What to expect when flying to your destination
Having just returned from a quickfire visit to Kalkan in Turkey (out Wednesday 15th July back Friday 17th July) I thought I would outline the experience so that you will be able to get an idea of what to expect. However, there is one oddity in that in order to get there and back quickly I had to fly via Istanbul to get to Dalaman airport, the hub that serves most of our guests.
The Departure Airport
Arriving at Heathrow Terminal 2 at 9am for an 11:10 flight, I donned my mask and proceeded into the terminal passing numerous hand sanitiser dispensers. An automatic temperature check was being trialled at the entrance and having passed through that I proceeded to the Turkish Airline check in desk. As the airport wasn’t busy this procedure was quick and everyone observed the social distancing measures with absolutely minimum contact of travel documents. Next was security which was straightforward but a little slow given that there were so few travellers about. My rucksack was pulled up to be double checked for restricted items and this took at least 10 minutes.
Going through into the departure gates area it was good to see that Boots, W H Smiths and the duty free areas were open and seemed to be doing good business. There was only one restaurant open and this too was fairly busy.
Just before boarding
At the gate there were numerous announcements about social distancing but the significant one was for all passengers who had hand luggage that was deemed bigger than a small rucksack or hand bag had to be taken to the desk to be put into the hold as the airline were not allowing any items to go into the overhead lockers. As it turned out, once you were on the aircraft, you could put your bags in the overhead lockers without any objections from the crew. Just prior to boarding at the plane door everyone was offered a sealed hygienic bag containing a face mask, antiseptic wipes and hand gel.
It was a full flight and masks were worn at all times, which can be a bit bothersome, given it is a four hour flight. The Turkish Airlines Boeing 787 was brand new there was ample leg room, complimentary in flight entertainment (I managed to watch two films!) and a serving of a sandwich, small cake and a soft drink.
First Arrival Airport
On arrival at Istanbul I proceeded to the domestic departures where I went through passport control prior to going through to the departure hall. After a wait of a couple of hours I began the boarding process for the flight to Dalaman. The usual non comprehensive announcements were made with regard to boarding by seat number which were completely ignored by the passengers who began to board in scramble mode! Everyone was temperature checked prior to boarding and this was performed by holding a gun-like thermometer to the forehead. No one failed the test thankfully.
The flight was full, took just over an hour and was uneventful. I was again allowed to store my rucksack in the overhead locker. By the time we landed I realised that I had been wearing a mask for approximately 9 hours, which was tedious to say the least. Disembarkation took a few minutes and I was outside the terminal some 10 minutes later where I took my mask off with some relief.
Transfer and Arrival at the hotel
I was met by my driver who was wearing a mask but who informed me that I did not need to. The transfer took an hour and a half and I was weary but grateful when we pulled into the entrance of the Saray Suites, a brand new boutique hotel in our portfolio. I was greeted by the manager, Merve, who showed me to my excellent room. I noticed in the reception area that there were the obligatory hand sanitising dispensers but also some tastefully designed floor signage reminding us of social distancing etiquette.
Although it was around 9:45 pm I went into Kalkan to see how and what had changed in the town since my last visit in October. The short answer was not much! Most restaurants and shops were open and the main difference was that in most restaurants, not all, masks were being worn and also tables were definitely more spread apart. The UK tourists had not arrived as yet but there were plenty of Turkish tourists around, who I understand, were staying not in hotels but in villas in and around Kalkan.
The following morning breakfast at the Saray Suites was served on the outside breakfast patio and was table service and consisted of a full selection of fresh fruits, jams, breads, pastries, yoghurt, nuts and seeds, cheese and honey as well as your choice of eggs cooked to your liking. All beautifully fresh and perhaps over the top but nobody was complaining.
After breakfast I visited the beach clubs which were all open and had the sunbeds more spread out than usual. The boat trips were also in full swing leaving the harbour at the usual 9:30 am. All the hotels I visited were operating with the staff wearing masks and gloves when serving food and drink.
All in all I found Kalkan to be less busy and most of the staff in the hotels, restaurants and beach clubs were more conscious of the effort to socially distance and wear masks in order to keep their guests safe. There were hand sanitisers everywhere and plenty of signs reminding people to keep a meter apart.
I left Kalkan on Friday morning for my flight back from Dalaman to Heathrow. At Dalaman, security was its normal efficient self with very little waiting time. Check in for my BA flight was super quick as there were only fifteen passengers returning back to LHR. This was not surprising as it was the very first BA flight of the season to Dalaman. The only pain here was that masks had to be worn at all times in the terminal and also on the aircraft. On the four hour flight back the cabin crew served us complimentary water but no food was available.
I’m so glad I made the flying visit out to Kalkan not only to experience the new protocols but to find out what is really happening on the flights, transfers and in resort. The main differences to pre-covid era is that there is the mandatory wearing of masks on the aircraft and in the terminals. There is a noticeable abundance of hand sanitisers dispensers everywhere both here and in resort. Staff in resorts are wearing masks on most occasions and tables in restaurants and bars and sunbeds in hotels and beach clubs are more spaced so that social distancing can be observed. Most shops and restaurants are open or will be opening shortly and there’s one thing that abundantly clear and that is that the good folk of Kalkan and waiting with baited breath for the arrival of the UK guest.
Nick Wrightman – Managing Director