Flying Internationally During a Pandemic

Hi everyone!

Sometime in summer 2021, I went to Nigeria! I had not travelled there since 2019 so it was such an exciting time for me to go back because my sister was getting married. Covid was the major reason I had not been back there to visit in two years, and I was so grateful to have had the opportunity to travel.

Travelling in covid is quite an expensive venture. Asides from the return flight tickets which I booked about 3 months earlier to get a good deal, there were other expenses like covid tests to pay for. To travel out of Calgary, I paid for two covid PCR tests- one for the flight and one for the 8th-day test in Nigeria. The test for the flight cost me CAD$150 and I booked it through Dynalife. From there I filled a form, paid and I was responsible for calling one of their partner pharmacies (usually Shoppers drug mart) to book an appointment. Because the test has to be valid for the duration of your trip, depending on the length of your layover if you have one, you should do your test between 72 hours to the day before you travel. Doing it the day of is a gamble because the results come out in about 24 hours and if it is not out and negative, you cannot fly. The Nigerian test cost N50,000 Nigerian Naira (approximately CAD$150 at that time), and I booked and paid for it online through the Nigeria International Travel Portal. It was smooth and easy to use, and the only issue I had was not being able to use my Canadian bank card to pay and I had to use someone’s Nigerian account to pay. The cost of the test varies depending on your location in Nigeria- for example, my friend who selected Oyo state to do the 8th-day test paid about N35,000 (about CAD$110), while I paid N50,000 because I chose Lagos state. After payment, you were directed to a webpage to select your laboratory for the test based on your location. Ensure you print out all the necessary test results and emails and have them handy to show at the various airport checkpoints.

For my journey, I flew KLM with a stopover at Amsterdam both ways. I used Skyscanner to find the flight and then booked it on the KLM website. We all wore masks throughout the flight and only took them off to eat. The layover was not too bad (about 6hours) and I got to Nigeria the next night. On the trip from Amsterdam to Lagos, the flight attendants donned disposable protective suits throughout the flight and used spray mechanisms to sanitize and disinfect the plane interior towards the end of the trip. Passengers were upset and they complained, especially because it was not done during the Amsterdam portion of the flight, and the attendant informed us that it was a Nigerian government requirement for flights landing in the country.

At the airport, there was a really long queue and immigration was a very slow process, especially with the added portion of checking for the covid tests. They first checked the covid test on entry, then checked if you had the proof of the 8th-day test from the portal. I spent at least 3 hours before baggage claim. Also, some things to note for the MMA 1 airport: try to have some cash on you, especially in the form of Naira because you pay for the trolley. the smaller one cost between N150 – N500 and the larger trolley cost N2,500. this big one is good for families or people with a lot of luggage. There is a multistorey parking lot in use if someone is picking you up, and the journey from the airport arrival to the parking area is ridiculously far. Some people would offer to help you take your luggage there for a fee, and if you agree, ensure you follow them closely. Some would try to finesse you by saying you should give them whatever foreign currency you have in the hopes that you would drop a large sum with them (they may say give me $20 for example).

The trip was pretty smooth except for some unprecedented delays by KLM for hours on both legs of the trip. I hope this was helpful and you enjoyed reading it. Apologies for the lack of images- I have nothing to show for my airport trip.

I dispersed images of flowers and fruits from my house in Lagos in the article for your viewing pleasure. Also please note that the policies may have changed by the time this post is out, so ensure you check for the most updated ones.

Till next time,

Bye!

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