“Ladies and Gentlemen, make sure your luggage is stowed safely in the overhead compartment or under your seat. Fasten your seatbelts while the seatbelt sign is on. Have a safe flight.” How many of us have longed to hear these words over the past two years? The pandemic has caused many Malaysians to be cooped up at home but now that the borders have opened, it’s time to take that plane and hit the skies again!
But wait – it’s been ages since we’ve stepped into the airport and thanks to COVID-19, it’s no longer as simple as having a passport and getting a visa. Overseas travel has changed since the pandemic so it’s important to check regulations and update your to-do list as you plan for your holiday.
Here are 8 things you should do before packing your bags:
1. Plan Ahead! Check cancellation policies
When booking hotels or purchasing tickets to tourist attractions online, it’s essential to take note of the cancellation policy. Should there be any unexpected events that put a damper in your plans, you may need to cancel or postpone your holiday entirely!
As unfortunate as that is, the last thing you want is to be stuck with a non-refundable holiday or tickets. Whenever possible, always enquire and choose options that allow last-minute changes to the plan.
To ensure you always have this information with you in case of any disputes, save the information in your phone or have a copy printed out just in case. You never know when you might need these details handy!
2. Check your destination’s vaccination and testing policy
Depending on your holiday destination, the COVID-19 testing, quarantine, and vaccination policies would differ. Not checking this beforehand might mess up your holiday plans.
To be safe, we always recommend getting your booster shots as being fully vaccinated can quite literally open doors when it comes to travel restrictions. Bringing along several COVID-19 home-test kits is also a good idea, as frequent testing can put your mind at ease, especially if you’re feeling slightly unwell during your trip.
The fact is, life is unpredictable. Sometimes, being prepared is simply not enough. Even when strictly adhering to restrictions and regulations, we can still get sick from COVID-19 as we socialise and enjoy many new adventures.
Aside from feeling ill, a COVID-19 positive diagnosis during a holiday can also become a substantial financial burden! Unexpected costs may start popping up, as you may need to quarantine in a foreign country.
3. Get Travel Insurance
Travel insurance isn’t usually high on our priority list whenever we plan for a trip – often this is because we don’t think that anything unfortunate is going to happen. But we are in different times now, where a simple positive COVID-19 test can derail your best-laid plans.
There are many travel insurance options out there that cater to different needs and budgets but we recently found out that AIA is offering a Free Overseas Travel Shield which provides coverage for disruption in travel plans due to a positive COVID-19 diagnosis.
Free Overseas Travel Shield covers the following:
- Cash Allowance of RM100/per day for COVID-19 quarantine while travelling overseas
- Cash Reimbursement of up to RM1000 for the cost of flight tickets due to overseas travel cancellation
To learn more about AIA’s Free Overseas Travel Shield, click here.
4. Download Your Airline’s App
There’s no need to wait in line at the check-in counter these days. This is because you can download your airline’s app instead. Through these apps, you can find every single piece of information that you need. Ensure all your details are correctly entered into the app and then check in before arriving at the airport.
With this, you should be able to head straight to airport security. Furthermore, there are certain airlines that will automatically check you in 24 hours before your flight. However, we recommend you double or even triple-check before heading to the airport.
Of course, you can also check in via the airline’s website. Nevertheless, we recommend the app because it’s easy and can don’t require you to keep signing in.
5. Register As Frequent Flyer
Here’s a secret that many may not know about, especially if you don’t travel as often. If you register as a frequent flyer for certain airlines, you get special perks and free upgrades too. But one thing to note is that you should only register as a frequent flyer if you’re flying somewhere far.
This is because points are collected based on the miles you travel. Therefore, if you’re travelling domestically, you may not collect as many points. Some frequent flyer perks include access to the first class lounge, a free upgrade to business class, and more.
Do note that the free upgrade depends on available seats as well. But if you’re looking to travel overseas, this is definitely something to look into.
6. Track Your Flight In Real-Time
Did you know that there’s an app that helps to track your flight in real-time? Flight Radar 24 shows every single plane that’s flying and landing in real-time. In addition, it will also provide you with the type of aircraft alongside what time it’s expected to take off.
While you’re on your flight, you can also ask your family to track it. This is for them to know you’re safe and for them to know what time to pick you up, should there be any delays. Other than that, people typically use Flight Radar 24 before buying plane tickets so that they know if the plane is new or old.
People who are more sensitive when it comes to flying would most likely prefer newer planes. However, whether a plane is new or old might not bother a person who flies often. It really depends on your preference at the end of the day.
7. Bring An Empty Water Bottle
If you’ve ever taken a flight, you would probably be familiar with the no water bottle rule. When passing the checkpoint, you’re not allowed to bring water bottles that have water in them. This is just for precautionary reasons as terrorists are able to bring liquid explosives onto the plane.
However, you are allowed to bring an empty water bottle instead. On the other hand, you can also purchase water after passing the check-in point. But one thing about purchasing water after the check-in point is that it may be more expensive. Furthermore, they are usually packaged in plastic bottles which could contribute to more waste.
Bringing an empty water bottle allows you to refill it via airport filling stations before boarding a flight. If you think it’s going to take up a lot of space, get collapsible water bottles instead.
8. Remember Must-Have Essentials
Travelling now is extremely different from travelling before COVID-19. Before the pandemic, most of our essentials on long flights include sheet masks, lotion, skincare and more. But now, must-have essentials have become face masks, hand sanitisers, antibacterial wipes, and more.
We highly recommend that you keep a set in both your check-in luggage and carry-on before boarding the plane. Just to make sure that you have extras with you at all times. Remember to travel safe and have fun while on your trip!