August 19, 2020 – What is it like flying with Ryanair from Dublin to Split in the corona ear? TCN’s Lidija Ivanek SiLa returns to her homeland and shares her experiences.
After the first half of a very weary and odd year where we were stuck in the circle of 2km initially on the island of Ireland during the lockdown, grateful for our jobs and ability to work from home, to be able to think about traveling at the end of May was a light at the end of the tunnel.
At the beginning of the madness called COVID19, my thoughts were with my elderly parents and fear what will happen with them. Ireland closed the borders, stopped nonessential flights, and a phased roadmap was introduced. Chilling awareness that you are on an island in the middle of Atlantic and there is no easy way to get to Croatia at this point crept up and the first panic attack came with the thought – What if… what if something happens to them and I am not there to help them?
When Phase 2 and 3 of the relaxing of measures became valid, a lot of Croatians took the option to drive all the way, some 2500km with either overnight ferry to France, or 4 hours to the UK and then drive. We waited for the first possible flights. With the closing down the Ryanair base in Zadar and with the announcement that Aer Lingus will close their bases in Cork, we decided to book a flight with Ryanair from Dublin to Split. So, when the day of the journey came, everything was packed and ready, even the sky was occasionally blue and the drive from Cork to Dublin was a breeze. After leaving our car at the airport carpark, we put our face masks on with the intention not to take them off until we arrived in Split.
The airport bus was half empty, with every second seat marked with a yellow warning sign “The seat is unavailable – maintain social distance”. Yellow continued to be the main colour at the airport. Yellow warning signs and yellow hand sanitizer containers. If we add to this a half-empty usually packed airport, this was an eerie sight.
From the tannoy, a recorded message was played every 5 minutes about COVID and the special situation that we are in and how important is to keep face masks and social distancing. While this new reality was slowly sinking in, I felt strangely safe at the airport. It was a sad sight to see only Ryanair and Aer Lingus planes parked outside the window. I couldn’t spot any other company present, though on the Departures board there were some, like Finnair or AirBaltic. The terminal for Croatia is at the end of everything. After walking what felt like 5 km with our baggage, faces sweating under masks, finally, we arrived. A few people were already sitting on every second chair. After a few minutes of recuperating and recovering, I started to observe people around me closely, curious to see who are the passengers on this flight. Mainly the Croatian language was heard, as well as some English, Polish that I could recognise.