In the spirit of research (and a desperate need to go on holiday), two of the team here at Original Travel have been away in the last week, and in true Top Gear challenge fashion, they can report back on what it's really like flying and taking the Eurotunnel at the moment. Read on for part two, as our Africa expert Matt flies to France then journeys back again on the Eurotunnel...
- Outbound flight from London Heathrow to Paris Charles de Gaulle
- Travelling with Air France
- Return to the UK using the Eurotunnel train
At the Airport
Heathrow was eerily quiet, with a LOT of hand sanitiser stations and not much open. We whizzed straight through security as we only had hand luggage. There are temperature check cameras when you enter Terminal 4, but they are the unobtrusive ones which detect heat signatures in crowds rather than by pointing a temperature 'gun' at your forehead. From the second you are inside the terminal building you need to be wearing a mask at all times.
Once through security, there were only a handful of places open including one cafe, and two shops (Boots and WH Smith) . There were social distancing signs everywhere you looked, and areas of seating cordoned off to make sure people could sit down far enough apart. The most inconvenient thing was the queue at the cafe which was very long and distanced, and no seating inside so this took a long time. Best to take your own food, but obviously if you want to buy a drink that's a consideration unless you take a water bottle and fill up at the fountains.
When boarding, there was no social distancing really in place apart from the distanced queue. The cabin crew did not seat the back of the plane first, for example. You have to scan your own boarding pass, but the staff handle your passport. There was no social distancing on the flight and it was fully booked.
The cabin crew did serve soft drinks (teas, coffees, juices) and collected rubbish, but you have to keep your mask on for the duration of the flight (apart from when you're sipping your drink).
On arrival at Charles de Gaulle airport, it was pretty lax - there was no form to fill in on entering France, the immigration officer handles your passport, the queue is socially distanced and there are a few hand sanitiser stations.
On the way back on the Eurotunnel it was much more strict. You have to fill in an online form which was quite long and, in all honesty a bit annoying, asking for a lot of unnecessary detail.You also have to use the toilets before you drive onto the train as the toilets on board are closed and you have to stay in your car.
All in all, there were virtually no people using the tunnel, it was incredibly quick and easy and did not feel much different.