A little over a week ago, I boarded my first flight for 21 months. It was from Heathrow, London to Nice, France. The experience felt both reassuringly familiar and at the same time curiously strange.

In a similar way as to after the 9/11 attacks on targets in the United States, the aviation landscape has changed. We are all now used to the body searches and luggage scans that once seemed alien immediately after September 11, 2001, but are now routine. I guess the same will occur regarding our acceptance of wearing masks on flights (given that the exceptions are pretty much restricted to when you’re eating and/or drinking, expect a lot more of that to be going on from hereon) and the completion of the covid protocols and paperwork that are now part of travelling abroad. Having said that, one of the forms we had to complete before leaving Heathrow was one provided online by the French government. It was niftily – not! – entitled ‘Sworn Undertaking to Comply with Rules for Entry into Metropolitan French Territory (From Amber List Countries)’. We duly completed it. No one ever asked to see it, either before we took off or after we landed. I still have mine if anyone is interested?

This was the essentially deserted baggage-reclaim area at Nice Airport on the last weekend in August…flying is nowhere near back to normal yet

Despite the British Airways propaganda ploy of ramping up the prospect of complete confusion – they even suggested we might want to take our luggage for check-in the evening before our flight, or perhaps book a specific check-in time to avoid the queues (for which I think one was supposed to read ‘chaos’) – everywhere was far quieter than what had been normal before coronavirus. I think the shot of Terminal 5 shown on the home page is indicative of that; ditto the photo at Nice Airport displayed above.

Of course, as I write this we still have to return home. I have to hand my Rapid Covid-19 Antigen Self-Test from Chronomics which I will be taking three days before our return flight, fervently hoping I’m not feverish enough to produce a positive test and thereby delay those plans, leaving me comparatively bereft of clean clothes and looking for somewhere in France to live for a while longer. If all does go to plan, two days after I get back it will be time for the Randox International Travel Day 2 Test. Yet more stuff to (literally) get up one’s nose.

International travel, hey? Don’t you just love it? Well, yes, but it was nicer the way it was before.