidance behaviour about, and in public the majority of people are wearing masks. However the country still appears to be going about its business.

My cab driver didn’t know my hotel – The Ibis in Tuzla, a suburb east of the the city centre – and drove one-handed (and no-handed whilst changing gears) at speed whilst entering the address in his phone. Upon reaching Tuzla, we left the major dusty thoroughfare and entered the narrow dusty streets. Old mate clearly wasn’t sure where to go, and we eventually ended up at a small car repair shop, where he asked a friend for directions. I showed the friend the address which I had written down, and he said ‘Oh Eebis…’ and then gave directions. The cabbie replied ‘oh Eebis..’ and then something to me which I translated as ‘Geez mate if you’d just said Ebis in the first place instead of Eyebis I would have know what you were talking about’. I wasn’t convinced.

We eventually found the Eebis but couldn’t figure out how to get to the entry from the maze of roads. The driver pulled up at the lights and asked a bloke in the car next to us how to get to the front door. A discussion ensued, however after driving around the block a couple of times the cabbie gave up and pulled over. I’d have to find the entrance myself.

Ibis Hotel Tuzla
‘Out of its windows, Tuzla Ibis Hotel reflects the harmony of inspiring urban architecture and blue horizon of the Marmara Sea.’ Perhaps I’m on the other side of the building

After paying for the cab I crossed the road and headed for the Eebis, which was set back off the road in a maze of buildings. I was walking past a workshop when two old blokes called out from inside. I called back ‘Eebis?’ and they gestured to walk around the other side of the shop. Congratulating myself upon successfully completing my first ever conversation entirely in Turkish I eventually arrived at the hotel lobby. Auckland to Istanbul: mission accomplished.

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6 thoughts on “Air travel in the Covid age

  1. Now if they offered the option of getting an anesthetic to sleep the plane ride away I think long haul flights would be a lot more fun. Get on the plane, go to sleep, wake up when you land, disembark…. what a great way to travel. You wake up refreshed and ready to start the day.

  2. Merhaba Jim !
    Hoşgeldiniz (to) Turkiye!
    (Hello Jim !
    Welcome to Turkey !)

    Dude – you’ll totally win them over just by being:-
    A) Australian ; (which they’ll pronounce “Ah-voo-stray-lihan”) – cause they bloody adore us, & have done so since WW1 ;
    despite invading their beach & them kicking our arse @ Gallipoli, the Diggers’ pluck won them over, & a strange respect for the enemy grew, as evidenced by the Turks & the Diggers at twilight, taking turns singing songs from their respective trenches once a jolly good days fighting was done.
    (Weird right , !?! Spend the day trying to kill each other horribly, then be all neighbourly & decent at knockoff. )
    B) Tall. Sorry to bring it up bro, but … you are …. & they love that shit.
    And C) if you just start every question / fumbled attempt at comms with “Effindem” …. (super polite & classy way of saying “Excuse Me” whilst also showing extreme respect )
    Then they’ll just totally lose their minds, shriek with delight, pinch your cheek (if they can stand on their toes & reach it) & proceed to smother you with immeasurable kindness.

    The Turks are some of the coolest people I’ve ever hung with, and the average Istanbulis’ command of the English language will put yours to shame probably mate.
    So don’t worry too much bout not speaking any Tulkce…. (Turkish)

    (But if you DO want a few more pointers … hit me up bro. Seriously – am beyond losing it at idea of YOU just landing Istanbul. So Jealous – I rival Kermit.
    PROMISE ME !!!!!!!!!
    YOU !!! WILL !!! FIND AND EAT !!! BOREK !!!!!!!

    1. Merhaba Kat! Who would have thought I would end up in your old stompin’ ground? Yes I have received a nice response when I have told people I’m an Ahvoostraylihan. Glad we don’t have a reputation of being drunken dickheads here. I realised the other day that our sailing route will take us down the Dardenelles past the Gallipoli Peninsula – over 105 years since my relative was there with the AIF – will be amazing to see. I’ll try busting out the ‘Effindem’ – I’m always up for some cheek pinchin’ immeasurable kindness! Right after I find out what borek is I’ll try and track some down. It’s been all about the kebab, pide and manti so far and I’m loving it!

    1. Great times Begs, great times. Yesterday my touristness and inability to do maths quickly saw me buy some dates and figs that ended up costing two Australian dollars per piece of fruit. That’s four times more than you pay for Turkish dried fruit in Australia. Geez that vendor saw me coming

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