Up, up and away at last

The view looking out over the Alps as the plane took off from Munich Airport. Pics: GABRIELLA PAYNE

By Gabriella Payne

My hands were clammy and my heart was racing.

Maybe it was a combination of both nerves and excitement, but either way, I could feel the adrenalin rushing through me.

As I walked through the airport, the familiar yet distant memories came flooding back – but this time, it was different.

It was my first time boarding an international flight since the pandemic gripped the world, and Covid’s lingering signs could be seen all around.

With face masks mandatory, there were no smiling faces to be seen and the vast airport corridors, once bustling with activity, now lay eerily silent.

Passport? Check.

Boarding pass? Check.

International vaccine certificate and hand sanitiser? Double check.

The list of travel essentials may have changed slightly in the last couple of years, but as I sat down in the sparsely populated plane, I couldn’t help but feel excited for the journey ahead.

I was headed for Frankfurt, Germany – some 16,311km from Melbourne.

Hard to believe that just a few weeks before, I was forbidden from travelling more than 5km from home.

As I stowed my bag in the overhead compartment and settled in for the long haul flight ahead, my anxiety levels started to climb again.

Some say they aren’t ready to travel yet, and after flying in this new, Covid world, I get that.

A day of flying is never a fun prospect, but as we soared through the skies, I couldn’t help thinking about all the particles floating around in this metal tube we call a plane.

Yes, everyone was wearing a mask, but having lived in a world so concerned with airborne disease for almost two years now, I found myself thinking of things that never would have crossed my mind before.

Perhaps I’m a bit of a germaphobe now – but that’s OK.

Travelling is something I’ve always been addicted to, and even though it may look a little different for the time being, it’s going to take more than a global pandemic to stop me from flying.

I feel incredibly lucky to have been able to go on this trip to see family, as I know many missed out over the last two years.

It may take a while for things to return to how they once were, but after experiencing the new way of flying in this Covid world firsthand, I personally can’t wait for my next trip.