BUSINESS CLASS EXPERIENCE. EXPECTATIONS VS REALITY
Everyone loves to fly in business class because it’s more convenient. Fine dining and excellent service, personal attention, comfortable seats, priority check-in and boarding, amenities and facilities, be the first to leave the plane, access to various business class Lounges, and last but not least, you have much more privacy on the plane. This is what we are used to, but 2020 has changed even that! Obviously, I didn’t try all the fly companies this year, some of my flights been cancelled and most of the travel in 2020 I made by car, so I can’t say for all the air companies, but I can tell you what it was like to fly during the pandemic with one of the best airlines in the world Turkish airlines. It all started with the check-in desk at the airport; when we went to the check-in Desk as usual with large suitcases and hand luggage, we were informed that under the new rules of Turkish airlines, it is forbidden to take on Board hand Luggage as а suitcases. Only bags, a drone, and a camera were allowed to take with us on the plane. This is a very strange and not logical rule. If I can bring a woman’s bag on Board and put them on passengers airplane shelves, why can’t I do the same with small luggage? Why? Of course, no one explains this and only uses it as a fun excuse for the Covid situation. Further goes worse, we went frustrated to the Turkish Airlines business lounge, but no nice food or drinks was expected. It was only some pathetic sandwiches, salads, apples, tea, and juices. They closed showers and some toilets too.
When we arrived at the boarding, it turned out that business class passengers get on the plane last. Ok, this is at least understandable so that no one can breathe on us during the boarding, although we all still wearing masks, and in any case, all passengers will pass through the business class. Dining on Board was a disaster! Instead of a good hot meal, we were provided with cold sandwiches, juices in a box, and water in a plastic cup. None of the things we used to have when we were flying in business class. No Slippers, no socks, no dental kit, etc… Not even a pillow or blanket! I remind you that all these amenities are always in closed private bags in business class, no one touches them before you, so this excuse of Covid does not work here.
The price of the tickets was exactly the same as in previous years, but did we get the experience of business class in 2020? No! Turkish airlines, how can all these funny new rules protect your passengers and crew from Covid?
CLEANLINESS AND SAFETY
What was it like to travel in 2020, and was it safe for health? Most of the hotels that I visited this year were, in my opinion, safe for my health. This year I didn’t go to parties or crowded restaurants in the evenings, I was very careful. First, because I really care about my body and health, and second, I didn’t want to risk getting sick and being stuck in some foreign country with bad symptoms or not being allowed on a plane because of a fever. This year we took takeaway food or went to restaurants in luxury hotels, not only because we love it, but also because expensive hotels took good care of their customers, obviously this is their reputation. We mostly had lunches and dinners in outdoor restaurants. The menu in the restaurants was mostly in QR code; waiters were wearing masks and disinfecting each table after the customers leave. Hotel rooms were specially disinfected, in addition to the usual cleaning. Some hotels were giving swimming caps for the pool to all guests, and it was really strange to be in the hotel pool with a cap on. I don’t understand the reason, because the virus does not spread through the hair. It just looks like some hotels and restaurants do not even try to figure out how this virus spreads and how long it lives on different surfaces; they are just trying to protect themselves as best they can.
WITHOUT CROWDS, OR ALMOST WITHOUT THEM
The pandemic gave us a great chance to see tourist spots without a lot of tourists. Oh, I enjoyed it so much! No queues at restaurants or other public places, empty streets of big cities like Florence during the day, isn’t this the perfect vacation? Although not for 18 y.o., they need parties, I understand that. After all, I’ve had very little stress while travelling this year because I don’t like being in crowded places and waiting in line.
DIFFICULTIES IN PLANNING THE TRIPS
Planning my trips in 2020 was a headache. It was so hard to follow the plan. I’ve had a lot of flight and hotel cancellations, and to be honest, in July, I started thinking I will not travel anywhere since it’s so hard to know if you can fly or if your flight will be cancelled again. Another unpredictable thing was planning a trip with my parents as they live in Russia. At first, they could not come to visit me in Switzerland because Russia did not open the flight schedule with Zurich, then when we decided to meet in another country, my flight was cancelled, then we decided that we could meet sometime in Europe, and they would fly over Minsk, Belarus, but there started political protests … Oh, it was sooo difficult to organize a meeting! However, we received good news that Russia has opened its borders with Turkey, so we decided to meet there and had a really great time!
I’ve never seen such empty airports in my life. However, all the planes I took this year were almost full. There were no queues for the women’s toilets, empty cafes, although many of them were closed, empty or closed boutiques and unusual silence for airports, as there were few flights, announcements of arrival or the beginning of boarding were very rare. Flying during the pandemic in 2020 was a very interesting experience.
DRY HANDS AND ALLERGY
The constant use of disinfectant gel made my hands very dry, and the smell of alcohol provoked allergies. Wearing a mask doesn’t bother me, but this year I stopped using lipstick, and I need to fix my makeup more often than in previous years. However, I understand that all these measures are made for a reason, so I do not complain about the use of gel and masks.
SERVICE AT HOTELS AND RESTAURANTS
Some of the hotels I’ve stayed in this year have disappointed me. Breakfast at many hotels was a disaster, with very little choice and a long waiting time.
It seems like some hotels just decided to save their budget on breakfasts in 2020. Basically, it was croissants, bread, coffee, and orange juice, the hotel Don Cesar in Corsica made an extra charge for omelettes and smoked salmon, which is shocking, why do I book a room in your hotel with Breakfast included, but I need to pay extra for a simple omelette? It’s just arrogance. We booked Conrad in Istanbul for our last two nights in Turkey, one of the reasons why we chose this hotel was the club lounge Breakfast, which means that we could have breakfast in the executive lounge, where are usually very few people, as only some room categories can have Breakfast there, besides it was on the same floor as our rooms were. When we arrived at Conrad, we were informed that the executive lounge was closed due to Covid. So we had to go to the main restaurant for Breakfast, where there were a lot of people and little space between the tables. Conrad Istanbul, where is the logic? You put your guests and staff in a more dangerous position. The service at this hotel was also quite poor; this was my first and last time I stayed at Conrad Istanbul.
No cruises, only private yachts! It was very positive for me. I’m not a fan of big cruises, and they are so huge that they block the beautiful view, pollute the air and oceans, it is very harmful to nature, birds and sea animals, cruises make many Islands and cities very crowded. They also don’t bring much money for tourist destinations, as people from cruises spend money on land only on ice cream, magnets, and some souvenirs, so basically only small stores have the ability to sell something to people from the cruise. When they arrive at a new destination, they don’t need to book a hotel room or have dinner at a restaurant, as they already have these on a cruise. I really hope that big cruises will be forbidden one day forever!